"I placed second in my region and I wasn’t even at full strength. I am extremely confident that I will place top 10 this year at the Games."
After suffering a hamstring pull at the 2012 Reebok CrossFit Games, Kenneth Leverich of Orange Coast CrossFit won’t be taking any chances this year. The 25-year-old Games competitor has spent the last year getting healthier, stronger and smarter.
Leverich first injured his hamstring when he jumped into a notorious CrossFit workout, King Kong, without warming up prior to last year’s Games. He completely tore the injured hamstring during the Clean Ladder in Carson, Calif., that year.
Since the injury, Leverich has become more aware of his body.
“I have gained so much body awareness, and I know now how important it is to warm up and cool down,” he says. “At the time (when jumping into King Kong), I took into consideration my age and I thought, ‘I should be flexible enough to jump into a workout cold,’ but just because I can, doesn’t mean I should and that it’s good for my body.”
Adjusting the way he trains, he added extra warm-up and cool-down time, as well as increased mobility and recovery days. Coach Bryan Boorstein of CrossFit PB has spent the past year with Leverich helping him learn how to listen to his body.
“Kenneth has been really diligent with following our program and making sure he takes his rest days, which honestly many athletes really struggle with,” Boorstein says. “His strength is really solid right now, cleaning 350 lbs. and snatching 275 lbs. He has developed a great sense of awareness of his own abilities.”
Leverich has been training with Ryan Fischer, and says he enjoys the intense competition Fischer brings to their workouts.
“Ryan has been a great training partner for me. Ryan doesn’t just do workouts — he wants to be the absolute best and set a record every time. Having that kind of person that pushes you in healthy competition every day has really helped me,” Leverich says.
He says he won’t forget the lessons he learned last year.
“I know my red line now. That point at which I know I can push myself without getting hurt,” he says. “I’ve come to understand myself as an athlete, physically. I’m not going to do something anymore unless I’m ready for it. I made a commitment to be tactical about every workout.”
He also took a cue from fellow Games competitor Rich Froning.
“I noticed Rich Froning Jr. last year, the way he didn’t really look at anyone else and he didn’t let anyone manipulate his speed and what he was doing in executing the workout. He went at a pace that he knew he could control and handle, and when he felt like he needed to rest, he did. He never pushed himself over the limit and just went at a strong, steady pace. And I saw he did the same thing at Regionals this year.”
Leverich has applied these observations to his own training.
“That’s something I took from Rich and tried to implement in my training. I try to focus on myself and not let anyone manipulate my pace. My muscle-ups workout was a great example of that strategy in Regionals,” he explains. “I went at my pace and when I needed to rest, I rested. I went when I was ready, and even though I wasn’t moving at 100 percent, I felt like it worked really well for me.”
Leverich took first in SoCal in the Burpee Muscle-up Event. At the end of the weekend, he sat in second overall.
He says he tries not to stress too much about other competitors during the Regional season.
“I watched a little bit of Regionals, but not much,” he says. “If you’re not confident in yourself, you’re not ready for the Games. I’m not worried about any of the competitors that are going to the Games. I know that being one of the first regions to go, we were at a disadvantage, so the numbers are skewed a bit.”
Leverich is confident heading into the Games this year.
“I placed second in my region and I wasn’t even at full strength. I am extremely confident that I will place top 10 this year at the Games.”
Coach Boorstein agrees.
“We’re hoping for a lot of high-skill gymnastics and a long endurance event with swimming and running,” Boorstein says. “Top 10 is very achievable at this point.”