Men's Health spent the weekend in Carson, California watching the fittest people on Earth suffer through a gauntlet of insane workouts at the Reebok CrossFit Games. There was hardly an unimpressive moment (well, perhaps except for the peg board workout–see #5), but these are the five things that absolutely blew us away.
#1: BjÃ¶rgvin Karl GuÃ°mundsson's Murph Performance
Murph was the signature workout of Friday. And there's no doubt that This 20 Pound Weight Workout Destroyed The CrossFit Games Competitors.
In the workout, you wear a 20-pound weight vest and run one mile, then do 100 pullups, 200 pushups, 300 air squats, and then run another mile. It's brutal. Add the California heat and sunshine, and you had a situation where many competitors didn't even finish.
That's why BjÃ¶rgvin Karl GuÃ°mundsson's performance was almost inhuman. The Icelandic fitness freak–who took third overall in The Games–crushed Murph, finishing in 38:36.
That's almost 20-minutes faster than some competitors. It's also nearly a minute quicker than his closest competitor, Mat Fraser, who took 2nd overall in The Games.
GuÃ°mundsson says his strategy was to pace himself during the first run. Mat Fraser later revealed that his goal was to simply stay in second–he wasn't even going to waste the effort trying to catch up to GuÃ°mundsson. “He was nowhere in sight,” said Fraser.
#2: Ben Smith's Clean and Jerk Performance
Murph was so hard that it put most competitors at a deficit all weekend. And their numbers showed it. When it was time for the Clean and Jerk–an event where competitors take turns Olympic lifting as much weight as possible–most of the athletes put up about 30 to 40 pounds under their normal personal bests.
Ben Smith isn't most athletes. The guy's former personal best in the lift, according to CrossFit.com, was 335 pounds. But he managed to rip 347 pounds from the ground, launch it overhead, and lock out, not only pulling off a personal record, but also taking 2nd in the event.
Smith's epic lift put him on track to win the Reebok CrossFit Games and earn the title of Fittest Man on Earth.
#3: Rich Froning's Teammate (who is a 42-year old mother of three)
Froning retired from individual competition after winning in his fourth consecutive CrossFit Games in 2014. But he still managed to continue his winning streak: His team, CrossFit Mayhem, took home the affiliate cup in the team competition.
Sure, it helps to have Rich Froning is on your team. But you have to be in insane shape to even get through many of the team workouts, much less do them at a high, competitive level. That's why we were amazed to find out that one of the key members on team CrossFit Mayhem is a 42-year old mother of three.
Lauren Neal has three kids, ranging from college to middle school-aged, and she works a full time job (in addition to training). So, what was your excuse for not hitting your fitness goals?
#4: Brooke Ence's Abs (and Arms)
#5: The Epic Pegboard Fail
Most CrossFit Games workouts aren't announced until the event actually starts. And that's why it's such a cool competition–the athletes must train for anything that Dave Castro, who designs all of the events in the games, could possibly throw at them.
In this year's final workout, Castro decided to include a pegboard climb: A large wall that you ascend by placing pegs in successively higher holes.
Only six of the men's 36 competitors passed the event–which also included row and Assault Bike sprints, as well as dumbbell snatches–within the 6-minute time cap.
“What we just did–what I just did–was expose a serious weakness in our athletes. And you know what?,” said Castro. “We're going to come back next year, and I'll probably put that f**king thing in (The Games) again, and they're not going to have an issue with it.”
The guys who finished the event had a simple strategy: They climbed one peg at a time, never skipping holes, and they kept their elbows in close to their body, bent 90-degrees or less throughout.
“That's the key to climbing a rope or a peg board,” says Annie Sakamoto, a CrossFit athlete who began training at the original CrossFit gym and has appeared in the The Games multiple years. “Keeping your elbows in tight, almost like you're in a plank position, lets you use stronger muscles like your core while climbing, so you don't get tired and fail as quick.”
Photographs:Â©2015 CrossFit Inc. Used with permission from CrossFit Inc.
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