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See How a Team USA Pole-Vaulter Trains for the Olympics

We would start by saying Katie Nageotte is a well-grounded athlete, but seeing as she spends most of her time flying through the air, that wouldn’t exactly be accurate.

This uber-talented Olympic pole-vaulter is taking on her first Olympics this year at the 2020 Tokyo Games, and we have high hopes for her — as high as she can pole-vault.

Nageotte’s vaulting career began at Ashland University where she won two NCAA Division II national championships. She clenched a spot on Team USA after crushing a career-best vault at 16 feet, 2.75 inches. Not only is it her personal best, but this height is also officially a U.S. Olympic Team Trials record.

“It feels amazing,” Nageotte says. “I’ve worked really hard to make this happen, and it’s awesome seeing the hard work pay off.”

How Does She Do It?

As a pole-vaulter, Nageotte focuses on full-body workouts. 

“Legs — as we need to be fast and explosive on the runway and into takeoff,” she explains. “Upper body — to press the pole up and away from you, and then shoulder strength to help swing upside down faster. Core strength is very important, as well.”

A few of her go-to exercises include the following: 

Nageotte’s favorite lift in the weight room is a good barbell clean. She offers three tips to perfecting the movement:

  1. Use your legs. “I used to just muscle it up with my arms,” she explains, “but that only gets you so far. When you jump into it, you can lift so much more.”
  2. Keep your core tight.
  3. Commit to the movement. “Sometimes I think it’s going to be too heavy,” she says, “but if I commit, I’ll surprise myself and get it up.”

Because pole vaulting requires the entire body, you’d think there would be a million things rushing through Nageotte’s mind as she arches over the bar. So we asked her what she thinks about while in midair.

“Honestly, midair, not much.” she says. “It happens so fast that you don’t have time to think midair, so I’m thinking about what I’m trying to execute in the run-up and then hope the work I’ve put in and muscle memory will get me over the bar.”

Katie Nageotte (C), first, Morgann LeLeux (L), second, and Sandi Morris, third, celebrate after the Women’s Pole Vault Final on day nine of the 2020 U.S. Olympic Track & Field Team Trials. Photo: Steph Chambers/Getty Images

Food for Thought

Every Olympic athlete knows how essential proper fuel is when competing. Nageotte notes that she used to be very strict with her diet and was miserable because of it. Now she takes a more relaxed approach.

“I just try to be conscious about how and what I’m eating,” she says.

Nageotte follows a few guidelines:

  • She eats every few hours and eats a half-hour before a workout.
  • She incorporates a good protein and carbs with healthy fats, fruits and vegetables. 
  • She eats solid-size portions until she’s full.

Some of her staples include Greek yogurt, eggs and cereal.

“I also have a bit of dessert the night before every competition,” she says.

Nageotte competes in the Women’s Pole Vault Final on day nine of the 2020 U.S. Olympic Track & Field Team Trials. Photo: Andy Lyons/Getty Images
 

Quick Q&A

Favorite pump-up song? I Did It by DJ Khaled. 

If you could work out with any athlete, who would it be? Stacy Dragila in the prime of her vault career.

Favorite postworkout meal? Sushi. 

Morning or evening workouts? Evening. 

Cardio or lifting? Lifting. 

Workout that makes you sweat HARD? Burpees. 

Biggest inspiration? My coach, Brad Walker. 

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