Scientific Analysis Of Michael Phelps’s Body Structure

Michael Phelps body proportions are given below:

  • Height: 1.93 meters (6.4 ft)
  • Weight: 88 kilograms (194 lbs)
  • Wingspan: 2.03 meters (6.66 ft)
  • Feet: Size 14

With a total of 28 medals to his name, Michael Phelps is the most decorated Olympian of all time. At the culmination of his stint in Rio 2016, he had won no less than 23 gold medals, which is more than twice as many as the second-highest record holder! His record isn’t bound to be broken any time soon. Like putting a cherry on the sundae of his accomplishments, he also broke Mark Spitz’ record in the 4*100m relay, which had stood since 1972. It is safe to say that Phelps is definitely a super human. He’s essentially the Lionel Messi of  swimming.

After grabbing 8 gold medals in Beijing 2008 games, there was no doubt that he was going to receive the title of Sports Illustrated’s ‘Sportsman of the year 2008’. And as expected, he did.

What Makes Phelps So Good at Swimming?

For him, the medals podium is like a second home. His speedy combination of genetics, willpower and skill has resulted in his massive medal tally. Phelps has a weirdly ergonomic (efficiency in the swimming pool) advantage over his competitors.

His extreme advantage all comes down to his freaky body structure. The following abnormal features of his body play a major role in his exceptional talent.

Michael Phelps Height

He stands tall at 6’4″, which is the ideal height for swimming. (Source)

Michael Phelps Wingspan

His arm span is 6’7″, 3 inches more than his height. Generally a person’s arm span is equal to his/her height, but Phelps is not an ordinary person. This anomalous characteristic provides him with an absurd amount of pulling power in the water. Basically, his arms work as powerful propulsive (boat) paddles in a more efficient way than his competitors.


His torso is that of a 6’8″ person, which is freakishly long. This enables him to have an amazing reach with every stroke, pulling him through the water ahead of the competition.

Lower Body

Surprisingly, his lower body is only 5’10” long. This is actually advantageous, as it lowers the resistance against water.

Palms and Feet

Phelps has huge palms, which helps his paddling capacity. Along with that, he has size 14 feet, which essentially act as flippers (the kind of fingerless arms that seals have).

This humongous set of feet is attached to extremely flexible ankles, which work like fins (similar to a shark).

Lactic Acid

When human bodies performs any physical activity, they produce lactic acid. This substance causes fatigue and slows down muscle contraction. In order to get ready for another round of physical activity, our bodies need to flush out this acid. In order to do that, it needs a certain amount of recovery time.


Glucose is used up during workouts and after the energy is burned, it is converted to lactate.

Athletes often envy Phelps because it has been scientifically proven that his body produces only half the lactic acid that his rivals need to handle. This significantly reduces his recovery time.

Many, if not all, athletes face issues of tight muscles, muscle pulls, hamstrings and body stiffness in the lower body during their training. Although this can be tackled by stretching the target muscles with the use of dedicated equipment like stretching machines, Phelps has a natural advantage in this area too.

Genetics is Not the Only Reason behind Phelps’ Success!

Two words also need to be remembered: Dedication and Hard work

When people say that someone is ‘born’ to win, it’s a completely preposterous assertion. It is actually the ‘desire to win’ that is innate. Michael Phelps is no exception. His extensive collection of medals is the result of the extreme amount of hard work and dedication he puts in his training every year.

Six hours a day in a six-day workout week is no joke.

Michael Phelps spends large portions of his time working out in the pool. The in-pool portion of his fitness regimen consists of swimming a colossal distance of 80km each week, which is more than 13km each training day. I don’t even walk that much in a month!  Along with this massive amount of time in the pool, he also spends a considerable amount of time in the gym.

Michael Phelps Diet


Getting a stomachache already?

A superhuman like Phelps requires a superhuman diet. Phelps consumes 12,000 calories per day! (An average person requires 2200-2700 calories, depending on his/her body structure). Just reading the amount of food he eats in a day is enough to give anyone a stomachache.

This huge caloric intake is necessary to compensate for all the calories that he burns in his workout regime, ensuring that he doesn’t lose weight.

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The work he puts into his training is no joke. His success is primarily due to his training; his genetic advantages are just secondary. The question is, will we see another athlete of his caliber in the future?

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About the Author

Ishan is a Mechanical Engineer from Mumbai University, India and is obsessed with science, food and all things football. He is a self proclaimed cyclist, runner and a professional procrastinator.

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