So you want to start competing but are you ready?

January 26, 2016 1 Comment

This is a guest post from Andrew Essig, head coach, gym owner and programmer of Crossfit Gambit. He has coached 2 athletes to the 3 appearances at the Crossfit Games. You can follow Andrew on Instagram and Gambit Stratagem Podcast on iTunes or Soundcloud.

After owning and operating a gym for close to 6 years, writing programming and coaching a few athletes and at the CrossFit Games a question seems to have come up quite a few times.

“Hey, Coach. Is it OK for me to sign up for this competition?”

It’s a loaded question, and I will mention up front that I’m a huge fan of fitness as a sport and feel a vast majority of the populace should try a competition at least once. It’s a singular day or weekend of high stress and adrenaline. You’ll have to do a ton of preparation for it. You’ll need to pack food and drinks as well as borrow half of your gym’s mobility gear. I believe it’s those moments that help us become better people. Push your limits and see what you’re capable of. I’m pointing this article at your average gym-goer, not a seasoned athlete so I’ll do my best to break it all down and keep it simple.


Great question! Any competition worth doing will have a list of movements and weights you’ll be expected to perform. A lack of this list usually means one of two things:

  1. A) It’s not a very well thought-out event and you probably shouldn’t bother with it.
  2. B) If you have to ask, you can’t do it. It’s going to be really freaking heavy and you’ll be inverted half the time.

So use that list (if available) to make the call for yourself. I can promise you that no matter what category you’re in, you’ll see one or two movements you hoped you wouldn’t. And... that’s what makes it fun! You’ll crush the running/pull-up event and then fail miserably at that heavy front squat (or vice versa).


This is probably my biggest point to make. There’s always a debate about what makes an athlete scaled. For starters, it will depend on the event and that list of required movements will help you sort that out. In general, I would say if you clean 300+lbs, you’re Rx. I get real angry when I coach scaled athletes at a local competition and my athlete hits a PR Snatch at 185 and the guy next to him puts up 240lbs. It always the same excuse - “Yeah, but he can’t do butterfly pull-ups”

I once had an athlete who was adamant he was going scaled a competition. I told him he was not scaled, but I can’t stop him from registering himself. So I said, if someone hands him a trophy, he’d better hand it to the next guy in line. If you lift big boy weights, go compete with the big boys. END OF STORY. 



For the most part, leading up to a comp is business as usual. Don’t drastically change your training regimen. If you know the events ahead of time, you’d be a fool not to practice them - or the movements put into other formats. I’m always a fan of re-writing the competition events leading up to the big day so I’m not just training the event then doing the event. I like variety.

The week of the competition, train your major lifts but don’t max them out. Train a normal day 2 days before the comp, then do active rest the day before. If you go to the gym, do an easy row/bike/run and plenty of mobility. Grab a barbell and work some speed or technique drills but keep it LIGHT. Get loose, break a sweat, go home.


Water. Lots and lots of water. Take a few things to make yourself comfortable - a folding chair is usually a good call. A foam roller will come in handy as well to keep those muscles loose between events. You might want headphones to drown out the constant roar of people and weights dropping as well.

As for nutrition, I recommend getting a nice serving of healthy carbs the night before the competition. Between events try to eat some solid food - don’t live off of protein shakes and bars! If the event is particularly hard and/or heavy, you’ll need some higher glycemic carbs to perk you back up. Personally I usually end up more focused on fueling myself before an event rather than recovering from the previous. I just try to make sure I don’t go hungry even if I don’t feel hungry - so for me a small bag of chocolate almonds is a must.

The final piece of advice I’ll leave you with is that you should compete how you train. Of course the volume will likely be greater than you’re used to and you’ll require a bit more time to recover but otherwise it's business as usual. Don’t make major changes to your routine, just make marginal changes. If the overall volume is 25% more than you’re accustomed to, then you’ll need 25% more recovery time, mobility time and food!

-Andrew Essig 

1 Response

Celine Zambrano
Celine Zambrano

February 03, 2016

I just want to prepare for the Crossfit competitions if I work hard on Crossfit! Please contact me! Thank you!

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