Mat-Fraser 2018 CrossFit Games
Source: TheraGun

Recover Like a Pro – Why Mat Fraser Won The 2018 CrossFit Games®

Mat Fraser was the favourite for to win the male Individual Category at The 2018 CrossFit Games®. Let's break this down so you can learn what he does, why it works and how you can re-apply these methods to your own training.

So why did Mat Fraser win the 2018 CrossFit Games?

#HWPO – Hard Work Pays Off

Mat Fraser lives by the motto ‘Hard work pays off’. It is a simple idea, but the difficulty lies in the execution. Mat trains 360 days a year with one goal in mind, to win the CrossFit Games. He does not skip sessions when he feels tired or complains when things don’t go his way. He simply focuses on his goal and puts in the work that he knows is necessary.

It is easy to hide behind excuses, but out on the competition floor there is nowhere to hide. What you do in the dark, when nobody else is around, will be reflected in the light, when it is time to throwdown and compete. There is perhaps nobody else that exemplifies this ideal more than Mat fraser.

His Background in Olympic Weightlifting

Mat Fraser has a formidable background of strength and weightlifting. This gives him a tremendous advantage over many of his other competitors.

  • He was 13 years old when he won his first national title in weightlifting
  • In 2003, 2005 and 2007 he was the school age champion
  • Mat became the junior national champion in 2009

On the day he graduated from high school he moved to Colorado and began to train full time as an Olympic Weightlifter. Within one year he was Snatching 130kg and Clean and Jerking 160kg (at 77kg bodyweight). Then he broke his back due to coaches forcing him to continue to compete, even after he knew something bad had happened.

This injury eventually became a strong motivating factor for Mat to quit Olympic Weightlifting. It also awakened the understanding in him about the importance of recovery. As the 2x Fittest Man on Earth he tackles his recovery with all the seriousness that he applies to the rest of his training. That is why he uses the Theragun G2PRO (link).

Mat Fraser’s Dedication to Recovery

In the post training period the body will try to reverse the impact of stress induced by training. In an effort to cope better with future training the body will attempt reset the level of homeostasis higher than before. This adaptation is what improves our ability to perform during competition. It makes us fitter and stronger.

In order to get the most benefit, we want the body to recover fully from one workout before we train again.

The quicker we recover, the more we can get out of our training and the more progress we make.

There are processes that occur during training which lead to a reduction in function of the muscles. We can promote certain mechanisms through recovery techniques which allow us to get back to a fresh, ready to train state. I will discuss some of these mechanisms and what techniques have been shown to successfully promote them. In doing so it will allow you to construct your own recovery strategy to suit your needs. Every athlete is different in terms of what works so it is important to understand why to do things. This allows you to make an effective strategy to allow you as an individual to get the most from your training.

Step 1: Take care of your nutrition

1.1 Protein is essential for the repair of cells that have been damaged during intense training. The repair of these cells makes our muscles bigger and stronger. Most of us could benefit from increasing our intake of lean protein. Serious athletes should consult a qualified dietician to ensure they consume adequate protein within their diet.

1.2 Carbohydrate: When we train at high intensity we rapidly deplete glycogen stored in the muscle. This is the fuel we need to perform. Consume quality carbohydrate as soon as possible after training. During the post workout period we make better use of carbohydrate as our muscles want to replace glycogen. Glucose is absorbed easier during this period, preventing it being stored as fat. The amount needed depends largely on duration and intensity of the training.

1.3 Vitamins and minerals: They are essential for the proper functioning of our cells and muscles. It is vital that we eat a balanced healthy diet with healthy fats and supplement with a good multivitamin. This ensures that the greater needs of repairing cells are met, allowing them to restore themselves fully.

1.4 Hydration is extremely important. When we sweat we lose water. Water is the main constituent of blood; when hydration is poor we have a reduced blood volume. Blood volume is a key factor in determining aerobic capacity and performance. Maintaining good hydration ensures our cardiovascular system is functioning at maximum capacity. As our body is made mostly of water, good hydration will also contribute to the repair and growth of cells. Monitor urine to ensure a light lemonade colour is maintained.

Use TheraGun

Recovery is essential to any training regimen because it allows for improved performance and decreases the risk of potential injury. The TheraGun G2PRO provides portable, precise, powerful, on the go pain relief for muscle activation and recovery. Combining amplitude, frequency, and torque, the TheraGun can be utilized before, during, and after each workout.

Before a workout, the TheraGun G2PRO activates the body by increasing blood flow through the muscles while also improving muscle coordination and mobility. In between sets and snatches, the TheraGun GG2PRO re-activates inhibited muscles, increases blood flow through the fascia to help improve performance. It inhibits the stretch response, thus getting you ready to work out in a much quicker amount of time. After a workout, the TheraGun G2PRO decreases muscle soreness, hydrates fascial tissue, and prevents and eliminates adhesions for faster recovery.

TheraGun was developed by Dr. Jason Wersland after a motorcycle accident left lasting tissue damage and a bulging disk. A professional chiropractor, he was unable to find a tool to assist his recovery, so he built his own. Now in it’s 6th iteration, not only did he manage to heal his own pain with the TheraGun, he honed the idea into an effective product that is used by the best Crossfitter in the world for his warm up and recovery work.

Step 2: Metabolite Clearance

When we exercise we produce metabolic by-products. Lactate is the most common. When by-products accumulate they significantly impact the contractile function on the muscle tissue, dramatically decreasing performance. When we stop exercising these metabolites can sometimes remain in the muscle. It is important that we try and flush them out fully. There are many methods that can be used effectively.

2.1 Active recovery: Light intensity exercise helps us to promote blood flow and clear metabolites through several mechanisms. Gentle warm down exercise after a session can be very beneficial in achieving this.

2.2 Contrast showers/Ice baths: Our blood vessels constrict in the cold and dilate in the heat. Alternating between hot and cold acts as a pump flushing blood through the muscles, promoting clearance. Ice baths have the added benefit of hydrostatic pressure. External pressure of water added to the cold, forces blood and metabolites out of the extremities.

Step 3: Tissue Quality

During strenuous exercise we create chemical shifts in the muscle cells. These shifts are normal but can interrupt contractile function. When muscle fibres contract, sometimes they do not relax fully and we get cramping. Cramp may not always occur but over time the muscle tissue loses quality. This can eventually cause tightness and pain. In order to prevent this we must use stretching and myofascial release techniques to break up the fibres and trigger points that form. We must also perform mobility exercises to maintain good movement in our joints and prevent muscles from becoming tight and restrictive. There are several options to use.

3.1 TheraGun: An accessible way to smash out any knots in the muscle and maintain good tissue quality. It should be performed on a regular basis. TheraGun can enhance this process considerably. If you are serious about optimising your recovery, then the TheraGun G2PRO is the best tool on the market.

Mat Fraser: ‘I use TheraGun everyday. It just works’

3.2 Massage: A good massage can often be effective at hitting awkward spots. While expensive, a good physiotherapist or massage therapist can make a big difference.

3.3 Stretching and Mobility exercises: These should be performed on a daily basis. When we hold certain positions for long periods of time our muscles become tight and can become an injury risk. By constantly maintaining good tissue length and joint mobility we ensure good functional movement.

Step 4: Take proper rest

Rest is essential and often overlooked. When we rest our body is allowed to divert resources and attention to restoration. This is when the real progress is made. During rest our body makes the appropriate adaptations to the effects of training. Without it we will never truly recover physically or mentally. Good quality is very important but one we often neglect. Athletes should consider the following.

4.1 Adequate sleep: “Train like a lion, sleep like a baby.” The right amount of sleep varies from one individual to the next. Athletes should maintain a record of sleep. They should manage whatever factors they need to ensure they get adequate sleep.

4.2 Power Naps: A 45 min nap post training has been shown to increase alertness and motivation. It gives just enough down time for the body to prepare for the next training session.

4.3 Meditation and Chillout time: Having time to clear the mind and simply relax can be a great benefit. Our sensory inputs are reduced and it allows the recovery process to kick in.

Understanding what you are trying to achieve with recovery can help it to be much more effective. By understanding what you need to achieve you can be more effective. By employing an effective strategy, you can maximize the training effect and perform consistently at your best.

Experience

Mat has already won the CrossFit Games twice. In 2015 he finished in second place after a disastrous event involving flipping the pig. That experience of finishing second only fanned the flames of his desire to win and helped to enhance his fierce competitive nature.
He knows what to do in order to win, because he has already done that twice already. Only other champions have this kind of experience, and that gives him a considerable advantage.

His Unrivaled Ability to Destroy his Own Weaknesses

There is nobody even close to Mat Fraser when it comes to working on your weaknesses. Mat does not simply practice what he is not good at, but he annihilates any flaws that he finds in his game.

For him, one of the few factors that could hold him back from winning the 2018 CrossFit Games is injury. This is why he only uses the best recovery tools on the market, and makes time every day for serious and committed recovery work.