"On any given day, we can be competitive with each other. It's always a small Games situation. Aaron's presence is always driving me. It's like competing against my shadow."
As the last day of the 2011 South Central Regional closed, Ryan Bielefeldt stood and admired his older brother Aaron’s fourth-place finish that almost got him a ticket to the CrossFit Games.
“I knew at that moment that this was something I could do also,” Ryan says.
Since they were separated in age by three years, it made sibling competitiveness almost impossible due to their difference in size.
“Our parents had us play just about every sport there was, but Aaron was always so much bigger, so we really couldn’t play together,” Ryan says. “As we got older, Aaron started lifting weights and I never really understood why. He was just so much stronger than me.”
As time progressed, Ryan began to focus his training on soccer and wound up with a spot on his college team as a forward.
“During high school, I was doing a lot of speed conditioning,” Ryan says. “When I got to college, my coach had us doing calisthenics mixed with heavy lifting. Primarily bench and squats.”
It wasn’t until returning home that he began CrossFit. Aaron had become the head coach at 210 CrossFit and was training seriously to be a Games-level competitor.
“I kept telling him to come, but it wasn’t until he watched me in 2011 that he decided to make a commitment to an affiliate,” Aaron says.
Ryan was determined to go to the Games and began training religiously at 210 CrossFit under Coach Steve Galvan and Aaron’s programming regimen.
In 2012, Ryan qualified for Regionals, and had an honorable 12th-place finish. However, he saw where his weaknesses were and has been hammering them hard for almost a year now.
“I hit muscle failure during Diane,” Ryan recalls. “I knew I really needed to work on my upper body strength.”
Since then, he has focused a lot of attention on his Olympic lifts by following the Outlaw training blog.
“If you do these lifts every day, it just really starts falling into place,” he says.
The real motivation for the Bielefeldts, however, is each other.
“On any given day, we can be competitive with each other,” Ryan says. “It’s always like a small Games situation. Aaron’s presence is always driving me. It’s like competing against my shadow.”
The two brothers are mirrors of the other — both stand at 6-foot-1 and weigh 200 pounds.
Aaron says he remembers when his once much smaller brother first beat him in the gym.
“It was during the Open Snatch Ladder,” Aaron says. “I came into the gym one afternoon and Ryan had been there earlier doing the (workout). After finishing, I looked up to realize that he beat me by one rep. I was proud to see how incredible my brother was getting. These days, it is more common that we finish within 10 to 20 seconds of each other, rather than minutes apart, regardless if we are together or not.”
Now, the pair has set their sights on the CrossFit Games. The goal is to be the first set of brothers to qualify together.
“This would mean the world to me,” Aaron says. “I would probably retire from the sport if we made this happen.”
No matter how they finish, Ryan says he loves this sport and qualifying for the Games is his priority.
“I wanna do this for as long as I can. I'm doing this to live. My life is revolving around CrossFit right now,” he says. “When it comes to competing, I'm willing to do whatever I can to make it easier for myself. For me, this means constant and disciplined training.”