May 3, 2013
The Constant Competitor: Bill Grundler
By Jaala A. Thibault

“I am not interested in seeing how I rank in just one category. I want to know where I stand against everybody.”


Bill Grundler has steadily improved his Regional finishes over the past three years. In 2010, he finished seventh at the South West Regional. In 2011, he took sixth at the SoCal Regional. And in 2012, he moved up to fifth in SoCal, just two spots short of a ticket to the Games. This year, before Regionals have even started, 43-year-old Grundler received an email with a golden ticket.

“I just got my invitation to the Games as a Masters athlete the other day,” he says. “It is really cool to see that invitation.”

However, Grundler will not be accepting the invitation.

“I want to be competing at the Games so badly, but I want to do it in the (Individual) category, so I will not accept the invitation,” he says.

This year, he will be the oldest individual male competitor at the SoCal Regional in Del Mar on May 17-19.

Grundler wants to compete as an individual to see where his true ability lies.

“My sole purpose for doing competition in general is that I want to see where my fitness level is compared to everyone in the world,” Grundler says. “I am not interested in seeing how I rank in just one category. I want to know where I stand against everybody.”

So far this season, he has a clear picture of how he compares to athletes of all ages, both in the world and regionally. As an individual, he finished the Open ranked 26th worldwide and fourth in SoCal.

Grundler attributes his ability to stay consistent in the rankings to his competitive nature, competition experience and desire to physically challenge himself.

He grew up participating in various sports. In college, he was ranked among the nation’s top-10 Division I wrestlers. But an early end to his wrestling career due to cut ligaments in his hand left him unsatisfied as a competitor.

“After my college wrestling career ended prematurely … I felt like I was left hanging,” he recalls. “I went on to compete in beach lifeguard competitions and loved the festival atmosphere. I still missed the intensity of wrestling, though. When I found CrossFit, it was a good combination of the intensity of wrestling … and the fun atmosphere of lifeguard competitions. CrossFit was perfect for me.”

This year, Grundler wants to improve even more and stand on the podium.

In preparation for Regionals, he is training similarly to what he has done in the past.

“I do my own programming and stay consistent with volume throughout the year. I typically do strength to start a session, then conditioning. Sometimes I’ll add a little more at the end if I am feeling it,” he says. “I like to look around at what everyone is programming. I get ideas from CJ (Martin), Outlaw, Rob Orlando and others, but I write my own stuff.”

What is different from previous years, though, and what he thinks will push him on to the podium, is the group of people at his gym.

“I am not the only athlete at my gym who qualified for Regionals. Wes Piatt, Adam Peterson and Danica Boyle also qualified. Being able to sometimes train with these people … having them around has been a good push for me this season. I have never had multiple athletes qualify for Regionals at CrossFit Inferno before.”

Specifically, having Wes Piatt and Adam Peterson, who finished third and 41st in SoCal in the Open, has helped Grundler push harder this season.

“Wes is a machine and Adam is amazing, too. I am not one of those athletes who gets weirded out when I get beat, but I definitely don’t like to lose, so it helps me to work out with them,” he says. “Sometimes I think I am pushing hard and I want to stop, but Wes didn’t stop, so I have to keep going!”

In addition, Grundler believes knowing his body helps him remain a constant competitor.

“At my age, I have had many years of competition at a high level, and that really can beat up a person’s body, but it makes you smart, too,” he says. “Now, I have to be more aware of what my body is telling me, and I listen to it. I am a big believer in fish oil and mobility. Those things help me in my recovery the most and allow me to keep training hard. I also like to take a 10-minute long, hot shower in the morning to get the juices flowing.”

Come Regionals, Grundler is confident he can hang with the best, but is keeping things in perspective.

“The funniest thing about CrossFit is that, as much as you are lined up next to someone, (winning) really has nothing to do with that person,” he explains. “I have no affect on the other guy. I just have to move my weight as fast as possible. I have to make a game plan and stick to it; my own outcome depends on me. I just have to keep going when it hurts. There is a quiet place in your head where you have to go and say, ‘Don’t put that bar down.’ That is where I go.”