Bro sesh: The importance of training with athletes better than you

Editor's Note: This article originally appeared back in May 2016. This summer I competed in Colorado Springs with Malachi Bennett. Malachi is on a completely different level than I am when it comes to fitness level. Competing alongside him really forced me to up my game. I went in to each event telling myself to limit the moments where I felt like Malachi was having to pick up my slack. This meant every second, every rep of every event I had to bring my absolute "A" game. We opened with "Double Fran" - I had to complete ascending Fran, 9-15-21 thrusters and pull-ups, then Mal did regular Fran. We barely beat the time cap of 8 minutes, thanks to Malachi crushing his portion of the workout. We finished 6th. That would be our lowest finish all day.

Event 2 was outside in the near 100 degree heat, rowing, running, kettlebell thrusters, 185 cleans and then a long row and finish with an 800m run. We were able to finish 3rd overall. Event 3 was 90 wall balls, 60 front squats at 135 and finish with 30 toes-to-bar. We were one of only 3 teams to beat the 7:00 time cap, taking 2nd. The floater, 4:00 max calories on the airdyne while one partner held a 295lb deadlift, was our first event win, as we coasted to the finish with 175 calories.

We headed into the finals in second place. We won the deadlift 1rm by almost 100 pounds, dominating the field with a 940lb total. At the end of the day we stood on the podium with a 2nd place finish. It was my first time on a podium and it felt amazing. I know I have Malachi to thank for getting me there - but not just because his athletic prowess carried us all day. Sure there were moments when I couldn't go anymore and Mal stepped up and picked up the extra reps - but because having him as my partner forced me to dig deeper than I ever have. I know I held my own on a lot of those events. That's what this article was really about. Surrounding yourself with athletes better than you - not so they can pick up your slack, but so you are forced to find places where you can surpass what you thought you were capable of. Hope you enjoy the read.

-SW

P.S. I don't think I wiped that goofy grin off my face for at least a couple days after the podium.

Second place at the 2016 Hangry Games at CrossFit Decimate in Colorado Springs, CO.

Second place at the 2016 Hangry Games at CrossFit Decimate in Colorado Springs, CO.

 

 

When I started CrossFit I had the incredible opportunity to train alongside some amazing athletes. Most of my coaches made up a Regional qualifying team the first year I joined the gym and one of them, Nate Trevillian, finished top five in the Mid-Atlantic Region this year. Training with athletes who are far above your talent level, makes you better. Today I train at CrossFit Frontier in Wyoming, where I also have a number of athletes who simply crush me everyday – and I love it.

No rest for these savages. This weekend was about lifting heavy weight and tackling nasty metcons.

No rest for these savages. This weekend was about lifting heavy weight and tackling nasty metcons.

This weekend, a small group of us got the chance to train with Malachi Bennett, who was dropping in from Casper, a couple hours north. If you CrossFit in Wyoming, his name is one you recognize. He has won the Wyoming Open three years (edit: In August 2016 he won it for the FOURTH time) in a row – and before you scoff at that accomplishment, “It’s just Wyoming, how many athletes could they really have out there?” – last year in the Pro division, Malachi defeated Christian Lucero. If you watched the California Regional this weekend, that name should ring a bell – he’s going to the CrossFit Games this year.

Malachi texted me Friday night, letting me know he was in town and was looking to train. Open gym at Frontier was sparsely attended – so it was a heavy snatch session with one of my coaches and Bennett. After coach Josh and I worked up to our maxes for the day–  we backed off and just watched as Malachi hit big weight, all the way up to a closely-missed a PR attempt at 117kg.

Sunday was round two – Josh and I were back, joined this time by coach Anthony Finch for a heavy clean and jerk session. Then we tackled a Regional-esque metcon. We partnered up, Malachi and me versus Josh and Anthony.

The workout had strict muscle-ups, which I have not figured out, so I did regular ring muscle-ups. When we hit the 52 partner wall-balls, there was a few times I probably would have dropped the ball and rested, but when you are working with a partner, you don’t want to be the one who breaks – so I just kept going. I gave up some time on the synchronized pull-ups, but worked my ass off to make up for it on the pistols. My pull-ups were the difference and Josh and Anthony bested us by a good 10-15 seconds.

A metcon I normally would have shyed away from - but training with three guys so far above my ability level - forced me to get in the game. I scaled the strict MU to regular, but other than I was able to get after it.

A metcon I normally would have shyed away from - but training with three guys so far above my ability level - forced me to get in the game. I scaled the strict MU to regular, but other than I was able to get after it.

Training with three guys like this, 4 Wyoming Open titles and a second place between the three of them – was awesome. I finished 21st in the Open last year. Having these guys pushing me all weekend made for a tremendous training experience. Just being able to hang with them in that partner workout gave me a boost of confidence. Getting after these workouts with these athletes forced me to push myself into another gear. It showcased my weaknesses, while simultaneously showing me where I can succeed and where I can push harder when I’m deep into a metcon.

Seeking out training partners who are better than you is a must in weightlifting and CrossFit. This week, step outside your normal comfort zone and train with someone who will highlight everything you lack as an athlete. I promise you, you’ll be better for it.