Should You Compete At CrossFit?

The answer to this question, like many, is multi-faceted. The obvious answers people receive are often times — “It depends” or “There is no right or wrong answer.” Unfortunately, these answers can be frustrating because they lack any clear direction and often throw the onus back on the person who was not sure in the first place. Addressing ambiguity with more ambiguity is at best a recipe for paralysis which in turn will get nothing done.

So let’s just say the clear answer to this question is an emphatic, visceral, unequivocal YES! Yes everyone who ever does CrossFit, or functional fitness of any kind for that matter, should consider competing at some point. 

Ok now that we have that answered, let’s provide a little context and then we can jump into the why’s.

First and foremost let us stress that we are not advocating that everyone start preparing to compete in the CrossFit Games. The CrossFit games are NOT for everyone. In fact, competing the CrossFit Games should NOT be the goal for most everyone! Let’s repeat that — competing in the CrossFit Games should not be your goal! 

If you are like most of us you have plenty of other things you need to deal with and address that are arguably more important. Losing some weight, overcoming or rehabilitating an injury, lowering your cholesterol levels, being able to play with your kids, being able to handle work-related tasks are likely to be more appropriate and more timely goals for most us. 

Unless you are amongst the 1%, or less, of people pursuing fictional fitness specifically as a sport, The Games are not for you.

If it seems like we are contradicting ourselves let us explain. 

The CrossFit games have rightfully become the professional side of CrossFit. Athletes at this level of fitness are analogous to athletes competing in almost any other professional sport. They pursue their profession as any other professional would. They go to work every day, they put 100% effort into their craft and they reap some potentially large financial rewards for their efforts. 

However, no one becomes a CrossFit Games athlete in an effort to look and feel better or lose some weight. They become one because they have the desire to make a living at it. There is no longevity in the pursuit of CrossFit as a profession. Even Matt Fraser has recently said that he got into this sport because he realized he could make some good money and he is planning to continue in it because he feels there are still opportunities for him to excel. Notice he never mentioned that he was doing it to look and feel better or lower his cholesterol levels. (If you want to hear more about his discussion check out the AMRAP Mentality podcast hosted by Jason Khalipa)

Another multi-year games competitor Jason Khalipa has spoken at length about the trade-offs that come with competing in CrossFit. The demands are intense and the trade-offs are excessive. Jason wholeheartedly embraces the concept of competition but realizes it has to dosed inappropriate levels or the consequences can outweigh the benefits.

So this really has not been much of a case for competing has it? Keep reading! 

CrossFit can trace a large amount of its popularity back to 2007 when they hosted the first ever CrossFit Games at The Ranch in Aromas, California. The event started as a small gathering of athletes who paid to be there and compete over the weekend for a small cash prize. Fast forward to 2010. The Games moved to the Home Depot Center in Carson, California, they were broadcast on ESPN and winners could earn as much as $250,000. As of 2018, The Games have moved to Madison, Wisconsin, they are broadcast on CBS Sports and the cash prize has increased to almost $300,000. 

However, as we head into 2019 the entire situation has begun to change form the top down. CrossFit has decided they no longer think it is prudent to invest so much money into a sport that only serves a very, very small subsection of the population. Instead, CrossFit is shifting their resources away from the Games and towards the Health side of the equation. BRAVO to that and we cannot wait to see what happens going forward with this initiative, but more on that in another post.

So why should you compete after all?

The benefits of competing can be broken down into a few key areas:

  1. Competing will provide an outlet and a test of sorts for all the hard work you put in at the gym. We all like to see progress and the fruits of our hard work. A competition can show in a measurable and very memorable way how far you have come. This will allow you to appreciate and celebrate your strengths. It will also help you to identify some areas you may want to focus on more going forward. 
  1. When you compete you adopt what some call an athlete’s mindset. Instead of just showing up to get it done, you attack the moment and bring your A-game. This can carry over to any aspect of your life — professional or personal. If you commit to attacking each and every day you will certainly get more out of it. 
  1. When you compete you are typically working against a clock to complete as much work as possible in a given amount of time. This has tremendous carry over to your day to day life. As you work your way through the day you likely will play many roles — spouse or significant other, parent, employee or business owner and many others. For each of these roles, you need to be 100% focused on the tasks and priorities at hand. Try approaching these roles like a workout and see if you don’t manage to get more done in a more focused and deliberate fashion. Here’s how it works — whenever possible set a clock (let’s just say 20 minutes for sake of simplicity) and commit to getting as much done in that time frame as possible. This will necessitate laser focus and the elimination of any distractions. Competing against a clock is an amazing tool to get more done. When the time runs out it is time to switch gears and tackle your next role. (Jason Khalipa has based his entire AMRAP Mentality philosophy on this).
  1. Ever have a bad day and want to just throw your hands up in despair? We all have, it’s natural. When you compete this is not an option. You have to see things through to the very end. Whether you are first or last you cannot quit and there can be great solace in realizing the competition will eventually end. In fact, those that finish last often receive the loudest applause and support from their fellow competitors. When you are struggling in another area it can be a huge help to realize that your struggles and frustrations will eventually come to an end, it cannot last forever. If you stay focused and block out the negative self-talk you will get it done, we promise. At the same time if you look around there are probably several people who will gladly help and support your efforts. After all, it is human nature to want to help others and see them have success.
  1. Want to grow as much as possible as a person in the shortest amount of time? Be vulnerable! Throw yourself out there, challenge yourself like you never have before. By putting yourself in a competitive context you will surely experience a heightened sense of this vulnerability. Rather than run from it, embrace it. Step back and realize what you will learn about yourself. You do not have to win the competition to have an amazing experience. Chances are you will exceed your wildest expectations. The energy and enthusiasm that surrounds competition is unlike anything you will ever find in your day to day training sessions. That alone will likely lead to a few personal records on the day.
  1. Finally, taking part in a competition will provide you with a unique experience filled with unforgettable memories. No matter what these moments will last a lifetime.  

If you have finished reading this and feel inspired to take part in a competition we support you 100%. If we can, we will gladly help you get ready by assisting you with programming and coaching specific to the competition in question. If you are ready to go it alone just remember we will always be in your corner and we will be cheering the loudest we can for you! Whatever else happens along the way, just make sure you have fun. Having fun is what it is all about. Life is often times too serious and we all need a little break from that!

If you are interested in competing we will be hosting two events in the near future. The first is the Granite Games Throwdown on Saturday, January 12, 2019. Details can be found at:

The second event we will be hosting is the Spring 2019 Festivus Games. This will be the first ever mixed pairs Festivus Games competition and details can be found at: