How would you perform in the CrossFit Games? Check out the workouts for yourself


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Photo: Getty Images / alvarez

The CrossFit Games kicked off this week in Madison, Wisconsin—and even though only two of the Individual workouts have been announced, all I have to say is “yikes” and “ow.” For the uninitiated, the games are basically like a CrossFitter’s Super Bowl, where the “fittest humans on Earth” compete in a multi-day competition featuring grueling workouts. Those of us in the community watch to cheer on our favorite athletes, but also to check out the CrossFit Games workouts which will inevitably end up in our box’s programming.

So far, only four women competing at the games have finished the first workout under the time cap. That’s CrossFit for you—it’s supposed to be challenging, both physically and mentally.  Maillard Howell, owner of CrossFit Prospect Heights and founder of the The Beta Way, says his biggest piece of mental advice is to not change your pace off of your competitors. “I’d start slow and steady rather than try to lead out the gate, and grab my wins as they come per round,” he says. “Also, gotta hype yourself up. I become my own cheerleader, in my head and verbally.”

CrossFit Games workout 1:

4 rounds

  • 400m run
  • 3 legless rope climbs
  • 7 snatches (185/130)
  • Time cap: 20 minutes

Howell, who is currently at the games, says he noticed that the transition from the rope climbs to the snatch was taxing. “Their grip and lats have been seriously put to the test on this workout and it shows with the less experienced athletes,” he says. If you’re going to attempt this workout, he says to “not go hard and fast on the first set of rope climbs. Feel it out and give yourself a couple breaths between each climb.” Take the snatches as singles (“make the lift and drop it, shake it out, repeat”), and then “suck the run up.” Noted.

I have been doing CrossFit for a few years, and I can tell you with certainty that I would get through the first 400-meter run… and then spend approximately 18 minutes staring at the rope. Legless rope climbs and snatches that heavy elude me. And I’m okay with that. Because one of the great things about CrossFit is that you can scale and still get an amazing workout. For this one in particular, Howell says you can scale the run by making it shorter. For the rope climbs, either do a shorter climb, use your legs, or do lying rope pulls. For the snatch, you can scale down the weight and also make it a power snatch versus a squat snatch.

CrossFit Games workout 2:

Time cap: 10 minutes

  • 800-meter row
  • 66 kettlebell jerks (12/16 kg)
  • 132-foot handstand walk

“The second workout is a sprint,” says Howell. “That row has to be aggressive and fast followed by 66 dual kettlebell push presses. It’s not very heavy weight but it’s meant to tax your shoulders before the handstand walks.” He says he would “try to break the paddle” on the row, and take a few measured breaths before heading into the kettlebell work. “I would try to go for broke on the first set, take as big a bite as possible,” he says. Rest with the kettlebells in the front rack position instead of putting them on the ground “and having to get them back up to shoulders.” The handstand walk is all skill: “Those adept at it and still have feeling in their arms will have to go fast,” says Howell, adding an LOL, which feels appropriate.

“Mentally making sure you’re in the zone is pretty much having that belief that you’ve already put in all the hard work,” Annie Thorisdottir, CrossFit Games athlete and two-time winner of “fittest woman on Earth,” told Shape in June. It’s trusting in your training, and yourself, and then giving it your all. Thorisdottir didn’t finish the workout before the time cap, and currently sits in 6th place. Damn. CrossFit Games workouts are no joke. I’m not looking forward to when I have to take these on. But also, I am kind of.

Wondering if CrossFit is for you? Here’s everything you need to know. And this is what a CrossFit Games athlete eats in a day.

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