Skip to main content
Original Issue

The Apolo Program

An Olympic star's jump from skater to triathlete started with a core focus

AMERICA'S MOST DECORATED Winter Olympian last appeared in the Games four years ago, but he has never stopped competing. Apolo Anton Ohno, winner of eight speedskating medals, has won Dancing with the Stars, run the New York City Marathon and started a nutritional-supplement company. "It's all been great," says Ohno, 32, "but I wanted to challenge my body in a completely comprehensive and exhaustive way." So Ohno competed in last Saturday's Ironman World Championship in Kailua-Kona, Hawaii, finishing 320th (out of 2,187) over the 2.4-mile swim, 112-mile bike ride and 26.2-mile run.

That's a big change for the 5'8" Ohno, whose speedskating work focused on high-intensity, ballistic sprints. To retrain his body for endurance, Ohno first focused on his core (the group of deep internal muscles that help strengthen the entire body). "Training for a triathlon is a total chain system," he says. "If one link is weak, it triggers a domino effect of poor form and weak performances." By incorporating this core workout into his regimen—five days a week, 12 to 25 reps each, in a circuit with minimal rest in between—Ohno strengthened his stabilizing muscles. "Once you know your core is squared away, you're ready for the harder stuff," he says. Like the 140.6 miles of cardio. And whatever challenge he takes on next.


Lie down and hold the ball overhead. In one motion, lift your arms and legs and place the ball between your feet. Squeeze the ball with your legs while lowering yourself back to the floor.


Start in a push-up position with your legs on the ball. Lift your hips upward by contracting your upper abs, and raise your body into a V. Hold for two counts, then slowly return to start.


Lie with your middle and upper back on the ball, your hips raised and feet planted on the floor in a 90° angle. Bracing your core, roll your upper body to the right side, then the left.


Lying flat on your back, squeeze the ball between your lower legs. Raise your legs off the ground and twist all the way to the right side, then the left.

For more photos and a video of Ohno's workout, visit