He’s been ranked CrossFit’s Fittest Male in the UK twice in his Masters category (in 2016 and 2017), is a regular at Regionals and is raising the standards for Masters athletes in both the UK and Europe. If that’s not prolific enough, he’s done all this while running a CrossFit box, coaching athletes, working full time and still maintaining an impressively modest attitude. Inspired already? We’re only just getting started…
TC: You’re kind of a big deal in the CrossFit Masters world (Rob is ranked 2nd overall in the UK and Europe Central, and 19th overall worldwide). Where did your CrossFit journey begin?
RW: Someone did their homework 😉
Seriously though, like many others, I’m just a middle-aged, working, family guy who likes to workout.
TC: Hench AND humble. Now there’s a rare combo. What have been the highlights of your journey so far?
RW: Rather cliché, but it’s the CrossFit Community. Not only have I forged a decent level of Fitness but I’ve forged many friendships, too. It’s that common goal that brings us all together. I think it’s amazing to experience ‘fitness’ with so many like-minded individuals, many of whom have extraordinary stories to tell.
TC: How does your training differ when you’ve got a competition coming up?
RW: CrossFit is generally about being physically prepared for anything all year round. Whilst the constantly varied strategy works, it’s not particularly efficient if you’re training for a specific event.
For several years, my training has been the same year-round, with a little tapering for events. Most significantly, training for The Open has involved increasing the volume and practicing for Open-like WODs. However, this year I’ve gone back to good old fashioned periodized training.
TC:And how about your diet?
RW: I’m reasonably well educated in Health and Fitness. I’ve practiced good nutrition since I was 15 years old, when I started my fitness journey. Research and recommendations have changed over the years, and so has my diet.
There is no real secret to my diet. I aim to eat 2.5g of protein per kg of bodyweight, 20% of calories from fat, and the rest from carbs. I set my calories depending on the current goal, which is to gain muscle. That puts me at around 3,500 calories a day. I try to eat balanced macros in every meal and snack as this allows me to not have to track everything, which I find a chore. Having said that, I do track my food every 6 months or so for two weeks just to perform a reset and goal change. It goes like this:
- Week 1 – track with no changes to diet
- Analyze and make adjustments according to the goal
- Week 2 – track to ensure the changes are being applied
Interestingly, I was a pesco-vegetarian for the first three and a half years of my CrossFit life. I quit this due to low iron and an inability to gain muscle. Eating meat again changed EVERYTHING!
In terms of actual food/meal examples, I tend to eat the same things often. For example, breakfast is pretty much always:
- A two egg omelette with feta cheese, sundried tomato, smoke salmon and spinach
- Soya yoghurt, fruit and granola or porridge.
TC: Any guilty pleasures?
RW: Too many! Peanut M&Ms, Thorntons Special Toffee, Brandy, Red Wine…
TC: Back to the box… What’s your favourite benchmark workout?
RW: It used to be Diane [21-15-9 reps for time of Deadlift (225/155 lb) and Handstand Push-Ups] but recently I’ve crushed my old Fran [21-15-9 reps for time of Thrusters (95/65lbs) and Pull-ups] times, so I’d say Fran at the moment.
TC: What’s your favourite CrossFit movement? And why?
RW: Well, this changes depending upon what injury I’m working around!! This last year has been the worst for injury, ever! But I’ve had a good recent PR in Back Squat, so I’d say the Back Squat.
TC: Least favourite CrossFit movement? And why?
RW: It used to be Bar Muscle-ups and the Assault Bike, but I’ve worked hard on them and actually like them now. I’m currently frustrated with Ring Muscle-ups and dips, since I’m recovering from a torn shoulder labrum tear.
TC: What memorable milestones/achievements/funny stories stand out from your journey so far?
RW: My friends often remind me about the French Throwdown in 2017. It was 40 degrees. They laugh about this, but it was an important lesson for me. On the second event of day one, I was carried off with dehydration. It was the worst feeling ever, and totally unexpected. I was able to continue, and was in a great position going in to the final event on day two. However, I collapsed again and finished the final event in last place. I finished second overall.
This is a reminder that no matter how much training you do, sporting performance is fragile and things can change in an instant. Preparation for every eventuality is important.
TC: *heads for the water bottle* How about when you’re on the move… Have you hit up any other CrossFit Boxes on your travels?
RW: I try to visit my CrossFit friends’ boxes whenever possible. However, I don’t get to travel as much as I used to for work.
TC: What advice would you give to anyone over 40 looking to dip their feet in CrossFit?
RW: My advice is no different than for non-masters. Start at an affiliate and attend two to three times a week. Enjoy working out with the classes. This is where the CrossFit magic really happens. Have fun and be consistent. This is supposed to be a journey of health, fitness and fun.
TC: What do you do when you’re not throwing down PBs (and wise words)?
RW: I have a full time job in Healthcare IT, as well as coaching 14 hours a week. The rest of the time is spent with my family: My beautiful wife Clare, our twin girls, Hannah and Eloise (15), and our two dogs: Fran and Luna.