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February 20, 2013 / amberwoodterracechiro

Crossfit Competitors: Who Is the Fittest?

crossfit games comparisonI may get tons of people who disagree with this post, and I am going to state that this is JUST MY OPINION. 😉  Last weekend, I was judging a Crossfit competition and one of the teams had a beautiful, red-headed, small-framed girl that made me think twice about her ability to do some of the weights!  Let me just say that I was completely wrong!  When the workouts started, she held her own, and honestly, I would say she had better technique than a lot of the other competitors!  When I told someone about her, they told me that I am the same size as she is.  I never see myself in comparison to other people, but that spurred on the fact that I always wanted to do a post about how you compare athletes in terms of fitness when everyone has different frames.  Those of you unfamiliar with Crossfit should know that whoever wins the Crossfit Games is deemed the fittest person on Earth.  They are tested in multiple arenas in order to make sure they are the most well-rounded; they have to be proficient in weight lifting, gymnastics, and metabolic conditioning.  However….there are no weight classes for Crossfit.  Many other sports have weight classes when you are comparing competitors because there IS a difference in capacity when we are speaking about frame!  When you hear that a 5’2” 100lb woman deadlifts 300lbs, you are more impressed than when you hear that a 5’8” 150lb woman deadlifted 300lbs.  (Maybe that is just me, but I have to think this is true.)

So, I started looking up stats, comparing athletes, and rendering my opinion on who I really thought was the fittest athlete.  That does NOT mean that they will win the games because the games does not differentiate for size and stature with regard to capability.  So, who was I going to compare.  I obviously run numbers like this all the time when I am at my own gym and think about how heavy 95lbs is for me.  I have even gone as far as to say that the only fair time comparison is one where I am doing the same workout with 20lbs less than most everyone else!  I can say this until I’m blue in the face, but it really doesn’t matter.  The weights are the weights, and you can either do them quickly or you can’t.  However, when I start thinking about truly competitive athletes, how do THEY measure up against one another?  I am going to compare Rich Froning to Nick Urankar and Annie Thorisdottir to Julie Foucher.

I want to make the disclaimer that these numbers only hold water for someone who is fit.  Excess weight contributing to the frame of someone who is overweight cannot equate the same.

Rich Froning

He has been deemed the fittest on earth for 2 consecutive years.  Let’s take a look at his stats, which I pulled from the Crossfit Games website.

5’10”  195lbs           Percentage of body weight

Squat: 425lbs         217.9%

Deadlift: 525lbs     269.2%

Clean/Jerk: 325lbs 166%

Fran: 2:17 (21-15-9 95lb thrusters and pullups)   48.7% (95lbs)

*I am choosing Fran bc it is often used as a standard to see how good someone is at Crossfit! We could easily run numbers for Diane,  Isabel, etc.

Nick Urankar

He is a local Crossfitter that is gunning for a spot on the podium this year, and he will have to compete with Rich to get there!

5’10”    185lbs        Percentage of body weight

Squat: 455lbs        245.9%

Deadlift: 505lbs   272.9%

Clean/jerk: 345lbs 186%

Fran: 2:10   51.1% (95lbs)

So, when we look at these two athletes, thank goodness they are the same height because that helps out in my calculations and conclusions.  However, Nick is 10lbs lighter than Rich.  How does that play out in terms of strength numbers…..

Nick is by far the stronger athlete when we consider is frame….by percentage of body weight, he beats Rich Froning’s numbers in every single major lift.

Nick is not necessarily the strongest athlete though.  Rich can deadlift more than he can, and if any of you have been following the games site, you know Rich can snatch 300lbs!  This puts Nick at a disadvantage for any lift that goes from the ground because they all start with a deadlift.

In terms of translating those numbers to a workout, Fran is an easy comparison.  Thrusters in this workout are done at 95lbs for men.  That means that when Nick is doing Fran, he is using 51.1% of his body weight and Rich is only using 48.7%.  This may not seem like a big difference until you start to consider that the workout only takes a couple minutes.  How much time would be gained or lost if they used the SAME percentage to complete the WOD?  That would allow Nick to do Fran using 90lbs (let me just say that 5 lbs can make a huge difference!).  OR, that’s like asking Rich to perform Fran using 100lbs.  Nick ALREADY has a faster time than Rich, so I have to think that it would widen the gap even more.  I know there is someone out there saying “Rich has a harder time doing pullups though because his body is heavier.”  BS!  Both athletes are required to pull the same body weight percentage when they are doing a bodyweight movement.  Rich and Nick, both, have to perform pullups using 100% of their body weight; therefore, when we are looking at percentages, they are even.  I will note that Rich can do a considerable amount more of max pullups than Nick, so he actually has an ADVANTAGE in the pullup arena.  When we start to look at workouts that require 135lbs, Rich is using 69.2% of his body weight and Nick is using 72.9%.  If we replaced those weights to match standard percentages, Nick would be doing Grace and Isabel with 128lbs or Rich would have to up it to 142lbs.

It is hard to make this conclusion because they are both stellar athletes, but based on pure numbers and percentages, I have to say that Nick is the more fit athlete when it comes to weight lifting. HOWEVER, Nick is not necessarily the strongest; so, he will have to be THAT MUCH more fit in order to give Froning a run for his money.  I did not compare run times, etc. because they were not readily available.  This is where well-roundedness is a huge contributing factor.  But, there is almost always a weight lifting component to every workout and the weights are the same for every individual while the heavier guys get zero assistance in the body weight division of things.  So, is it fair to require athletes to use 100% of their body weight on movements, and then to ask other athletes to utilize drastically different percentages for the weightlifting?  That is like watching a boxing match between a feather weight and a heavy weight.  Maybe some of my smaller framed guys out there actually measure up when you start running numbers!  You will never see them at the Crossfit games however, because they will never perform well enough in the lifting portions. ;(

Now let’s take a look at a more complicated case……

Julie Foucher

5’4”   130lbs      Percentage of body weight

Squat: 235        180%

Deadlift: 300   231%

Fran: 2:24 (65lb thrusters)  50%

Julie Foucher ended up 2nd on the Crossfit Games podium last year although I have arguments that she may ACTUALLY be more fit that Annie….

Annie Thorisdottir

5’7”   147lbs     Percentage of body weight

Squat: 253lbs  172%

Deadlift: 363lbs 247%

Fran: 2:37   44%

Pure strength: Annie wins hands down.  When you start considering frame and percentages of body weight, Julie starts looking a lot better!  That would be like Annie having to do Fran with 73.5lbs!  Or….we could always allow Julie to do it with 57lbs.  My guess is that she wouldn’t complain one bit. 😉

This situation is a little more difficult because not only does Julie weigh less, she is shorter.  So, if you take their body weight and convert it into lbs per inch of height, we can compare their numbers as if Annie was the same height.  (assuming they have similar body fat percentages…which I’m not arguing with either of their six packs).  That puts 2.03lbs per inch of Julie’s height and 2.2lbs per inch of Annie’s height.  So, to even things out, that puts Annie at 140lbs if she were the same height as Julie.  That would increase her deadlift to 259% and her squat to 180%, and her Fran bar to 46%.  That levels the playing field a little, but Julie is still doing more work.  Julie came in second to Annie last year, but I have to say that she took the gold in my definition of the fittest person.  Had there been weight classes, Julie is a shoe-in with her petite 130lb frame.

As for me, I still have yet to find someone 5’8” at 120lbs to compare my scores with….ugh.

Maybe we can test this out and have a few workouts in the gym, where people use a percentage of their body weight for the WOD and see how people stand.  Better yet, how about Nick and Rich have a throwdown to test it out using APPROPRIATE weights. 😉



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