In the fantasy world of pro wrestling, Natalya Neidhart claims to be “The BOAT” — spelled out, that’s “the best of all time.” And it’s tough to argue against her. Excellent though they may be, other wrestlers’ claims of greatness are based on the outcomes of scripted events. By comparison, Neidhart’s credentials read as a compilation of straight-up accomplishments for the entire wrestling world.
So what is the secret sauce that’s fueled Neidhart in her single-handedly rewriting wrestling’s record books? Much of the recipe lies in an ever-evolving approach to training and nutrition. As her third consecutive decade of in-ring activity continues apace, Neidhart is constantly searching for wellness strategies to ensure that The BOAT remains seaworthy.
BarBend sat down with Neidhart to bring you insight into her top training tips. Here’s what you can learn from Nattie’s routine about staying fit over 40, peppered with insight into what makes the legend herself tick.
Who Is Natalya “Nattie” Neidhart?
Natalya Neidhart is a product of bonafide wrestling royalty. As the granddaughter of Stu Hart, the niece of Bret “The Hitman” Hart, and the daughter of Jim “The Anvil” Neidhart, Natalya Neidhart (or “Nattie” to her friends) had access to fame before she ever stepped into a ring.
Not content to rely on this, Neidhart crafted her own legacy, becoming one of the longest-tenured and most recognizable wrestlers in history.
The way Neidhart defines career success has evolved with every milestone she’s ticked off her list. But despite her storied presence in the record books, Neidhart now considers her most remarkable achievement to be that her overall health and relationships are still intact.
Maintaining her overall health has been no easy feat, given how long her career has been.
Courtesy of Natalya Neidhart
“I’ve been wrestling since I was 18, and in January , I’ll have been signed by WWE for 17 years,” Neidhart explains. “Not everybody can say that when they’ve been doing something as physical as wrestling for over 20 years…After all these years, my physical and mental health are my priorities, and I’m in a really good place with both of them.”
Thanks to her in-ring ability and connection with her fans, Neidhart has captured several of the most prestigious championships sanctioned by WWE. Meanwhile, as a result of her great strength and unparalleled durability, Nattie has acquired almost every WWE women’s wrestling record tied to career longevity. Here are just some of the highlights:
WWE Divas Champion
WWE Smackdown Women’s Champion
WWE Smackdown Women’s Tag Team Champion
Canadian Wrestling Hall of Fame Inductee
Guinness World Records
Most WWE Women’s pay-per-view appearances
Most WWE Women’s matches
Most WWE Women’s wins
Most WWE Women’s Raw matches
Most WWE Women’s Smackdown matches
Most WWE Women’s WrestleMania matches
Despite these accolades, by her own admission, Neidhart’s proudest career moment occurred in 2019. That’s when she became the first woman — alongside Lacey Evans — to compete in a professional wrestling match in Saudi Arabia.
“I’ve always seen myself as someone that wanted to achieve something so much greater than just headlocks and dropkicks,” Neidhart says. “It’s part of what makes me tick. But the match in Saudi Arabia was so much bigger. There could be a little girl in the crowd in Saudi Arabia who would look at me and one day think that she could become a WWE Superstar. That’s because she dreamed big and saw us in the ring doing something she had never seen before.”
How Nattie Stays Fit After 40
Over the course of 23 years of enduring incessant physical punishment, it’s not surprising that Neidhart’s approach to staying in shape would fluctuate over time. However, most of her fans aren’t aware of the peaks-and-valleys approach that her fitness regimen once took.
“I would get up and work out, and do cardio on an empty stomach, and eat 1,200 calories a day, and kill myself, struggling and fighting,” Neidhart admits. “I was basically working out every day like a dog, and eating nothing, and depriving myself.”
Instead of maintaining a pattern of training and dieting that certainly would have caused her to burn out, Neidhart pivoted to a more permissive approach to her health. This has resulted in her now inhabiting a body that she describes as being far healthier than the one she occupied when her career first began.
Courtesy of Natalya Neidhart
“I don’t do crazy amounts of cardio. I don’t lift extremely heavy weights. I don’t beat myself up if I have a cheat meal,” Neidhart says. “If I can only get to the gym three days a week, that’s fine. If I get to the gym six days a week, that’s even better. I used to beat myself up if I had a cheat meal. The next day I’d be doing crazy amounts of cardio trying to burn off what I ate the night before. Now, I feel like I’ve taken all that pressure off myself.”
Nattie’s New Approach to Nutrition
For much of her wrestling career, Neidhart struggled to get a tight rein on her nutrition. Then she started a food journal, and she became aware of every food item entering her body that she overlooked each day. The result was 25 pounds of weight loss. Neidhart credits the process of bringing her diet into a sharp focus with her now being at her most sustainable weight beyond age 40.
“When I kept the food journal in my iCloud notes, it really made me more accountable,” Neidhart says. “Then I would try to cut off my eating past 8 p.m. It really helped me lose weight and keep it off. I don’t need to have anything big and heavy past 8 p.m., and then when I’m on the road and wrestling, I try to keep that same thing in mind. If I need something after a match I’ll have a protein shake, or some cottage cheese, or a Greek yogurt.”
Nattie’s Go-To Supplement Plan
As Neidhart’s wrestling career has progressed, she has continuously paid increasing amounts of attention to supplements. In fact, she and her husband, T.J. Wilson, have even started their own supplement line. Neidhart’s burgeoning faith in supplements is linked with her belief that they have preserved her body, and extended her pro wrestling career into unprecedented territory.
“I’m always looking for really good supplements for my hair, for my skin, for my nails, and for my brain,” Neidhart explains. “I love fueling my body with the best of the best. I’ve only had one surgery in 16 years. I’ve been wrestling for 16 uninterrupted years in the company, and I feel like all these vitamins and supplements help me so much. They keep bones and ligaments strong.”
Courtesy of Natalya Neidhart
Neidhart’s Supplement Regimen
How Nattie Recovers From the Ring
The very essence of professional wrestling requires its practitioners to take “bumps” on a plywood surface with very little leeway to it. However, the wear and tear from thousands of wrestling matches is only the most obvious source of pain that leads wrestlers to invest heavily in recovery protocols. There are also several less well-known sources of physical discomfort.
“When I’m on a plane for a long period of time, or when I’m in a car driving from a show to the next show, that’s what gets locked up more than anything,” Neidhart explains about her hip tightness. “So I have to do a lot of stretching of my hip flexors before matches, after travel, and after working out.”
Nattie’s Post-Workout Cool-Down Regimen
Figure-Four Hamstring Stretch
Deep Lunge Stretch
Baby Child Pose
Eats 30 Grams of Protein
Keep in mind that this barely scratches the surface of how much of a financial investment Neidhart continues to pour into her body.
“I work with multiple massage therapists,” she adds. “I work with an active-release therapist. I work with a renal specialist. I’m getting a hyperbaric chamber installed in my house next week. I used to buy really expensive clothes from Louis Vuitton and splurge here and there. Now when I spend big money, it’s on recovery and self-care.”
[Read More: What You Need to Know About Muscle Recovery]
How Nattie Stays Strong After 40
Now that Neidhart is past the age of 40, she no longer feels the need to lift extremely heavy, or to regularly attempt to exceed her established one-rep max on any lifts. Instead, she structures her resistance training workouts around the exercise selection, set numbers, and rep ranges that increase strength and allow her to feel good afterward.
Courtesy of Natalya Neidhart
“I have days where I do heavier Olympic lifts, and then I have days where I kind of do bodybuilding workouts,” Neidhart says. “I do two days a week of Olympic lifting, and then I’ll incorporate a little bit of cardio into each workout. Then I’ll have three days a week that I’ll do a bodybuilder-type workout where it’s just dumbbells and exercises like biceps curls and triceps extensions. Those workouts also have about 20 minutes of cardio after them.”
Work Out Like Nattie
For the strength-building portion of her workout, Nattie focuses on compound exercises that start from the ground up and heavily tax her leg muscles. This method of training permits her to replicate the muscle-recruitment pattern that she utilizes inside of a wrestling ring.
“This style of training helps me with wrestling, because wrestling is a lot about explosive movements, especially when I do a suplex or if I’m doing a powerbomb,” Neidhart explains. “A clean & jerk emulates that type of explosive movement.”
Nattie Neidhart’s Strength Workout
Clean & Jerk: 3 x 5
Squat: 3 x 12
Deadlift: 3 x 10
Overhead Barbell Walking Lunge: 3 x 12 (6 Forward, 6 Back)
Pull-Up: 3 x 5
Side-to-Side Lying Partner Leg Raise: To Failure
Jogging: 15-20 Minutes
Keeping the BOAT Looking Ship-Shape
Natalya Nedihart’s career is a testament to the value of applying consistency to wellness. Most WWE superstars resemble the brilliant flashes of shooting stars; they soon fizzle out and fade away.
Thanks to her holistic focus on fitness, Neidhart “Nattie” Neidhart has been pro wrestling’s true North Star. She was in WWE before all of her peers, and she’ll probably be there long after them.
Featured Image: Courtesy of Natalya Neidhart
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