The Olympic sprinter says he’s going to forget comments about his muscle bulk and plans to use his physical strength to his advantage

Harry Aikines-Aryeetey plans to make the most of his natural physique to continue making gains on the track after years of steering clear of muscle-building training as a result of people’s attitudes about his size.

The 28-year-old Olympian, particularly recognisable for his unique muscular figure, has faced questions in the past over the efficiency of his muscle bulk for sprinting, most notably from 2000 Olympic heptathlon champion Denise Lewis.

Aikines-Aryeetey teamed up with coach Benke Blomkvist late last year having spent much of a disrupted 2015 season struggling with injury and without a coach, but equaled his personal best of 10.08 this past summer after just a few months working with his new coach.

After discussions with Blomkvist, also coach to the likes of sprinters Richard Kilty and Danny Talbot, Aikines-Aryeetey says the pair are now looking at tuning into his natural power, aided significantly by his muscularity, and making sure they can work it to his advantage in helping him run faster times.

“I can’t stay too far away from speed work. But at the same time there’s no reason why I shouldn’t be lifting,” Aikines-Aryeetey told AW. “Over the last few years I’ve shied away from lifting because obviously of the stigma of my size, but now we’ve decided we’ll tap into it a little bit. We just thought: why am I not doing this or making use of my god-given talents?”

Aikines-Aryeetey, who has a myostatin deficiency which manifests in reduced body fat and increased muscular build, says shifting weight can be a challenge but he manages to keep his natural weight well below 90kg.

“That’s just my body, it’s very different and weird. I can put on muscle if I’m doing certain things but at the same time I shouldn’t shy away from the explosive part of my training in fear of that. I’m definitely going to push on with that side of training this year,” he added. “It all leads to being more explosive on the track. I’m just excited to get
things moving for next year.”

» Read more from AW’s interview with Harry Aikines-Aryeetey in our October 27 edition, which can be read here digitally