Dedicated to dominance
Mat Fraser loves to suffer. For now, five-time CrossFit Games champion, every moment of pain is an investment in his future resilience. It’s a simple premise: train harder than anyone else will, and you’ll be able to do what nobody else can. But beyond all the punishing workouts, it’s his relentless work ethic that has allowed him to do what no other athlete has done-win the most consecutive CrossFit Games, and do so by the largest points margin in the history of the sport. Pursuers of motivation ourselves, we wanted to see what goes into that work ethic first-hand.
Having discipline occasionally won't do shit. If you're only doing it on the days you feel like being disciplined, you're not going to see the progress. That discipline, that commitment, that grind—that's seven days a week.
- Mat Fraser
NO MOMENT WASTED
The winner of the 2020 CrossFit Games will be determined in 24 days. Until then discipline is the name of the game—plenty of sleep, clean eating, and three-a-days with his training partner and now four-time fittest woman on Earth Tia-Clair Toomey. Eyes-open to eyes-closed, everything is optimized for recovery.
We get to Fraser's place early in the morning and he and Toomey are already prepping for their first workout of the day: An “EMOM,” in which work is performed “Every minute, on the minute.” Just enough time between movements to catch your breath and kick your ass on the next one. Pain is temporary, right?
HARD WORK PAYS OFF
With two demanding workouts completed, most normal humans would call it a day. Not Mat. While we go to dinner, Fraser goes home to fuel-up, rest-up, and get another workout in before the sun goes down. It’s no wonder the podium is so familiar to him. When others quit, he goes for another round.
“Moderation is for cowards. Anything I do I do in excess.”
- Mat Fraser
PRESSURE IS A PRIVILEGE
25-20-15-10-5 reps of
Handstand push-ups (with 30-pound weight vest)
Rest 1 minute between sets
Fraser kicks up into a handstand against the wall and blows through his reps with less exertion than most people would have to do regular push-ups. When he’s resting, he’s toweling off sweat and chalking his palms. When he’s moving, it’s with an effortlessness that seems inhuman.
PUNISH, REPAIR, REPEAT.
After the upper body battery, it’s recovery, a snack, and another workout: a 40-minute row on the erg. Then another snack and a weightlifting session. To relieve his tortured muscles, he wraps-up the day with an ice bath, a sauna, and more food. It’s a constant cycle of punishment and repair.
YOU WIN OR YOU LEARN
Having followed and filmed Fraser for the last two days, the IKONICK team is curious how tough these workouts are that he performs with the frequency that most of us eat meals. So we give the hill run a try. The team is in good shape and does cardio in our individual exercise regimens, yet even without the added 105 pounds Fraser hauled up the incline, we end up gasping for air. It's clear he and Toomey are on another level of training completely.
HILL RUN: ROUND 2
On Sunday Fraser, Toomey, and Shane Orr, coach of both and husband of Toomey, return to the hill that kicked the IKONICK team’s asses for more ascents. They leave behind the sandbags but still wear the vests—not to make it less difficult but to facilitate a faster running pace. For these athletes pressure is a privilege.
PAIN IS TEMPORARY
The following workout is a series of pull-ups, push-ups, wall ball throws to a target, straight into an out-and-back swim in the pond, and then it’s back to the pull-up bar. Gassing your lungs and burning-out your muscles may not seem like a great idea right before jumping into the water, but that’s exactly the cruel style of programming these podium-level athletes have to prepare for.
Seconds after Fraser and Toomey finish their last swim, they talk with Orr about who pulled ahead on which rounds, who broke up their reps into smaller sets, and which method was fastest. That obsessive drive to improve puts them in a league of their own.
I want to be known as the most dominant motherfucker to ever step on that floor. You may beat me at something once, but you're not going to beat me a second time.
- Mat Fraser
“I want these pieces to go to people that are inspired by what I'm doing, or they relate to something in my story. If they're going through hard times, good times, or they just want that extra dose of motivation.”