Dan Tai is a man on a mission. After finishing 19th at the Lowlands Semi Final in Holland during the 2021 CrossFit season, he set himself the goal of making the CrossFit Games. Because that's what you do if you're an ex-professional rugby player who has swiftly risen through the ranks of The Sport Of Fitness.
Having recently moved to Denmark, Dan and his equally athletic girlfriend, Saph Goddard, now train with their coach Phil Mansfield and two of the best Danish athletes, with the aim being to compete as a team in the 2022 season, before going individual the following year.
"Saying I want to make the CrossFit Games was a decision I was too scared to commit to for a while. But now I know there is no shame in saying you want to achieve something. Regardless of the outcome, I’m ready for every step of the journey along the way."
You don't need to move to Scandinavia, mind. Starting your own path to betterment does not require anything other than somewhere to do some pull-ups. The CrossFit benchmark workout Cindy is a bodyweight test, with the task being to complete as many rounds as possible of pull-ups, push-ups and air squats over the course of 20 minutes. Simple.
But 20 minutes is a long time. Go in all-guns-blazing and you'll redline in a hurry. Go too slow and you won't post your best score. Either way, your mind is going to get taxed as much as your muscles.
Follow Dan's guidance to stay physically and mentally on track for optimum performance. Then watch him run through the movements with predictably perfect form, before finding the full workout description below.
To get the best score in Cindy, you will want to be consistent for the full 20 minutes. Start too fast and slow down too much before the end; and you won’t get your best possible score! Do a trial run of 2 rounds at full pace, then set yourself a time goal for each round. One full round every 90 seconds, 1 minute or even faster for the best scores. Then when the workout starts, make sure the reps take you the full time you have allocated for the round every time. And don’t start the next round too early!
Although the ultimate goal is unbroken for the full 20 minutes, splitting your reps up can actually get most people a better score! If you have practiced the 3 movements before, you know what part of the workout slows you down; Squats, push ups or pull ups. Whatever it is, make sure you split your reps early. Usually push ups get hard for people, so I’d suggest splitting them 6 and 4 from the start, with a 5 second break every time. You want to avoid failing a rep!
Everyone will have part of the workout they enjoy, and a part they don’t as much. For the part you struggle with, make a smile point. For me, the squats get hard between minutes 10-15. This is my smile point. Whenever I get to the squats, I smile to myself and remind myself that I like squats usually! This helps me relax, keep the negative thoughts at bay and push through a part I would otherwise struggle with. After 15 minutes, I know I am almost home and dry.
20 minutes of continuous body weight movements over and over can definitely be a mental challenge. To keep your head in the game, split the workout into smaller segments. Remember your pacing strategy and instead of thinking about the pain, concentrate on just completing the reps every round at your set pace. Positive self talk helps a lot too. Every time you complete a round, give yourself a mental pat on the back between transitions. Usually it’s the middle section where people’s head game slips. That’s the time to really dial in on the pacing and positive self talk.
2-Minute ARMAP of:
1) Pull-up x 5
Grasp a pull-up bar with an overhand grip just over shoulder width apart, lift your feet from the floor, and hanging freely with straight arms (A). Pull yourself up by flexing the elbows whilst pinching your shoulder blades together. Avoid swinging or using momentum. When your chin passes the bar (B), pause before lowering to the starting position.
2) Push-up x 10
Assume a strong plank position with your wrists, elbows and shoulders ‘stacked’ directly above one another (A). Flex at the elbow to lower your body, stopping as your chest touches the floor (B). Push back up as hard as possible until elbows are fully extended. Try to stick to a controlled tempo – count to two on the way down and one as you push back up.
3) Air Squatx 15
Start standing straight up (A). Bend at the hips and sink until your thighs are just past parallel to the floor (B). Keep your chest up, eyes forward and back straight, knees in line with your feet. Stand up. You might feel like you can make up time here but try not to rush at the expense of quality.
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