“One of the most important aspects of Games training is preparing the athletes for events and situations they wouldn’t typically be exposed to.”
Why is Games training special?
The athletes who are competing at the Games have worked for years, day in day out to be there. They have sacrificed various aspects of their life to be on that competition floor, therefore the training leading up to this event has an extremely special energy and feel as it is the accumulation of all the years of hard work.
What is the difference in training for the Open, Regionals and Games?
For the large majority of athletes there is a notable difference in training for the Open, Regionals and the Games. There are however a special few that can justify just focusing on the Games, this is a very small collection of athletes…
During the Open you are in a known environment, you have time to prepare and warm up optimally, you can repeat events if they go badly and you can put your favourite song on whilst doing the workout… You also only have to complete 1 workout a week. It is quite common to see athletes excelling in their home environment but then really struggle when exposed to the next level of competition.
At Regionals we typically see 3 days of competing with at least 6 events. A big advantage we have had in the Meridian Regionals over the last few years is that we have known the events for at least a month. This means we can specifically prepare for the events and peak in the given events and movements.
The Games is a whole different level…
What do you need to compete at the CrossFit Games?
You need to be able to handle volume, lack of sleep, be comfortable not knowing what you will be doing and be confident putting yourself out there in front of hundreds of thousands of people…
The CrossFit Games had a huge change from 2008 to 2009 where the number of events doubled from 4 to 8, quite a significant jump. This year it is looking like there will be 14+ events over 4 days!
You therefore need to have not only the required baseline strength numbers, gymnastic skills and conditioning capacity, you need to be able to express these under fatigue, be able to recover quickly and have the mental fortitude perform at each event.
4 Weeks out
This is where we try to establish a window where the athletes can just focus on a simple routine of sleep, eat, train and repeat with minimal distractions.
It is the same window of time that has been used by fighters for many years in preparation camps and we also feel that this time frame is optimal for the level of competition we face.
During this period we look to optimise technique, expose the athletes to new elements that might be seen at the competition and dial in the focus needed for the competition.
A typical day:
Wake around 8am, check Instagram…
The athletes will get some food.
Typical breakfast: Overnight oats with fruit, eggs, bacon and some salad on the side.
Specific Movement Preparation/Warm-up. This can take 45-60 minutes.
Each athlete will have specific movement pieces they will work through. We would then start with a lighter conditioning piece that allows us to raise the heart rate and get moving with a wide selection of exercises.
A typical morning session can look something like this:
25 Min AMRAP (Easy pace):
- Row 800m
- 30m HSW
- Run 800m
- 30m OH Walking Lunge 45/30kg
- Ski 800m
- 30m Waiters carry
Once the body is primed we will then move onto some strength work, for example:
Clean + Power Jerk + Split Jerk
- Establish a daily max in the complex.
- Do five additional sets at 90% but with two cleans.
Followed by some more typical style workouts:
4 Min AMRAP:
- 7 Burpees
- 7 Pull-Ups
2 Min rest
4 Min AMRAP:
- 7 Burpee BJO
- 7 C2B
Rest as needed then:
Perform 30-20-10-20-30 reps:
Lunch: Typically chicken, sweet potato and some veggies.
Instagram check and siesta before the next session.
Warm – Up although not as detailed as the in morning session, just to get the body fresh once again.
Followed by some technical work such as:
12 x 1 Negative RMU: 10 sec decent
For quality, 3 x Ring routines:
- Ring routine: 1-3 SRMU
- 1-3 L-sit to shoulder stand
- 1-3 Strict Dips
- 10-15 sec German hang
Rest as needed in-between:
Some less typical training that we might expose the athletes to in the afternoons:
10 Min EMOM: 100m Sprint
- Build to heaviest Yolk carry for 30m
- Drop down to 70% and perform 5 x 30m 1:2 work:rest
- Build to heavy Atlas Stone “clean”
- With the previous weight roughly 80% 5 Min AMRAP: Atlas Stone cleans.
The athletes will then have specific accessory work that is to be performed at the end of the day. In The Progrm this is something we emphasize as it plays such an important role in injury reduction and assisting technical proficiency.
Reflection on the day. Modify next day’s training if needed or physical therapy work.
Bed, we encourage 8-10 hours sleep each night.
*This schedule does change and sometimes we introduce earlier morning fasted sessions and longer days so the athletes can become accustomed to similar scenarios at the Games..
At this level some of the athletes respond better to having an active recovery day over having a complete rest day, so that’s why we usually move 7 days a week. However, two of the days will be a lot lighter. Possibly a swim or kayak – in general just try to spend some time outside the gym.
Mental vs Physical preparation
The mental aspect of training and competition is obviously important and therefore needs to be developed and nurtured. Mental preparation and development for a competition, such as the Games, occurs in different forms for different athletes.
One of the biggest factors is that we want to ensure that the athletes are confident in themselves and their own abilities going into the competition.
Just as athletes have specific movement work they must do, athletes also have special mental preparation that they must to. For some this is less structured and simply occurs having the right environment leading up to the competition. For other athletes we may use simple mantras or simple physical reminders that help them regain focus during difficult periods of competition.
1 week out
One week out is where we see a notable reduction volume and overall intensity. By this point we may know a small selection of the workouts and movements so we will make sure they are feeling smooth and comfortable.
We have found that the athletes feel and perform better still moving and hitting some shorter duration higher intensity pieces leading up to the day of competition. This ensures movements are still smooth and that their energy systems are still working optimally.
Check Instagram 1 last time before competition, eat, sleep and get prepared for Game day.
How to prepare on competition day
To be continued…