The CrossFit Open 2015 is just one week away and we know a lot of you will be tuning into all the action. We caught up with Fitmark Athlete and owner of CrossFit X-Treme Athletics in San Jose, California, Neal Maddox, to get the inside scoop on his training and nutrition, and how he prepares for competition.
Q: For those of us who aren’t familiar with your history, can you briefly tell us about your athletic background?
I’m a former football player and I’ve competed in track and also wrestled, so I have an athletic background, which definitely helps. It puts you one step ahead of the curve.
Q: How many years have you been doing CrossFit?
In 2009, a buddy came over and said I have a workout for you! It’s called Linda – 3 Bars of Death. After I tried that, there was no turning back.
Q: Does your training differ leading up to the Games?
No, it doesn’t really differ. My goal is to train for the Games not the Open. I put in the work that I need to put in, get done what I need to get done and hopefully accomplish what I set out to do.
Q: What kind of nutrition regime do you follow?
I don’t do Paleo or the Zone. I eat to train. When you’re training a lot, you need those proteins, carbs, fats and extra carbs. I love carbs. I know some people out there are really strict with what they eat, but I still eat pasta. I’m part Italian and I love pasta. I’m a carb junkie. I carb load every day. As long as I get a high abundance of energy from what I eat, then I’m good.
Q: What about sleep?
I get 6-8 hours of sleep a night. If I can’t sleep good at night, then I take a nap during the day. I know how to shut off my mind and let my body rest. It’s a very crucial part of the recovery process, especially now since I’m older.
Q: How do you mentally prepare?
Mental prep is something I do every day. It’s done in the gym before a workout and out of the gym. It starts right before I hit a WOD and is something I work at on a daily basis. I just believe it in my mind and I keep a positive mindset, no matter what’s going on.
Q: How many years does it take to get to your level?
Hard to say. Everybody is different. There are athletes coming out of high school that compete in their first year and there are some CrossFitters that never make it to the qualifiers. It all depends on the individual. For me, it’s been six years.
Q: How many tries does it normally take to get to your best?
The Open lasts for five weeks and there’s one workout a week. I do it one time and that’s it. This prepares me for the Regionals, where you only get one shot. I train to qualify for the Games. I don’t let the Open workouts take away from what I’m doing on a regular basis or what I’m doing for the Regionals. Some people do the same moves over and over again, but that won’t get me to my ultimate goal. That’s not how I train. I make sure I do the best I can in the Open to qualify for the Regionals. That’s my goal.
Q: How do you train for the Games?
Varied functional movements performed at high intensity.
Q: How do you address your weak points?
I work to my strengths and train my weaknesses. I’m almost 40 years old, so there’s only so much you can do to improve.
Q: How do you track your progress?
I work with my coach and track everything.
Q: What training advice would you give someone who wants to compete?
It takes time to build strength and volume. Don’t just slam your body into it. Work with your body. As you get stronger, then you can build volume. That way you’ll avoid injuries. There are too many people jumping into the sport and trying to do what the athletes have been doing for years. It takes time.
Q: What does overtraining mean to you?
If I’m tired, I rest. I listen to my body. My body tells me what I need to do. In CrossFit in general, everybody is overtraining when they’re getting ready for the Games. I just take it one day at a time and go with the flow.
Q: What does a typical rest day look like for you?
Working with clients at the Box, hanging out with my dogs and letting my body recover.
Q: What’s the secret to your success?
There’s no secret, just hard work. Growing up, I had nothing. All I know is how to work and I work my butt off and I keep working no matter what. I put my heart and soul into everything and give it my all every single time. When I put it all out there, I will be happy with any results.
Q: What do you do besides training to condition your body?
Injuries are a part of any sport whether you’re playing football or baseball or basketball, injuries can occur. I work with mobility training, see a chiropractor and get regular massages. It’s like getting a tune-up for your car. You have to keep your body maintained.
Q: Are there any final words you’d like to share with our readers?
I love CrossFit. It has allowed me to continue my professional career after I was done with football. Going to the Box and being in this community environment is great. Some people mix up the Games with what CrossFit is all about. The Games is a spinoff of CrossFit and is for people who want to take it to the next level. For me, it’s about establishing functional movements to fight off decrepitude. It helps build stronger minds and stronger bodies. When I’m working with people in my gym, I’ll take non-athletes over athletes because I get satisfaction in changing people’s lives. Getting someone to do a pull-up for the first time or a squat with proper form or something they never thought they could do – helping people improve in the CrossFit community, that’s what I love.
And I’ll keep doing this as long as my body allows me to compete. I’m in better shape this year than last. I do all the small things to take care of my body, I’m mentally in tune with what is going on and I can accomplish anything I want.
That’s the kind of winning attitude we love here at Fitmark and what makes Neal Maddox such a great athlete. Good luck, Neal! We’ll be watching your progress and rooting for you all the way come February 26 when the CrossFit Open begins.
The Fitmark Team