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How Olympic Weightlifter Kate Nye is Prepping to Qualify for Tokyo 2020

Kate Nye shared all the details on her current workout routine and diet (hint: it includes a daily brownie sundae) leading up to the 2020 Olympic Games.

If you wonder about what it’s like to train as an Olympic or Paralympic hopeful, start jotting down your questions now. Athletes are taking over the NBC Olympics Reddit account to host “Ask Me Anything” (AMA) discussions leading up to the next Olympic Games in Tokyo. Now’s your chance to find out what everyone eats to stay fueled and the pump-up songs on their game-day playlists.

Katherine (Kate) Nye was the first weightlifter to take on an AMA for the series. Nye, 21, already made history as the youngest U.S. women’s world champion at age 20—she also holds multiple U.S. records and a world record and she only started weightlifting three years ago.

And you should expect even more accomplishments soon. Nye declared that she’ll be doing “everything [she] can” to realize her goal of becoming an Olympic medalist.


On her workouts…

Nye wrote that she trains six to eight times per week, and she includes a full rest day once a week. She explained that because she’s so zeroed in on the Olympics, she isn’t including any cross-training in her routine other than yoga. “I really enjoyed keeping up my gymnastics skills, wakeboarding, wake surfing, snowboarding, and casual baseball, but those are things I have sacrificed to stay healthy for the Olympics,” she wrote. “I’m looking forward to taking those backup but weightlifting is my #1 priority right now.” (She was a gymnast until age 15 and then switched to CrossFit to stay in shape.)

In an interview for the Team USA Awards in November, Nye shared the specifics of her daily three-hour training sessions. After warming up and stretching, she works on classic lifts, then she’ll work on strength by squatting, deadlifting, and pressing. She follows that with accessory work (aka focusing on smaller specific muscles), then cools down.

As for the whole “weight lifting makes you bulky and masculine” argument? Yeah, enough with that—Nye does not feel like she looks masculine as a result of her intense routine. When asked about the biggest myth surrounding female weightlifting, she wrote “Probably the good ole ‘you’re gonna look manly if you lift heavy,’ which is really just BS. If you look at Team USA ladies, we are pretty feminine and usually have just a bit more muscle than an average athlete!” (Also, um, when you’re a world-champ athlete, who cares!)

On her diet…

While Nye’s training sounds very structured, her diet’s pretty relaxed. She wrote that she eats “healthy but intuitively, with no set diet.”

Right now her goal with eating is to gain weight. “Every day is a cheat day for me 🙇🏼‍♀‍,” she wrote. “I’m bulking to fit into my new Olympic weight category. BUT, my favourite is a nice pasta, preferably with lots of cream and tomatoes :) dessert is always brownie sundae!!” She also loves a good peanut butter or chocolate chip cookie.

Later in the thread, she listed more of the foods that play a significant role in her training diet: “I’m really into egg white scrambles, sammies, chips and salsa, steak, chicken, rice, pasta, basically anything. I love good food!”

On the mental side of training…

On a more serious note, Nye also opened up about her mental health. Last year, she revealed on Instagram that she’d been diagnosed with bipolar II disorder and mild ADHD. She provided an update in her AMA, noting that she’s since started on medication. “Bipolar disorder ruled my life for years,” she wrote. “It determined if I liked weightlifting or not. If I could sleep or if I’d sleep all day. My moods, my temper, etc.” But things are looking up: “Since I’ve been medicated, I’ve gotten much better at processing things and keeping my emotions steady.”

As far as the mental challenge of staying motivated, Nye says a love of lifting has helped. “Honestly, there are very few days I don’t feel like lifting,” she wrote. “It’s my passion in life! When I don’t, I just put my big girl pants on and get over it. Unless I’m injured or failing a lot, I don’t take it easy.”

By Renee Cherry