In Athletes, CrossFit Games, Videos

June 22, 2010

Video Article

Ever wondered what would be discussed if you brought together a group of past CrossFit Games champions, 2010 Games competitors and other highly respected CrossFit athletes?

Such a group was assembled in early May, just prior to the completion of many of this year’s regional events. Luckily, cameras were on hand to document some of the conversations.

In this session, several questions were posed to the group, including: What’s it like to win the Games? What do you focus on while competing? Do you think you can win in 2010?

Each seemed to believe he or she is indeed capable of being the next champion, which is probably one of the reasons these athletes have been so successful up to now. They also agreed that regardless of who gets crowned “Fittest on Earth” they will still be happy for the success of their fellow competitors.

Part 1: 5min 34sec
Part 2: 6min 4sec
Part 3: 8min 40sec

Additional reading: Salo, Wagner Win 2009 CrossFit Games by Mike Warkentin, published July 14, 2009.

Free Download

Part 1:
Part 2:
Part 3:


45 Comments on “A Roomful of the Fittest”


wrote …

I would love to as, How many take steroids? There is little doubt several are on the juice preparing for The Games.


wrote …

It was interesting to hear the mindsets of these athletes and it reminded me that I need to always be aware of my thoughts before, during, and after WODs. Great video.

As to Steve's question above, I am relatively new to Crossfit, and I'm interested in the answer to that question.


wrote …

I am always amazed at how free people are to disparage others via the internet. My thanks to those that have the courage to share their story for those of us that seek to be inspired instead of to destroy.


wrote …


You cannot be serious. Why is there "little doubt"? Steroids are the antithesis of what CrossFit stands for. This isn't the Olympics, or a professional sport (in that these competitions serve as the only way for these athletes to make a living), or even a body building competition. Aside from independent testing that took place in 2009, and I'm sure will be back in 2010, CrossFit is a test of fitness. I'm not so naive to believe that steroids wouldn't help one get stronger and faster, but the endgame in all of this is longevity of health and wellness. To my knowledge steroids do not aid this stated goal.

If you would like to pose the question in a general sense, I guess that is fair enough, but your tone is quite forward for someone suggesting suspicion where there previously was none.


Tracy Coughlin wrote …

Great group gathering! I am bummed that Tanya is not competing in the female competition. I am sure she has great reasons for doing the affiliate competition instead but I would have loved to see her compete this year and see how she did over the 3 year span. Good luck to ALL the athletes!


wrote …

haha sounds like speal is ready to win


wrote …

I don't know what gives you that idea Steve.

On the games website in the Epic matchup: Spealler and Orlando article someone suggested drug testing be done. Both Spealler and Orlando left comments saying they would volunteer to be tested to prove that you don't need roids to be fit. I don't know these people personally but I'd put my nads an the line not a single one of them is on roids. None of them are roidy massive. A case could be made for Orlando and Khalipa but the simple explanation is Orlando is a strongman, and I'm positive they do testing at those competitions, and Khalipa used to do bodybuilding stuff so he's always been a horse.

Thanks for the video, I think it's stellar that the games athletes can get together and chat. The closest any other sport gets to this is when they create those stupid reality style videos about how one guy hates the other guys mom and he's gonna smash his face in the ground or something childish.

So pumped for the games!


Bryce Greenstein wrote …

I love how Speal respects Mikko's ability but has just as much confidence in his own ability. I like Chris' mindset and his chances to win.


wrote …

What is Spealer referring to when he says 16 at the end of video 2?


wrote …

awesome video. its real cool to see just how "normal" these amazing athletes are in real life just sitting around talking.


wrote …

Everyone in that room is an awesome person and athlete. However, I've said it before and I'll say it again...I'm a Speal fan.


wrote …


Just over 16 minutes on the chipper WOD from the 2009 Games.


Carey Wheeler wrote …

If you aren't thinking about any other athlete and are just battling your own demons in the competition WOD's, doesn't that negate the ability to focus on winning? Are the concepts they discussed opposing or is it just me?

Great discussion though. Speal = 2010 champ


wrote …

If I had the opportunity to meet any of those whom I consider elite in Crossfit, would it be wrong for me to ask for an autograph? Granted, I know most of them would politely decline, further displaying their humility, but would I be in the wrong?


wrote …

Matt Chan has to be thrown in the Games discussion. He completely dominated his regional. As he said, he's done his homework!


I will side with Jordan... Steve you are a bit of an idiot to say the least.
Drug testing was implemented in the 2009 games.
Also, given the nature of CrossFit, steroids would not be advantageous to performance. Had you made claims that the athletes used other forms of performance enhancing drugs such as Erythropoietin then you might have established yourself as one who knows something about human performance.

As for honing in on competitors like Rob and Jason... it is unnecessary. Unlike specialized sports, CrossFit exhibits athletes of different shapes, sizes and backgrounds competing against one another on a level playing field.

Would I be shocked to learn one day an athlete does well and fails a urine test? No. Would I entertain the notion the best of the best in CF are doping? Absolutely not.

@ Jonathan: welcome to CF, the journal is an excellent place to become acquainted! It is rare, very rare, but occasionally people like Steve make misguided, unfounded & knowledgeable statements, please disregard.

I have to agree with Pat as well, Speal rocks... I had no idea he was a LHU grad / wrestler! That explains a lot as I too attended LHU. Their wrestling program is outstanding.


wrote …

I'm encouraged to see that many of my Crossfit heros have worse sitting posture than I do:) Someone call K-Star.


replied to comment from Pat Sherwood


Because you've had an opportunity to be around all or most of these athlets, do you think it will be possible for an athlete to establish a dynasty within the Crossfit games? The fact that it is non-specialized sport and since the events are not known months in advance it seems that it would be extremely difficult for someone to repeat as champion year after year.

It was seeing all of these incredibly fit athletes that made me wonder.


wrote …

Rob Barrese,
Would you care to elaborate on how steroids would not be advantageous in Crossfit? And if that is truly the case, what would be the point of testing at all? If steroids don't help anyways, why spend thousands testing for it? So if you were competing, and thought that steroids didn't make a difference, you wouldn't mind if all of your competitors were using steroids?

And I think Steve's question is valid. Let's not be so naive to think that NO ONE involved with Crossfit has used steroids because Crossfitters are all above it. That's silly.


wrote …

Also just to clarify, I'm not implicating anyone nor am I trying to negate anyone's accomplishments by saying maybe they're on steroids.
And in response to John Prince saying that the "endgame is about health and longevity", while this may be the stated goal of some do you really think the volume of Mikko's training for example is the best for longterm "health and longevity"? At the upper limits of human peformance there is going be to some degree of negative impact. Which top athletes accept in order to be the best in their sport.


wrote …

I was serious... :)


wrote …



wrote …

Anabolic steroids are tissue (re)builders. As such they help you recover faster and are beneficial to anyone who places high demands on their body on a frequent basis. Why were so many cyclist caught using them? Because they wanted to add mass? Of course not. Dismissing steroid use because someone does not look 'massive' is a classic misconception.

That said until someone actually tests positive writing things like 'there is little doubt' is just baseless accusation which I truly can't see the purpose of.


replied to comment from Carey Wheeler

@Carey Wheeler - I think a lot of the time you can't just be trying to beat the person next to you or just win your heat, you have to go full capacity because you don't know what people will do in other heats. You can dominate your heat and then the next heat the top 5 people blow away your time. You've got to give it all you have if you want to win.

@John Prince - The objective of CrossFit may be longevity and health, but that is not the objective of the CrossFit Games. The objective there is to win. In order to win at that level you are going to be putting your body through things which are not optimal for overall health. The same goes for for the top levels in any sport from marathon running to powerlifting. They are all a compromise and CrossFit is no different. In a serious games competitor the sheer volume of high intensity exercise over a long period of time is going to take a toll on you.

@Rob Barrese - Are you joking? Of course steroids would be advantageous. A little bit of extra testosterone will help you recover more quickly thus allowing you to train harder. How would that not be beneficial? Is anyone at the games on it or have they used it in training and cycled off? I don't know... but if they're smart then even testing isn't going to bring it to light, so really the question of drug use is pretty pointless. CrossFit has instituted the testing in my opinion not so much to catch cheaters (though you might get lucky) but to make a statement that they do not endorse PED use. People will do what it takes to win when they want something bad enough and if they want to get away with it, they can. So instead of the debate let's just sit back and just watch the games in amazement at the performances put out by the athletes. When I watch a powerlifter squat 1000 pounds I don't discount the act as nothing because he used steroids to do it, instead I think of what an amazing accomplishment it is and reflect on how incredibly strong his will and desire to squat big weights are. He just used drugs to make his body do what his mind wanted it to do and what it wouldn't be able to do naturally. That is total devotion to a dream.

I want to be like Speal when I grow up.


replied to comment from David Quintana

Wow..... thanx


replied to comment from Greg Collins


I think someone winning back to back years or more is not impossible, yet highly unlikely due to the variance aspect of CrossFit. In my opinion if there is someone you routinely see in the top 5 for several years, that may be as close as an athlete comes to a dynasty in our sport. Of course, those are just my 2 cents, based solely on my gut feelings. They could turn out to be completely wrong. These days it is so hard to even show up to the Games that it is an incredible accomplishment just to be there several years in a row, regardless of where the athlete finishes.

I can't wait to see what happens this year in LA.



wrote …

Steroids are mentioned in the CF mainpage FAQs. They help. That is not what the article is about and is fairly useless to discuss here.


I think you could make an argument that it would be highly unlikely for any to beat Mikko. What a unit haha!

But seriously, once someone achieves a certain level of fitness, I expect it would be easier to stay at the top, then 'break through' and make it to the top. Guys like Mikko, Speal and Jason are fit because they work hard (and properly) and there is no reason to think that they would stop doing that. Often leaders (in any field or industry) continue to break down their own barriers, and leave the majority to constantly play catch up. What I'm saying is that it's more likely to see the big names from last year's Top 10 in this years Top 10 over a list of fresh names in the new Top 10. (This of course excludes random circumstances like a competitor withdrawing due to has already happened.)

This theory didn't hold true after the first CF Games - but the number of Crossfitters was so small then, so people weren't way ahead. And we might not at the limit of performance yet either, but I suspect we are closer now than after the first games.


Read my entire post before you comment please. Thanks


Ryan I think you could stand to do some more time in the archives watching more videos from Coach. I doubt you lack intelligence but you are clearly missing some pieces of the puzzle.

A thought on testing... its "drug testing," not "steroid testing." I've been a part of testing both through the military and through college athletics. There are an array of items that can pop a drug test.

If you've gone back and completely read my post (as you must not have the first time) now you can explain how steroids would be advantageous to CrossFit over, say other performance enhancing drugs?

While you are at it, could you explain how Mikko's training would not be beneficial for longevity?


Jeff not withstanding the logic in your response, do you really feel you were looking at a video of a room full of steroid users? If so then why want to be "like Speal" as he clearly has established himself as a dominant CF athlete?

For me I think the initial shock of Steve's comment in this forum is his claim that "there is little doubt."

I believe coach has even discussed this issue? I can't be sure. The nature of CF is so dynamic and unknown how could you game it with drug use. If you read my original post I refer to performance enhancement drugs such as EPO as a much more viable claim.
In addition if you read my post I do not discount the possibility that few would try performance enhancement for the games. That would not surprise me. To lay claim that there is little doubt of drug use after watching a video of Pat, Speal, Michele, Tanya, ect... really? You are really going to watch that video and your first thought is drug use? The first comment, first post, first thought in this thread stating this is clearly a group who uses steroids.

I try to keep it logical but that obviously hits a personal nerve. For that I apologize.

For me, the nature of CF, its community, the athletes, ect. does not strike me as one prone to such things. I never discounted the possibility, I am simply saying 1) understand drug testing, 2) understand your drugs and 3) don't lay a blanket claim across that group of outstanding competitors.

...because I too want to be Speal when I grow up! ... and at 140lbs I really don't think we need to worry about him on the juice...


Sorry for the overload Jeff, one more thought. Keep in mind the majority of athletes in that room were also college athletes. As such we can assume a certain level of genetic predisposition. Not to mention they have at least 4 years of drug testing under their belt. Perhaps I assumed we were all on that page at the start of the discussion... if not I point it out.


replied to comment from Pat Sherwood

Thanks Pat. To me, the interest of the games is variety of how the athletes can be tested. I know the sledge hammer event was controversial at last years games but it was a perfect example of functional movement in an unknown and unkowable environment. I thought it was genius. The games also show that being strong in one aspect of the competition will only carry you so far.

I'm with you; I can't wait to see what happens either.


replied to comment from Rob Barrese

I was talking about CrossFit Games athletes as a whole, not specific to the people in that room. My point is that if people are on the juice and they want to hide it then their use will be "unknown and unknowable". So that makes the whole discussion of the issue moot.
But, to bite on your question anyways...Do I think Speal is on the juice? I would have to say no, but not because he is smaller in size. Depending on what you take (like halotestin) you can limit body mass increase. But I think more from what I have seen of him from the past few years on videos(however much that gives you a glimpse into who a person is). I just doubt it would be his style. I have nothing but respect for the athletes in that room. I said that comment about Chris because he is so focused and grounded. He is by far the best pound-for-pound CrossFitter out there. If there was a lightweight division he would leave the rest of the field in the dust.


wrote …

I read your post, I was asking you to elaborate on your thought that steroids would not be benificial in Crossfit. Why is that? Steroids do more than just make a person hyooge you know. Different types of steroids as well. Like others have mentioned cyclists aren't using steroids for bulk and strength necessarily.
Which journal articles do I need to familiarize myself with?

Before I get into Mikko's training being the best for health and longevity, let me ask you, do you think his volume is the best for health and longevity? Do you train like him? Mikko is training for the games. The Games are not "healthy" by any means. Much like people jogging for "health" and those that die during Marathons and Ironmans. There's a distinction between training for "health" and pushing
the boundaries of human performance. Watch the interview of Mikko after last years Games. Listen to what he says about how he felt the few days afterwards. Do you think that is "healthy"? No it's competition and it's intense. Have you heard of adrenal fatigue, or cortisol? There's a difference between the training of someone trying to win the Games or the Olympics and that of the person just trying to be "healthy". There are plenty of top performing athletes who are not healthy by any means.


Agreed Jeff!


wrote …

Hmmm, this is my first post after months of lurking, and I almost hesitate to post it due to the flame-fest this has turned out to be. Personally, I don't have enough knowledge of steroids or experience with any of the athletes to stand up on my soapbox and make any claims.

I did want to make a statement however, that I felt this video was a bit awkward and uncomfortable. I'm not familiar with the context of the athlete's relationships with each other, but in my opinion it comes across as a room full of strangers being asked general questions which nobody wants to speak up and answer. I find their individual stories interesting but think they would be better presented as a one-on-one interview. Just my $0.02.

Thanks, and keep up the great content CFJ.


wrote …

Interesting that the first thought in Speal's head at the mention of Mikko's name is "beatable"; seemingly taking his competition on a personal level.

I'll agree with Cody. I understand the 'pow wow' style interview and its purpose to just have a casual conversation between the athletes, but it did stall and get awkward at times. Individual interviews and stories work much better in that aspect.


wrote …

I wonder if, when they get a bunch of athletes like this together, is it a cert? Surely HQ dind't call all of them and say "Hey, we are going to pay you and 12 other elites to come here and be interviewed for 20 mins, you in?"


wrote …

Who is that Karianne woman? She is quite a looker.


replied to comment from Steve Lamar

...just rude.


replied to comment from Pat Sherwood

I got goosebumps when Castro asked about Mikko and the first thing that came to everyone's mind. Because Chris is exactly right. Mikko is an unbelievable athlete and an animal but he is HUMAN. He is not a machine that can't be beat. My thoughts are with Speal as the Games get close. He is hungry. Everyone is hungry for it. Good luck to everyone.


wrote …

Interesting content, video 2 was refreshing to watch in regards as to how these top tier cf athletes answer "who are you competing against?"...I can tell their focus and drive is proportionally related to their self beliefs. Very motivational and excellent insight into their mind game.


wrote …

(@Steve Lamar #1) Steve maybe you should stay in your Globo gym - flexing in the mirrors! These are CrossFit Athletes and they are what "REAL" fitness looks like!


wrote …

I'm going for the cheerleader!


replied to comment from John Prince

I agree completely. Furthermore, there isn't really a steroid that would be general enough to encompass all the varied physical demands of Crossfit. There is no magic needle that would make someone stronger/faster AND improve their endurance and focus.

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