Rich Froning has won the 2013 CrossFit Games claiming the title of “World’s Fittest Man” for the third year in a row. I’m sure the Froning replica jerseys are flying off the online shelves as we speak. Some may yawn at this statement, but I think it’s truly amazing. It would have been 4 years in a row if he had known how to climb a rope in 2010. In that year he came in second. Either way, he has dominated the sport of fitness every year he has competed in it.
If Froning were a race horse he would have been put out to stud by now. And maybe he should be. He is an outlier; a genetic freak. We’re all Neanderthals and Froning is Cro-magnon Man – he’s the next leap forward. Froning probably should be mating with the top female CrossFitters each year (I’m sure his wife wouldn’t mind if we explained that it was for science). They would create a new species of humans called CrossFiticus; known for its giant pecs, insane strength, power output and work capacity.
Now before you go running off to do 5 workouts in a day and write Froning fan fiction novels set in a dystopian future, let’s come back to reality: You are not Rich Froning. You can’t train the way he does: You probably don’t have the hours in the day to devote to training full time. You can’t eat the way he does: You most likely need to eat a lot cleaner than he does and sleep a lot more than he probably does to recover and perform your best.
Froning is probably the closest thing we have to a superhero, but you are not him. If you’re only a couple years or less into CrossFit and you try to match his volume of work, you’re going to get hurt. Even if you are an advanced, hard-charging CrossFitter, you still may not be able to train the way he does.
As discussed on Barbell Shrugged, Rich Froning is a buffalo. He’s big and powerful, but he can also keep grinding away longer than everyone else. CrossFit as a sport is a high-skill, strength endurance competition where consistency in your performance is the deciding factor. And when the competition includes every aspect of fitness you can think of (and things you’ve never even dreamed of) it’s even more remarkable to see how well-rounded you have to be to compete at such a high level.
For those newer to CrossFit (and even those who have been around for some time) the endless list of skills to acquire can be daunting and frustrating. You have to be good at everything. But here is what may not be apparent to the newer CrossFitter, Froning didn’t just stroll into CrossFit in 2010 without ever touching a barbell or doing a pull-up. He had a foundation of strength and conditioning already that most people may never reach. Chris Spealler probably said it best, “We may not see another guy like this for the next hundred years.”
Froning’s 80% effort is still probably greater than most people’s 110%, and that’s okay. CrossFit as a sport and CrossFit as a training program are two completely different things. If you aspire to make it to Regionals and some day the CrossFit Games, you’re going to have to do more. But that “more” is highly individualized. If you’re in this for the general physical preparedness and just want a great workout, strive for continuous improvement in your strength, skills and work capacity, but don’t try to mimic what the top athletes are doing. There’s no secret squirrel programming. You simply have to do your own work.