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Tiger!

Woods says he occasionally challenges himself in the weight room (are you really surprised?). “Sometimes I do,” he says. “It depends. Sometimes I do it just to maintain the power in the muscles. And other times, when I’m trying to get my weight back that I lost at a tournament, then I’ll push myself a little bit.” He rarely lifts a lot of weight, he says, sometimes adding plates more to break up the routine than to flaunt testosterone. “No, never,” he says when asked if he’s as competitive in the weight room as on the course. “No. That’s the stupid way of lifting. I’ve never, ever hurt myself lifting. I hear people say, ‘I hurt this,’ or ‘I hurt that.’ I don’t even know what that feels like. I’ve been sore, but I’ve always been able to function and do whatever I wanted to. A lot of people have had injuries or been so sore they can’t do anything. I’ve never experienced that. Some people let their ego get in the way. You have to listen to your inner self. Your body knows what it can and can’t handle. It knows when it can be pushed and when you just need to back off a little bit.”

Woods enhances his weight training with extensive core training (“I like doing situps, thoroughly enjoy them,” he says. “I think they’re fun. You have that lactic acid buildup and you can still go through it. I just enjoy the feeling of it.”) and running, including three-mile “speed” runs and “endurance” runs of up to seven miles. (“I just enjoy running; it’s fun to me,” says Woods. “Some people hate it. But I get a nice sense of calm in running. I just find it peaceful.”)

Nutritionally, Kleven says Woods is also an ideal client and easy to keep happy at the dinner table. “He eats extremely well,” the trainer says. “Great on vegetables, good on protein, stays away from fats, lots of fish, and doesn’t eat junk food at all.”

In fact, during our chat Woods was passionate about educating young people about the importance of fitness and proper nutrition. Moreover, he says it’s a key component of the educational program at the Tiger Woods Learning Center. “[Kids] need to know what they’re eating; put that in the story,” he said. “From there, it’s up to them to make the right choices if those choices impact their ability to achieve their dreams.”

Regarding supplements, Woods seeks “good bone protection and supplements he needs for nutritional support,” Kleven says. Specifically, Woods takes Nutriex and Ortho-Bone products.

Former Tour great Gary Player, who has long been known as one of the fittest men in golf, told The New York Times about running into Woods earlier this year lifting weights—working delts and pecs—on a day he was set to tee it up in a tournament. “This, to me, was incredible,” Player, 71, was quoted as saying. “I thought I was seeing things. Here he was pumping this iron, and I said, ‘Well, he’s raised the bar even further.’”

In truth, before Woods arrived on the Tour there was no “bar.” Not when it came to fitness, which was anathema to golfers, like stylish pants. “There was no one in the gym,” Woods recalls of his early days on the Tour. “There was just me.” Of course, Woods’ success changed everything in golf—from the size of the crowds, purses, and television viewership that suddenly was attracted to what was once an elitist sport, to the size of the average waist among Tour pros. Today, fitness is a dawn-to-dusk passion for many pros. At each official event, the Tour provides two 48-foot trailers with about 1,500 square feet of space. One is dedicated to physical therapy (rehab and preventive); the other, to physical conditioning. The trailers open about one and a half hours prior to the first tee time and remain open until dark.

Since Woods turned pro, the distance off the tee of the Tour’s biggest hitters has increased from 302 yards to a high of 321.4. Technology is typically credited for the incredible surge, but Woods thinks the increased emphasis on fitness also played a role. “The equipment is part of it; there’s no doubt about it,” he says. “But it’s not the entire puzzle. Guys’ bodies have changed dramatically. Now there are trainers that travel along with the tour, trainers that travel with certain guys on the tour. The guys have gotten bigger, stronger, more fit. They have more speed and are hitting the ball farther, not just because of equipment but also because our physical nature has changed.”

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