Team Richey – We Don’t Quit

In 2016 I was gutted that I couldn’t compete at the BodyPower Games due to other commitments, so in 2017 I was determined to make sure I did. Based within the BodyPower Expo from Friday until Sunday this event was huge and looked amazing on the pictures. I had planned on going individual, but just before the qualifiers were announced Mr Craig Richey himself asked me to be part of Team Richey… Of course, I jumped at the chance.

I first met Craig at the Scale the Heights competition in 2015 where we chatted and got to know each other before competing to try and beat one another. Since then we have both developed as athletes and have gone on to compete at more competitions to harness the CrossFit bug. I see Craig at every competition I’m at as even if he’s not competing, he’s filming one of his YouTube vlogs – which can be so addictive.

For months we had been building up excitement for the BodyPower Games in a group chat and then before I knew it, I was driving down to Birmingham on a Saturday afternoon ready to compete on Sunday. The BodyPower Games takes place over three days; Friday – Invitational, Saturday – Individual, Sunday – Teams. The Invitational had five high profile teams competing against one another, which included Eleiko, Xendurance and of course Team Richey. I didn’t do the Friday competition, but the Team had Sam Price (ranked 24 in the UK in CrossFit Games Open) and Lucy Majury (4x CrossFit Games Regionals athlete), the man himself Craig Richey and his other half Jas who is on fire at the moment smashing PBs left, right and centre. I was excited to see how they did against another team full of Regionals level athletes.

Unfortunately, on the Friday, during a max clean and jerk Craig hurt his shoulder but still put up an impressive 140kg lift. He wasn’t able to continue the competition but one of his subscribers stepped in and finished for the team. After this, it was Clear that Craig wasn’t going to be able to compete on Sunday, which I was gutted about. I had never been in a team with Craig before and was looking forward to feeding off his enthusiasm to push harder in the workouts. Luckily for us, Craig knows a lot of people and spoke to Matt Woof who joined Rob Lyth and me in Team Richey for the Sunday.

The team was me, Rob and Matt and we were ready to attack BodyPower Games and make Craig and Team Richey proud. On the day, we had the best support team imaginable. We had Craig, Mr Obese to Beast – John Glaude and Jas helping us to prepare and offer advice and motivation before each workout. I also had Beckie there to support me, as she does at every competition that she can. The workouts were announced on the day, which added to the tension and nerves but wasn’t too bad for us. The programming was great and had something in for everyone: three max lifts to choose from, barbell cycling, advanced CrossFit gymnastics and of course lots of fitness movements.

Workout One – 4th

12-minute time cap to establish a one rep max:

  • Athlete 1 – Snatch
  • Athlete 2 – Overhead Squat
  • Athlete 3 – Clean

After meeting one another for the first time Rob, Matt and I discussed our one rep max lifts for the workout and figured that Matt should snatch, I should overhead squat, and Rob should clean. This put a little bit of pressure on me to be able to replicate my PB overhead squat of 130kg. I like pressure, as you have other people’s expectations to meet as well as your own which pushes me harder. We arrived at BodyPower and signed in at 9:00, but were not due to lift until near 12:00. This was a long wait but gave us all time to get to know each other and have a look around the Expo. Before we knew it, it was warm up time. The warm up area was a decent size and had just enough bars to go around. As we were in the last heat, we had a lot more space and equipment to use once everyone had completed the workout. We all hit decent lifts and worked up to our openers in the warm up area no problem, so we were happy.

We decided instead of each person having four minutes we would just work on the lifts in order of lightest to heaviest lift. So this meant Matt was up first to snatch, I would then overhead squat before Rob was to clean. This ensured we got sufficient rest between the lifts while changing plates. Matt hit an easy 90kg snatch, I followed with a 120kg overhead squat and I won’t lie, Rob had me worried as he bounced out of a 130kg clean. It turns out that Rob loves to bounce out of the bottom of cleans! Matt then went 95kg, I went 125kg, and Rob 135kg. We were all feeling good and there was ample time left. After Matt’s effortless 100kg snatch I then went on to fail the 130kg overhead squat; I rushed the second jerk from behind my neck and pushed the bar forwards instead of straight up. Rob, of course, made the 140kg clean look textbook, which put pressure on me to get my next lift. Matt was going for a new 2.5kg PB on his next lift and I was praying for him to get this and he did! What a lift. I was then my turn to try conquer the 130kg overhead squat. The power clean went up, then the jerk, then I managed to get the behind the neck jerk, now all I had to do was squat it. I’ve learned that a more controlled descent into the overhead squat helps me out with the positioning. My body is still figuring out the movement pattern for this lift, and so for me, this works best. Thankfully I squatted the weight and then saw the judges hand up meaning I had hit depth and then stood up the weight. I was so happy to have hit this for Team Richey. Rob then had a go at a new PB clean at 145kg. He got under it, but his legs just didn’t have it in them after the volume they had just endured. At this point, there was about 2:30 left on the clock and so we set up Matt with 107.5kg to go for a new PB. Matt didn’t hit the lift, but it was close. We then scampered to set the bar up for Rob to have another go at 145kg. I didn’t think I could go through 135kg with a power clean and two jerks, let alone the overhead squat, so Rob went again as he was close to getting it before. His legs had clearly had enough and he just couldn’t stand it up. By this point, there were 24 seconds on the clock and we decided to load the bar up for Matt to have one more crack at 107.5kg. By the time he was onto the bar, there were 10 seconds left. He only went and hit the lift with 2 seconds remaining! This was incredible. 2 PBs in one day already for Matt. We celebrated as though we had won the competition, as every PB should be celebrated. What a feeling. Craig, John, and Jas came running over, and it was high fives and fist bump central. What a rollercoaster.

130kg overhead squat

Workout Two – 8th

15-minute time cap

  • 10 synchro down ups
  • 75 box jump overs 24”
  • 10 synchro down ups
  • 75 thrusters @ 50kg
  • 10 synchro down ups
  • 75 pull-ups
  • 10 synchro down ups
  • 75 thrusters @ 50kg
  • 10 synchro down ups
  • 75 box jump overs 24”

This one was as bad as it looks. Disgusting on the way back after the pull ups. What I did enjoy was that you were alongside your team members all the way through and there was no running back to the start mat to tag them. This meant you could tag your members in instantly. We started off with the synchro burpees which were a welcomed rest each time as the other movements were horrible. We managed to keep up with the taller teams in the heat through the burpee box jumps with sets of 10 or 15. In hindsight, we should have probably gone bigger sets or at least I should have as these are a strength for me. For the first set of thrusters we went in sets of 10 or 15. This number was spot on as after my first set of 15 I could only manage 10 before I was gassed. After the thrusters, we were still neck and neck with Team Heavy Rep and Team Ace. We managed to pull in front of these two top teams in the pull-ups after super Rob went unbroken for 30 reps in the middle of the workout! The lead didn’t last long though, as my set of 19 and Matt’s smaller set slowed us down, whilst other teams managed to keep up momentum with bigger sets. We then started to make our way back down the workout and got back on to the thrusters. This is where it got hard and slow. We managed to keep it to sets of 10 with little rest but me and Rob decided to split the last set of 15 in two and do and 8 reps and 7 reps. Our quads were on fire. The last set after the synchro down ups was box jump overs. Just what our quads ordered. Matt went into the box jumps first doing 10, then I did 15, Rob did 10, then Matt did 10, and then I went for broke as I saw other teams had finished. I did the last 30 box jump overs which weren’t that bad. I should have done bigger sets earlier. We finished this one behind most teams in our heat due to our slower pull ups, our thrusters and box jump overs on the way back. However, this said we smashed it and had a great time doing so. We managed to get an 8th place finish for a workout which felt like it took forever. Rob’s unbroken 30 pullups were the pick of a hard workout for Team Richey.

Synchro down ups 😫

Workout Three – 9th

Time cap 14 minutes

  • 30 power snatches @ 50kg
  • 90 bar over burpees
  • 20 power snatches @ 60kg
  • 60 toes to bar
  • 10 power snatches @ 70kg
  • 30 bar muscle ups

After the 8th place finish in workout two we knew we had to do well in this one to have any chance of a podium. This was a straight up out and out race. We knew there were much stronger athletes in other teams, so we planned to make up ground on the burpees and toes to bar. The muscle ups worried us as we knew other teams had athletes who would go 10+ in the middle of a workout. We just didn’t have that capacity of gymnastics in our team. We were optimistic and well up for this one.

The workout started well, and our short levers and range of motion proved to be an advantage on the first set of snatches where we did 10 snatches each. I went last and went straight into 15 burpees over the bar. What a lot of other teams did at this point was fall back and tag their partner, this gave us a slight 5-second advantage going into the burpees. We continued to take advantage of our short levers hoping over the bar to the burpees and finished before any other team. We then moved onto the next set of snatches where we went two sets of 7 and a set of 6 reps. Some of the stronger teams went 10 and 10 reps which left one athlete super fresh for the toes to bar. We managed to keep ahead going into the toes to bar and again Rob did a big set leaving Matt and I to get these finished between us in a set each. This made us neck and neck with other teams chasing the lead. We split the final set of snatches into two fives and left Rob fresh in the hope he would complete the bar muscle ups. We were hopeful, but Rob managed 5 before I went and did 4 and then Matt managed 3. From here it went downhill and we all started doing sets of 2 and 3. Other teams kept up their 5 reps and took the lead from our team. Then other teams who were behind started catching us. In the end, we could only do what we could do and knew we needed to practice our bar muscle ups under fatigue. We managed to finish a respectable 9th in this one, but would this be enough to place us in the top 10 to get through to the final? All day Craig, Jas and John had been amazing as they knew we had given it our all. We were a little disappointed by the finish as we could have achieved a top 5 finish in that workout had we been more capable bar muscle up athletes.It was pleasing to see that our attack the burpees and toes to bar plan worked. We were in front or neck and neck with other teams until the bar muscle ups. I was confident we would make the finals and have one last workout as Team Richey.

Struggling through those bar muscle-ups

The Final

18-minute time cap

  • 100 calorie Ski
  • 40 overhead squats @ 60kg
  • 30 legless rope climbs
  • 40 hang snatches @ 60kg
  • 100 calorie row

After seeing this workout, I wasn’t sure I wanted to be in the final anymore. 30 legless rope climbs!!! That might more than I had done in my entire lifetime. This workout suited the bigger taller athlete of which we were not. But in hindsight, it was our last chance to throwdown together as a team and we were going to have fun (if possible) in this final workout. I was looking forward to the ski and the overhead squats. It’s not that I’m great on the ski erg, I just wanted to empty the tank and give it my all. This is the perfect way to do that before handing over to your teammates. Then the overhead squats I don’t mind at 60kg. I volunteered to go first on the ski erg to get us off to a fast start and then do 2 sets of 10 reps of the 40 overhead squats. This would hopefully make up for my lack of ability in the hang snatches later on in the workout. The rope climbs we didn’t have a plan for. We just said let’s get them done, but don’t go to failure unless that failure is in your first rep. We wanted to make sure that we each would get at least one rep each time. If we got onto the row, it would be a bonus.

Pulling hard on the Ski-Erg

I started us off by pulling as hard as I could for 20 calories on the ski erg, before handing over to Matt. I felt fine and so when it came back to me again I did 30 calories, and then Matt finished it off with the last 20. I then went in first on the overhead squats and did 10, before handing over to Rob who did 10, and then Matt did 7. I managed to grind out the last 13 reps of the overhead squats before returning and tagging Rob. Again Matt and I were praying for Rob to notch up a few legless rope climbs. He managed 3 before returning to tag Matt who got 2 before I went and got 3. That was 8 reps, we still had 22 to go. From this point on we dropped to 2 reps each before Matt and I dropped to 1 rep each time. This took forever. The worst bit was seeing teams go all the way through the final doing three legless rope climbs each. This was insane to see while semi-conscious in the middle of a workout. I have utmost respect for these athletes being able to have that forearm grip capacity still intact in the middle of a workout. We managed to grind through the rope climbs and got onto the snatches and Matt, and Rob put out biggish sets before I did a set of 6. Then Rob went again. He held on to the bar until the final second, and we managed 25 reps of the snatches. It’s a shame we didn’t get onto the row like most other teams in the final, but we were happy with the result. This was enough for us to finish 9th in the final and get an overall 8th place. This certainly wasn’t the position we would like to have finished but was very respectable based on the fact we had only just met that day and Matt was a very late replacement for Craig after his injury.

Give it your all!

To conclude

I loved this competition. The atmosphere was electric and every athlete was friendly. At some competitions, you can feel out of place if no one is talking in the warm up area. Here I think because we all knew each other, everyone in each team got along and warmed up together. The judges were spot and I think the overall standard of judges is getting better at competitions. We had no problems and every rep was counted out loud all day (this is important for me). All the judges introduced themselves and were even cheering us on through the muscle-ups and thrusters when we were struggling.

The workout programming was pretty well thought out and was fun. It had some complex gymnastics in such as the rope climbs and the bar muscle ups, which really split the field. This is good and I welcome the more advanced movements because then it’s not just like doing PE. However, it did seem like there were a lot of burpees, but I guess that’s because no one likes burpees. The venue was great and this is what I think increased the atmosphere. What a location for an event – The BodyPower Expo. Hopefully, a few bodybuilders saw the competition and give CrossFit a go. I think that’s why the workouts had fun elements within so that the event was more of a spectacle for spectators. All the events had great tunes from the DJ, had athletes giving their all and were exciting to watch.

Finishing workout three off

All of the equipment was provided by Eleiko and so the barbells felt amazing. No excuses could be made about the poor equipment for underperformers as it was all top of the range. Even the rig felt pretty nice on the hands. The warm up area was also pretty big and large enough to fit a full heat in comfortably. The competition pretty much ran on time with three workouts and then the final finishing by about 17:30, which was nice as I got back to Leeds at a respectable time.

I will always be thankful for this opportunity to compete at BodyPower in Team Richey with two other legends. It was such a shame Craig was injured and I couldn’t throwdown with him, but Matt did a fantastic job filling in. Craig, John and Jas were amazing, providing us with supplements, support and guidance all day. I was happy with my performance and am taking away what I already knew really. I suck at anything hanging from a rig or rope and need to work on my grip strength. This is all food for thought and things I hope to work on in the offseason and my current strength cycle with MooFit Programming.

I am 100% doing this competition in a team, individual or both next year. Onwards and upwards.

What a day, what an experience what a team.

Check out the video below on the Team Richey YouTube channel to see how we got on at the BodyPower Games.

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