Chris Spealler

2010 CrossFit Games Finals

Elite Q&A Part Two: Iceland Annie, Mikko Salo, and Chris Spealler

Strength Training, Metcons,

The CrossFit Games are the proving grounds for fitness methodology. Competition helps to discern the training methods, nutrition protocols, and recovery techniques that are most effective at improving work capacity across broad time and modal domains. To get a glipse at what methods the fittest athletes are using in training, we went to three of the top Games competitors and squeezed them for their secrets.


We interviewed ‘Iceland Annie' Thorisdottir, Mikko Salo, and Chris Spealler about their comprehensive training programs. Although these interviews were conducted separately, we’ve put their answers side-by-side so that trends and differences are clear, such as the Speal and Annie’s differing views on recovery. The interviews have been split into two parts. Today's Part Two focuses on training methods. Part One can be found here.


Do you organize your heavy lifting training? If so, how? Linear progression, Olympic lift focus, Westside, etc.


Iceland Annie: I recently started using Westside Barbell's Conjugate Method for my strength training.  Heavy about 2-5 times a week, depending on the training cycle.  Before that I only went heavy about 2 times a week.  


Mikko Salo:I have a strength program that is concentrating on Olympic lifts. I do Oly lifts four to five times per week and on those days I do some other strength training like squats or deadlifts. I used to do longer sets of strength training and now I´m doing shorter sets. I try to keep it like this all of the time.


Chris Spealler: Yes, currently I've gotten some help from Chris Mason and I am lifting strictly heavy two days/week with accessory work to help strengthen weak spots on my body. One “upper body day”/week and one “lower body day”/week.  I am sticking with one ME lift for 3 weeks and the same accessory work, then rotating both the ME lift and the accessory work for the next three and so on. Giving this a try for the next 8 weeks or so.  It's more of a Westside mentality for someone that can still improve more in the strength area.  I don't focus much on the Olympic lifts.  Hit them when I like to which is in reality probably only once every two weeks or so.  


How often do you program timed workouts?


Iceland Annie: AMRAP About 1-2 a week


Chris Spealler: With my programming set up the way it is currently the 3 days/week that I have to work on met-cons I always have a clock going.  I don't remember not running a clock more than once or twice in my training ever.  I like the motivation and knowing what improvements I'm making or what I might need to adjust.  


What is the time domain breakdown of your training? How often do you go over 10 minutes? 20 minutes? 30 minutes?


Iceland Annie: The met-con workout differs a lot...  if I'd have to say I do more of something it would be between 10-20 minutes...  I also try to go once a week to a Bootcamp practice which is always about 1 hour without a long stop or water breaks.  


Mikko Salo: I try to do all the time domains. But I often do 15-25min met-cons. I do over 30min met-cons at least a twice a month.


Chris Spealler: I'm almost always right around 10 min or just under.  Longer workouts might take between 12 and 17 min.  I rarely go over 20 min and every once in a long while will go over 30.  It's just not where I need to be working right now and much of the longer WODs I do leave me feeling less productive than some of the grinders that are short.


How often do you program dedicated skill development (gymnastics skills, o-lifts, sprint mechanics, etc.)? What do you focus on?


Iceland Annie: I would say about 3 times a week. Two days of o-lifts (snatch, cleans, jerks and skill transfer exercises) and one day of gymnastics skill training per week.  


Mikko SaloI have now started to do some more skill training. I do it before my training sessions. 


Chris Spealler: I don't focus on programming in specific skills.  I tend to enjoy some of these movements anyways so they end up coming into my workouts.  I occasionally spend some time on Olympic lifting technique and this is roughly every couple of weeks.  I don't work on running mechanics ever. Although I'm sure it would help I feel I have bigger fish to fry. Gymnastics skills, I may throw them in for some warm ups or accessory work, but rarely. Most of my development comes in the form of building my 1 RM strength and higher reps with heavier loads so this is where my focus is.  


Who does your programming?


Iceland Annie: Since the European regional Jami Tikkanen from Thames CrossFit in London. I'm in CrossFit BC island so we use Google calendar for programming. I sometimes videotape my lifts for him to help me with the technique and then we meet every once in a while...  Works well!  =)


Mikko Salo: Juha Kangasniemi and I do my programming.


Chris Spealler: Up until about two weeks ago I've done every bit of all my own programming.  As mentioned above I got some great help from Chris Mason on the strength training and I'm going to give it a shot for a period of time, re-establish some 1 RMs, heavier weight at reps, and see if it's working.  As far as the CrossFit programming I'm doing all that on my own.  Last year Eric O'Connorand I would swap weeks.  He would program one, me the other, and so on for about 6 weeks and that was a big help since it gets you away from biasing towards what you like.  I can see us doing this again later in the season after we are done focusing so much on some of our weaknesses.  Otherwise me, myself, and I.  


What is different about your methods? What do you do that few other people do?


Iceland Annie: Probably my Bootcamp workouts and also if I don't like the time I got in the met-cons I do I sometimes do them again in 10-15 minutes, either as a punishment or just because I know I can do better and need some time to compete with (don't have any girls here to compete with).


Chris Spealler: I don't know that I do really anything different.  If anything I think I actually train less than a lot of the other athletes.  I hear people talking about 2 a days all the time and I think that is heading down the road for over training if you do that year round.  I think I work on my weaknesses more than most.  I'm fortunate in that I really enjoy working on my weaknesses and some may find it surprising that I don't like doing workouts that some may view as my strengths that much.  I don't remember the last time I went out for a 5k, did "cindy", or "mary", or 30 muscle ups for time.  Those have their time and place but I like working on increasing my strength and capacity there so I spend a lot of time doing it, while keeping an eye on my other areas of fitness.  I think it's difficult to want to focus on running and gymnastics, and skill movements like double unders or squat snatches, etc., which is where some have to focus. I'm just fortunate in that when I work on my weaknesses I usually enjoy it and it helps all the other stuff.  

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1 comments on this entry

1. merle mckenzie wrote...

Great question. I love reading about how the best of the best approach CrossFit. Get strong Chris,I would love to see you win one year!


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