How U.S. fencer Nzingha Prescod got that body

U.S. fencing star Nzingha Prescod gets pretty weird looks when she gets on a train with her gear. It's not every day that people see a woman traveling with a sword.

But it takes a lot more than her sword for this Olympian to win matches. Prescod, the first African-American woman to win an individual fencing medal at the senior world championships, sat down with ESPN The Magazine for the 2016 Body Issue to talk about her training as she gears up for Rio.

Her workout


According to Prescod, years of ballet and gymnastics made her very flexible and helped her throughout her career, but she still trains other parts of her body.

Interval work: "The best type of endurance training would be really high-intensity intervals -- take a couple seconds off and go again. For some of the fencing conditioning, we'll go really fast-paced for 30 seconds, and then take 10 seconds and do another 30 seconds and then 10 seconds out."

Cardio exercises: "I really like doing agility stuff with ladders. I actually really hate cardio but I would say it's my most favorite thing to do, because I know if I hate it, I'll make myself do it more."

Legs, legs, legs: "When you fence you are primarily using the front of your legs, so anytime I'm working out I try to hit the back to even it out and balance it. That's why I do a lot of deadlifts because it's for your glutes and your hamstrings."

Staying prepared and focused


Before her matches, Prescod tries to pump herself up with a snack.

"I go on Pinterest and I look up recipes for competition snacks or energy balls and these peanut butter balls are like my favorite recipe. Flax seed, peanut butter, coconut, vanilla essence, cocoa powder, oats and you just mix it all up and you squish it into balls."

During her matches, Prescod focuses on positive thoughts.

This summer, espnW is running stories, essays and letters on body image as part of a series called "Love, My Body." Read more from the series »

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