Train Like the Fittest on Earth: Top CrossFit Athletes Reveal Their Go-To Moves

Ever wonder how the best CrossFit athletes get competition-ready? Here are the go-to exercises of the top 2013 CrossFit Games competitors.
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Ever wonder how the best CrossFit athletes get competition-ready? Here are the go-to exercises of the top 2013 CrossFit Games competitors, including the reining champs, Rich Froning and Samantha Briggs.

CrossFit is the "sport of fitness" that's based on this formula: constantly varied, functional movements performed at high intensities. As a certified CrossFit Instructor, I know that the strength and conditioning program draws skills and movements from gymnastics, Olympic weightlifting and metabolic conditioning to help prepare athletes for any physical challenge. The best CrossFit athletes are jocks of all trades, masters of none.

The 2013 Reebok CrossFit Games is a multi-day event where the top Crossfit athletes in the world compete for the title Fittest on Earth. This year's event included more than 10 events like pool sprints combined with muscle ups, a half-marathon indoor row, legless rope climbs, and 405-pound dead lifts combined with one-legged weighted squats and handstand walks.

Here are some of the go-to exercises of the 2013 Games competitors that they use to help them achieve optimal fitness.

Rich Froning

2013 CrossFit Games Winner, Winner of the 2011 and 2012 CrossFit Games, and owner of CrossFit Mayhem in Cookeville, Tenn.



A thruster is a power movement that combines a front squat with a push press. With the barbell in the front rack position on your shoulders, complete a full front squat and as you rise out of the squat, press the barbell over your head until you lock out your arms. That's one rep.

"Thrusters are a compound movement that use muscles of the core, lower body and upper body. I'll do sets of thrusters with increasing weights each round."

Samantha Briggs

2013 CrossFit Games Winner, former Duathlete and Indoor Rowing Champion, co-owner of CrossFit Black Five in Manchester, England


Bear Complex

The bear complex is five exercises combined into one. First, power clean the barbell from the floor to your shoulder, then complete a front squat, then press the barbell overhead, lower it down to the back of your shoulders and complete a back squat, perform another press from the back of your shoulders overhead. That's one rep.

The goal is to not rest between movements. Try to work up to completing seven rounds of the bear complex sequence with a challenging weight.

Jason Kalipa
2nd Place, 2013 CrossFit Games, 2008 CrossFit Games Winner and multiple top-10 finishes, owner of NorCal CrossFit, San Jose, Calif.


Shoulder Press (Strict Press)

Set up with feet at hip width and barbell racked on the shoulder, with elbows down and in front of the bar. Your grip is slightly outside of your shoulder. Tighten your core and butt, inhale and drive the barbell (or dumbbells) travels straight up to the locked out position with active shoulders.

"The shoulder press is one of the best movements to develop pure shoulder strength, because you don't use your legs or hips to help move the load."

Lindsey Valenzuela
2nd Place, 2013 CrossFit Games, DogTown CrossFit, Culver City, Calif.


Strict Pull-Ups

From a dead hang with arms fully locked out, look at the bar and pull yourself up toward it as you drive your elbows toward the floor. Once you clear the bar with your chin, lower yourself back down in a controlled movement. That's one rep.

CrossFitters generally do kipping pull ups that use their hips and a leg kick to help pull their body to the bar, while the strict pull up isolates the muscles of the upper body, including your upper back, shoulders and arms.

Valerie Volboro
Third Place, 2013 CrossFit Games, 3rd Place, 2010 CrossFit Games, DogTown CrossFit, Culver City, Calif.

Weighted Lunges

Lunges are great for strengthening the quads, glutes, hamstrings and core. Unlike squats where two feet are always planted on the ground, lunges require more balance, coordination and core stability. They can be done with dumbbells at your side or with a barbell rest on your shoulders or back. (To make it more challenging, you can lunge with the barbell locked out overhead.)

"This is a great strength building exercise that you can do with the barbells or dumbbells racked on your shoulders or locked out overhead."

Craig Howard
1st Place 2013 CrossFit Games (50-54 age group), co-owner Diablo CrossFit, Pleasant Hill, Calif.


Power Cleans

With feet hip width apart, set up like a dead lift, engage a hook grip and begin by pulling the weight from the floor. As it clears your knees, explode your hips and shrug your shoulders to drive the weight to your shoulders. You catch the weight on your shoulders with knees slightly bent, back upright and elbows in front of the bar, then stand up straight. That's one rep.

"Power cleans are one of the best lifts to improve explosive power. They'll help improve your ability to jump and sprint and are functional for everyday life."

Lisa Mikkelson
1st Place 2013 CrossFit Games (45-49 age group), 1st Place 2012 CrossFit Games (45-49 year old), CrossFit New England, Natick, Mass.



From a standing position, place your hands on the floor in front of your feet, jump your feet back so that you're in a plank. Complete a push up, jump your feet back to your hands and from a crouched position jump up with your arms above your head in the air.

"The burpee is the one movement that works everything. CrossFitters seem to have a love-hate relationship with burpees. I pair burpees with a 250M row or thrusters to get ready for competitions because your heart rate will be sky high and you have to keep working through it."

Clarke Holland

6th Place 2013 CrossFit Games (60+ age group), 2012 CrossFit Games Competitor, Tamalpais CrossFit, San Rafael, Calif.

Double Unders

Using a jump rope, complete a power jump with a very fast wrist movement to allow the rope to travel under the body twice with each jump.

"Double unders are challenging -- and frustrating -- but they train many CrossFit skills like cardiovascular fitness, speed, coordination, agility and stamina. I usually try to do 100 double unders for time before or after all of my workouts."

All photos courtesy of CrossFit, Inc. Used with permission.

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