"We're both genetically gifted, but that doesn't mean we don't work hard."
Photos courtesy of Nate and Jesse Schrader
Nate and Jesse Schrader have always been athletic.
“Growing up, we just played about any sport there was,” Jesse says.
From football to wrestling to baseball, the Schrader brothers were always into something. However, the competition is not usually between them. They have only competed against each other once, in a wrestling match where Nate beat Jesse in triple overtime.
“We’re both genetically gifted, but that doesn’t mean we don’t work hard,” Nate says. “We have some natural strengths as far as athleticism. We’re both naturally broad-shouldered and strong overhead.”
What separates them going into the Mid Atlantic Regional is experience. Nate has competed in CrossFit longer than his older brother.
Nate began CrossFitting in 2009 on his own following various blogs for programming. He branched out and eventually opened Iron Forged CrossFit in Fayetteville, N.C.
Jesse, who currently serves in the Air Force, has been interested in functional fitness for the past eight years and started dabbling in CrossFit.
“It wasn’t until about three years ago when Nate started to get into some of the competition stuff that I started to put some of the workouts together and string movements together,” Jesse says.
Jesse decided it would be fun to up the ante and try to qualify for the Mid Atlantic Regional. He was ready to compete against his brother again. He competed in the Open in 2012, but didn’t qualify. This year, he turned to Nate for help.
“He’s been doing my programming for about the last six months,” Jesse says. “He prepped me for the Open and so forth. It has helped in every aspect, not just here and there … in everything.”
And it helped. Jesse qualified in 54th place, receiving an invitation to the Mid Atlantic Regional in the second wave.
Nate also qualified for Regionals, coming in fourth place in the Mid Atlantic during the Open. This was no small feat in the competitive region. He says his wife is a huge support, taking care of the family while he’s training.
“I’ve just been blessed that it’s all worked out,” Nate says. “My wife’s amazing. She’s a stay-at-home mom. She’s great about letting me sleep. Overall, I’m not quite as organized as I’d like to be, but it’s getting better.”
While the brothers would like to have seen heavier weights programmed for the Regional, Nate says he’ll be ready.
”I got stronger this year and more strength always helps in a workout, even if the workout’s light,” he says. “I’m fine with it. I’ve worked with my weaknesses enough that I feel confident going in. I’m in a much better place than I was last year in terms of training, but anything can happen.”
To prepare, Nate programmed for himself and his brother. They have been experimenting with different elements of the Regional events.
“I’m testing pacing and efficiency for any and all of the movements we’re going to see at Regionals,” Nate says. “Leading up to the Open, I snatched heavy, clean and jerked, did heavy deadlifts, back squats and all kinds of stuff, but there’s none of that in there so we’re not going to do that anymore, there’s no point.”
Anxious to compete, both athletes have different goals.
“This year was really tough,” Jesse says of balancing work, family and training. “To focus this hard and to put this much energy into … I’m not even going to say getting in shape, but to even have a shot at making Regionals. It’s hard to get in all of the workouts. It wasn’t really stressful on me because I enjoyed it, but it’s stressful on my wife since it kept us apart so much. I don’t know that she’ll stand too many more years of that.”
He adds: “My whole goal going into this was to be able to compete against Nate. I just wanted another opportunity to compete with my brother.”
Nate’s goal is to earn a third trip to the CrossFit Games.
“I’m just excited,” he says. “One, I’m ready to get it over with. The build-up is forever with our sport. For a lot of people, it just doesn’t end. Even when I’m doing offseason work in the summer, it’s still like, ‘Oh, I know I suck at chest-to-bar pull-ups, so I’m going to work chest-to-bar year round.’ I actually took two to three months off in October just because I was getting burned out, and I was almost to the point of not wanting to compete anymore. So I did, I took a break and gained my drive back.”
The break helped, he says. Enjoying other sports has also helped re-energize his training and programming.
“Other sports have an offseason and people need to rest. That’s another reason it would benefit people to study sports outside of CrossFit, which is the original intention that Greg Glassman had — to pull from every community. There are lessons to be learned from other professional athletes.”