The athletes who compete at the CrossFit Games have recently become markedly younger. A lot younger. In the 2021 competition, teenagers like Mal O'Brien and Emma Cary were in the spotlight, having started the sport as small children. Brazilian wonder and multiple event winner, Gui Malheiros, is a grand old age of 21-years-old. The new Fittest Man on Earth, Justin Medeiros, is 22. Even Tia-Clair Toomey, the most dominant CrossFitter of all time and the five-time consecutive champion, who finished runner-up twice before her winning run, is still, somehow, only 28.
In 2013, Manchester-born Sam Briggs won the CrossFit Games. She was 30-years-old and the oldest woman ever to take home the gold. Sam has been to the Games a total of 10 times, eight of which she competed over the age of 30. She has won the CrossFit Open twice in the elite category and three times in the 35-39 division. Oh, and she has been the UK national champion since 2016.
Age is, of course, just a number. But to Sam, that is a number to be resoundingly beaten. Now 39, the athlete nicknamed 'The Engine' is fitter than she's ever been. She is setting strength PRs and beating her times on benchmark and repeat workouts. Going quietly into the night is not something that makes sense to her.
Renowned for her ability to endure discomfort; to go willingly into the pain cave, pull up a chair, and ask what's for tea, Sam has programmed a session exclusively for you and your Men's Heath SQUAD teammates, one that will put you in a hole and boost your mental and physical fortitude while you're in there.
A 20-minute AMRAP, your task is to move through the movements repeatedly for the full time allotted, completing as many rounds and reps as possible. Before you steam in, heed The Engine's valuable advice and then find the full workout description below.
PACE IT WELL
This workout has no top-end strength or complex gymnastics, so ideally you shouldn’t fail any movements at any point. This means figuring out your 'maximum sustainable intensity' and being disciplined with your pacing. 20 minutes is a relatively long time domain, so you certainly shouldn't be sprinting.
I’d advise starting out with a very sustainable pace and try to ratchet up your intensity as you go – it’s generally better to start easy and finish hard rather than blast the first 30s and struggle the rest – if you have something to compare against for the row like a 2k time you figure out pacing’s around it for example:
Minutes 1-5 Slightly slower than 2k pace
Minutes 5-10 2k pace
Minutes 10-15 Slightly faster than 2k pace
Minutes 15-20 Aggressive pacing
Try to be quick with your transitions! Timing your transitions or having a fixed protocol in mind will stop you wasting time. Something like five big breaths as you get off the rower, or a strict eight seconds rest before starting the squats will keep you accountable when you start to fatigue.
OWN YOUR VOICE
Thoughts become words that become actions. If you can own the voice in your head you can frame the effort you are putting in a positive context. Try and not let yourself assign negative connotations to the workout. “This is so hard it sucks!” can be flipped into “I can really feel how hard I’m working and it’s bringing me closer to my goal”
The best athletes in the world are the ones who can do this every day in all situations. Framing any experience through a positive lens means you will try harder and enjoy it more. Who doesn't want that?
In that last five minutes you always have more in the tank than you think you do. Don't cruise here - finish hard!
20-min AMRAP of:
Row x 20 calories (50 x double-unders or 100 x single skips if you can't use a rower)
Strap into a rowing machine and grasp the handles with an upright torso. Keep your head and neck neutral (A). Drive hard with your legs, keeping your arms straight until your legs are fully locked out. Then lean back slightly and finish the stroke by pulling hard with the arms into the chest (B). Reverse the movement and repeat.
Air squat x 15
Standing tall (A), keep your chest up and sink your hips back, before bending your knees to drop your thighs until they are at least parallel to the floor (B). No half-reps here, please. Then drive up.
Sit-up x 10
With your legs bent and the soles of your feet together, lie with your hands behind your head (A). Tense your abs as you sit up, and touch your hands to your feet (B). Reverse the movement back to laying and repeat.
Push-up x 5
Assume a long arm plank position, with your core tight and your hands below your shoulders (A), bend your elbows to bring your chest to the floor (B). Keep your elbows close to your body as you push back up explosively.
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