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Podcast No. 34: Live from the 2019 Reebok CrossFit Games

By Will Ahmed

Podcast No. 34: Live from the 2019 Reebok CrossFit Games

This week we recorded a special episode of the WHOOP Podcast, live from the 2019 Reebok CrossFit Games in Madison, WI.

Listen on:

Elite Performance Manager Mike Lombardi, a former Olympic rowing coach and our in-house CrossFit expert, sat down with a variety of athletes and other big names to discuss their training and overall experience at the Games, as well as what they learned from their WHOOP data while competing. The guests include one of the Games’ most recognizable faces, Jared Stevens, the filmmaking duo known as the “Buttery Bros,” Kelsey Kiel and Tola Morakinyo of Team Invictus Boston, Anders Varner, host of the Barbell Shrugged podcast, Jess Coughlan and coach Bobby Downton from RAW Strength and Conditioning, and Marcus Filly, the owner of Revival Strength. WHOOP was thrilled to be a part of the CrossFit Games this past weekend, and I hope you’ll enjoy listening to all these amazing athletes and coaches.

3:17 - Anders Varner, Host of the Barbell Shrugged Podcast

3:33 - The One Ton Challenge, which he discovered from training with John Cena. “Squat, bench, dead, snatch, clean and jerk, with the goal of hitting 2000 pounds.” 9:59 - In the Red on the Road. It’s hard to be healthy at the Games. “If food is around, I need to eat as much as possible because I might not eat again until 10 pm tonight.” 11:32 - Family’s Effect On Recovery. “It’s crazy that you can see that stuff” in the data. Anders’ recoveries have improved as his daughter has gotten older. 12:41 - Strain of Working at the Games. “Trying to have a 5-10 minute conversation that’s meaningful where you make a good impression 50 times a day, that’s so hard on your body.” 14:08 - His CrossFit Origins. “I like to say that I was inside the first 200 people that ever did it.” 15:10 - New Cut System. “The only people that complain are the ones that aren’t doing well. The best person is still going to win. I do feel bad for the people that flew all the way out here and got to work out once. … But in order to create a sport you have to break hearts, someone has to lose. Does it matter where you lose?” 18:16 - Direct Qualifying. “I think that part of the new system is really cool.” However, it is hard for the athletes to peak multiple times throughout the year. “Now you have to do it 4 weeks later on a bigger stage?” 21:51 - Coaching with WHOOP. “If your HRV goes to sh*t 3 nights in a row, don’t max out your back squat the next day. … We don’t need you to do something just because it’s written on the program.” 25:31 - Creating Separation Between Working Out and Daily Life. “The strain level where I’m not training is the most interesting thing to me.” Anders tries to isolate the strain of workouts by first getting calm with breathing and meditation. Mike says “your body is now primed effectively to work.” Anders adds “You get injured a lot less. The nicks and dings don’t show up because your body isn’t holding all that tension.” 28:58 - No Recovery Methods? “Just the breathing.” He’s not a fan of recovery techniques. “Just create a little space in your life to listen to your body. … There are little tiny pieces of your day that you can own,” no matter how busy you are.

35:07 - The Buttery Bros, Filmmakers Heber Cannon and Marston Sawyers

35:17 - Pancakes. The guys stopped by the WHOOP booth to cook breakfast. 35:49 - Sleeping and Training at the Games. It’s hard to find time for either. 36:33 - New Media Format is basically a free for all. “It’s the CrossFit game… of thrones. For us it doesn’t matter what happens, cause all of it’s new and fresh.”

38:25 - Jared Stevens, CrossFit OG

38:38 - Didn’t Compete this year, but did the one ton challenge despite an injury. “I was nervous I was going to snap something in my knee.” 40:22 - Red vs Green. “People live or die by these recovery scores I’m noticing.” Jared was 19% that day. “If I’m mentally stressed, I go in the red easily.” What does he think when he’s in the green? “You can go till the skin peels off today.” 42:15 - More Deep Sleep. “I feel a big difference in my body,” now that his deep sleep has nearly doubled while wearing WHOOP. 42:54 - WHOOP Data from Previous Games. “Outside stress has been so much more devastating to my body that actual physical stress.” 44:53 - Meditation. “I started seeing massive increases in my recovery scores.” He does it once or twice a day. “Around 2 pm, and again sometimes before bed if I’m amped up.” 46:32 - Intermittent Fasting. “I’d like to get to the point where I eat around 6 and not again after that.” 49:56 - Will he Keep the Beard? “Early on it was for sure laziness. I’ve kind of built my brand off of it.”

50:41 - Jess Coughlan & Coach Bobby Downton, RAW Strength and Conditioning

51:04 - What is the Demo Team? Jess was on it last year. “You do all the workouts multiple times. I really enjoyed it, it was super interesting.” It may be harder than actually competing. 52:36 - Anxiety Increasing Strain. “I’m a brilliant sleeper at home, but replicating that same sleep and recovery while in competition is easier said than done,” says Jess. 54:34 - Coach & Athlete Couple. “I can easily differentiate between coach and partner … but if it’s not a good day, everybody knows about it,” Bobby says. “He’s the one who knows me best,” adds Jess. 56:43 - Adjusting Programming Based on WHOOP Data. “Now they don’t treat each day like they have to be first on the leaderboard,” Bobby says. 59:34 - Australia to US Travel. “Getting used to that sleep and eating routine again is probably the hardest thing to establish once you come over,” Jess notes. 1:00:55 - Nutrition on the Road. Their team has a nutritionist with them prepping all the food. Jess says “That takes the guess work out of it and allows me to focus just on recovery.” 1:02:02 - WHOOP Coming to Australia! “We’re happy to be part of that,” says Bobby. Mike adds “It’s finally happening, it’s only a few weeks away.”

1:03:54 - Marcus Filly, Revival Strength Owner

1:04:38 - What Made him Move On? “My last two years of competing I had an internal voice telling me ‘Hey, I’m getting to my max potential as an athlete.’ And the sport was getting more and more competitive … I was 31, I didn’t have many more years of growth in me.” 1:06:08 - New Perspective. “When I come to events like this now, I have a much bigger fan base than I ever had as an athlete. … People say ‘Man, your programs are changing my life.’” 1:07:29 - What Would he do Differently Now? “The sport of fitness is scary as an athlete because you just never know what people are doing out there. … We trained as much as possible out of fear that somebody else was doing it more and harder. In hindsight I probably overdid it sometimes.” 1:09:32 - Intelligent Training. “Most people are seeking general health and wellness. … There’s a huge opportunity to increase people’s awareness of what training can look like.” 1:10:31 - Coaching with Data. “Is this a day that I can go for peak performance? Or is it a day that I need to monitor strain.” 1:14:35 - Quality of Movement. “How we move as individuals as we age will ultimately be the thing that people care more about.”

1:15:41 - Kelsey Kiel, Invictus Boston

1:17:08 - Realizing her Strength. “If you had told me then that this would be my life, I wouldn’t believe you at all.” 1:19:11 - Strain of Coaching takes its toll. How does she recover? “I’m a really bad napper though. I prefer to get in bed at 8:30 pm instead.” 1:21:03 - Day at the Games. “A 6k run with a rucksack on is going to take a lot out of me.” What does she do differently than normal? “I don’t even want to look at what my recovery was on Day 2, I have to compete anyway.” 1:24:01 - Next Season Starts in 6 Weeks. “This year there are sanctioned events that are using the Open as their qualifier.” 1:26:27 - Injuries & Recovery Tactics. “Leading up to the Games I was doing dry needling twice a week.”

1:27:57 - Tola Morakinyo, Invictus Boston

1:28:52 - New Qualifying Format & Early Cuts. “You have to be really smart with your training, pick and choose when you want to up your intensity,” Tola says in regards to peaking physically several times over the course of the season. “We didn’t come in and have a great weekend, but with only 14 teams, was there really any need to make cuts?” 1:33:41 - Preparing for International Competition. “We have a system, we try to get the red eye, then stay up the whole day, then sleep.” 1:36:10 - In-Competition Recovery. “It’s tough for me to recover because I generally have to get so much fuel in and I struggle to eat through the events” when they are spread out over the day. 1:37:32 - Diet During Training. “Eat as much as I can whenever I can. I eat good quality foods, but there’s not really a point when I’m going to be eating too much.”