These Freaky Photos of Athletes’ Bodies Will Completely Change the Way You Think About Them

Tue Jan 04 2022

It’s no secret that athletes have to push themselves to the limit to be the best. However, we’re so used to seeing them smiling with their gold medals, appearing in sports commercials, and posing in airbrushed magazines that we don’t often see how hard they really have to push their bodies to prepare for these major sporting events. But, now we can…

From bending their bodies into unimaginable shapes to the injuries they often face as a result of their passion, these photos show us what athletes really need to do in order to stay on top of their game. You might not want to look at these photos on a full stomach though, as these nauseating pictures give us a terrifying glimpse into these athletes’ world. And we guarantee you won’t ever look at them in the same way again.

Size Doesn’t Matter Depending on What Sport You Do

They say that size isn’t everything, and that is certainly true in the sporting world as a whole. But when you knuckle down on a particular sport, size does matter. That’s why gymnast Simone Biles and volleyball player David Lee look so hilarious standing next to each other.

In their respective sports, these two reign supreme. David’s tall height means that he has the ability to reach higher over the volleyball net, while Simone’s small and petite frame allows her to jump from apparatus to apparatus without any issues. Apart, they’re totally normal. Together, they’re an unbelievable sight.

Hypermobility Looks Weird, but Can Be a Great Advantage

In terms of swimming legends, Michael Phelps is certainly up there with some of the greats. In fact, with a total of 28 medals under his belt, some would say that he is at the top of that list. One thing you might not know about this hugely decorated swimmer, though, is the fact that he’s actually hypermobile. 

Many of the top swimmers in the world have hyperextended joints, and this double-jointed ability has been linked to higher success in the pool. In terms of Michael Phelps himself, his ankles bend 15% more than his rivals, and he’s even hyper-jointed in the chest, which means that he can kick with his chest as well – instead of just his ribs.

Cyclists’ Legs Look like Alien Life Forms After an Intense Race

Many people love to head out on a relaxing cycle ride with their friends or family, but Janez Brajkovic isn’t your typical Sunday rider. Although the Slovenian racing cyclist’s career took a tumble when he was suspended on doping charges, he was once a world champion. And his legs would take a beating every time he finished an intense race.

This picture was taken just after Janez crossed the finish line, but you wouldn’t immediately think that these were his legs. From the strangely shaped muscles to the veins popping out from his leg and foot, the whole image is made even more unbelievable when you look at the intense tan line separating those two body parts.

Sprinters Sometimes Take the Track Back Home with Them

When you think of famous sprinters, you probably immediately think of Usain Bolt. Although he’s now retired, Usain broke countless records for running as fast as he possibly could – and most of us have watched him on television at least once. However, what you might not have seen is the aftermath…

In 2015, after a training session, Usain posted this picture on Instagram. He wrote, “After blazing up the track I take it with me…” Yes, he ran so fast during his practice race that he went home with small pieces of tarmac lodged into his back! We didn’t know that could even happen – but we bet that it wasn’t fun to remove.

Flexibility Can Help Athletes Whenever They Might Need It

Any sportsperson will know that flexibility is key. Improved flexibility also improves your coordination, posture, mobility, and can reduce the risk of muscle soreness – which makes it a great asset when you’re trying to be the best. And while all sports stars try to improve their flexibility, gymnasts are by far some of the most flexible.

Take Simone Biles, for example. When asked to throw out the first pitch for the Houston Astro’s, Simone knew that she didn’t want to throw it normally. With a huge amount of power and flexibility behind her, she was able to cartwheel flip through the air and throw the ball to the batter. Now, that’s pretty impressive.

Swimmers’ Feet Come Out of the Water Looking like Prunes

Everyone knows that you can’t have a bath for too long. If you stay in there more than you should, you end up with wrinkly hands and feet that shrivel up and feel extremely odd. But what most people don’t realize is that swimmers have to deal with that on a daily basis. Especially if they’re long-distance swimmers who spend a lot of time in the pool or the ocean.

This photo shows the feet of Dutch Olympic swimming champion, Maarten Van Der Weijden after swimming 163km in 55 hours to raise money for charity. Spending all of that time in the water turned his feet into prunes, and, at first glance, it looks as though this is a dead body laying down on a gurney.

You’ve Gotta Hand It to Weightlifters… Their Hands Take a Beating

At the 2020 Tokyo Olympics – which actually took place in 2021 – Filipina weightlifter Hidilyn Diaz became the first person in her country’s history to take home a gold medal. Of course, this didn’t come easily. The 30-year-old athlete has trained for decades to reach her level. And it shows on her hands.

Although Hidiyln also broke the world record when she won the 55kg weightlifting category, a photo taken after the event proves that her hands took a real beating. Lifting up the ridiculously heavy bar opened up her already calloused hands, and the end result was one that featured more blisters than we’ve ever seen in our lives.

Cyclists’ Thighs Are Even Bigger Than Their Heads

Not everyone can be a professional cyclist – and we have a feeling that not everyone would want to be, anyway. These athletes have to put in countless hours of training and dedication to get to the highest level, and they have to put a huge amount of work into building their leg muscles.

This photo proves just how big these cyclists’ thighs can get. To be more specific, the man on the right is Olympic cyclist Robert Forstemann, who just happens to have 74cm wide thighs! To get to that point, he’s had to push his body to limits that most of us can’t even fathom.

Gymnasts Manage to Bend into All Kinds of Unnatural Shapes

Gymnasts are perhaps some of the most celebrated athletes across the world, and they usually find international fame if they manage to make it to the Olympic Games. But as so many people watch them on the parallel bars, the pommel horse, the beam, and even the floor, we become accustomed to the way they move. In reality, though, the way they move is bizarre.

This X-ray of a gymnast performing a move shows just how well their bodies bend for the sake of their sport. Not everyone can move their bodies in such a way, and this X-ray proves that the years of training, stretching, and bending certainly work in their favor. This really is impressive.

Tour de France Cyclists’ Legs Don’t Look Like Legs Afterwards

When it comes to cycling races, the Tour de France is perhaps one of the most famous of them all. The annual event sees hundreds of cyclists compete in 21 stages across 23 days – and it’s a huge amount of cycling for one person to do in less than a month. And while men train for decades to be ready for the event, their legs still take a beating.

Polish cyclist Paweł Poljański took this photo of his legs after just 16 stages of the Tour de France, and it instantly caused alarm for his fans across the globe. With his vein popping out and his muscles obviously strained, they wondered whether he could go on. Yet, that’s just what cyclists have to deal with if they want to be the best. We just don’t normally see it.

Competitive Swimmers Have to Shave (Almost) Everywhere

The physics of aerodynamics comes into play in many competitive sports. And while race cars are designed to be as aerodynamic as possible, what you might not realize is that humans have to be as well – especially if they want to glide through the water with ease. That’s why professional swimmers like Anthony Ervin shave their whole bodies before any race.

Because of this, many swimmers look exactly like this photo the night before a race. They cover themselves with shaving cream and get to work making themselves as smooth as possible. And while you might be wondering why Anthony didn’t shave his head – that’s because swimmers always wear swimming caps.

Rowers’ Hands Get Messed up by Wearing Gloves in the Water

Water seems to have a strange reaction on the human body. While we all need water to survive, placing a body in water for too long can make it go all wrinkly and soft. Professional rowers have to deal with this phenomenon whenever they attend a practice or take part in a race. And Olympic rower Alex Gregory has experienced this countless times.

Alex took this photo in August 2017 and posted it online with the caption: “My hands after spending so long in wet gloves. The blisters were never bad on this Polar row, but the wet & damp seeped into the skin…” The end result is something that we never want to experience ourselves because it looks totally gross.

Gymnasts May Be Short, but They’re Not Short on Abs

In most cases, the gymnasts who make their way to the Olympics are pretty young. They’re almost always under 20 years old, and most of them have been practicing their craft since they were toddlers. This is because it pays for gymnasts to be short. But while these athletes may be short, they’re certainly not short on abs.

This is proven by this photo of Madison Kocian, Simone Biles, and Aly Raisman posing on the beach during their trip to Rio de Janeiro for the 2016 Olympics. Although they may be shorter than the average person, this helps them during their gymnastics endeavors – and it’s safe to say that their muscles also help to power them through their flips, turns, and jumps.

Cyclists’ Veins Look as Though They Are Popping Out of Their Skin

Any sport where you have to mainly focus your energy on a particular limb or limbs is going to be tough on your body. Take cyclists, for example. While they need to be fully physically fit, their legs need to be strong enough to carry them through the race – as that’s all they really have to rely on. But George Hincapie’s legs are something else entirely.

Here we can see what the American road cyclist’s legs looked like after a Tour de France race, and it looks as though he has an alien crawling inside of him. The reality is that he has very obvious varicose veins that pop out, even more, when his legs are under strain, but it’s still pretty strange to look at.

Swimmers Regularly Bathe with Literal Blocks of Ice in The Tub

Ryan Lochte is a hugely famous swimmer – and rightly so. The American swimmer is a 12-time Olympic medalist and currently shares second place as the second most-decorated swimmer in Olympic history. But being one of the best doesn’t come easy, and Ryan has to take literal baths of ice on a regular basis.

These ice baths help to speed up the recovery process, reduce stuffiness and soreness, and alleviate muscle pain, and Ryan Lochte is no stranger to them. When he posted this photo on social media, he let his followers know that his bath featured a 30lb block of ice. It’s a ‘no’ for us.

Anything Is Possible When You Have Super-Human Strength

A true sign of a professional athlete is the ability to put their mind to anything. Whenever they come to an obstacle, they don’t give up – they simply find a way around it. The more successful athletes are the ones who are able to do this without even thinking about it, and most would agree that Usain Bolt is one of those athletes. Just look at him.

Even on his day off, Usain decided to push his body even further and quite literally defy the laws of physics. He walked up a wall and held himself there – all with a giant smile on his face. It doesn’t even look like he’s broken a sweat, either. What a legend.

Making It to the Olympic Games Takes Some Serious Skill

Although many kids take part in extracurricular sports when they’re younger, most grow out of them after a while. They become more social than skillful, and then they lose interest in the sport when they get older. But this isn’t the case for all of them. Sometimes athletes manage to go all the way.

Athletes often spend decades training and tackling their own personal bests, and many of them have one goal in mind – the Olympic Games. Dutch swimmer Sebastiaan Verschuran made his way to the 2012 and 2016 Olympics and decided to do something special to celebrate those occasions. How he managed to make the Olympics bubble rings, we’ll never know.

Even Their Free Time Is Taken up by Post-Sport Recovery

Simone Biles is one of the most famous gymnasts of all time, she’s also one of the most famous athletes of all time – and that’s mostly because of her talent, but also because of her sheer determination to do her best. After all, being a professional athlete requires hard work seven days a week, even on your days off.

When Simone has free time, she spends it in these recovery compression boots that help with soreness and promote healing. What’s more, this photo was taken during her Spring Break! At least she managed to make the whole experience fun by watching a movie at the same time.

Cupping Therapy May Look Painful, but Swimmers Absolutely Love It

The idea of sticking some kind of suction cup to your skin may sound like the idea of a nine-year-old child using a vacuum cleaner for the first time, but it’s actually an incredibly popular form of alternative therapy. It’s particularly favorable among the swimming community, with swimmers such as Michael Phelps choosing to go down that route. But this therapy leaves some nasty-looking bruises.

After cupping therapy, the athletes are left with dark bruises for many days or even weeks – but it seems as though the benefits outweigh the fact that it looks incredibly painful. That’s because cupping therapy can actually improve blood flow, relieve muscular pain, and increase the flexibility in muscles. That’s why it’s becoming more and more popular.

Gymnasts Regularly Contort Themselves into Weird Positions at Home

Let’s be honest; you can’t be a gymnast if you don’t have the flexibility to bend your legs upwards, bend your back backward, or just generally contort yourself into strange positions. But for gymnasts like Aly Raisman, this flexibility is just a part of everyday life. Even when she’s not training or taking part in a competition.

When Aly posted this on social media she wrote, “I know I am not the only gymnast who sometimes watches TV like this.” And we bet it’s true. After contorting your body into weird shapes for so many years, it must be strange to sit on a couch like a normal person. It must feel pretty unnatural for them.

Swimmers Have to Bulk up on 10,000 Calorie Meals on a Regular Basis

Most people don’t think too much about the calories that they’re eating unless they’re on a diet. But for professional athletes, they have to keep an eye on the calories that they’re consuming – mostly because they’re exerting so much energy they need to ensure that they have enough to get them through a race. Because of this, they often have to bulk up.

The night before he headed into the pool to swim against his competitors, Olympic swimmer Ryan Lochte posted this photo of his 10,000 calorie meal. Complete with chicken, asparagus, and what looks like a giant container of mac and cheese, we bet he enjoyed every second of this meal.

Multi-Tasking Is Just a Normal Way of Life for Athletes

When you think about it, athletes really do have their hands full. They have to practice almost seven days a week for multiple hours a day, they have to attend competitions, they have to travel around the world, they have to do interviews with the press, and they have to have some kind of life at the same time. So, even when Aly Raisman is getting ready for practice – she also likes to cup her legs.

Instead of laying down on a bed and cupping during her free time, Aly has to fit it in whenever she can – even when she’s in the middle of getting dressed and tidying her room. This just proves that athletes really do know how to multi-task, and they certainly know how to make the most of their time.

Soccer Players Are Lean and Their Insides Are Always on Display

Certain athletes require certain body types to be as successful as possible, and while it’s not always the case, soccer players are normally lean. This can be seen with Cristiano Ronaldo – arguably one of the most famous soccer players in the world. The Portuguese player’s weight has changed over the years, but more often than not he’s got a very low body fat percentage.

When these players have a low body fat level, you really can see their insides. You can see all of the muscles and the veins in his chest and arms, and his clavicle is even poking out of his body. It’s a look that many athletes strive for, but one that certainly looks a little strange to the regular Joe.

Athletes Need to Stretch Way More Than a Regular Human

Synchronized swimmers are certainly the underdogs when it comes to the sporting world. They are overshadowed by general swimmers and gymnasts – but in reality, they’re a mixture of both sports. They need to hold their breath for long periods of time and require intense strength to make shapes in the water. That’s why they always need to stretch.

British synchronized swimmer Olivia Feredrici shows that their kind of stretching is nothing like the kind of stretching we attempt to do after a short jog, though. They manage to bend and stretch their limbs into all kinds of shapes and positions, and some of them don’t even look humanly possible.