My Toughest Workout: Olympic Triple Jumper Christian Taylor

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Though he’s also a top-notch competitor in the long jump and 400-meter relay, Christian Taylor narrowed his goals: Now he wants to beat the world record in the triple jump.

“Coach says it’s better to exceed in one than to be average in several,” he says.

And that the Fayatteville, Ga. native has. Taylor’s personal best, 17.96, won him gold at the World Championships in South Korea in 2011. Ultimately, he’s looking to top the world record, set by Jonathan Edwards at 18.29 in 1995.

He hopes that the Olympic crowds will help get him revved.

“That’s my fuel, my energy source,” he explains. “I’m a big believer in feeding off the energy of the people around you.”

The other thing that will help him fly? A 2-minute drill that he likes to do with Will Claye, a former teammate of Taylor’s at the University of Florida who will also be representing the U.S. in London.

The drill is a series of jumps that tests consistency, stamina and mental toughness. The goal is to hit the same mark as many times as you can. “It’s a really intense workout,” Taylor says. “After the first minute, when it really hits you, you are just burnt out.”

It’s that kind of power that he’s used to propel himself to the top.

“I wouldn’t call myself a competitor or an athlete if I wasn’t trying to be the best, ever,” he says. “I feel like I am flying, and I get so excited that I want to come back down and see where I am.”

His Workout

The drill is simple, but exhausting. Taylor repeats a triple jump as many times as he can in two minutes. As soon as he hits the sand, he runs back to the starting mark and repeats, trying to hit the same mark each time. He performs two sets (with a 20-minute rest in between, just because it’s so rough). In two minutes, he estimates he gets about 20 jumps in.

The jump drill is part of a regimen that includes a lot of technical work, sprinting, and jumping. His warm-up lasts about 45 minutes (little bounds, accelerations, 60-75 meter sprints). Then he goes to the runway for light drills, standing long jumps, alternating bounds, little things to wake up the fast-twitch muscles. That’s when he starts going into the different jump drills, like the one above. But he also adds medicine ball drills, as well as weights work.

Do It Yourself

To work on your jumping power, try this jump and sprint workout for mortals. After a 15-minute dynamic warm-up of light running, lunges and squats, head to a track, do a pyramid of sprints: 100m, 200m, 400m, 200m, 100m. Then do a light run for about 10 minutes. Finish with a series of jumps: 5 standing long jumps, 5 vertical jumps, and 5 single-leg jumps on each side. Do the circuit twice if you’re feeling good.