January 12, 2012
Ben Stoneberg: The Mentality Behind His Success
By CrossFit

Each year, the pool of athletes in CrossFit grows wider and more competitive. With the rising tide of performance, some athletes that were once at the top can't keep pace with the new standards of competition. Muscle ups are no longer an elite skill, but a gateway to competing at the intermediate level. Weights as high as 315 are now "21-15-9 weight" on the deadlift. And as athletes grew accustomed to the heart-pumping intensity of "Helen," the 2010 Games doubled the volume and added a max overhead lift within 90 seconds afterward. "Elite Fitness" is ever further away, ever harder to reach.

Yet as we witness last year's stars failing to return to the Games, quite a few athletes who fell short at earlier Sectional or Regional competitions stepped up their performance in 2011. For example, South East's Cheryl Nasso was 13 spots away from qualifying for Regionals last year. This year she took second at her Regional and qualified for the Games. How have athletes such as Cheryl moved from middle-of-the-pack CrossFitters to Games athletes, even as it gets harder and harder to qualify?

Over the next few weeks, we will continue to examine previously unknown athletes who performed exceptionally this year and are going to the Games for the first time. Four of the six athletes who qualified for the Games from the North West Regional will be competing at the Games for the first time. From the male qualifiers, Jesse Disch, Noah Pester, and Ben Stoneberg all three qualifying at the 2010 North West Regional, finishing 11th, 38th, and 19th respectively. 

We caught up one of those three, Ben Stoneberg, to talk about his CrossFit journey and how he's managed to get so much better, so quickly. Here's his response:

Before I found CrossFit I was just a regular "globo gym" guy that liked to powerlift and Oly lift. I work at Costco in Eugene and work in the business delivery department. I fill orders and am a back up delivery driver. I found CrossFit through Costco. A co-worker said he did it up at Rainier CrossFit and I found one in Eugene. I was very skeptical because all I wanted to do is get big (Haha, what did I know?) 

I didn’t join right away. I just knew that more and more people were talking about it and said I would do really well. I finally gave in and went in to do a baseline workout. It was really hard and I fell in love with it! 

I did CrossFit for about three months, but I still had a mind set that I wanted to get bigger. I cherry-picked a lot of workouts, doing only the ones that I thought I would do well at. Sectionals came up and I was asked to compete. I didn’t really want to since I just wasn’t interested. Then, two days before Sectionals I was asked if I wanted to take someone’s spot. I called the Sectional coordinator and I was able to do so.

After the Regional I was all about CrossFit. I am a very self-motivated person and always able to push myself, even if I'm by myself. I trained for a whole year, only taking one to two days off a week. I changed my diet, eating more Paleo.

After the previous Regionals, I really would like to deadlift better. I was trying to work on more reps with heavy weight like 315. It sucks that my PR deadlift is around 475, but 315 in (Regional Workout 3) killed me.

Other than my deadlift, I feel my other lifts are good enough for now. For the Games I started swimming once a week and doing WODs with my weaknesses. I feel I shouldn’t change up my programming too much since it was what got me here.

I'm never satisfied if I PR on a lift or workout. I look back and think about where I could go faster on or what my technique looked like. That’s my drive ... to beat myself and not be worried about what everybody else is doing!