What a Year of Crossfit Does to a 32 Year-old Man
Crossfit is a fad.
It’s a trendy workout regimen that has dangerously high reps, and puts unnecessary stress and strain on the body. It’s totally random exercises with little-to-no strategy involved in the programming…
5 years ago when I was a strength and conditioning coach, that’s what I thought too. I was a young trainer who geeked out on rep and set schemes, and the thought of randomized high rep, multi-dimensional training day after day made me sweat with disgust.
But little did I know that Crossfit would allow me to achieve what 10 years of bodybuilding and performance training couldn’t.
185 pounds of muscle.
Sure that might not sound like very much, but for a kid who spent his 20's trying to break the 165 pound mark with endless supplements, chicken breasts and barbells, 20 pounds is a feat.
Sure, you might be saying that I wasn’t eating enough, or not training with enough reps, or weight, or time under tension, but I can assure you that I experimented with every training style under the sun. Nothing go me over 170…
So why did I start?
After so many years of thinking I knew everything about fitness and training, I realized that there was a style of training that was producing athletes who were superhuman. And I had no idea why. Everything I had learned was to watch your rep schemes closely, don’t do too many, or it won’t do anything. Use more weight, but not too much. Move only in the planes that the body is supposed to move, put stress only where it is supposed to withstand stress.
Don’t do too much, but don’t do too little.
But all the training strategies out there often conflict with each other, and honestly it’s a ton of theory.
But then Crossfit came along and went against most of it. But it was working. It was making people stronger, faster, have more endurance and building them more muscle.
After two decades of sports like soccer, football and mixed martial arts, I was entering the recreational sport zone — the zone when you are a little too old to compete in most sports at any significant level, but young enough to give it a go recreationally. But I desperately wanted to compete. And I wanted to do it at a level that wasn’t just for fun. I still wanted to be great at something.
So I had to try it.
So on November 15, 2015 I joined…
And what happened?
Well, right off the bat, I was sore as “F — ”. Yep, just like every other new stress you out your body through, you get sore when you start Crossfit. But what I noticed immediately, was that I was a lot weaker — in all athletic areas — than I thought I was.
Prior to Crossfit my best lifts at around 160–165 pounds were:
- Back Squat = 295
- Front Squat = 235
- Power Clean = 205
- Push Press = 175
- Bench Press = 235
- Hang Snatch = 115
I knew these weren’t real feats of strength but I thought it was decent. That is until I got schooled by everyone at Crossfit Syracuse.
Side note: anyone who knocks on Crossfitter’s for not knowing proper Olympic lifting technique, should probably go try a class or two before they wave their finger. Sure there are a few bad eggs, but every Crossfit gym I’ve been to has some solid Oly training advice.
Anyways, after a few months I really started to see where my strengths and my weaknesses were.
Strengths = quick athletic movements like burped, box jumps, sprinting, and pulling movements like cleans and deadlifts.
Weaknesses = anything overhead, butterfly pull-ups and long engine work.
I had my work cut out for me…
But from time I had joined, I had my mind set on one goal: make the 2017 Northeast Regionals. Oh, did I forget to mention that?
For those of you that know the sport of Crossfit, you know how large and grueling of a goal that is — especially for someone who just started Crossfit a year ago.
But this year has been good to me. With the exception of some days of sore shoulders and a bout of tendonitis, I have trained injury free. I have significantly improved my athletic ability. And I am putting up scores that are rivaling some top competitors in the area.
As of December 15th, here are my latest PR’s (personal records):
Back Squat = 355
Front Squat = 300
Clean = 285
Snatch = 205
So how did I do it?
I was smart.
I rested when I needed to rest. I worked on preserving my soft tissue integrity with massage, foam rolling and even some Graston when things got really irritated.
When I began to improve, I hired a coach to work on my weaknesses. He focused on getting me ready for the Crossfit Open (which starts in mid February), so this means lots of endurance and “engine” work. Lots of reps, lots of rounds, lots of pain.
But in the competitive mind of an athlete, it will all be worth it.
So what does Crossfit do to a 32 year old man? If you’re smart, it will build you into a champion…
I would love to hear your story about how you started in crossfit. Leave it below, or tweet me.