After sustaining two torn rotator cuffs in both shoulders this past year, four-time CrossFit Games competitor Brandon Phillips is proving he still has what it takes to compete with the elite.
All five Open workouts included a shoulder component, complete with snatches, shoulder-to-overhead, wall balls, clean and jerks and thrusters. Phillips says he is encouraged by his performance.
“The past five weeks (of the Open) have been a great test of fitness, and I commend HQ for the programming,” Phillips says. “(Open Workouts) 13.1, 13.3, 13.4 and 13.5, in particular, were pretty shoulder intensive, and those were my best scores so I feel very confident I’ll be strong and ready for Regionals and the Games.”
Phillips has been hungry for a fifth run at the Games this year after a disappointing 42nd-place finish last July.
“It was a disappointing year to say the least, and I believe I've taken the Games for granted. I’ve since realized that I've been caught up in the outcomes of CrossFit competition and focusing on things or events out of my control,” he says. “Whatever HQ gives us, I'll be ready because this year I'm focusing on the things I’m in control of and that’s my attitude — knowing my abilities, and believing in myself.”
While Phillips finished 13th in the South East in the Open, he says the season is only just beginning. For him, seeing some new names and faces at the top of the South East Leaderboard only means a fun challenge is in store, and he’s ready to give it his all.
“The competition is getting better every year with more athletes being drawn to the sport. I'm glad to see new names. It brings new challenges and better competition,” Phillips says. “The Open honestly has not been a concern. Yes, I'm upset I'm not No. 1 in the South East, but come Regionals, I’ll be ready to make my run at the Games.”
In order to stay focused, Phillips says he is keeping the original reason he started CrossFit back in 2009 at the forefront of his mind.
“Most importantly, I want to have fun and improve. Yes, competition improves us, but for me, I truly enjoy training everyday, and I am now saving my best performance for when it truly matters,” Phillips says.
With the South East Regional quickly approaching on May 17, Phillips is in “beast mode,” upping the volume and intensity of his workouts at least five days per week.
A typical day includes a morning session of endurance work followed by gymnastics strength and skill work. Around lunchtime, he hits the weights for strength, and in the evenings, he does his met-con conditioning — usually an interval, chipper or AMRAP.
While training currently takes up the majority of Phillips’ time now that the Games season is in full swing, he has also been busy outside the competition starting a new business and marrying fellow CrossFitter, Jessica Denney.
Phillips stepped down from his five-year job as a high school wrestling and strength and conditioning coach in order to pursue his dream of opening his own affiliate, CrossFit Bound. He also popped the question to Denney in January just before the Open began and is excited to grow the business together.
“There’s been a lot of change happening in my life, but I couldn’t be happier,” Phillips says.
Phillips’ underlying mission at his new box is to inspire his local community to be “strong and courageous” much like he strives to do daily. He wants to represent CrossFit within his local community and share everything he has learned over the years.
“CrossFit is about helping people achieve greatness, and greatness is not necessarily competing at the Games. Strength and courage is something everyone can relate to. We all need to find strength within ourselves and the courage to face our fears.”