“The Open gives me that competitive outlet that I need, that I miss from playing sports my whole life.”
Moving through the entryway and past the whiteboards covered with names and initials, times and numbers, Brian Chandler, owner of Capital City CrossFit, paces around the perimeter waving his arms overhead. Suddenly, the automated lights high above pop to life.
His gym is sparse. There are no mirrors, no high-tech equipment. And that’s the way he likes it.
The former collegiate pitcher has been putting in long hours at his box. He’s hung from the pull-up rig, bled on the barbells and thrown himself onto the ground only to stand up and do it again.
After narrowly missing a return trip to the North Central Regional last year, Chandler knows what’s at stake this March. If he can’t perform significantly better than last year, he doesn’t have a chance of moving on to the second stage of the Games season.
“I know the odds,” he says.
The only way to beat the odds is to be fitter than all but 47 other men in North Central. To become one of the fittest athletes in the region, he has been training his weaknesses.
Taking last year’s Leaderboard into account, Chandler realized Open Workout 12.2 was the most devastating to his placing. The AMRAP of ascending-weight snatches crushed him. He took 439th in the region in the event.
Immediately after the event, he abandoned his programming for Rudy Neilson’s Outlaw Way. With his remote coach’s programming, Chandler incorporated more heavy lifting into his training.
“I snatch two or three days a week, working on the proper technique, while also adding supplemental lifts,” Chandler says. “Before starting Outlaw, I snatched maybe once every two or three weeks. My one-rep max went from 175 to 205 over the course of nine months.”
The technique work has also helped with moderate weights.
“I am getting more and more consistent with the moderate to heavy snatches (135 or greater) because my technique is much better now than when I started,” Chandler says.
More lifting has paid off with PRs in his deadlift (405 to 425), clean and jerk (255 to 275) and back squat (335 to 365).
Strength isn't Chandler's only improvement.
"I'm pretty good with bodyweight movements and gymnastic-type WODs, but since the Open last year, I've tried to focus on variety," he says. "I've been working on things like handstand walking for distance ... sets of muscle-ups in higher reps ... You never know what the Open is going to throw at you, so I want to try to prepare for as much as I can ahead of time."
While he’s confident this could be his year, he won’t be devastated if the Open is the only stage he competes in. He’s in it for the competition and to learn where he needs to improve.
“For me (the CrossFit Games season) is that something to keep my competitive flame burning,” he says. “The Open gives me that competitive outlet that I need, that I miss from playing sports my whole life.”
He adds: “The thing I like about competing in the Open, is that not only do I learn a lot about myself and where I'm at, but also where I need to improve. Last year, the snatch took me out. Since then, I've made it a point to eliminate that weakness. This year, it may be something else. Then I’ll learn and I’ll work to make it my strength down the road. That’s what I get from the Open: gaining knowledge to make myself better.”