Hey Adrian, so what does a typical training week look like for you?
During the week I try to go by feel. So let´s say I wake up in the morning and if I feel great then I will do a big training day of 6-7 hours. The day is split into smaller sessions. I usually train one hour and ninety minutes then I have a short break and go again…
When I am destroyed from the day before I usually try to take four good hours and make the best out of that. I try to train six day a week, sometimes I go even go for seven. I don´t like to take any active recovery days. My recovery day is just two hours of training but high intensity.
How does your training change throughout the year depending on competitions like The Open, Regionals or CrossFit Games?
I don´t have any off season. I do everything through the year. Now at the moment, when we are early on in the season I focus on my weaknesses. I swim a lot, 3 or 4 times per week, I run a lot. I try to do everything. I work on my conditioning, on my strength, on my gymnastics. Even doing normal metcons through the whole year.
Of course for Regionals there is always a big change because when they announce the workouts we just do those workouts for like 3-4 weeks. For example, this year there were no barbells so I didn’t touched a barbell for two months.
And for the Games… I was different back in 2016. I was new, I had so many weaknesses in my head that I wanted to work on and I probably trained too much.
Who is your coach?
I don´t have a coach. I have people who help me with different skills. For example, when I want to work on my weightlifting I speak with my friends. The same with swimming and running. But I don´t have an overall coach.
I know how my body works, I know what I have to work on. I just have to be honest with myself and then I am probably the best coach for myself.
Did you have a coach in the past?
No, it was always just me. Even when I played ice-hockey I told my coach: “Look, I know what I have to work on. I am not training with the team because I have my own weaknesses.” And that worked really well. I made a big step every year and I was getting better and better. I know how to work and I really like to think about how to get better than my competition and how to turn my weaknesses into strengths.
How do you program strength work into your CrossFit training?
I think it is very hard to follow any kind of strength cycle in CrossFit because you have so many things to work on. Let´s say you have a competition in between and you have to stop the cycle for one week. Then you go back to it again and one day you feel tired because yesterday it was a really hard conditioning workout. That´s why I take things day by day and listen to my body.
What would you recommend for the everyday crossfitter that wants to build muscle?
Add extra bodybuilding sessions into your training. Even with normal metcons you build muscle. 2 or 3 times per week I go to gym and we do bodybuilding sessions. That helps me a lot with building strength. Also strict gymnastics are a great way to build strength and muscle.
Do you have any rituals when you train or compete?
It´s music. It´s all about music and I love to listen to music. During a competition you are probably never going to see me without my music in my ears. Even when I train with my friend we always have to have loud music. That´s all I need.
Do you have any favourite tracks or bands?
I have three kinds of music that I like. It is Viking metal/rock, techno and hip-hop. And it has to be loud! That´s why I have problems at the gym.
Which of the athletes do you enjoy training with and also competing against?
Definitely Jonne Koski. Last year I lived for 8 months in Dubai. I was coaching there and training and he became one of my best friends. Every Friday, which is like Sunday there, the Boxes are closed. So three of us met in the gym for 5 or 6 hours and we would just train and train. Then we went out mostly for a dinner and cinema. That was awesome! I always looked forward to that.
Jonne is really special. It is interesting how his mindset works. We have the same way of thinking. We push each other every time we train together. There is a good story when we decided to go on a bike ride. There is this mountain in Dubai that is quite high (around 1000 metres above sea level) and steep.
We went there in the night because during the day it was far too hot. We cycled straight up and in the end there was a sprint so we were both completely destroyed. I won the first sprint. We took one hour rest and then went down again. It was already 1 a.m. in the morning when we decided to go up again. We intended to take it easy but we didn’t and in the end he luckily beat me by one second.
We always try to beat each other. We also did the Regionals preparation this year together. It was awesome because we have almost the same weaknesses and strengths so we were always really close at the workouts.
Is there anything that you have taught him, and vice versa, beyond the competitive side of training?
For example we once had sled pushes during a WOD and he completely destroyed me! To make up for it I went back to the gym and for the whole seven days it was sled push for me every day and then I was like: “Okay man, let´s do the sled push!”.
When we went cycling for the first time I destroyed him. He was like: “Okay, I need to buy a bike and I need to go with you two or three times per week and I have to get better.” So yes, we really help each other. Even before Regionals we helped each other to get better at each event. But as soon as we are on the floor, we want to beat each other.
What is it like to train with Sam Briggs?
Sam is also awesome. We are really close friends. She is just so easy to get on with. She came to my place one week before Swiss Alpine. She is so uncomplicated. She just goes to the gym, trains six-seven hours, going back home, relaxes, watches movies and does it again the next day.
You two recently won The Swiss Alpine Battle. Do you think there is something that makes you a good team?
We have different strengths. I can be a strong guy. She is not that good at lifting but she has a crazy engine. So we have a different weaknesses and strengths. But with all the synchronized movements we were on the same level and it was not a problem for us to push each other. On the floor we were like one nation, we just worked really well together.
Did you learn from Sam?
Yes, definitely. I like to take from athletes the elements of them that makes them different than others. She is definitely really special athlete. You can learn a lot from her. It´s really interesting to speak with her. We had a lot of interesting conversations. She is definitely an athlete to learn from.
The CrossFit Games
At The 2016 CrossFit Games which event was your favourite and why?
I would have to say it was the hill run because I secured the fifth place and it was my best Games finish. At the beginning when I saw the event I was like “This is not going to be a good start for the weekend.” But that was definitely my favourite event.
It was quite funny because I knew that I am good at hill running but there was a flat start. Once I got to the first hill I looked around and I was the last guy, there were just some girls there. I knew that I would then have to listen to my body, push hard and in the end I did well.
What was it like to be taken secretly to the ranch for that first day of competition?
I think some athletes had a problem with it but my mindset was fine. I played ice-hockey for 15 years and sometimes we would arrive at the game way too late. We just had to change, get on the ice and be ready. There was no time to think about it. So for me it was quite familiar scene and I like it actually.
Do you think some athletes struggled with that?
Just from what I heard were some people that were so nervous and didn’t know what was going to happen. But everyone was in the same boat and it became about that how well you can handle it. It was also Dave Castro’s goal to get us out of our comfort zone and see what happens. And he definitely did a good job.
Which event from The 2016 Games was the hardest?
I was looking forward to MURPH. It was quite a good event until the last mile. I still have it in my head. I was running and I was in 10th place until seven guys overtook me and I ended up as in 17th place. That was probably the hardest moment for me.
If you could design one event for next year´s game what would it be?
I would pick a snatch leader with ring muscle ups with increasing weight on the snatches. And the final lift must be heavy!
What is your snatch PR?
140 kg. I was almost crying at my laptop this year when I saw they announced the 1 RM snatch event.
How mentally challenging is it to complete The CrossFit Games?
Let´s say in the beginning it is hugely exciting. In my head I try to put together all the work that I have done throughout the year, what it has cost me to get to this moment. I think okay, now I have to perform well. That is mentally hard.
Towards the end I remember that my body was just so destroyed. My friend woke me up, he said that we have to go for breakfast and I tried to get up but I couldn´t. He carried me out of my bed. But like I said, everybody is a competitor as soon as you stand on the floor so you have to forget all about the pain and make the best out of it.
I have to say that at the end of The 2016 Games I didn´t make it. That was the point when I was really disappointed in myself. I could have done much better. I was thinking that I was fine with 80 percent, I will perform better during the next event etc…which was wrong. You should try to get as many points as you can from every event.
Do you do any other work to improve your mental game outside the gym?
During 15 years of ice-hockey I tried to get better at everything, even the mental side. So now with CrossFit I still have that strength. For example, I am not that nervous before competitions because I am used to it. I am not doing anything else. I just try to speak to other great athletes and take something from that. That is a powerful motivator for me. Getting better and better and trying to beat my competitors.
I know how to push myself and where I want to go.
Where do you think CrossFit will be in ten years time?
I think what we are going to see is that you really have to be great at everything. Back in the day Rich Froning won the games but he still had 3 or 4 places between 30th and 40th, and this is justnot possible anymore. Look at Mat Fraser. To beat him you have to do it every time and finish in the top 5 which is exceptionally impressive.
The whole line is going up and everybody is good at running, swimming, lifting…but I think at some point it will stop. I don’t think you are going to see somebody snatch 170 kg in ten years. I don´t think that´s possible for your body.
What do you think it is about Fraser that makes his so dominant? Do you think he is doing anything differently, working harder or is he just a natural talent?
I don´t like the word talent. If you work hard then you can achieve what you want. I think he just knows what his weaknesses are, he knows how to work on it and he just destroys it. He is analytical and honest and works very hard to be good at everything.
What came to your mind when you experienced your injury during the Regionals event in Madrid?
It actually happened two days before that. I came to Madrid one week before Regionals with my friend who always supports me during big competitions. Two days before the event started, we went to the gym and I wanted to do some ring dips just to get used to it again and I felt good. At some point something popped in my shoulder and I felt pain. I went home and it was getting worse and worse every morning. We went to the gym again and I tried to do some ring dips and it was just not possible.
I was crying badly and then speaking to my Dad and Mum. I told them they didn´t have to come over. That was a hard point for me. Then on Friday I went to Regionals, I wanted to try the first event to see what would happen.
I think sometimes at you have to make a decision also for your future not to risk any bad injury. So I just stopped but it was one of the hardest decisions I ever had to make.
How did you recover from that injury?
I was so pissed at myself that on Monday I came back from Regionals to Dubai I went straight into the Box. I was like “I have to do something.” I had to get it out of my head. I did a lot of leg work. I didn´t do anything with my upper body for a month. I spent a lot of time on the bicycle. It was a hard time because I still had what happened in my head. It was not an easy but I tried to make the best out of it.
Do you have any recovery tips?
Don´t try to rush anything.
I stopped ice-hockey because I had a bad knee injury. Then I started CrossFit and I had a bad back injury so it wasn´t the first injury in my life. I know I just have to give my body time, stay positive and work around that injury.
How many calories do you eat per day? Do you track all your nutrition?
No, I don´t track it. I do the same like with my training – I go by feel.
When I am hungry I eat, if not I am not eating.
I am not a big eater so i don’t eat large meals. I try to eat something smaller every two hours. That works pretty well for me. I have no idea how many calories I eat per day. I just try to eat clean and healthy food.
Do you think it would have any effect on your performance if you tried to track everything very carefully?
Actually I´ve already changed my diet. Even when I went to the Games before I was eating a lot of sugar and chocolate. I love chocolate! I used to eat Nutella a lot. But that change a lot, also my nutrition is an important point. I started to eat better food, much less sugar.
This has already made a big improvement, I can see it on my body. I feel better now. Last year at the Open I was 5 kg heavier, everything felt heavier. So as I said I changed a lot.
Still I am not a guy who is counting calories. I don´t think that would work for me. And I think that is the most important thing – if something works for you, do it, if not change it. An easy rule.
Even when I am going out for dinner with friends I am not going to the burger place and saying: “Can I have a salad please?”
Do you have any tips for Crossfiters who are thinking to get into competing at a higher level?
Forget your life. Tell your friends sorry, for one year you are not going to see them. If you want to do something you have to do it right. Otherwise you are not going to make it. I remember my first year. Like I said I didn’t see my friends at all for a whole year. Even now when I am at home I go the gym at 8 am and come back at 10-11 pm. It´s fine for me, I don´t complain. But my family does. Even at Christmas I was like “Sorry, I can´t, I have to train.”
At the beginning they didn´t understand it but now they do. When you are on a pro level you can´t have everything. You have to decide what you want and then you have to go all in.