When you want to get better, you hang around the people who are already like how you want to be. At least that’s what people say…
Since I started my CrossFit journey a year ago, I figured that if I am going to do this, I might as well do it right. Why not learn from the best of the best? I studied all the interviews and videos of the best athletes I could find online. I dissected Rich Froning’s book and interviews to distill his CrossFit success secrets in its own article.
The next step was reaching out to any regional or CrossFit Games competitors and seeing if any were kind enough take the time to answer my questions. Here is what they said:
- Mat Fraser
- Katrín Davíðsdóttir
- Alea Helmick
- Anna Tunnicliffe Tobias
- Adam Blaney
- Christopher Clyde
- Luke Espe of the 12 Labours Lions Team
- Other Useful Resources
- Do You Have What It Takes to Go to the CrossFit Games?
- What’s Required to Make It to the Top?
- Perception Versus Reality
- “Being a Games athlete is rarely fun. It’s massive volumes of grimy work. It is ultimately rewarding, but it is an unforgiving and brutal way of life.”
- #1 Train to be a Well Rounded Athlete
- #2 Add Regular Interval Work
- #3 Recover Properly From The Training
- # 4 Scale Training So Its Appropriate For You As An Athlete and Your Goals
- # 5 Be Adaptable
- Rich Froning’s Meal Plan
- What makes a stimulant free pre-workout actually work?
- When is the best time to take creatine and BCAAs?
- Are carbs best pre or post-workout?
- Is casein just for when you want to bulk, or for nighttime recovery in general?
- Rich Froning Interview
- The top 10 crossfit athletes to follow on Instagram
- The Morning Chalkup
- 10 Up-and-Coming CrossFit Athletes to Watch In 2020 and Beyond
- The Men
- The Women
- More from Outside’s CrossFit Coverage
- Train With The World’s Fittest Man: Rich Froning CrossFit Workout!
- The Movements
- Scaling the Workout
- Shoulder to Overhead
- The Fittest Man In History, Rich Froning, Talks CrossFit Philosophy (and That Includes Kipping)
- Am I Good Enough to Compete in the CrossFit Games?
- CrossFit Competitions: How To Prepare To Perform Your Best
Mat Fraser has won 2nd place in the CrossFit Games in 2014 and 2015. He won 1st place in 2016 and 2017.
If you don’t have time to watch the full documentary, some of the key points he repeats over and over is that:
- He is willing to do what today what no one else is willing to do what others can’t tomorrow.
- The first 2nd place trophy he got was great because he worked hard. The second one was the worst failures to happen to him because he knew he cut corners that year and could’ve won first place. That motivated him to not cut any corners the following year and win first place.
- The grind is not as glamorous as social media makes it seems. The CrossFit Games is just a few days. The rest of the year he trains feverishly and gets no glory for it. Some days he doesn’t hit the mark that he sees others do on social media but he can’t let it get them down; people only post their highlights on social media.
Katrin has competed in the CrossFit Games four times, winning first place in 2015 and 2016.
What is the most important exercise that CrossFitters neglect?
Definitely, the mind. It’s so easy to get caught up in the physical … At the elite level, where everyone is so fit and so strong and so physically capable, it’s almost always the mind that separates.
If you’re talking about exercise, I’d say basic fitness — hanging around your lactic threshold for an extended period of time. And it’s hard. But that’s where the magic happens.
It’s not going guns ablazin’ for a workout. It’s not talking pace either. It’s hanging out where you might drop off.
What was your biggest failure?
Katrin’s biggest failure, to summarize, was not qualifying for the 2014 CrossFit Games. She made the two previous years and was good but not great. Failing to qualify emotionally impacted her. She trained and coached but didn’t like it and did it only to “go through the motions.” But the only thing she really wanted. This motivated her to push forward and make it the following year.
Katrin Davidsdottir recommends two books:
- Wooden: A Lifetime of Observations and Reflections On and Off the Court (John Wooden)
- The Champion’s Mind: How Champions Think, Train, and Thrive (Jim Afremow Ph.D.)
Katrin agrees with all the points that Coach Wooden makes in the first book.
The second book was the first psychology book she read. She helped her change her mindset from thinking she is a failure and didn’t belong to focusing on giving her absolute best rather than comparing herself to others. This is what her coach also constantly helps her focus on.
Katrin and Mat Fraser recommend the same purchase when asked what their most impactful investment under $100 is: the Philips Wake-Up Light with Sunrise Simulation, available on Amazon (affiliate link), which wakes you up with light instead of sound.
- Tribe of Mentors by Tim Ferriss. See other books recommended by other interviewees of Tim here.
- Tribe of Mentors: Most Impactful Purchases of $100 or Less.
The first person I sat down for an interview with was Alea Helmick. She has four top-10 even finishes, including a second-place in the Suicide Sprint. She’s placed 1st in Maryland two times and Top 5 in the Mid Atlantic Open four times. She’s placed in the Top 7 in the Regionals four times. And she came out 26th in the CrossFit Games in 2016 for Individual Women.
Alea’s husband is a high performing Games athlete as well. He placed 27th and 38th in the Crossfit Games Individual Men’s in two different years.
Alea and Gary Helmick were the only couple to compete in Individual events for the CrossFit Games 2016. Their team, CrossFit Revamped, competed in the 2017 CrossFit Games.
Do you notice any obvious differences, physically or mentally, between people who succeed competitively and those who want to but do not?
This may not be the answer you want to hear but a lot of it is genetics. My dad was a great athlete. He would push me like I was a boy. I grew up a tomboy and did a lot of sports, like track and field. I always genetically had a fierceness to me. I was very competitive.
I am also a perfectionist. I want everything perfect, including making sure I have no accidents on my driving record.
It’s possible to bring out character in someone and make them great, but it’s hard. It’s more about what you already have genetically.
Will’s Note: I noticed she did mention her dad’s influence on her. While a lot of it is genetic and luck, it is important to note how upbringing played a role too.
How important is the mental part of CrossFit? What percentage of CrossFit is mental or physical?
For beginners, mental toughness doesn’t play into it. You don’t know what the red zone is. Every workout is hard.
But as you get better, it’s very important. It’s about pushing further than you did before. This includes stuff like holding onto the bar longer and longer.
I would say it is 50/50.
At the highest levels of competition, the physical and technical skills between athletes are the same. If there are differences, they are very small. It’s all about your mental and training capacity.
How do you improve your mental toughness? Is it just about practicing pain tolerance during the workout?
Your mentality starts the moment you wake up in the morning. It’s about what you eat and what you make sure you don’t eat. It’s what you think about. It’s about planning out your day beforehand. It’s your whole day, not just the workout. You really have to want it. It’s all you think about all the time.
If you could only give 3 tips to get someone who wanted to compete to the highest level they could get, what would they be?
It depends on the person. But I would say work on your weaknesses. If you’re bad at gymnastics, I’d tell you to work on that. If it’s nutrition, I’d tell you to work on that.
Work on your mental game. This includes visualization. My dad would teach me to visualize the movements before competing. In track and field, if you missed a single hurdle, you were screwed. For CrossFit, I would picture in my head doing the whole workout flawlessly over and over again until I saw it.
Gary does a lot of this too.
This also includes positive self-talk and affirmations. If you feel like you’re too tired during a workout, tell yourself, “No, I’m not.”
Will’s Note: I asked her to dig into visualization a bit more since it’s mentioned quite often in personal development. She said she does not listen to affirmation tapes or anything like that. She doesn’t know who Tony Robbins is. She is motivated by her faith and who is next to her and competing with her.
How important are team dynamics and energy for the CrossFit Games? The team competition is a lot different from individuals since it’s a group of people.
We didn’t expect to make it to regionals but we did. Then, we made it to the Games. So it was just great being there.
Team dynamics are really important. We actually have 30 people outside of the 6 that competed that we consider part of our team. They were there with us when we trained. In fact, we consider our whole gym our team.
I noticed your gym doesn’t have any fancy obstacle courses or weird Worm stuff like they had at the Games. It seems like your basic CrossFit gym. Did you practice any of those activities before the Games?
Gary bought a worm and we practiced with that before the Games.
Mainly, we stuck to the standard gym programming. Our success just speaks to the effectiveness of the programming.
We did occasionally go out and do funky stuff on our own, including stuff with sandbags, though.
Do you have any advice for normal people with more normals goals who do not necessarily want to compete? For example, they may just want to be more fit, lose weight, and look more attractive.
Choose a gym that knows what they’re talking about and has good coaches. Because 99% of people are going to be average. Therefore, you want to find a gym that focuses on having good people all around rather than one that focuses on just the best people.
A lot of people talk about having fun. How important is having fun in your training and CrossFit as a whole?
Having fun is incredibly important in order to stay balanced. We train 1 hour a day.
What’s your typical training regime like(e.g. one hour a day or hours a day)? What’s Gary’s?
We were training 1.5 to 2.5 hours 5 days a week.
Anna Tunnicliffe Tobias
I also chatted with Anna Tunnicliffe Tobias. Out of over 150,000 women who compete in the CrossFit Games Open, she consistently rises to the top of the standings.
In the CrossFit Games, she has placed:
- 9th for 2013
- 22nd for 2014
- 22nd for 2015
- 10th for 2016
- 25th on 2017
It’s not easy to place so well consistently for any CrossFit athlete when there’s so much competition. I was interested in finding out if there were any patterns she noticed among her competitors that differentiated the successful from those who weren’t.
What do you observe to be what differentiates competitors who rank well in the Games and beyond and those who want to but don’t (visualization, goal setting, mentality, work ethic, genetics, etc.)?
Every competitor, first or last has their pre-workout routine. Some visualize, some socialize. I wouldn’t say those at the top of the ranks do one thing more than anyone else. All the athletes at the games are at the top of their sport so what they do works for them.
What’s the most important thing you’d tell someone to do to steer them in a better direction towards doing better competitively?
Make sure you are always having fun. You can’t compete at the top of any sport if you are not having fun.
How important is your mind and preventing injury and what do you do to work on these?
The mind is very powerful. Self-belief is what is needed to get to the top. If your mind allows you to believe that you can do something then you are more likely to succeed.
Obviously, injury isn’t good for anyone so listening to your body and not over training are key.
If you could only give one tip for becoming a better competitor what would it be?
Listen to your coach and trust the process.
How about for someone who just wants to be more fit and attractive?
Listen to your coach and enjoy the process.
It isn’t always the best move to compare yourself with the best in the world for many reasons, including genetics. I asked Adam Blaney what he thought about this. Adam finished consistently in the Top 34 for 3 consecutive years in the Mid Atlantic Regional in the Individual Men’s. For the CrossFit Games Team Series, he finished 57th in 2016 and 31st in 2015.
Adam had some harsh truth to share:
“I would say for starters that CrossFit is definitely for everyone but “competitive CrossFit” will have to be paired with at least some base of athleticism and/or God-given talent. The sport is becoming so competitive that not only do you have to work extremely hard but to be a high-level performer you also have been dealt a pretty good hand in terms of genetics … there’s a reason that 90% of the male competitors at the CrossFit games are 5’8″ to 5’10” 185-195 … It’s those lever lengths and strength-to-bodyweight ratios that seem to thrive with the movements comprising CrossFit WODs.
Moreover, I think the number one thing that separates mediocre competitors from high finishers is the mindset. You have to know before it even begins that it’s gonna hurt and it’s gonna hurt bad to be competitive. Some of the scores these days are out of control. Even laying on the ground writhing in pain after a workout I’m not even in the same league as some of these freaks. That said, the Average Joe is not willing to count the cost to really be competitive.
For some, they go into the workout confident but then when the heart rate spikes and things start getting really uncomfortable, the high finishers are gonna keep the foot on the gas while the middle of the pack will let up in order for it to hurt less. That said, if an athlete has that level of strength to not be exposed than the most important thing is INTENSITY.
Call me old school but I am not a fan of a million workouts a day all performed at 85-90% effort. One, maybe two, workouts at 100% effort will yield much better results and this advice falls on deaf ears to most I speak to as they see Rich Froning and Matt Fraser doing countless workouts a day and think they need to be doing the same.”
It seems clear that genetics play a role but so does mindset, which can be trained. While not all of us have the right ratios to compete at the top, we can still achieve goals we never thought possible if we adopted the right attitudes and trained ourselves to deal with the intensity and suffering necessary.
I asked Adam about this to make sure it was truly something that can be developed and if so, how. Here’s what he said:
“I think the mind can be trained but a person has to have a willingness to suffer to be truly competitive in CrossFit. If they have that even just a little bit and they’re competitive, then my advice would just be to hit workouts with intensity consistently and the mind will get stronger and stronger.”
Finally, I spoke with Christopher Clyde. He has made it to Regionals with his teams consecutively for every year since 2013, placing 1st Overall a few times.
Predictably, I found out that great athletes never cut corners. They don’t skip out on workouts. They see the short term and long term. Chris explained it a lot more eloquently than me. He said:
What do you observe to be what differentiates competitors who rank well in the Games and beyond and those who want to but don’t?
Games athletes do the grunt work RELENTLESSLY. Not once a week. Not for one phase. Constantly doing it all. I’m talking every phase of energy work. They do the corrective work every day. They keep improving. They see the forest for the trees AND the trees for the forest. They polish their strengths and completely obliterate their weaknesses until they don’t exist. Those who want to make it to the next level, and don’t, neglect the work, or get bored with it for qualifiers or general programming, or just don’t understand the whole picture. In my opinion.
How important is the mental game?
The mental game, at the top, is the entire game. Under regionals, it matters as an equal part to the puzzle. At the top echelon, where the differences are milliseconds and less than 5lbs on lifts… it’s the decider.
If you could only give 3 tips for an up and comer to get them as high as positive in rank, what would it be?
Make your movements perfect. Condition more than you want and twice as much as you think. Listen to your body – the basics are simple, the foundations are simple and everyone gets it – but barely anybody does it. They chase the maxes, instead of the consistency. The social media over the work. Instead of building the right way.
How about for someone who just wants to be more fit and attractive?
Work hard every day, in all aspects. Work out with people you love, and love to compete with. Have fun. DO SOMETHING EVERY DAY!
Luke Espe of the 12 Labours Lions Team
Luke is the co-Founder 12 Labours CrossFit and 12 Labours Lions Team Captain. They placed 9th place at the CrossFit Games 2014, 6th place in 2015, and 2nd place in 2016 against titans such as Rich Froning’s team, CrossFit Mayhem Freedom.
The team is a four-time CrossFit Games team with an all-time best finish of second place in 2016. That year, it was one of only three returning top-10 Games teams from 2015 (CrossFit Mayhem Freedom, CrossFit Solid) and just two from 2014 (CrossFit 808). A top-performing Mid Atlantic and Atlantic Regional team since 2010 with just two regional absences from 2012-2013, the team has been training together in part since 2010. In 2016, four of its six members were returning members of its 2015 Games team. The team had two event wins and eight top-three event finishes.
In conclusion, a clear pattern we’ve seen in these quotes is an acknowledgement of the importance of genetics so you have the right body and lever ratios but also a strong reference to the importance of the mental game, mindset, attitude, and work on your mental strength.
While it does suck that not everyone will have the right genetics, we can all still improve our mind and perspectives with practice.
Setting out extra time to train your mental toughness could be a overlooked opportunity to get ahead. While many athletes train their physical bodies, they neglect training their mind.
I respect and admire the sacrifices these athletes have made and the level of mental performance, hard work, dedication, and effort that went in to achieve their goals. I find it inspiring that many of the traits and habits of these high performing people can be incorporated into our own lives as our own responsibility to improve our lives — and the benefits to doing so are off the charts.
Other Useful Resources
- How I Became The Fittest Woman On Earth by Tia-Claire Toomey (book)
- Tia-Claire Toomey comprehensive interview on her CrossFit secrets
- Jason Khalipa has competed in the CrossFit Games 8 times, finished in the top 10 6 times, and won once. He sat down for an interview in this Stack.com article and shared some secrets.
- Rich Froning’s podcast, “Froning and Friends” on iTunes or Youtube (here’s an episode featuring Mat Fraser)
- Rich Froning and his team, CrossFit Mayhem, take Q&A episodes on YouTube every Friday called Freedom Fridays.
- Get a sense of how Rich Froning and other top athletes train. They release footage of their full workouts on YouTube series, like Mayhem Monday. Many top athletes visit and train with Rich.
Views – 3223
Do You Have What It Takes to Go to the CrossFit Games?
Every day around the globe, young and old alike are waltzing into their local boxes, declaring their dreams to “go to the Games.” And every day around the globe, box owners groan in equal parts bemusement and frustration, as they hear these words pronounced yet again.
How do you tell Jo Average, who thinks she’s “pretty fit” and has just walked in off the street, pumped and motivated after watching some CrossFit Games footage on ESPN, that she has zero to no hope of making it? Less than 1% of participants in the Open actually make it to the Games. Ask yourself which is more likely – are you part of the 1% or the 99%?
What’s Required to Make It to the Top?
For Jo Average to have a chance, a minimum of four to five years of double training days (for a total of four to six hours per day) is required to achieve the standard we see at the Games today. And it’s guaranteed that in another four to five years, that standard will have improved again dramatically. So, how the hell does Jo Average break in or catch up to the game?
If you’re not already in the sport of CrossFit or if you don’t have a high-level sporting background (preferably in gymnastics or weightlifting), then the outlook is as bleak as it could be.
“We won’t see the days of unknowns breaking into the ranks of Games athletes ever again. If you do the work, they’ll see you coming for years.”
I qualified for the 2011 CrossFit Games as an individual after six months in the sport. I had a high-level sporting background; I was seriously fit and naturally strong; I had a bulletproof mental game; and I employed solid recovery practices. That was enough back then. At that time, I honestly didn’t know what the Games were, I hadn’t intended to go, and I hadn’t single-mindedly worked toward qualifying. It all just fell into place.
We won’t see the days of unknowns breaking into the ranks of Games athletes ever again. If you do the work, they’ll see you coming for years. This is now a professional sport and athletes devote themselves full time to their Games preparations. The breadth, depth, and level of skill, strength, endurance, mental resilience, self-discipline, recovery practices, and nutritional commitment required to make it to the top are uncompromising and unforgiving.
Think about these things:
- If you’re working hard, your competition is working harder.
- Injury is a matter of when, never if. Can you handle it? Do you have a team around you to keep you strong and healthy? Do you have adequate recovery practices to cope with the training demands?
- Do you have the courage to go to that dark place, over and over, day after day? Will you seek out and swallow pain without faltering?
- Do you have the self-belief to fight on, year after year, despite the odds and evidence against you?
- Do you have the total support of friends and family? Without their support, you’ll never make it.
- Are you willing to give up your social life, give up the drink, get to bed early, and train when your mind says no or your family wants you to spend time with them? There is no way to add in the training without removing other things from your life.
- Can you handle the pressure of competition and the stress of multiple days of battle? Does your support crew travel with you to keep you strong and healthy as well as calm and focused?
- Are you willing to discipline your nutritional habits? Can you give up sugar, dairy, wheat, and processed foods?
- Do you have the mental fortitude to remain calm in the face of failure and seeming defeat? Think back two years to Camille Leblanc-Bazinet’s rower not working in the final event or Rich Froning’s public frustration during the rope climb. Do you have the strength to handle that with dignity?
- Do you beat yourself up when you fail reps? While seeking to improve is important, you need to have a positive inner dialogue, not berate yourself constantly.
- Do you have an unquenchable fire and drive to succeed?
- Do you have absolute faith in yourself and your chosen path despite the critics and haters?
- Can you live for your dream on negligible income?
- Do you have a bulletproof sense of the ridiculous?
- Can your body handle the volume and intensity of the physical work required?
- Are you insane enough to keep coming back for more, with no promise of reward or recognition?
Perception Versus Reality
The dream of being a CrossFit Games athlete and the reality of being a CrossFit Games athlete are two entirely separate experiences. One is all glory and magnificence in the limelight, while the other is all suffering and uncertainty alone in a dark box.
“Being a Games athlete is rarely fun. It’s massive volumes of grimy work. It is ultimately rewarding, but it is an unforgiving and brutal way of life.”
I say that anyone willing to step up has great courage. To box owners faced with what to tell these motivated fans declaring their Games dreams, I say tell them to seriously consider the above points before embarking on what will be a multi-year journey.
CrossFit was originally about minimal dosage for maximum results, about community, and about fun. Being a Games athlete is rarely fun. It’s massive volumes of grimy work. It is ultimately rewarding, but it is an unforgiving and brutal way of life.
- What the CrossFit Games 2015 Changes Mean for You
- 3 Lessons We Can All Learn From the CrossFit Games
- A CrossFit Games History Lesson
- What’s New on Breaking Muscle Today
Photos courtesy of Jorge Huerta Photography
By Brandon Couden
#1 Train to be a Well Rounded Athlete
It seems like it would go without saying. The word CrossFit literally infers cross training but over the past few years there as been a growing trend of athletes cherry picking workouts. CrossFit is defined as increased work capacity over broad time and modal domains. In plain terms CrossFit is asking athletes to be able to go long distances, sprint, and do everything in between using a wide variety of movements. What many CrossFitters do is bias all their training toward certain movements (i.e. Olympic Weightlifting) or styles of training (i.e. Chipper WODS) and avoid ones that push their comforts zones. These tend to be the interval cardio days, weightlifting only days, or ones that ask athletes to do a challenging gymnastic movement. It’s easy for athletes to write them off as stupid or not as fun, but these are the training sessions most CrossFitters will see the biggest break throughs.
The athletes we typically see cherry picking are the ones who come into CrossFit with capacity built-up from a previous training background. Adults have trouble becoming beginners again. Common examples are male athletes who lift off to the side on a day where the focus is running intervals, or female athletes who avoid upper-body gymnastic based workouts and do the chipper WOD from last week instead. Many athletes who have competitive aspirations train this way and repeatedly run into roadblocks.
You’ll see this scenario play out every year in the Open. A guy or girl who is between 6 months and a 1 1/2 years into CrossFit comes out and crushes the first Open workout or two. Then they run into a movement they have avoided and either bombs the workout, or simply quits to further avoid the movement.
Building a wide base can and will help you at all levels of CrossFit. As a non-competitive athlete it will allow you to train consistently and add longevity to your CrossFit training. Most injuries I see come from simple overuse. When an athlete avoids a training modality and replaces it with one they are comfortable with they end up doubling up on that movement. Over time they start to build imbalances and put themselves at risk for injuries. When you train a wide variety of movements and mix up the length of time of your workouts your body stays fresh and in balance.
At a competitive level, the most well rounded athletes are the ones you see year in and year out, not the ones who just guessed right in their training. They are also the ones you see winning when the dust settles at the CrossFit Games. In 2010 my business and training partner at the time, Graham Holmberg won The CrossFit Games due in large part to his willingness to take on everything and anything he saw pop up on CrossFit.com. Throughout that year he squat snatched, climbed ropes, and did ring handstand push-ups because they were part of the workout of the day. Even though he wasn’t good at some of the movements, he learned them and trained them consistently. That year, stronger athletes floundered through workout after workout some trying to learn the movements in the warm-up area. They had all trained for what the Games had been the year before and it was a huge mistake.
#2 Add Regular Interval Work
Running, rowing, and biking intervals have been a regular part of CrossFit.com programming since it started. Over the years I’ve seen a general trend of athletes skipping these days, or if they write their own programming, neglect to add them in. It doesn’t look cool on social media to say “I did 800m repeats at the track”. What it does do though is take your fitness to the next level.
It’s the part of training the guys and girls making it to Regionals and the Games are doing that you’re not. The top 200-300 Open athletes in every region are stacked full of incredible weightlifting stats, some that are better than many Games and Regional athletes. The difference is the rate at which athletes are breaking down in the Open workouts. The top athletes maintain their pace throughout the workout while everyone else falls apart.
As a recreational CrossFitter, if your affiliate doesn’t program intervals, try replacing one training session per week with a running, rowing or biking workout and rotate through each type. In my experience, you will get the most bang for your buck out of 400m running intervals and 500m rowing intervals. These distances give you a good balance of all three energy systems and transfer well into sports. If you need more aerobic training, shade toward 800m runs and 1000m row repeats. If you need more speed work, trend toward 200m running and 250m rowing sprints.
Competitive CrossFit athletes should look to add a variety of intervals up to 4 days a week, maybe more depending on the time of year. In the early days of the CrossFit Games, Mikko Salo said he would start everyday off with a rowing or running session. Jason Khalipa made a return to the podium in 2013 after working with now well known endurance coach Chris Hinshaw on his running. When preparing our Regional and Games teams I typically ended each of our training sessions with three different very simple workouts. Mixes of 50 and 100m sprints, a 400m repeat and a 800m repeat workout. In the 2015 CrossFit Games our affiliate team took 2nd place in the 1 mile relay event and 8th place overall based in large part to our interval training that gave us a running advantage through the weekends events.
#3 Recover Properly From The Training
Have you ever seen two athletes that do the same workouts and yet somehow get drastically different results? While effort, age, and genetics can be a significant factor, what the athlete is doing when they leave the gym can play an even greater role.
When most CrossFitters think recovery they immediately start thinking about cryo cambers, electric stim machines, and supplements. While all of those things can help and have their place, its not the first thing you should be focused on.
Eating to fuel your body properly should be the first thing you dive into when addressing your recovery from training. The “perfect diet” doesn’t really exist and is a moving target based on a lot of different factors. That being said, getting most of your fuel from real unprocessed food is a great start. Then, finding the right balance of calories and macro nutrients that fuel your training and recovery are the next step. Finding a local dietitian or nutritionist who specializes in athletes can be a great resource to help get you started. The CrossFit journal also has some great articles to help you learn more about nutrition!
This one is boring and comes up over and over again in training articles but the underlying theme and fact is you need adequate sleep. You can have great nutrition and an amazing training program but if you’re not getting proper sleep, you will not recover well from your training. I almost equate poor sleep habits to smoking cigarettes in how much it effects your training as a whole. You can have a bad night of sleep and a great day of training the next day, you may be able to have a cigarette with a few beers on Saturday night and kill it on Sunday. However they both add up fast and even a day or two of either will start to take it’s toll.
I had insomnia issues in college and have a few strategies that may help you sleep if you have difficulties.
– Go to bed and wake up at the same time everyday. It’s the simplest one to say, but the hardest to execute.
– Do your training earlier in the day if possible. Training close to bedtime can keep you wired in the late hours.
– Cut the caffeine off at least 8 hours before you sleep.
– Keep TV and electronics out of bed.
Soft tissue work and mobility
CrossFit training is hard and intense and while the workouts are generally short, you need to take extra time to prepare your body for training and to spend time cooling it down. The shorter and more intense the workout, the longer and more involved the warm-up should be. The longer, steadier training generally requires a shorter warm-up. The same can be said for the cool down. After a short fast workout like Fran there is a lot of muscle damage. Athletes need to take extra time to cool down, foam roll, and stretch tight muscles. Longer less intense workouts will generally need less of this.
# 4 Scale Training So Its Appropriate For You As An Athlete and Your Goals
From the beginning, it is drilled into coaches and affiliate members that they need to scale individual workouts and movements to their ability level. What isn’t as commonly talked about is choosing a program that is appropriate for your skill and experience level. You don’t see weekend 5k and half marathon runners at the track 3 hours a day mimicking the training program of the gold medalist in preparation for the last Olympics. In CrossFit gyms all over the country it’s not uncommon to see everyday athletes tackling Comp Train, a training program written for the winners of last years CrossFit Games Katrin and Matt.
CrossFit attracts a lot of competitive people. Most of the workouts are scored and performed like a race or like a little competition on a daily basis. The athletes participating in this naturally start to strive to get better fast. Many of them look to see what the best athletes are doing as a shortcut to improved fitness even if the goal isn’t to compete. These programs certainly work when followed the right way but there is a progression to get your body in condition to train that way.
Identify where you are at, and how to progress
Non-competitive CrossFit athlete
Build experience, consistency and well rounded skills
Step #1 Establish at least a 3 day a week training schedule
Step #2 4-5 day a week training schedule
Step #3 5-6 day a week training schedule
(CrossFit as a training program for general fitness)
Do most workouts RX’d and move through workouts quickly
Can perform most skills but may lack some capacity in the high end skills
Trains 5-6 days per week
May add 2 or 3 skill/ strength days on top of normal wods (extra credit work). Or double days with multiple workouts.
(Open athletes, local competitors, athletes with specific skill or strength based goals)
Jumping from 1-2 hours of gym time daily to 3-5 hours
3 on 1 off or (3 on 1 off 2 on 1 off)
Sample day might include a
Metcon and skill work
(Professional/ semi professional athletes, Games, Regional, or qualifier based fitness competitions (i.e. Granite Games, WODalpozza, Grid)
The time it takes each athlete to move through the progression is unique to them as an individual. Most CrossFitters don’t need to move through it at all to look good, feel good and continue to improve for years. In fact, you will be a lot more likely to have less injuries and longevity if you keep your overall training volume down.
Athletes seeking to add training volume to prepare for competition must first make sure they have rock solid mechanics and are consistently training 5-6 days per week. If you’re not training regularly, prioritize getting to the gym more frequently before adding volume. If your mechanics aren’t rock solid, do not build capacity in poor movement patterns. Trying to fix a bad technique that has been burned into an athlete is a lot harder than building them up the right way.
Intensity is the primary reason CrossFit works so well. Somehow in recent years that has gotten lost on athletes in favor of volume. An athlete with a 6 minute Fran time attempting “What is Rich doing?” programming is like a rec league flag football player going through an NFL training camp “scaled”. It doesn’t make sense. Learn how to push yourself to go fast before you add extra training. Volume isn’t the shortcut to fitness; intensity is.
# 5 Be Adaptable
Being a versatile athlete is what CrossFit is all about! “CrossFit prepares trainees for any physical contingency—not only for the unknown but for the unknowable, too. Our specialty is not specializing”. (Source www.crossfit.com) Having the ability to apply multiple techniques to standard movements can be a life saver in competition. Every year the CrossFit Open, Regionals, and Games puts a new twist on commonly used movements or changes the standards. Practicing and preparing for the inevitable and increase in difficulty will give you an advantage when that movement comes up. Refreshing a skill is much easier than learning it.
As you become a more advanced athlete, look to add layers to your game within the movements.
Hanging skills from a pull up bar
Strict toe to bar
Kipping toes to bar
Strict w/ deficits (neutral grip on paralletes and traditional hand placement on blocks)
Kipping w/ deficits
Full range (squat)
Split (both legs)
Shoulder to overhead
Power (push jerk)
Always progress from the most basic versions of the movements to the more advanced, but don’t forget to go back to the basics frequently. Ever see someone who can butterfly and not kip pull-ups, do doubles but not single unders? Don’t lose sight of the basics!
The accessibility of equipment and accessories has came along way since I started doing CrossFit in 2008. Old school CrossFit was all about minimal gear. Athletes wore minimalistic Vibram shoes, and were allergic to shirts and weight belts. Grips were actually illegal in competition until 2013. Olympic weightlifting shoes, weight belts, gymnastic grips, and knee sleeves are now accessories many CrossFitters own and rely on. They give support to joints, protect hands, and can help put athletes in better lifting positions. However, I see athletes relying on these accessories more and more where it gets to the point it starts to cause a negative impact on their performance.
If every time you lift weights you slide on knee sleeves, tie on wrist wraps, and strap on a belt to your body, the more you will start relying on the support and compression from the gear. In a workout that asks you to run, do burpees and involves weightlifting, all this gear will get in the way. Hand protection and grips work the same way. You buy a pair of grips, chalk them up and attach yourself to a Speal bar and PR your butterfly pull-ups by 5-6 reps. Then 6 months later on Helen you find yourself waiting for a specific bar because your grips don’t stick to the other one.
Now I am not saying using these accessories are bad, you just have to know how and when to use them and not rely on them. An example is whenever you’re squatting, the majority of the time it is not wearing a belt. When you do wear it, use it properly as a tactile cue to brace properly, instead of simply relying on it to do the work of the spinal erectors in your back. A great time to use the belt is when you’re maxing out a lift or on your last set of your lifts, which is going to push your body to the limit. Don’t just use them because its easier! Start to wean yourself off grips and gratuitous amounts of chalk for workouts with less than 50 total pull-ups or sets of 15 or less. At first it will feel hard to grip the bar, but then over time you will find your hands toughening up and your transitions in workouts speeding up!
That was a lot to read so now what do I do?
– Train to be a well rounded athlete by consistently incorporating a wide variety of skills, time domains, and workout formats to your training.
– Make intervals a regular part of your training. It’s a lot like eating vegetables. It’s not always fun, and it’s hard to see the benefit until you do it consistently!
– Take your recovery seriously. You will only see improvements when you recover from your training sessions.
– Scale workouts and choose a training program based on you and where you’re at. Mimicking a games athletes training isn’t a short cut to becoming a better CrossFitter.
– Become an adaptable athlete. Don’t panic if the workout calls for strict handstand push-ups or you forget your grips at home. Train to be able to adapt to all sorts of challenges.
We know you’re dying to see how much CrossFit athlete Rich Froning eats in one day. After all, how many calories does it take to sustain the Fittest Man in History?”
Turns out, a lot. If you’re in a cut phase, you’ll likely be jealous of Froning’s very generous carb allowance. The athlete consumes roughly 200 to 500 grams of carbs per day, depending on his level of training.
But there was a time when Froning barely ate, because he’d have breakfast and then forget about meals until around 5 p.m.
“I found that I was under eating,” he says. “I was not eating enough carbs.”
To tackle his nutritional needs, Froning began intermittent fasting and uses RP Health, a nutrition coaching company. Together, they developed a personalized plan that outlines how much he should consume of each macronutrient when working out two and three times a day, as well as on active recovery days.
Froning shared his meal plan with Men’s Health, and all we can say is, be prepared for some major food envy.
Rich Froning’s Meal Plan
He starts the day with a very early breakfast followed by a mid-morning snack.
A typical dinner includes a mix of carbs, protein, and healthy fats.
Although Froning maintains a healthy diet, he isn’t that stringent.
“I have three kids, and sometimes it’s chicken nuggets ,” he says.
And he does admit to another–albeit small–indulgence: Raisin Bran and Frosted Mini Wheats.
“I eat a bowl of cereal to cap off the night,” he says. “That’s my dessert.”
Want to follow the plan yourself to live like Froning? We don’t exactly recommend it, but if you’re ready to put the work in at your local box, you can check out the full schedule here:
Rich Froning Melissa Matthews Health Writer Melissa Matthews is the Health Writer at Men’s Health, covering the latest in food, nutrition, and health.
In addition to training the house down on a daily basis, Sager knows a thing or two about nutrition and supplementation. In fact, he’s learnt the hard way that nutrition more than anything can play a vital role in your progression as an athlete of any level.
Sager recently shared a transformation post on both his Instagram and personal blog, demonstrating the weight loss, and more importantly health gains, he’s achieved since playing college football in 2012. Admittedly gaining 35-pounds on purpose on the orders of his coach (15.8kg in Australian), Sager outlined how an unhealthy relationship with food reared it’s ugly head. However his battles with food began long before his weight gain, when staying lean became an ‘obsession’ for the college athlete.
5,033 likes – View Post on Instagram Do you ever take a second to look up from your busy training schedule and plan for your long-term health? 🤨 When I first heard about @SteadyMD, I was immediately interested, due to frustrating healthcare experiences in the past. My prior doctor advised that I exercise less and stop weightlifting altogether. It was SUCH a relief when we were introduced to SteadyMD and their functional medicine doctors. 👨⚕️ · I genuinely believe that @SteadyMD is a great solution, as they pair you with a doctor who “gets” you. It has been amazing using SteadyMD and working with Dr. @daniurcuyomd. He’s my primary care doctor and he can be yours too, completely online. · Dani specializes in functional fitness and functional medicine. He considers all aspects of my life and fully understands my training, goals, and nutrition. · For more information on #SteadyMD click the link in my bio or visit steadymd.com/colesager
“I decided that I was going to do whatever it took to get lean and shredded,” says Cole on his website. “I went on a severe calorie-restrictive diet, did not consume nearly enough carbs, and slowly watched my performance tank. At one point my energy levels were so low that I became slightly narcoleptic, falling asleep randomly and frequently.”
Now a regular the the CrossFit Games and 2017’s 5th ‘Fittest Man On Earth’, Sager has forged a positive relationship with nutrition, and is happily sharing his advice. Thanks to Instagram Story’s new ‘Ask Me Anything’ feature, Sager opened the floor to his followers who had questions on relating specifically to his supplementation when training.
4,206 likes – View Post on Instagram We each deserve a prosperous life. Yet we each hold the responsibility to find the discipline within ourselves to create that life! #BeKindWorkHard
“I cannot reiterate enough the importance of an accountability tool to help us stay focused on our nutrition goals and maintaining a healthy view on food,” advised Sager on his Instagram profile. “This is something that I did not have through college or my early years of Crossfit.”
With that in mind, here are some of the questions thrown Sager’s way this week via his Instagram and his knowledgable answers. Take a knee, supplement school is in session.
6,203 likes – View Post on Instagram Some days Genasee makes me hose off outside 😬 #CrossFitProblems #GamesPrep #TheWeirdNeighbors
What makes a stimulant free pre-workout actually work?
They use a nitric oxide complex to deliver more oxygen to your brain and muscles – giving you more energy, focus, and stamina during your workout.
When is the best time to take creatine and BCAAs?
I personally take creatine after my workouts (5g daily) and drink BCAA mixed with my pre-workout before and during my workout sessions.
Are carbs best pre or post-workout?
Depends on your type of workout. If you are doing a lower intensity workout, I recommend before.
If you are doing a high intensity (CrossFit style) workout, then it’s better after.
Is casein just for when you want to bulk, or for nighttime recovery in general?
If you don’t get enough protein in your food consumption during the day, then casein is a good protein source before bed, not just for bulking up.
Rich Froning Interview
The goal of CrossFit is functional fitness. Instead of standing in front of a mirror and pumping up your glory muscles, it’s all about excelling along the broad spectrum. That means strength, aerobics and endurance. The workouts are short but extremely intense, and, boy, do they ever challenge your body to extremes you’ve rarely felt before.
But instead of us telling you about CrossFit, we caught up with the Rich Froning, who won the Reebok CrossFit Games two years running and earned the label “Fittest Man in The World” in both 2011 and 2012, so that he could tell us why CrossFit is such a popular workout and why he recommends it to everyone.
Listen to AskMen’s Man vs. Myth: CrossFit podcast, where our host interviews Iceland’s Annie Thorisdottir, two time CrossFit Games champion, and gets to the bottom of whether the benefits of CrossFit are worth the risk of injury.
Dave Golokhov (DG): What would you be doing if you weren’t doing CrossFit professionally?
Rich Froning (RF): I have no idea. My undergrad was in exercise science, so I’d be doing something with this, but not competing, I don’t think.
DG: What kind of workouts did you do before CrossFit?
RF: I did the normal stuff. Chest and back, and back and tris , and legs-once-a-month type thing. Luckily, I found CrossFit. I do a lot more legs now — that’s for sure.
DG: How would you contrast the pre-CrossFit Rich Froning to the man you are today?
RF: The pre-CrossFit Rich Froning was a wuss. You learn a lot about yourself doing CrossFit; you learn a lot about other people, too, as far as how far they are going to push their limits. I think physically, mentally and spiritually, I’m a better person than I was before across the board.
DG: What does your daily workout consist of when you’re training hard?
RF: It’s not really an average workout; it’s more of an average day. Wake up, do some type of interval of bike or rower, followed by some type of CrossFit workout, some type of strength session — mostly power lifts around lunch — then some type of shorter workout with that movement, then Olympic lifting and then another CrossFit workout. And then that’s usually it for the day. In total, about three or four sessions a day.
DG: That’s a very advanced workout, but can the common man just jump into CrossFit at an easier level? Let’s say someone is 100 pounds overweight — is CrossFit too intense for them to jump into right away?
RF: I’m completely of the opinion that anybody can do CrossFit. My cousin, he’s probably about 100 pounds overweight — if not more — and he just started a couple of days ago. There’s a few things that we have to scale back, of course, but he’s doing CrossFit — functional movements constantly varied. I think anybody can do it; you’ve just got to have the right mindset, and you as a trainer have to have the right mindset to be able to scale it back for them.
DG: So you think the average person should start off joining a CrossFit gym instead of just going through the workouts on their own?
RF: Yes, get a coach. Especially for someone who doesn’t have an athletic background, learn the movements from somebody who is going to help you do it right.
The top 10 crossfit athletes to follow on Instagram
4. Mikko Salo
Mikko was the CrossFit Games champion in 2009, but he is also one of our nation’s unsung heroes as a firefighter. Mikko continually pushes himself with techniques like ice cold water diving to help push his limits to new heights. Get pumped with training ideas from Mikko’s CrossFit Instagram feed.
Mikko Salo’s Instagram: @mikkosalo63
5. Krystal Cantu
Krystal Cantu lost one of her arms in a car accident, but she never lost her drive and fighting spirit. Today she is one of the top CrossFit athletes on Instagram and also a motivating coach. She is also a proud mother and 1st Phorm Elite Athlete.
Krystal Cantu’s Instagram: @krystalcantu
6. Sara Sigmundottir
Sara Sigmundottir is currently the third fittest woman on Earth, a Nike athlete and the 2015 and 2016 Meridian Regional champion. She remains a major threat on the CrossFit circuit and a major source of fitness inspiration on Instagram.
Sara Sigmundsdottir’s Instagram: @sarasigmunds
7. Kara Webb
Aussie Kara Webb arrived on the scene with a bold statement in 2014, topping the Games leaderboard for quite some time. While she had to step down because of injury, she came back on strong with stats like a 15.5 workout in 6:36.
Kara Webb’s Instagram: @karawebb1
8. Kevin Ogar
Despite enduring an accident that rendered Kevin paralyzed from the waist down, he’s looking strong doing muscle ups, handstand push ups and much more. You go, Ogar!
Kevin Ogar’s Instagram: @kevinogar
9. Jason Khalipa
In addition to being a multi-time Games podium competitor, Jason Khalipa is a father, company owner and businessman. You might say he’s the total package!
Jason Khalipa’s Instagram: @jasonkhalipa
10. Sam Briggs
Sam Briggs has been designated 2013 CrossFit Games champion and the Fittest on Earth. She has fought injury to excel in CrossFit, bringing inspiration to hundreds of thousands of followers… and those biceps!
Sam Briggs’ Instagram: @bicepslikebriggs
CrossFit athletes don’t quit; they may need a breather from time to time, but they always come back strong. If you need a dose of inspiration, check out these CrossFit Instagram top performers. You’ll find training ideas, killer pics, words of wisdom and tons of motivation from these top athletes.
The Morning Chalkup
The massive overhaul of the 2019 CrossFit Games season brought significantly more competition opportunities, and with it came the chance to make some extra cash in the process. Between the Open, Sanctionals, and the Games, there was more money up for grabs than ever before, and we’ve got updated payouts* and analysis for the top athletes in 2019.
- You can access the full payout breakdown on our payout tracker.
- *Note: Some events from 2019 have not disclosed their full prize purses, so some athlete totals could end up being higher.
It pays to be a winner: For the fourth year in a row Mat Fraser is the top earner on the men’s side and the difference between him and the rest of the field is staggering. Fraser’s 2019 total is more than the next five athletes combined despite only participating in four events across the entire year. In the top 10, only Jacob Heppner participated in fewer events.
- Despite having the lowest finish of his career at the CrossFit Games, Patrick Vellner still cracked the top 5 thanks to a win at Wodapalooza, and a lucrative 2nd place finish at the Rogue Invitational that netted him $40,000.
- Three athletes managed to make the top 10 despite failing to finish inside the top 10 at the Games. Travis Mayer, Cole Sager and Patrick Vellner all capitalized on strong Sanctional performances to boost their season total.
- It was a banner year for Australian men, with two Aussie finishing in the top 10 overall thanks in part to top 10 finishes at the Games by James Newbury and Matt McLeod. It was the first time an Australian male has cracked the top 10 at the Games since Chad Mackay in 2012, and the first time in history that two did so in the same year.
- Career-high payouts for Noah Ohlsen and Bjorgvin Karl Gudmundsson were driven by career-best finishes at the Games, with Ohlsen making his first Games podium, and BKG matching his 2015 podium finish at the Games.
Making history: It was a banner year for Tia-Clair Toomey and her prize money reflected it. Wins at Wodapalooza and the Rogue Invitational, and a career-best finish in the Open set the table for Toomey to become the first-ever three-time CrossFit Games champion on the women’s side, winning by a record 195 point margin.
- The top 10 women in 2019 outearned the top 10 on the men’s side by nearly $40,000 ($39,445 to be exact). The women had more six-figure earners as well, and seven of the top ten women out-earned their male counterparts of the same rank.
- Sam Briggs was the only athlete to break the $100,000 dollar mark despite finishing outside of the top 10 at the Games. The six other six-figure earners all finished on the podium at the Games in 2019, and Briggs managed the feat thanks to a $92,000 performance at the Dubai CrossFit Championship.
- Jacqueline Dahlstrom was the only athlete from both lists that made the top 10 in earnings while earning exactly $0 in prize money from the Games. Dahlstrom finished 47th overall in Madison, but won both the Reykjavik CrossFit Championship and CrossFit French Throwdown, making her the third woman – alongside Sam Briggs and Tia-Clair Toomey – to win multiple Sanctionals.
- Europe dominated the top 10 payout list for the women, with six women on the list in total: three “Dottirs” from Iceland, two Norwegians, and one Britt, with the remaining spots occupied by two Americans, one Aussie, and one Kiwi.
The Games Still Rule the Bank Accounts
The Sanctionals provided significant earning potential for a variety of athletes, but the performance at the Games was still the most lucrative. The top three earners on both lists directly reflected the podium at the Games, with Noah Ohlsen, Kristin Holte, and Jamie Greene all making the podium for the first time and finishing in the top three as well.
The top 10 men and women combined took home a shade under 2.3 million dollars in 2019, and there are 13 additional events slated for this season. Strategy will dictate how that will be reflected in the top 10 earners for next year, but in the very least there’s more money on the table for athletes than ever before.
Mathew Fraser | Noah Ohlsen | Björgvin Karl Guðmundsson | Tia-Clair Toomey | Kristin Holte | Jamie Greene
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10 Up-and-Coming CrossFit Athletes to Watch In 2020 and Beyond
Though it’s possible to burst onto the scene and land on the podium at the CrossFit Games in your rookie season—like Rich Froning did in 2010, Mat Fraser in 2014, and Patrick Vellner in 2016—it appears to be a harder and harder task to accomplish each year.
In fact, the top rookie on the men’s side at last summer’s Games was Australian athlete Matt McLeod, who was seventh. On the women’s side, the top rookie was the rising superstar Haley Adams, who placed sixth.
The point is, today’s up-and-comers emerge a little more slowly than in the past, because the sport has become more solidified, and let’s be honest, just so damn hard.
In light of this, let’s take a look at five young men and five young women, who have been slowly building for years, and who you should keep an eye on in 2020 and beyond.
1. Justin Medeiros
View this post on Instagram
At just 20 years old, Medeiros has already been competing for a while and has been slowly but surely improving with each year that goes by. Back in 2017, he placed 384th in the world in the Open, and has been creeping up the leaderboard each year. This year, he was an impressive 68th overall and 32nd in the United States.
And guess what? He recently won the CrossFit Filthy 150 Sanctional competition in Dublin, Ireland and earned a ticket to this summer’s Games.
2. Cole Greashaber
Also just 20 years old, this former competitive gymnast and diver was an impressive 37th in the world in the recent CrossFit Open. Though young, he has been competing in CrossFit for a long time already. He placed 3rd in the world at the Games as a 17-year-old in the Boys 16-17-year-old division in 2017. Keep your eyes on this one.
3. Cedric Lapointe
At just 23 years old, the Canadian Lapointe was the youngest male athlete to qualify to this summer’s Games directly from the recent Open. He placed 25th overall.
Though this will be Lapointe’s first summer competing as an individual athlete, he has had Games experience on a team back in 2018.
4. Jack Laker
Laker is a 17-year-old from New Zealand who recently won the Boys 16-17-year-old division in the Open. He was also 7th at the CrossFit Games in 2018 in the boys 14-15-year-old division.
While he might still be a couple of years away from competing with the adult males, make note of Laker, who is clearly on the steady rise.
5. Uldis Upenieks
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A CrossFit Games rookie in 2019, who placed 31st in the world, the young 22-year-old Latvian athlete is coming off a solid performance in the recent Open, where he placed 56th overall and qualified to this summer’s Games by being his country’s national champion. Look for Upenieks to improve upon his 31st place at the Games from last summer.
1. Haley Adams
This list wouldn’t be right without including Haley Adams, the well-known 19-year-old, who placed 6th in her rookie debut at the Games last summer.
Considering that Adams trains in Cookeville, Tennessee alongside the man who doesn’t know how to lose (aka Rich Froning) it appears Adams is on a serious rise. In fact, she was the youngest athlete to qualify to this summer Games via the Open, when she placed 32nd in the world.
Going out on a limb here: Adams will be on the podium this summer in Madison, Wisconsin.
2. Olivia Sulek
At just 16 years old, this high schooler was an insanely impressive 50th in the recent Open. She was also fourth last summer at the Games in the Girls 14-15 year-old division and first in 2018, so she’s not new to the competition scene.
But to go directly from the 14-15-year-old girls division to being able to hang closely with top females in the world in the recent Open definitely makes a statement about her fitness and talent. Could she be the next big thing?
3. Gabriela Migala
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Migala is another young athlete—just 21 years old—who has already qualified to the CrossFit Games via the Open. She was 17th overall and the top female athlete from Poland.
Migala is also no rookie. She competed at the Games last year and placed 75th. She also finished 4th overall at the recent Dubai CrossFit Championships, and was 3rd at the Games in 2016 as a teenager. I expect she’ll be back stronger this year than last.
4. Emma Cary
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Like Sulek, Cary is still only 16 but is already hanging with the best of the best. She placed 80th in the Open and isn’t a stranger to the Games. In fact, she won the Girls 14-15-year-old division at the Games last summer.
Keep an eye out for Cary, perhaps in the teenage division this year, but my guess is it won’t be long until she’s competing on the big stage against the best women in the world.
5. Sasha Nievas
Just 21, the Argentinian Nievas placed an impressive 36th in the world in the recent Open, missing the Games cut line by just three spots.
Her weightlifting background will undoubtedly help her as she continues to grow in the sport of CrossFit. She has represented Argentina at international competitions and earned a bronze medal at the 2014 Summer Youth Olympics. Keep an eye on this one for sure.
Featured image: @gabimiga on Instagram
With back-to-back victories at the CrossFit Games, a strongman-style competition among some of the world’s fittest athletes, Rich Froning has become the de facto face of the CrossFit movement, which now encompasses some 4,500 affiliated gyms across the country and millions of devotees.
Can You Use CrossFit to Train for a Marathon?
The Answer from our Fitness Coach.
Rich Froning’s Vital Stats
This July 26 to 28, in Carson, California, the former college baseball player’s preternatural strength—he can back-squat 445 pounds and do 75 pull-ups in one set—will once again be on display as he goes for his third straight title.
Ditch the Training Plan
“I work out anywhere from two to five times a day, but I don’t walk into the gym with a schedule. I just make it up as I go, listening to my body and doing what I think I need to do.”
Skip the Supplements
“You should be able to get all the nutrients you need from your diet. I take protein and amino acid supplements, but I honestly don’t know if they do anything.”
Learn to Love the Squat
“People don’t like squats, but it’s an essential exercise. Look at all the sports that people do—there’s some form of squatting in each of them.”
“I try to get eight to ten hours of sleep each night. I don’t nap, but every once in a while I’ll down an energy drink.”
Recovery Is Overrated
“I don’t really take days off from training. For ‘active recovery,’ I’ll go ride my mountain bike for a couple hours once a week. You’re still working hard and moving but it’s good to have one day of training that’s not as stressful.”
The Best Exercise
“One of the best exercises is the thruster—a squat and a press. It works everything. My least favorite? Anything with running in it.”
“A lot of people who do CrossFit eat a strict paleo diet, but I don’t subscribe to any specific way of eating. If you burn enough calories, you don’t need to.”
Sweets Are OK
“I love apple pie. If I see one, I’m going to eat the whole thing.”
You Don’t Need the Gym
“You don’t need to be inside a gym to strength train. You can do pull-ups on a tree branch. All you need is a pull-up bar, some plates, and a medicine ball and you have a pretty good home gym for around $200.”
Get Out of the Pain Cave
“To stay out of the ‘pain cave,’ you just need to do something enough so that you feel comfortable with it. It will still hurt—especially if somebody’s pushing you—that’s when you just need to force yourself to pick the weight back up.”
“I like shoes that allow you to do anything in them. I don’t wear Olympic lifting shoes because you’re trapped in them. For cross training, you want a minimalist shoe with a low heel. Something that allows you to really feel the ground.”
More from Outside’s CrossFit Coverage
- Run less, torture yourself more: Brian Mackenzie’s controversial new approach to marathon training
- Annie Thorisdottir’s ultimate CrossFit muscle smoothie
- The 12-week CrossFit marathon plan
- Inside the Hell on Earth fitness plan
From Outside Magazine, Jul 2013 Filed To: Strength and Power Training Lead Photo: Ian Allen
Train With The World’s Fittest Man: Rich Froning CrossFit Workout!
Name: Rich Froning
4-time CrossFit Games champion
2015 Affiliate Cup champion
Owner of CrossFit Mayhem
I’ve never competed as a bodybuilder, but I trained like a bodybuilder for many years. I started doing CrossFit as a supplement to my regular training. Then, I fell in love with it and I haven’t looked back! You don’t have to be a CrossFit competitor to do CrossFit-style workouts. If you’re a bodybuilder, physique athlete, or even someone new to fitness, you can use a CrossFit workout as your cardio day, or you can add the movements to your normal routine for a new challenge.
If you want to add a CrossFit workout to your program, try this one. It’s a quick, fast burner that will improve your cardiovascular fitness, muscular endurance, work capacity, and more. This workout will also help your grip and coordination. You might even learn some new movements!
This workout is designed for anyone. It’s a CrossFit-inspired metabolic-conditioning circuit. There’s a push, a pull, and a cardio element. As soon as your push gets uncomfortable, move to the pull. When the pull becomes an issue, move to the jump rope. Jumping rope will make you tired and challenge your forearms just enough to make the other two movements a bit harder.
Rich Froning Crossfit Workout
Watch the video: 14:09
The workout isn’t fancy: You don’t need much equipment, and you can do it in less than 10 minutes.
Here’s what you’ll do:
Shoulder to overhead: 15, 12, 9, 6, 3 reps at 135 lbs
Pull-ups: 15, 12, 9, 6, 3 reps
Double-unders: 30 reps (each circuit)
This workout is done for time. Complete all the work as quickly and efficiently as possible. There are no programmed rest periods; the only breaks you get are during transitions from movement to movement.
You’ll begin with shoulder to overhead (STO). After you complete 15 reps, you’ll go directly to pull-ups (PU) and do 15 reps. After you’re done with pull-ups, you’ll do 30 double-unders (DU).When you’re done with the DUs, return to STO and do 12 reps. Then you’ll do 12 reps of PUs and another 30 reps of DUs. You’ll keep repeating that pattern. The STO and PUs will go down by three reps each set, while the double-unders remain constant at 30 reps.
The point of this movement is to get the barbell from your shoulders to over your head. Your arms must be completely locked out and the bar must end up over the center of your body. There are three ways to do STO, which I’ll go over below.
A pull-up rep counts when your chin is above the bar. There are multiple ways to do pull-ups for a CrossFit workout.
A lot of people are going to hate these. Yes, they’re difficult. The rope goes under you twice in a single jump. The trick is to keep your hands slightly in front of you and close together. The wider your hands are and the farther they are away from your body, the shorter the rope is. That’s when you start smacking yourself in the shins. It might take some work to get the timing right.
Scaling the Workout
One of the awesome things about CrossFit is that it’s infinitely scalable. Meaning, if you can’t do a movement as prescribed, then you can make it less difficult. If you can’t lift the prescribed weight, or aren’t coordinated enough for a particular move, there’s always another option. You can go from an elite level to a very basic level by making a few simple changes.
For this workout, your goal is to finish somewhere between 5 and 7 minutes. So, scale the moves and weight appropriately. If your weight is so heavy that you are taking more than 10 minutes to finish, you’re missing the point of the workout. If, however, the weight or the movement is scaled back too far, then you’re not going to challenge yourself like you should.
Here are some options:
Shoulder to Overhead
OPTION 1 Shoulder Press
For this movement, your feet should be right underneath your hips, your hands just outside the shoulders. The bar will rest on your shoulders. Keep your elbows up slightly and in front of the bar. If your elbows are behind the bar, then you’re pushing the bar out instead of up. We want the bar to go straight up and straight down.
Press the bar up and tuck your chin. Make sure you use active shoulders at the top, pulling your ribcage down, and tightening your core to protect your spine. You should feel good support all the way through the movement. Bring the bar down in the same path as it went up. The more straight up and down you move the bar, the more efficient the movement is, the better it is, and the safer it is.
OPTION 2 Push Press
A push press is similar to the shoulder press, but we’re going to add some velocity. Once you get tired, you’re going to want to save your shoulders and use your legs. Begin the same way you would with a shoulder press, except this time, you’ll do a quick dip with your knees. Use that momentum from your hips to drive the bar up. Don’t dip your chest forward, because then the bar will go out instead of up. Keep the bar over the center of your mass.
OPTION 3 Push Jerk
The push jerk is probably the most efficient movement, but it also takes a little more coordination and uses the most musculature. You’ll do the same dip as the push press and same press as the shoulder press, but you’re going to retreat slightly under the bar. So, your legs should be bent and the bar will be over your head. In order for the rep to be complete, your legs must be locked, and your shoulders and arms fully extended. If you widen your feet on the jump, make sure you bring them back in at the top of the rep.
OPTION 1 Strict Pull-Up
Everybody knows how to do a pull-up. You pull up! Your chin should end up all the way over the bar. Keep your shoulders active at the bottom; don’t just let yourself fall down or let the shoulders fall out of the joint. The problem with doing strict pull-ups during a workout like this is that they’re not very fast or efficient. There are ways to add speed.
OPTION 2 Kipping Pull-Up
Add velocity to the pull-up by using the kip. A lot of people think this is a leg-based movement. In reality, it starts in the core. I’ve heard negative comments about people kipping, like, “Oh, they’re just flailing around on the pull-up bar.” The whole point of the kip is to do more work in less time. Your chin still goes over the bar; your shoulders are still active.
OPTION 3 Butterfly Kip
This type of pull-up is a little faster than the kip. You can get more work done in less time. The essentials, however, are the same: your chin is above the bar, and your shoulders are still active. Butterfly kips take some practice; don’t stress too much if you don’t get them right away.
If you can’t do any of these options, you can still do the workout. Use an assisted pull-up machine, use a band, do jumping pull-ups from a box, or do inverted rows. Scale according to your skill level.
OPTION 1 Singles
If you can’t do double-unders, then do single-unders. If you choose to just do singles, double the amount of jumps. So, instead of 30, do 60. If you can’t do 5-10 double-unders without whipping yourself, then do singles. The jump-rope portion is supposed to challenge your cardio, so if you’re stopping every 10 seconds to reset the rope, the workout will last longer than it should.
If using a jump rope is out of the question, you can jump on and off a plate. You can also jump laterally over a barbell.
For STO, I use 135 pounds. That’s what would probably be prescribed for men during the Games. Women would probably be prescribed to use 95 pounds. However, just like the movements, weight is scalable. Use a weight that’s challenging, but not so challenging that you can’t complete the workout quickly. If you have a shoulder injury, or don’t have the strength to even do a barbell, you can go as low as using a PVC pipe.
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The Fittest Man In History, Rich Froning, Talks CrossFit Philosophy (and That Includes Kipping)
Rich Froning Jr. holds a bachelor of science degree in exercise science with a concentration in fitness and wellness from Tennessee Tech University. He’s been dubbed “The Fittest Man in History” after winning four back-to-back individual CrossFit Games championships (2011–2014). He also owns and operates CrossFit Mayhem in Cookeville, TN, and hosts a weekly health and wellness podcast called Froning and Friends.
I have been doing CrossFit for 10 years and competing for nine. I opened my own CrossFit gym in 2009 and worked as part of the CrossFit Seminar Staff for six years. I am a big supporter of the CrossFit community and enjoy helping people gain a better understanding of the CrossFit style of workouts. I know many people are unaware and do not fully understand our idea of fitness. While everyone has a right to their own unique opinions, I would like to clarify our beliefs, the way we go about training, and the way the CrossFit community defines fitness.
Photos: Dre Strohm
There are 10 skills at the foundation of everything CrossFit is about.
One of the pillar ideas of how CrossFit thinks of physical fitness is how competent an individual is at cardiovascular/respiratory endurance, stamina, strength, flexibility, power, speed, coordination, accuracy, agility, and balance. For example, I want to be as powerful as I can without affecting my endurance, and I want to have as much endurance as I can without affecting my strength. Meaning, you are only as fit as you are competent in each of these 10 skills. Together, they define fitness for a CrossFitter.
We train in a wide range of modalities.
Many people also believe that in CrossFit, we do not do many different types of movements and that they do not vary. To illustrate my point, here are 50+ (!) movements that have shown up regularly on CrossFit.com’s daily Workout of the Day (WOD) or in CrossFit competitions over the previous year. Most of the exercises build off of each other and challenge you in different planes of motion (“different angles”).
Now that we’ve gotten that out of the way, and you know more about what CrossFit is all about, I’d like to directly address some of the recent negative comments made about the CrossFit training style and debunk some common myths.
First, let’s look at kipping pull-ups.
It’s not just Jillian Michaels. A lot of people are against or are skeptical of kipping pull-ups. So why do I believe in them? In very basic CrossFit terms, with kipping, you are able to do more work faster. While, sure, that’s not always the point of every workout or every exercise, it is a part of the 10 pillars of fitness as defined by CrossFit.
By kipping, you are able to generate power from the hip, transfer it through the body, then into your arms, creating a movement that originates in your core and moves to your limbs, and also generates more power. It’s like the difference between a push press is to a shoulder press. A shoulder press is a strict movement that does not utilize momentum, whereas a push press uses force generated through the lower body to propel the arms up.
I also believe kipping helps build functional strength. You are teaching the body to create and control a core-to-extremity movement like throwing a baseball-or if you want to go way back, throwing a spear.
Plus, kipping does apply a full range of motion if done correctly. The kip involves a concentric phase (contraction) when you are pulling up, no real isometric phase (static hold), maybe for a split second at the top, and an eccentric phase when you are coming down into the next rep (lengthening). Also, in CrossFit, we perform many variations on the pull-up-strict pull-ups, kipping pull-ups, strict chest-to-bar pull-up, kipping chest-to-bar pull-up, and, finally, a bar muscle-up. All five of those movements build off of each other and have your body pulling in a different plane of motion.
Next, I’d like to address the broader effectiveness of CrossFit training.
Are there more effective ways to target multiple muscle groups and practice synergy between the upper and lower body than through AMRAP training and CrossFit? Yeah, I’m sure there are more efficient ways to target muscles but, that isn’t what we’re trying to do in CrossFit. We think more about movements and general physical preparedness than we do about specific muscle groups and how to target them.
To further show the variety of CrossFit training, take a look at what my workout routine has consisted of this week: I indoor biked 30 plus miles (it’s cold!), swam 5,000 meters, front squatted 325 pounds for reps, performed kipping pull-ups along with chest-to-bar pull-ups and bar muscle-ups (in the same workout). I also snatched 205, 225, and 245 for reps with handstand walk obstacles between sets.
And what about the safety concerns surrounding CrossFit?
People constantly ask if CrossFit is safe, and the answer is simple: Yes. CrossFit is safe if practiced correctly. Regarding the safety of kipping, specifically, I believe you need to have the strength to do strict movements before you try to kip anything. (BTW, that’s exactly what this chiropractor and CrossFit coach had to say.) If you don’t feel comfortable kipping, just don’t.
I do believe CrossFit is accessible to everyone.
I know my week’s worth of WODs sounds like a lot, and it is. But CrossFit workouts can be tailored for everyone’s skill level and goals-it’s not just for elite athletes. It’s about the functionality and scalability to the masses.
My gym, CrossFit Mayhem, has members ranging from 5 years old to 76 years old. We have people with every fitness level on the spectrum walking through our doors every day. CrossFit gyms embody a community that is enjoyable to anyone, even if you aren’t looking to ever compete in the CrossFit Open. I truly think the secret to the effectiveness of CrossFit is the community side of it: People suffer together, accomplish together, and support each other along the way.
- By By Rich Froning
This is part one of the series “So You Want to Compete in the CrossFit Games“ and today we will be going over whether or not you are good enough to compete in the CrossFit Games. If you are just starting crossfit you have to know you probably have awhile before you will be good enough to compete. However, a lot of guys who are top crossfit games competitors were only doing crossfit for a few months before they went to the games. Rich Froning said he was only doing CrossFit for like 6 months before he placed 2nd in the 2010 CrossFit Games. Granted most people are pretty fit before they start crossfit. Some people would just say compete in the Open, but I say do your research first. Find out how good you are and tweak your training accordingly. It only happens once a year.
Am I Good Enough to Compete in the CrossFit Games?
Mikko Salo, 2009 CrossFit Games Champion, said that he didn’t really know that he was that competitive until he started to compare his times to some of the top crossfitters. Only then did he decided to compete. The first thing you should do to find out is benchmark yourself.
Benchmark in the following order:
- Local Box
- Athlete Profiles
-If you are not one of the best, or THE best, at your local box (depending on the box) then I wouldn’t make any travel plans to the home depot center in California just yet.
–CrossFit.Com has a lot of good ways to find out how you stack up.
- Day to day you can do the workout of the day and look at the comments and see where you stack up
- You can do some of the “girl” and “hero” workouts and use the search function on crossfit.com and see what some times were for the more grueling wods
- CrossFit did not use to do this, but a lot of times now they will put up a WOD and they will also put up what one or five of the top crossfitters got on that workout. If you are beating their times, start making your travel plans.
–Athlete Profiles: Now that people get sponsored for crossfit it is public information to see just how fit they are. These profiles and more can be found at roguefitness.com
If you can hold a candle to these WOD times and barbell stats you are doing pretty well, but there is still one last benchmark… –Workload: One thing you have to keep in mind is how much work can you do in a day and how many days can you do it in a row. I am sure a lot of guys can pump out a low 2 minute fran, but that does not make you a crossfit games competitor. If after a 2:15 Fran you are on the ground for 30 minutes and then out of commission for the rest of the day you just don’t have the conditioning for it. We will talk more about how much you actually have to take in Part 3 of this series, but you need to be able to CRUSH multiple WODs a day and then wake up and do it again the next day with little variance in performance.
So how are you stacking up as a CrossFit Games competitor??
Next we will talk about how to compete in the games!
From the start, 2019 CrossFit Games were very different than in years past—aside from Mat Fraser and Tia Clare-Toomey cleaning up the individual championships for the fourth and third straight time, respectively.
The organizers of the Games have taken the competition in a variety of directions over the last several iterations, but the 2019 CrossFit Games were about getting back to the contest’s roots. That meant a lot of “traditional” CrossFit, especially over the back end of the competition. The best part about this: You’ll be able to try a lot of these events in your own workouts.
The activities from the Games aren’t easy, and you won’t want to take them on every day. But there are a few gems here that you can do every so often to test your own well-roundedness as an athlete.
What’s Traditional CrossFit, Anyway?
The sport is about testing the well-roundedness of an athlete. That often means testing skills and endurance in cardio, weightlifting, and gymnastics-based exercises. To do that, many of this year’s events stacked 2 or 3 such movements, then had competitors either perform them as quickly as possible, or complete as many rounds of those movements as possible in a set time (an AMRAP).
This doesn’t mean that the 2019 Games didn’t have some unique challenges, like the 6K ruck race, but it did focus on workouts that can generally be done in a gym.
Try The First Ringer
Courtesy of CrossFit Inc.
Two of the Games’ most accessible workouts took place late in the competition. Events 10 and 11 were Ringer 1 and Ringer 2.
Each is simple. Ringer 1 requires only an airbike and a set of rings. You’ll work through three rounds of calories on the airbike, and toes-to-rings reps (essentially a modification of toes-to-bar reps). In the first round, you’ll do 30 cals and 30 reps. In the second, you’ll do 20 cals and 20 reps. In the final round, you’ll do 10 cals and 10 reps.
It’s a demanding workout that shouldn’t take you more than 15 minutes. The bike will push your endurance, while the toes-to-rings will challenge your core. Rest as needed, but work to take your rest on the ring reps. And remember, as four-time Games champ Mat Fraser says, the bike is supposed to hurt. Push through the pain on the bike.
Take On The Second Ringer, Too
Athletes received a seven-minute rest after that first Ringer, then they did Ringer 2. This event is also filled with core CrossFit ideas, and it’s something you can tackle on your own.
The setup here: You’ll do 15 burpees, followed by 15 overhead squats with 135 pounds. Then you’ll do 10 burpees, and 10 overhead squats, followed by 5 burpees and 5 overhead squats.
It’s another demanding workout that’s over quickly (think 5 or 10 minutes), and your biggest challenge here is handling a serious load under fatigue. Those burpees will tire you out but, somehow, you’re supposed to gain control of your breathing and heart rate so you can complete the overhead squats.
Unless you have a well-trained overhead squat, don’t even think about doing this with the 135 pounds used by Games competitors. Instead, use a lighter weight — or even no weight at all. If you’re new to the overhead squat, don’t even load the bar. Instead, use an unloaded 45-pound bar (trust us, it’s harder than it looks) or even a broomstick.
Do You Dare Try The Standard?
Courtesy of CrossFit Inc.
The Games finished with a devastating series called The Standard. The closing challenge saw competitors completing 30 barbell clean-and-jerks with 135 pounds, followed by 30 muscle-ups, followed by 30 barbell snatches with 135 pounds.
This type of series is CrossFit at its finest, and you may be tempted to give it a go. But this one is only for seasoned CrossFitters; it’s not a workout to play around with. If you give this one a try, plan to do it and rest completely the next day. What’s more, you’ll need to approach it carefully. Here’s how.
- Don’t try to string reps together.
Mat Fraser and Noah Ohlsen, who spent the entire Games going toe-to-toe with each other in all competition, frequently did single reps on the clean-and-jerks and snatches. A workout like this isn’t about killing yourself immediately; you need to pace it.
- Don’t be afraid to scale.
This is important especially if you’re training on your own. Think about doing cleans with 75 or 95 pounds instead of the 135, or consider doing pullups instead of muscle-ups. You’ll still break a nasty sweat, but you’ll spare your shoulders in the process.
Sit Out the First Cut Event
Duke Loren Photography/Courtesy of CrossFit Inc.
One major difference between this year’s Games and previous contests: Athletes were cut from the field. The first two events from this year’s Games saw low-placing finishers bowing out from the competition. In previous Games, if you made it to Madison, you were competing throughout the four-day extravaganza.
And boy, did CrossFit start things off with a challenging event. Competitors started with 4 rounds of a 400-meter run, three legless rope climbs, and seven squat snatches at 185 pounds. They had to finish in less than 20 minutes.
This event tested total-body strength and conditioning, and it’s one you shouldn’t be adding to your fitness routine. It required athletes, already under great fatigue from a 400-meter run, to lift their bodies continuously up a rope. After that, they had to lift an even heavier load from the ground to an overhead position.
As a challenge event in competition, that type of construction is acceptable. For your own workouts, it’s something to avoid at all costs.
You Can Take On the Second Cut Event
Courtesy of CrossFit Inc.
The second event also saw cuts, and this one was challenging as well. But you can do this series as a workout finisher, especially if you make key modifications to your fitness level.
The game plan: Row 800 meters as quickly as possible, then perform 66 double-kettlebell push jerk reps, then close with a 132-foot handstand walk. It’s a smart workout that requires you to pull first before challenging you with some push moves. Competitors used 35 pounds on the push jerks.
The key here is not overextending yourself. Row hard during the 800-meter row, then pace yourself through the push jerks. Don’t do too few reps here, because you’ll have to clean the weight back into position, but don’t try to do 30 reps at once, either. Think of doing 6 to 8 reps per set, then resting briefly and going back to work. Don’t be afraid to use lighter weights to protect your shoulders, which will grow increasingly fatigued.
You end with the handstand walk, but don’t worry if you can’t do that. Just do a 132-foot bear crawl instead.
Ben Sweeney Ben Sweeney is a trainer at Brick New York gym in Manhattan and a CrossFit-Level 3 certified coach.
CrossFit Competitions: How To Prepare To Perform Your Best
Just like any sport, CrossFit competitions are intense and difficult. No matter if you’re doing a physique show, playing in a soccer game, or running a marathon, doing well in competition takes a huge amount of training and preparation. What makes CrossFit a little different from these other sports, though, is the sheer number of skills an athlete needs in order to be competitive.
Since CrossFit can take everything from pulling a heavy-ass deadlift to swimming a half mile, preparing for a competition takes some big-time strategy. Having to be good at everything means you’ll have to train for everything. And that’s difficult to do if you’re new to competition and aren’t sure where to start.
If you’re doing well in your house WODs and think you’re ready to try a competition, here are some ways to prepare.
Assess Your Strengths and Weaknesses
Here’s a list of the skills and strengths I think are necessary to be successful at an elite competitive level:
- Fran: Sub 2:20
- Clean and Jerk: 315 pounds
- Snatch: 255 pounds
- Max Muscle-ups: 15 reps
- Deadlift: 500 pounds
- Max Pull-ups: 50 reps
- Mile Run: 5:45
- Strict HSPU: 20 reps
Not every person is going to have the same strengths. Some of us may be stronger than others, some of us may be better at gymnastic movements, and others may be able to run for miles without breaking a sweat.
“The number of weeks necessary for a person to prepare for a competition will depend on the individual and their skill level,” says Marcus Hendren, regional athlete and 2012 CrossFit Games competitor. “Personally, I always feel like as long as my strength numbers are up, I can get my wind back in a month with a metabolic conditioning (MetCon) workout or two each time I train.”
“Sometimes, you get elite-level athletes from other sports that cross over to CrossFit and can quickly reach a competitive level because they are already used to pushing their bodies and mind,” explains Bobby Ashhurst, Pursuit Rx athlete and aspiring CrossFitter. “But for the average person, training for a competition is going to take much longer. It’s not just about learning the movements, but also correcting any mobility issues and core weaknesses that most of us have at the start. It took me almost a year of mobility work and reprogramming my nervous system to go from isolating muscles on exercises to teaching my body to work as a coordinated unit.”
Your skill, strength, and conditioning levels all have to be high in order to compete well. So take some time to measure yourself against what some of the best athletes in your box can do and then increase your training intensity so you can one day surpass them.
Spend More Time Training
CrossFit competitions will ask you to be good at everything, so you need to find ways to train your weaknesses without losing your strengths. “If you are looking to compete, regular classes are not enough,” says Ashhurst. “There are so many movements to practice, as well as unknown factors that are often thrown into competitions. Preparing for everything takes additional work outside of classes to ensure you improve.”
If you’re interested in competing, talk to the coaches in your box and ask them to help you prepare. If you need some strength gains, they can help you come up with a lifting program to improve your lifting game. If you need help with your endurance, you’ll probably need to add a metabolic conditioning WOD into your daily training regimen.
“Competitive CrossFit athletes are far more efficient in their movements and work capacity than recreational CrossFitters because they spend so many hours in the gym. It’s no different than an IFBB pro and a typical gym-goer: The time spent, dedication, and intensity are much higher for a pro than a weekend warrior,” says Ashhurst.
Train With Better Athletes
Although normal CrossFit classes are conducted as group exercise, you need to find people who will challenge you to get better. If you’re one of the best in your class and are consistently beating everyone with prescribed weights, then you should prepare for a competition with other athletes at your level.
“It’s hard to create the intensity you’ll see in a competitive atmosphere by yourself, and the more you work out with people that are better than you, the better you will become.”
“In the weeks leading up to Regionals, I made sure I worked out with other regional-level athletes,” says Hendren. “It’s hard to create the intensity you’ll see in a competitive atmosphere by yourself, and the more you work out with people that are better than you, the better you will become. It’s my favorite thing to create workouts that play to others’ strengths and my weaknesses. If I can keep up with them doing movements they excel at, I should be OK during competitions.”
Train Your Mental Game
“A lot of competition WODs are designed to be much more challenging than a typical WOD you’d find programmed at a box,” says Ashhurst. “It seems that the designers of competition WODs with the hopes that many cannot complete them in order to separate the best from the rest. WODs you see programmed at most CrossFit boxes have the restriction of getting everything—warm-up, strength/skill work, MetCon, cool-down—completed within the one-hour time limit.”
Because the length and difficulty of competitions are much higher than what you normally do during the week, you need to be mentally prepared for the rigors. You may have three WODs each day of a two-day competition. That amount of stress is going to take a trained mind.
“In all sports I’ve competed in throughout my life, my mental preparation took place during practice or prep. I tried to visualize and replicate what the competition would be.”
“As important as it is to be physically prepared for competition, having a mental edge is more important,” says Hendren. Here are a few questions you can ask yourself to prepare for situations that will inevitably occur: How are you going to perform on day two when you’re sore everywhere and have five workouts left? How are you going to react when you get “no repped” in the middle of a workout?
If you don’t know the answers to these questions or you know you won’t be able to keep going with a positive attitude when you’re beyond exhausted, then you’re going to need some mental training.
“In all sports I’ve competed in throughout my life, my mental preparation took place during practice or prep. I tried to visualize and replicate what the competition would be like. I did it so much that by the time the game or show came around, it was just another day,” says Ashhurst.
Control What You Can
If you have a competitive personality, then you want to win. Because CrossFit competitions can last for days, the stress of your performance and your placing can be overwhelming. It’s important to remember that you can only control what you can control. You can’t control what the guy next to you is doing and you can’t control your judge’s opinion. You have to concentrate on doing what you’re capable of doing and then do it to the absolute best of your ability.
If you’ve prepared for a competition and you’ve prepared well, then you’ve put yourself in the best possible place to do well. When the countdown to the beginning of the first WOD begins, you’ll know exactly what you have to do.
“I always believe that you put the work in before you hit the field, court, or stage,” says Ashhurst. “Competing is another way to express all of the hard work you’ve put in. Competing is the reward.”