"I can't quite put it into words, but a hard session in the gym is one of the most fulfilling feelings I can have."
Eric Carmody took his first steps in a gym. His father was a bodybuilder so weights and barbells were always a part of his life. His father also passed down a passion and dedication for lifting, as well as a desire to be strong.
“I can’t quite put it into words, but a hard session in the gym is one of the most fulfilling feelings I can have,” Carmody says.
Carmody just finished the 2013 Reebok CrossFit Games Open in sixth place overall in the South East and will be heading to Regionals in May.
As a youth, he played football and attributes his gym background and fitness level for allowing him to play Division I collegiate football at Jacksonville University.
“I played interior defensive line, and at my heaviest, weighed 270,” he says. “I was never an all-star, but was an all-academic player in college while obtaining my computer science degree.”
He enjoyed the training aspect of football and says, “The passion to increase performance translates well to CrossFit.”
“I really enjoy CrossFit because I have always been driven to work hard for a goal. I loved training in the weight room and on the field for football, and CrossFit requires that type of dedication to see results,” he says.
Carmody grew up in West Palm Beach, Fla., where he joined his first CrossFit affiliate in 2011 after hearing about it on a backpacking trip to Costa Rica.
“I found CrossFit BGI, went in on a Friday, and we did tire pulls and running,” he remembers. “Everyone kept telling me this wasn’t a ‘normal’ CrossFit workout. It didn’t matter. That was 100 times better than doing the training I had been doing before.”
Carmody’s job in the defense industry took him to Huntsville, Ala., where he now trains and coaches full time at CrossFit Impulse. Jeff Barnett, owner of the affiliate, coaches him.
“Most days it’s just me and Jeff doing work together,” he says. “While our athletes knew I was a solid CrossFitter, not many of them know how seriously I take training. The Open surprised a lot of them.”
Carmody says he had two goals for the Open: qualifying for Regionals and doing so without repeating any of the workouts.
“I did not want to have to distract my training to focus on the Open,” he explains. “I was able to meet both goals and advance well beyond my expectations for the Open season.”
“Eric is his own toughest critic,” says Barnett, who is also Carmody’s training partner. “He expects a lot of himself, and he pushes himself harder than any other athlete I’ve worked with.”
“Eric and I have a great time training together,” he continues. “We take training very seriously, but we're also able to act a fool between lifts and get right back to business once we put hands on the bar. Consistently training together for a long time has been powerful. We've seen each other snatch, clean, pull-up, you name it, 1,000 times. We can each immediately identify atypical movement in the other, and talk about what's happening. That's a huge benefit.”
Open training brought Carmody from two-a-days to a single morning session focused on Olympic lifts and squatting and ending with conditioning.
“In the offseason, I did not take many days off, but as we get closer to Regionals, I am taking two days off per week. Three days per week, I spend time on skill work, as well,” he says. “I have a solid strength foundation. Because I want to get the most of my strength, I’ve focused on barbell work a lot this past year. I work the snatch and clean and jerk more often than any other movement. I’ve also spent a lot of time on gymnastic movements on a bar.”
Recovery is also important to his training plan. Chiropractic visits three times a week are routine to help with mobility and maintenance. He credits them for allowing him to “train hard without interruption” over the last six months. He also tries to get eight to nine hours of sleep per night as part of his recovery.
“Since I started forcing myself to get that much sleep, my gains have been significantly better,” he says.
“Eric is incredibly meticulous about recovery,” Barnett says. “He tries to give his body every advantage to survive the training regimen he puts it through. He treats recovery just as seriously as his training, including sleep, nutrition, manual tissue therapy, ice baths, compression clothing and supplements.”
When it comes to nutrition, Carmody sticks to a paleo-style diet with added rice.
“I feel with a high level of volume in your training, you need more complex carbs,” he says. “I also use Zone as a measuring tool, but do not stick to exact measurements. On a hard day of training I’ll eat as much as I like. I really love rice crust pizzas. I generally don’t drink alcohol so I can maximize my recovery.”
He also understands the importance of being focused on his intentions for the day’s training. It isn’t uncommon to find him sitting in his car for a few minutes prior to entering the gym, completely absorbed in his game plan for his training session.
Carmody is excited to see if all of his hard work will pay off at Regionals and is looking forward to the challenge of what the workouts will bring.
“Last year was a heavy dumbbell snatch,” he says. “Hopefully, they can incorporate new, interesting aspects into the competition. Why not just get the triathlon done at Regionals?”