The Fittest On The Planet?

Brr! Dr. Hewitt takes an ice bath during the Qualifiers.

I came across this article, “The Quest For The Crossfit Games” on Dr. Ryan Hewitt’s Health blog.  As the CrossFit World is gearing up for the upcoming Games, it is a great time to examine the idea behind this competition, and what it represents, more in depth.  In this article, Dr. Hewitt focuses mostly on the CrossFit Games and his personal quest to qualify as a competitor.  However, I felt that Dr. Hewitt made some good points in the beginning of his article as he commented on the right of the CrossFit Games to claim their male and female winners as the Fittest on Earth.  I’ve included a selected excerpt from the article here, but if you would like to read the full post and hear more about Dr. Hewitt’s personal competition experience, click here.

“Every year, off the beaten trail in Northern California, there is a gathering of thousands of people from all over the globe who come to witness an incredible spectacle of guts, glory, and ultimate display of human performance. This event takes place over the course of two grueling days in the middle of July, and in the end, one male and one female athlete are crowned “fittest man & fittest woman in the world.“ This event is called the Crossfit Games.

How can the Crossfit Games claim that the winner is the fittest person on the planet?

Most athletic competition that we see is very specialized. For example, whoever wins the Boston Marathon this year is obviously incredibly gifted at running and has great cardiovascular endurance. The winner of the Tour de France is quite possibly the best cyclist in the world and has worked incredibly hard to get there.

Could either athlete be considered fittest person on the planet?

Well, if I asked either person to show me their best vertical leap or had them show me their one-rep-max back squat they would probably be put to shame by your little sister. Nothing against cyclists or runners (I do both!), I’m just saying that neither have functional skills other than what is necessary for their sport – so they are very specialized. In my opinion, if you want to be “fit” and especially healthy (unless of course your goal is to be world class in your sport), you must develop other general skills as part of your fitness routine.

What Crossfit teaches people is that everyone is an athlete. Even though some people are more athletically gifted than others, we are all built to be accomplished in the same sorts of movements and skills. We are all meant to push, pull, throw, jump, lift, run, and climb. Quite simply, we are all built to move.

What the founder of crossfit, Greg Glassman, has done is combine body-weight gymnastic movements (pushups, pullups, squats, handstand pushups, etc.), Olympic lifting/barbell lifts (clean and jerk, snatch, deadlift, back squat, etc.), and metabolic conditioning (including running, rowing, jumprope, etc.) and developed a strength and conditioning program that is general, inclusive, and universally scalable (that means it’s for everyone!).

Taken to the extreme, though (as I tend to do), Crossfit has become a sport. Specifically the sport of fitness. Crossfit athletes are measured by the amount of work that they can do in as little time as possible, so everything is usually done against the clock. The sport has grown so rapidly now that there are 2 qualifying rounds in each region of the planet to get to the Crossfit Games.”

Some really important observations there on the idea that CrossFit style broad, general fitness tasks can level the playing field amongst athletes.  This article continues on from the point where I left off, getting more in depth on the personal process of competing through the Sectional and Regional qualifiers, and what it takes to be enough of a “firebreather” to make it to the Games.  For those of you competing, I recommend you click the link and continue to read the rest of the article detailing Dr. Hewitt’s personal competition experience.

And for the rest of you, I’ll leave you with some uplifting final thoughts from the end of Dr. Hewitt’s article:

“I have something to admit to you though: I might be the 4th fittest guy in New England, but I’m not special. I’m not that athletically gifted, I’m not naturally big and strong, and I’ve never been an all-star athlete. What I do boast, though, is a commitment to my health and persistence to do well. My secret is that once I commit to something, I always give 100%. I Crossfit because it’s my sport and because it challenges me to lean over the edge of what’s possible. It keeps me alive and satisfies my competitive nature.

What do you do in your life that drives you to lean over the edge? Where do think you could challenge yourself more and keep your spirit burning bright? Find it. Do what you love, and love what you do.”

Today’s Workout

Buy-in:  Athlete’s choice of Back Squat OR Squat Clean Thruster – work up to a heavy 3 reps in the time provided

  • For Thrusters, clean immediately into a deep squat (i.e. no power clean then front squat).  Bar must keep moving on the ascent to full extension overhead
  • Complete all three reps in a 20 second time frame, feel free to drop from overhead as long as it is safe
  • 12 minute time cap – jump right in and work up quickly
  • No one trains alone!  Share racks and spotting.

WOD:  Double Up

This WOD is a combo of two mini-wods, which are both listed individually in

1.  Mini – Wallup

  • 3 rounds for time of:  15 wallballs, 10 pullups
  • 6 minute time cap

Zone 2 – scale wallball weight and/or use assisted pullups

Zone 1 – scale as needed

Games Prep – Chest to bar for guys, hit the dot on the wallballs

2.  Heels Overhead (from

5 rounds for time of:

  • 5 handstand pushups (girls to 1 abmat, kipping allowed)
  • 10 toes to bar
  • 8 minute time cap

Zone 3 – scale hspu as needed but stay inverted, sub knees to elbows

Zone 2 – 10 shoulder presses each round (35/65), double crunch instead of ttb

Zone 1 -scale as needed

Games Prep – no kip, head to ground for both girls and guys.  Consider scaling to 5 reps per round of ttb if you get sore from lots of ab work.

Cash-Out:  Group stretch


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