Magnus Carlsen Smiling

Magnus Carlsen: The Chess Champion's Blueprint for Excellence

In the world of sports, we often associate greatness with physical prowess, but what about the champions who engage in battles of the mind? Enter chess, a game of cunning strategy, fierce intellect, and unwavering focus. Here, physicality takes a backseat, but mental fortitude reigns supreme.

Meet Magnus Carlsen, the Norwegian chess grandmaster and five-time World Chess Champion. In the realm of chess, he's an undisputed athlete, challenging the notion of sports in its most cerebral form. But Carlsen's pursuit of excellence doesn't stop at the chessboard; it extends to his approach to physical health through exercise and nutrition.

The Unconventional Athlete

Dispelling stereotypes is in Carlsen's DNA. Far from the clichéd image of bespectacled chess players with pocket protectors, Carlsen's presence graces the pages of Cosmopolitan as one of the "Sexiest Men of 2013." His commitment to maintaining a top-notch physique is evident.

He's even ventured into the world of modeling, showcasing fashion for G-Star Raw and carrying the banner as a MasterCard brand ambassador. In the modeling industry, where physique is paramount, a robust workout routine is non-negotiable.

While typical male models flaunt heights between 5'11" and 6'3", a waist measuring 29-32 inches, and a chest of 39-40 inches, Carlsen might not tick all those boxes at 5'10". However, his titles and a jawline that could cut glass more than make up for it.

But Carlsen doesn't sculpt his body just for the runway; it's an essential part of his success in his chosen sport.

The Power of Physical Fitness for the Mind

man relaxing on a bench with a calm mind

Exercise isn't merely about sculpting muscles; it's about enhancing brainpower. Regular physical activity doesn't just boost your physical health; it's a cognitive game-changer.

It improves problem-solving skills, memory, critical thinking, and reduces anxiety. In the world of chess, these attributes are paramount. Concentration during marathon chess tournaments, rapid strategic thinking, and maintaining composure are non-negotiables.

As Carlsen himself puts it in an interview with the Associated Press, "These long tournaments are quite tiring and long games are very tiring, especially at the end. If you are in good shape and can keep your concentration, you will be the one who will profit from your opponents' mistakes."

Physical fitness isn't just a feather in Carlsen's cap; it's his secret weapon.

Magnus Carlsen's Fitness Regimen

Carlsen's journey began at the tender age of five when he first graced a chessboard in Norway. In 2013, at the age of 22, he clinched the World Chess Championship, becoming the second youngest world chess champion in history.

Beyond chess, Carlsen is an ardent sports enthusiast. He's conquered the realm of Fantasy Premier League (FPL), dabbled in various sports, and maintained a deep love for exercise.

His daily regimen includes plenty of physical activity. As a child, he reveled in soccer and skiing. Even in adulthood, he dedicates ample time to running, soccer, basketball, and tennis.

As Carlsen's father aptly puts it, "Most chess players have failed to understand that physical fitness and endurance can help you in three ways. It helps build confidence, you are more likely to stay focused throughout the entire game, and you can recuperate faster for the next round of games."

Physical fitness isn't just a choice for Carlsen; it's a necessity. It enhances his stamina, preparing him for the grueling chess tournaments that demand unwavering focus and endurance.

When tournaments are in full swing, Carlsen tempers his workouts to conserve energy. Yet, in the off-season, his cardio regimen cranks up, ensuring he remains at the peak of his physical and mental fitness.

Chess as a Physiological Sport

The physical toll of chess isn't to be underestimated. Contrary to popular belief, it's not just a game; it's a sport that triggers intense stress responses in its players.

In an interview with ESPN, Robert Sapolsky, a renowned researcher and professor at Stanford University, compared grandmasters' physiological responses to those of competitive marathon runners. Heart rates soar, blood pressure rises, and endurance is tested throughout the relentless chess battles.

For instance, the 2018 Isle of Man International allowed competitors to monitor their heart rates during games. Russian grandmaster Mikhail Antipov burned over 500 calories in two hours of intense chess.

Take the epic five-month battle between Anatoly Karpov and Garry Kasparov in 1984. Karpov shed nearly 20 pounds due to sheer exhaustion, highlighting the grueling physicality of the game.

Carlsen's workout routine isn't just about looking good; it's about preparing his body for these marathon bouts. It's a regimen that enhances his mental and physical fortitude.

The Nutritional Chessboard

During intense chess matches, Carlsen fuels his mind and body with a unique combination: gum and chocolate milk. The sugar in orange juice, once his choice, led to energy crashes.

Chocolate milk, packed with protein and calcium, provides sustained energy, outlasting energy drinks by a significant margin. Chewing gum keeps him focused during those marathon eight-hour chess games, sharpening memory and reaction times.

On the road, Carlsen is accompanied by a personal chef who tailors his meals to his nutritional needs. Pasta becomes a secret weapon, boosting his energy reserves before tournaments.

Carlsen follows a vegetarian diet, opting for superfoods that elevate brain function. His choices include omelets, yogurt with fruit, eggs, nuts, seeds, and dark leafy greens.

As a vegetarian and sometimes vegan, finding performance-enhancing supplements can be a challenge. That's where V-BCAA, a plant-based solution, comes in, increasing performance and endurance while supporting fat loss and muscle recovery.

Carlsen's nutritional choices not only nourish his brain but also maintain his physical health. It's a holistic approach to excellence.

Checkmate for Success

Magnus Carlsen's life is a testament to dedication and excellence, a blueprint for mastering your domain. His commitment to exercise is rooted in enjoyment, making it easier to stay motivated. Finding a fitness routine you love can transform your journey to a healthier self.

Carlsen's dietary discipline, coupled with his relentless pursuit of perfection, culminate in his title as the World Chess Champion year after year.

His story isn't just about chess; it's about the pursuit of greatness. If you share his unwavering determination, you'll see results in no time. In the game of life, Carlsen has already achieved checkmate.

James Freeman


Liam Marshall, the friendly fitness coach, has spent 14 years sharing his love for sports and fitness. With degrees in sports science, he crafts workouts that fit like your favorite jeans. Beyond the gym, he organizes sports clinics and tech-savvy fitness apps that motivate people worldwide. He's all about making fitness doable for everyone, and it's not just about bodies – it's boosting confidence. In 2019, he scored the "Virginia Fitness Coach of the Year" award. Outside the fitness world, he loves family time and hikes in Shenandoah National Park. Liam's journey from a small-town fitness fan to a big-time coach is all about passion, inspiring people to see fitness as a body-and-mind thing. Catch him on Instagram to stay in the loop!