Feb 1, 2023 - Economy

Axios Finish Line: How Palantir CEO Alex Karp trains


Alex Karp in Davos on Jan. 18. Photo: Stefan Wermuth/Bloomberg via Getty Images

Alex Karp β€” co-founder and CEO of Palantir, the data-intelligence giant β€” is 55 years old and has 7% body fat. That's like Michael Phelps when he was training to swim in the Beijing Olympics.

  • But Karp is a billionaire entrepreneur and tech visionary, not an Olympian. And he doesn't starve himself.
  • His fitness comes from cross-country ski training β€” 5+ hours a week.

Why it matters: Karp's training secret can help all of us as we vary or elevate our workout routines. He's all about sheer distance β€” not speed or intensity. Just put ... in ... the miles.

🦌 How it works: "To run like a deer," Karp told me in an interview for Finish Line, "you have to spend 90% of your time running like a snail."

  • Whether you're running or skiing, he advises going at the "slowest pace a human can run for as many hours as you can afford.Β And then once, preferably twice, a week, you're doing [speed] intervals."

Karp says he learned the training regime from athletes in Norway, the country with the most all-time Winter Olympics medals β€” many for cross-country skiing.

  • "You're almost always moving like a snail β€” except for when you're doing intervals and you're going fast," he told me.
  • "It builds a cardio base so that when you race, you're by far the fastest in the world. And that's how they win."
Alex Karp cross-country skiing. Courtesy of Alex Karp

When the pandemic hit, Karp radically changed how he trained.

  • "I was already in reasonably good shape because I do tai chi, cross-country skiing, stretching," he recalled, using resistance bands as we talked.
  • "But then I became very disciplined about training this way. I saw results after 18 months β€” and especially huge results after 36 months."

πŸ₯Š Reality check: Karp is realistic about diet, and says the biggest adjustment he's made is simply dropping added sugar. He used to like chocolate snacks, sugar in his coffee and tea.

  • "I don't give things up forever," he said. "I have a special event, I eat sugar.Β If I'm traveling and someone has a really nice Danish, I enjoy every minute of eating it."
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