In 2011, Thomas Hooton finished 13th in the world in the CrossFit Games Open. After placing 10th in the Mid Atlantic Regional, Hooton revised his training program with an emphasis on being healthier and fresher for this year’s competition.
In preparation for this year, Hooton continued to focus on his weaknesses, giving ample time to training his Olympic lifting technique and gymnastic skill movements like handstand walks and ring handstand push-ups. Though he has put less emphasis on pure strength training, Hooton estimates that his deadlift is still right around his 560-pound PR.
Competing at that level requires every athlete to overcome some adversity and to “just grit your teeth and push through it.”
Hooton acknowledges he over trained last year, frequently doing two or three workouts in a day, and pushing himself to get in a workout just because it was on his schedule, even when his body was telling him otherwise. Leading up to this year, he focused more on listening to his body and being smarter about his training, which translated into not being afraid to scale back on volume and building in a few extra recovery days per month in an effort to stay fresh for competition.
Though he admitted his intensive training regimen might have ultimately affected his performance at last year’s Mid Atlantic Regional, Hooton is quick to emphasize that competing at that level requires every athlete to overcome some adversity and to “just grit your teeth and push through it.”
Hooton, 28, discovered CrossFit in 2008 while attending graduate school at West Virginia University. The former college basketball player founded Mountaineer CrossFit in Morgantown, W.V., while he was still in graduate school. Based out of a local athletic training facility the box has access to a wide range of equipment.
Hooton credits the community that has developed at Mountaineer with helping him to stay healthy and on track with his training — the affiliate’s athletes include a chiropractor and a massage therapist. This support network, including friends and fellow CrossFit athletes, has kept him focused and given him the drive to push himself beyond his limits.
So far, his 2012 plan has worked well. After 4 workouts, Hooton was ranked 6th in the world, and second in the Mid Atlantic. This placed him ahead of Ben Smith, who represented the region at the 2011 Games and took third. Hooton will most likely finish the Open higher worldwide than he did 2011. The next step is Regionals, where he'll have the opportunity to compete with Smith again, this time in live competition.