How to win the CrossFit Games

deadlift start position
(Image credit: Unknown)

So the CrossFit Open is over for another year, and the remaining athletes are now in preparation for Regionals – and, ultimately, for the CrossFit Games themselves. But have you got what it takes to scoop the $250,000 grand prize in 2015? Here's what it's going to take:

Get really strong

This is non-negotiable. According to Ute Crossfit - two-time team Games victors, led by 2009 silver medal individual finisher Tommy Hackenbruck, you'll need a 260kg deadlift, 160kg bench press and 185kg front squat to stand a chance of hitting the podium. Not even close to those? Then you'll probably get your best results from a strength-focused programme like Jim Wendler's 5/3/1, working on four big lifts a week. Throw in a conditioning day once a week so that your cardio doesn't go through the floor. With that nailed, you can move on to…

Learn the Olympic lifts

You'll get nowhere without them. Ute Crossfit's recommendation is a 125kg snatch and a 160kg clean and jerk – heavy, considering that the male podium finishers in 2013 had an average weight of 90kg. You'll want to get a qualified coach to learn them. Once you've done that, consider US weightlifting coach Glenn Pendlay's 'Supertotal' programme - designed to let you work on the basic lifts and the Olympic lifts every week. You'll squat and bench Monday, do the Olympic lifts on Tuesday, front squat and shoulder press on Thursday, and do Olympic lifts – along with the occasional deadlift - on Saturday. Of course, you still need to find time for…

Learn the CrossFit 'skills'

As well as heavy lifting, it's almost guaranteed that a few skills will come up: without mastering them, you won't stand a chance. At a bare minimum, you'll need to learn efficient muscle-ups (on a bar and rings), string together double-unders with a skipping rope, be able to handstand walk 30 metres at a time, and do handstand pressups, 'butterfly' pullups and one-legged pistol squats. The good news? Because this is 'skill' work, you can incorporate it into your warmups or do it after your big lifts. Now you're ready to…

Practice the 'named' workouts

It's a fair bet that a few of these will come up - and even if they don't, you'll benefit from the metabolic conditioning (or 'metcon') effect that they provide. At the very least, aim to complete 'Fran' - that's 21-15-9 reps of thrusters and pullups - in under two minutes 30 seconds, and 'Diane' - 21-15-9 reps of 110kg deadlifts and handstand pressups - in less than seven minutes. Don't worry, you're getting there.

Don't neglect cardio

Typically, at least one of the weekend's events will be a long slog – in 2014, it was a half-marathon on a Concept 2 rowing machine. To build cardio without ruining your strength, try long, slow, low-intensity runs, rows and swims. And now all you need to do is…

Do all of it over a weekend

In 2013, athletes were required to do 11 workouts over five days. Winner Rich Froning does four or five workouts every day. If you can't handle that - because you have a job, or don't have Froning's Wolverine-like recovery capacity – consider just doing one or two of the above, scaling things back a bit and reaping the fitness rewards.

Joel Snape

From 2008 to 2018, Joel worked for Men's Fitness, which predated, and then shared a website with, Coach. Though he spent years running the hills of Bath, he’s since ditched his trainers for a succession of Converse high-tops, since they’re better suited to his love of pulling vans, lifting cars, and hefting logs in a succession of strongman competitions.