If you aren’t familiar with the life story of Mat Fraser, you might look at the CrossFit champion’s Instagram and simply reduce his achievements to nothing other than those pertaining to a fitness freak, someone of super-human strength who simply put his god-given talents to good use. But to do so would be to ignore the story of struggle, of overcoming significant challenges and, most notably, that of his medical consultation which saw a doctor tell Fraser he’d never work out again after breaking his L5 vertebrae in two places from a heavy deadlift. For most people, such an assessment would derail them, or at least see them turn their attention to a new outlet. But Fraser was determined to prove the doc wrong. And that he did.
In an interview with GQ UK, Fraser revealed just how devastating this time in his life was. Speaking to the publication he explained, “At the time I’m living and training at the Olympic training centre and that’s what my life revolved around, going to the Olympics.” He added, “That’s a tough pill to swallow, especially at that age. A few months earlier I was at high school and had to ask permission to go to the bathroom. Now it’s like, ‘Hey, all those hopes and dreams you’d worked for since you were 12, they’re gone.”
After wearing a brace for four months during his recovery, Fraser got his body back and found a new zest for life in the halls of the CrossFit gym. When he started though, he was far from the Fraser we’ve come to see dominated the CrossFit games. Instead, his world-class lifting technique meant he struggled with other forms of movement and, naturally, he didn’t have any background in cardio.
“I remember this one guy distinctly, his name was Damon, and he had to be early-to-mid fifties and the first workout we did had 400m runs in it and the first piece of the workout was thrusters or kettlebells…something where I could use my hips and the weight was super light and I cycled through the reps quickly and then I went out on the run. And I’m one of the first out on the run and doing well and then 100m in I am breathing through a straw and I see everyone just zoom past me and this one guy, Damon, a little overweight, he just cooked by me and I thought, ‘Oh, my gosh, this isn’t good.”
The story of what followed is the stuff of legend but also well known. Fraser became a CrossFit Games winner, crowned the Fittest Man on Earth five times and since his meteoric rise to fame in the sport, he is now sitting out his first competitive season since retiring at the end of 2020. So, just what is the Fittest Man on Earth doing in retirement?
As Fraser told GQ UK, he’s working on a book, launched his own Hybrid training programme, and doing taste tests for his nutrition company. If all that wasn’t enough to keep him busy, he’s also got a podcast with Josh Bridges and Seven Matossian and has been travelling for work ahead of his move back to Vermont from Tennessee. It seems that instead of slowing down, things have instead ramped up for the young Fraser.
“The sleep, my body just doesn’t require as much as I used to. Now, I’ll get six or seven hours and I’m just awake. Before, even after nine hours and if my alarm went off, my body just wanted more, so I’d sleep until ten hours. Obviously the volume of training has been throttled back, whereas before it was a full-time job. Now it’s just for fitness, fun, testing a lot of stuff. But usually I’m in and out of the gym in two hours - so it’s a fraction of what it used to be.”
Fraser also dismissed talk of a comeback, and it seems he’s no longer motivated by competition. “My goal is fitness for fun and fitness to be healthy. I’m still doing cardio, I’m still doing weightlifting, but not nearly at the intensity I was before. So when I do the workouts and my score doesn’t match up to what it was three, four years ago, I don’t lose a wink of sleep over it because that’s not my goal anymore. My goal is just to be healthy.”
Sign up to the Men's Health newsletter and kickstart your home body plan. Make positive steps to become healthier and mentally strong with all the best fitness, muscle-building and nutrition advice delivered to your inbox.
Love what you’re reading? Enjoy Men’s Health magazine delivered straight to your door every month with Free UK delivery. Buy direct from the publisher for the lowest price and never miss an issue!
You Might Also Like