28 Jan Pros and Cons of CrossFit – Part 2/2
To get a real insiders view on CrossFit, I interviewed elite CrossFitter Jarrod Smith, who lives and breathes CrossFit and is training for the upcoming CrossFit Games in the USA – a competition looking for the ‘fittest on earth’. Jarrod is a work colleague of mine at CrossFit Athletic, Brookvale (Sydney, Australia).
Want to learn more about CrossFit first? Read The Pros and Cons of Crossfit – Part 1/2′.
1/ How long have you been exercising with purpose and when and why did you start CrossFit exclusively?
I started training and playing sport at age 5 in the local soccer comp. Since then I have always played sport and trained with purpose. Dabbling in Rugby Union and League, BMX Vert riding, Surfing, Surf Life Saving, Boxing, Muay Thai Kickboxing, Cage Fighting, Marathon Running, Triathlon, Cycling, Natural Bodybuilding, Ultra-Distance Running, Surfing and now CrossFit.
I was struck down with ‘Rhabdo’ (rhabdomyolosis) two times. The 1st was after completing an Ironman Triathlon and the 2nd after running the 100km North Face Race through the Blue Mountains (Sydney, Australia). I suffered from stage 3 adrenal fatigue and glandular fever too. It was fair to say my body had had enough! I completely lost my motivation for long course aerobic sports. I would go for a run, get 5km into it then call a cab and go home. All motivation had gone and I was not in a good place. Having always measured myself by my athletic ability I felt a little useless.
After searching YouTube in November 2010 for different ways to train I came across some CrossFit videos. I searched for a CrossFit gym close by and went in for the first session soon after. The W.O.D. (Workout Of the Day) was fairly brutal (definitely not for a beginner), but I immediately fell in love with the sport! It ticked all the boxes for me: competitive, different, hard, fun. I stayed at this gym for some time before moving to my new home, CrossFit Athletic Brookvale.
2/ Do you make time for sports other than CrossFit?
Initially I still had such a strong love for cycling that I kept it up. As time went on and I started to compete in CrossFit I found my cycling was just tiring my legs out so I slowly gave it up. I still cycle to and from work daily but it’s a very short ride.
Surfing has been a big part of my life since I was quite young and it always will be. Surfing is very relaxing and meditative for me and a really good way to balance out my CrossFit and heavy lifting. I have found that CrossFit has made me very strong and fast in the water and given me more power in my turns.
3/ Are you training for anything in particular outside general health and fitness by using CrossFit?
The level that I train at is quite competitive. I often perform double training days 2-3 days a week with only 1 rest day which often turns out to be an “active recovery day” with some rowing or low impact aerobic movement for 20-30 minutes. This does not leave a lot of time for much else. My current goal is to compete in a team at the World CrossFit Games. Once this goal is achieved I aim to balance out my training a little, with more focus on longevity and health rather than performance.
Jarrod in action
4/ What’s a typical day and week involve for you? How much do you rest too?
The typical week for me looks like this
- Monday: Squat, Gymnastics skills and conditioning
(AM) Strength in the morning. Basic movements like lower body push and pull, upper body Press and some accessory work.
(PM)- Olympic Lifting and conditioning
- Wednesday: Olympic Lifting followed by 2 conditioning components. 1 involving gymnastics and another longer aerobic work.
- Thursday: rest / active recovery. Depending on how I am feeling I will take the entire day off or do some rowing
(AM) Strength work. Squat & press
(PM)- heavy conditioning with a mixture of gymnastics and ply lifting
- Saturday: comp day. This is usually a pretty big volume day. All the top athletes at the gym get together and we have a big session.
- Sunday: I usually come to the gym with my wife and son and do some gymnastic skills work and a short MetCon (Metabolic Conditioning workout)
As you can see there is not a lot of “rest” programmed in there. I personally find that if I take too much time off my body tightens up and I feel worse.
5/ What’s a typical day’s worth of eating for you? Do you use supplements?
I am very in-tune with my body and I eat an anti-inflammatory diet, get 8 hours sleep a night + 2 “naps” a week. I do not drink alcohol and would easily get through 3-5 litres of water a day. I follow a Primal based lifestyle with a bit of extra starch and carbohydrates. I am a big guy and my output is pretty high so I consume a lot. It has taken me some time to fine-tune my nutrition but I feel like I have nailed it.
- Breakfast: Chicken breast, sweet potato & white rice.
- Morning tea: same as breakfast.
- Lunch: Pork cutlet & veggies.
- Afternoon snack: I usually time this around my training and it may just be a banana.
- Dinner: Pork, Chicken or red meat and a veggie smoothie ( raw broccoli, zucchini, capsicum, spinach and blueberries blended with water).
I have a fair amount of variety in my diet and mix things up often. Supplement-wise I take fish oil, HCL when I consume red meat, magnesium, Tribulus and Protandim (to help me sleep, recover and reduce oxidative stress).
6/ Have you injured yourself doing CrossFit?
Yes. After the 2012 CrossFit Regionals, I was doing some bar muscle ups and tore my pectoralis major off my humorous. It was a full grade 3 tear which required surgery to re-attach it. Luckily they managed to stitch the tendon straight back into the bone so no metal was required. Other than that I am in pretty good shape. Most of my injuries were sustained playing rugby, cycling or running.
7/ As a new father, have you found this to affect your performance and recovery times?
My son is 8 weeks old so sleep has been an issue. I am an 8 hours guy! Like most people I am very busy so sleep has always been my main source of recovery. In the first few weeks I really noticed a difference in my recovery time. The good thing is it made me focus even more on my supplementation and nutrition to make sure I was doing everything possible to recover with broken sleep. Luckily my boy is a great sleeper so I am back getting some solid rest.
8/ Is there a particular CrossFit workout that comes to mind that you can remember as being the toughest you’ve ever done?
In my early days of CrossFit I found a workout called ‘The Seven’ really tough. I remember doing it twice and it broke me both times. I have since hit this one and performed really well. The 1st Workout for the 2012 CrossFit Open was 7 minutes of burpees. That was definitely a tough one. Simple but brutal. Having come from an endurance background I find I can switch off during most WOD’s and just “get it done”. CrossFit is tough mentally but doesn’t come close to running 100km through the blue mountains solo. I definitely learnt a lot about my body from my early days as an endurance athlete.
9/ What are your favourite Crossfit movements / exercises?
I am a big fan of the Snatch, Clean & Jerk, Squatting and I love gymnastics (Handstand Push Ups, Muscle Ups, Pull Ups). Its a lot of fun swinging around like a kid. As a bigger guy gymnastics is definitely not my specialty but I really enjoy it.
10/ Are we going to see you on the dias at the CrossFit Games?
We have a really great team leading into this season. We have all been training hard through the off-season with one goal in mind. Between the 8 of us there are not really any holes in our game. The talent in Australia is growing every year. Individuals and teams are getting stronger and faster so it will definitely be an exciting time. The goal is to qualify for the CrossFit Games in California later this year. A big goal but confidence is high!
Read Brad’s full rundown on CrossFit and the good and bad of it, in ‘The Pros and Cons of Crossfit – Part 1/2’
Are you a huge CrossFitter? Share your experiences!