20 Lessons from Rich Froning to Help you become a better CrossFit Athlete

One of my great passions is studying the advice of the world’s most successful. On my Crossfit journey, I discovered Rich Froning Junior. He is widely regarded as the best Crossfitter of all time in the short decade of the sport’s existence. He won back-to-back four years in a row as an individual and came in 2nd place the first time he competed, a feat no one has come close to.

I want to share with you the top lessons I learned from Rich Froning’s book First: What It Takes To Win.

Rich-FroningSource: CrossFit Inc
Rich in action

Table of Contents

I broke the lessons I learned up into different sections:

  • Success Advice
  • Crossfit and Fitness Advice
  • Life Lessons
  • Advice for Crossfit Beginners

Success Advice

This is advice Rich gave that applies to achieving any goal, including Crossfit goals.

1. You Get Your Work Ethic From Who You Surround Yourself With

Rich developed his work ethic not from someone lecturing him, but by modeling his parents. His parents taught by example instead of by instruction. They worked endlessly and rarely sat down to relax.

2. Get Around Competitive People If You Want To Be Better

When Rich was young, he had over thirty-five first cousins — on just his mother’s side. Family reunions were a natural grounds for competition. He and his cousins competed on everything, from video games to sports. It stoked his competitive fires.

One of Rich’s self-professed biggest secrets to success is that he always surrounded himself with people who were better than him, pushed him, and held him accountable.

rich froning dan bailey crossfit open workout 17.3Source: CrossFit Inc
Rich enjoys training with people that push him to be better!

You can’t make excuses when you are around people who will hold you accountable. You are also pushed farther when people around you are performing better than you.

On a similar note, there is one person who was the first back-to-back two-time Crossfit champion. And it wasn’t Rich. It was a girl named Annie Thorisdottir.

Rich said she was the most competitive person he had ever met, boy or girl. He noticed that it’s something they shared in common. Both of them are extremely competitive. One time, during a demonstration, they both started lifting 100% of their one-rep max even though they agreed they would do 70% of their one-rep max.

3. Don’t Be Intimidated. View Yourself Through The Same Lens You View Others

The first time Rich competed in the Crossfit Games, he was intimidated by everyone else who showed up. The same reaction replayed during the Regionals, Sectionals, and actual Games.

He saw everyone there as physical specimens and he thought he didn’t belong there. Yet every time, he took home first place by a wide margin. He realized that he was not viewing himself in the same lens he views others.

Nowadays, people say he has a monstrous appearance worth admiring. But he says he was only ten pounds lighter before he began training to be a world-class competitor. The lesson is to not count yourself out. Give yourself the self-worth you deserve.

4. Use Your Failures As Motivation

Rich placed second in his first ever Crossfit Games. But he was devastated because he had failed the last competition because he didn’t know proper rope climbing technique and couldn’t climb the rope in the last event. He had lost by just three points because he was unprepared. Had he known, he would have easily been first.

crossfit accessory exercises ghd sit upsSource: reebok crossfit velocity
ghd sit ups from Rich Froning

However, this failure motivated him beyond belief. Some people say he would have won four years back-to-back if it wasn’t for the rope climb event. Looking back, he says he would not have won any if it wasn’t for the rope event.

He was confident it was the devastation of coming in second place that drove him to train and win so many times later on.

5. Have A Purpose Bigger Than Yourself

“Winning is not about being first. It’s about putting god first.” -Rich Froning

Later on in Rich’s life, he didn’t like where he had gone. His friends and mentors asked him, “Why do you do what you do?” and “Would you go to heaven if you died now?”

And he didn’t have good answers. It put him in the longest period of self-reflection in his life.

He only prayed for his selfish reasons. And he didn’t like the legacy he was leaving because it was just about his achievements. By having a purpose beyond yourself, you are more motivated and work harder and longer.

Because of this revelation, he returned to his faith in Christianity. The stories he had read in the Bible in his childhood actually had meaning.

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