Everything about the SuperFit Championships was really unlike any CrossFit competition I’d done before – and believe me that’s a good thing! SuperFit is a CF competition working in conjunction with the US Army National Guard and Wounded Warrior Project to create a unique competition experience that truly spanned across New Jersey.
SuperFit made the commitment to holding regional qualifiers across NJ, at local US armories, to draw the best CrossFitters in the area. The top competitors in each division would be invited to the final in Point Pleasant, NJ on Jenkinson’s Boardwalk for a chance at a $7,000 prize purse! – yes, you read that correctly.
The workouts had been set, locations finalized, and competitors solidified. The only thing left was to find out who was the fittest – or should I say superfittest.
7 MIN AMRAP
10 Burpee Box Jumps 24”
20 Slam Ball 50#
This workout was as deceiving as they come – or maybe I just underestimated it to the fullest. Either way, I wasn’t prepared for what this workout would do to me.
Seven minutes is the perfect time cap – and by perfect I mean the absolutely miserable. A seven minute workout is a sprint. There’s really no excuse to not push it as hard as you can for the entire time. There’s not much pacing or game plan involved – it’s just ‘go, go, go.’
The little game plan that was involved boiled down to nothing more than just some efficiency tactics. First, on the burpee box jumps, the standard for the movement allowed you to lie down – at the start of the burpee – however you wanted as long as your chest made contact with the ground. This meant you didn’t have to square up to the box and lie directly behind it. So I decided to lay sideways – parallel to the box – rather than in line with it. This allowed me to keep my feet as close to the box as possible, limiting my jump, without having to worry about burying my face into the box. Which, for the most part, worked with great success.
The second half of my minimalist game plan involved the unfamiliar slam ball. My only prior experience using a slam ball was during the Hoboken Winter Challenge a few months back – and even then the balls only weighed 30lbs. In case you’re unaware of what a slam ball actually is, it’s pretty different from your standard MedBall. For starters, the slam ball is much smaller – think: slightly bigger than a softball – and made from some slick rubber material similar to a kickball. I’m not entirely sure what actually gives the slam ball its weight (sand, maybe, or something similar) because when the ball is dropped from overhead it compresses slightly and has zero bounce. All in all, it makes for a real treat during the workout.
My strategy for the slam ball – prior to the workout – was to use the ball almost as active rest. The standard for the movement was ground to overhead however you chose as long as you reached a fully locked out position at the top. So my strategy was to snatch the ball overhead as best I could, and drop it from overhead rather than actively ‘slam’ the ball in the ground. My thinking was this tactic may be slightly slower than someone who chooses to slam the ball into the ground, but as long I kept the weight moving I would be able to conserve more energy than I would be able to keep a better pace in the long than someone who chose to do otherwise.
Once the workout actually started however, the game plan pretty much went out the window and new one replaced it: survive. Everyone knows burpees box jumps are designed with pretty much the sole intention of making your life miserable. If you think standard burpees gas you and leave you feeling like a fish out of water, burpee box jumps take that feeling to a whole other level.
But I was expecting that. What I wasn’t expecting was the cardiovascular demand created by the slam balls. Maybe it was because I was reaching over my head, in a fully extended position, that didn’t allow me to take a full, deep breath. But there was virtually no recovery time between the two movements. It became apparent very quickly that I needed to dig in and just keep moving the best I could.
Even more disheartening, the athlete directly in front of me – the one who I was staring the whole workout – was blowing it out. Like ‘almost lapped me’ blowing it out. I later found out his name was Casey Haines and finished 6th in the Open in the Mid Atlantic Region – needless to say, he’s pretty good. But at the time I had no idea, it was definitely a mind fuck to watch this guy move in front of me – was he killing it or was I just moving in slow motion?
Either way, I tried to keep a pretty consistent pace throughout the workout with a little extra push towards the end, as expected. I finished 107 reps – 3 ½ rounds plus 7 slam balls – for a 6th place finish in the event.
WOD 1 – 107 Reps – 6th Place In The Event
Clean And Jerk Ladder
20 Barbells Of Increasing Weight
I knew if I wanted any chance to advance to the final at Jenkinson’s boardwalk, I would have to do something pretty special on the clean and jerk ladder.
My all-time best clean and jerk – a mark I set on a day where that was the sole focus – was 255 pounds. So obviously, with the way the workout was structured, I wasn’t expecting to hit an all time PR lift, but I knew I would have to be damn close.
The way the workout was structured was you would have 50 seconds to make a successful lift and 10 seconds to rotate to the next barbell. So if you hit your weight in the first 10 seconds you got to bank that extra rest time before moving to the next weight. The weight started at 135lbs and increased by 20lbs up to 235lbs and then increased by 10lb jumps maxing out at a whooping 325lbs. There was also a tiebreaker in place to prevent people from bunching up around the same numbers – if you failed at a weight, you could rep out as many deadlifts as possible in the time remaining at that weight. That way if I tied with another athlete, and I deadlifted the weight more than him, I would be ranked above him.
My goal prior to the event was to hit 245lbs – I knew if I could hit that weight I would walk away satisfied and still be in a position to advance to the final. Because there were previous qualifiers I could refer to, I knew that for the most part 245lbs was the weight most people tapped out at.
The best thing that Superfit did at this point – and it’s something I wish happened more often – was reorder the heats so the top competitors go last. Let me explain why. I was currently sitting in 6th place after the first event, so it gave me an opportunity to watch some of the competition work their way through the ladder and see where they were failing.
Whether it was an advantage or not – you be the judge. Because much to my dismay, people were absolutely crushing the ladder! I was sitting back watching guys power clean close to 300lbs thinking ‘oh shit you better bear down right now.”
I’m a pretty small guy relative to most of the big boys that troll the majority of CF competitions. So I depend on my technique – especially when heavy weight is involved – to carry myself, but really that will only get someone so far. It gets to the point where you have to be able to move some serious weight.
My warm up felt great. What really dictates the amount of weight I’ll be able to move on any given day is how my jerk is feeling. Today I was driving under the bar – with no wobble or press out – and my front foot was hitting with authority. Show time.
The first few bars were nothing more than routine. I decided to power clean them to try and save my legs for the heavier weight to come. I knew the party really started once I got to 215lbs. I hit that weight relatively easily, but the next weight was 235lbs. That’s a pretty big jump when you look at it from a ‘percentage of my max’ standpoint (215lbs = 84% of my max, 235 = 92% of my max). I hit 235lbs and surprised myself in the process – it felt pretty light. I knew 245lbs was in my sights.
When I stepped up to the bar loaded with 245lbs I knew I had no other option than to make the weight. The clean was easy and the jerk was lighter than expected once again. Definitely one of my better jerk days. I knew if I dug in I could definitely hit 255lbs, and I did exactly that to match my all time PR!
PR time! At this point, I knew everything else was just icing on the cake, but I was feeling good. I stepped up to the bar, threw everything I had into the bar, racked it, and stood up pretty quick. Easy clean, easy jerk. I dip, drove and fired under the bar as best I could – it definitely wasn’t the prettiest jerk and probably wouldn’t have counted in a usaw sanctioned event – but for today it counted! I screamed, slammed the bar down and made my way over to 275lbs.
Unfortunately, 275lbs didn’t go as smoothly as 265lbs. I missed the clean – after watching the video I know I could have that weight under different circumstances. I was too soft through my core. So right away, rather than making another attempt at the weight, I decided to rep out as many deadlifts as possible with the time remaining – that way I knew if someone else failed at that weight and went for a second attempt and failed again, I would hold the tiebreaker. I finished with 21 deadlifts and a 6th place overall finish in the event.
But the highlight of the event was watching Casey Haines – the 6th ranked competitor in the Mid Atlantic I mentioned earlier – work his way through the ladder. He was a pretty big dude so everyone knew he had the potential to move some serious weight. I was most impressed with his jerk. The clean – really the front squat – was the much more difficult part of the lift for him. He worked his way all the way up to 315lbs, and after struggling to stand the weight up, jerked the weight with ease. Surprisingly, he managed to stand the weight up at 325lbs, but missed the jerk. Either way, it was probably the highlight of the whole competition.
WOD 2 – 265.21 – 6th Place in the Event
7 MIN AMRAP
Overhead Squats 115lbs
This is the workout I had been looking forward to all day. I knew that If I was in a decent place – currently residing in 6th place overall – I would have an amazing opportunity to climb the rankings and qualify for the finals.
Personally, my leg strength is far and away my biggest strength in CrossFit. Don’t get me wrong though, I’m not saying that the strength of my legs dwarfs the rest of the competition – hell I just saw a dude clean 325lbs and stand it up like it was a joke! But I do have an enormous amount of confidence whenever I see any type of squats come up in a workout.
Especially overhead squats. Not because I possess an overwhelmingly strong OHS but because I have the one thing in combination with raw power a lot of meatheads lack: flexibility. My flexibility allows me to not have to worry about my shoulder position or if I’m going to lose the weight overhead – my only concern is my legs and when they’ll give out.
Luckily, the weight was only 115lbs for the overhead. A weight I felt supremely confident in and knew I would be able to move through relatively easily. I knew I needed to perform well on this final workout and all the cards were in place for me to do so.
I made the conscious decision before the workout started that I would not put the barbell down during my first 30 reps of ohs. I knew it was definitely within my wheelhouse to get it done, I just needed to bear down and do it. The last five or so reps were awful, but I managed to get the job done.
The double unders were really an afterthought for me. They were more or less my rest time between the squats. So I moved quickly through the double unders unbroken and got back to the bar as quickly as possible.
I was forced to break up the reps into 10s during my second round of overhead squats. Not so much because of shoulder or leg fatigue, but because I thought my wrists might fall off. That numbing feeling that starts to creep in through your thumbs during high volume ohs. But I tried to limit my rest as best I could and finished my 2nd and 3rd round pretty quickly.
With not much time left on the clock, I approached the bar at the renewed set of 30 reps. This was going to be the separator. I figured the majority of the top competitors would be able to make it through at least one full round of the workout and that any extra reps in the second round would really separate those competitors.
So I made it my priority to really push that final set and do my best to try and finish. I pushed it as hard as I could, and when I had to break I had the likes of MK and Mae screaming at me to pick up the bar. I finished with 25 reps into the second round for a total of 145 reps and a 2nd place finish in the event.
I did what I had to do to secure a spot in the finals.
WOD 3 – 145 Reps – 2nd Place in the Event
Overall, I finished the day in 4th place – one tiebreaker deadlift short of 3rd place. This meant I qualified for the finals at Jenkinson’s! Granted, I would’ve loved to have done better overall in the competition, but I accomplished what I set out to do – give myself a chance at the final – and hit a massive PR along the way.
Like I said earlier, this event was unique in its own way. It was probably the most professionally run event I’ve been a part of – really catered towards the athletes. They tried to replicate a CF Games Regionals-type event and, for the most part, succeeded. From the venders, to the food on site (Paleo Cuisine), to the reordering of heats – it’s the little things that make the biggest difference.
My only gripe with the competition – if you could call it that – was they may have spread themselves a little too thin for their first year. Having five different qualifiers across NJ made each venue fell kind of…empty. If they cut down the amount of qualifiers to let’s say three instead of five, each venue would have had a much higher turn out in competitors and crowd. I understand the idea of creating a foundation for upcoming years, but they could always expand to more venues in the following years – which is really a shame considering how great an event it was.
Minor complaints aside, SuperFit was an incredible experience – I think even Chris Lee approved of the DJ. And even though I still wake up in cold sweat once in while thinking back to the last time I worked out on the beach, I’m definitely looking forward to the final step in the Championships. Hope to see you then!