March 16, 2012
Dark Horse to Top Dog: Ben Smith
By Travis Maples

Ben Smith has amazed the CrossFit community for three Games seasons. He appeared at his first CrossFit Games in 2009 at the age of 19, placing 64th. In 2010, he came back strong and landed in 8th place. After winning the 2011 Mid Atlantic Regional, Smith earned a podium finish at the 2011 Reebok CrossFit Games with 3rd place behind Rich Froning and Josh Bridges.

This wunderkind just keeps getting better every year. Many eyes are on him to be back on the podium in 2012. His goal is crystal clear. “My one goal this year is to win the CrossFit Games.”

Since last year, Smith has been hard at work finishing his final year at Old Dominion University and keeping up a stringent training schedule. “My programming is constantly changing based off of what I feel is most important for me to work on,” he says.   

“Some people carry lucky charms, I got my fridge. I'll have to carry it with me to competitions.”

After some knee problems sidelined Smith for a short tme following the Games, his programming switched predominantly to strength to get his numbers back to where he felt they needed to be. After posting videos over the winter of a 350-pound clean and a 440-pound back squat, Smith’s knee is in good shape.

Smith says he is ready for the 2012 season. “I am stronger, faster, and healthier than I have ever been and am very excited to see what this year brings.”

While his strength game seems to be shaping up, he has certainly gotten his fair share of conditioning with this year’s CrossFit Open workouts. After the official standings were released following Open Workout 12.3, Smith is in 4th in the Mid Atlantic Region with fellow Games athlete Nate Schrader. 

He posted a solid 128 burpees for WOD 12.1, and when he racked up 85 reps on 12.2, he didn’t surprise anyone – Smith snatches 270 pounds. Smith says he realizes this is only the beginning of a long road to the Games. “To be very plain and simple, for me the Open is simply a means to an end,” he admits. “The end is the podium of the CrossFit Games and each step, being the Open and the Regionals, are just the way to get there.”

For Workout 12.3, Smith, who is a poster child for garage CrossFitters, completed the workout at Reebok CrossFit One with Spencer Hendel and Austin Malleolo. He says it helps to compete with others around him. “It was awesome,” he says. “I love any opportunity I can get to compete with some of the best CrossFit athletes, and of course it is always motivating when you get to work out with other competitors. This week's workout was one that you just have to grind through and keep your focus on because it is very repetitive.” 

Smith has considered moving out of his garage to an affiliate. “It is completely possible that in the future I transition to an affiliate because I am very into coaching and it is another thing I really love to do, and it would just be another step for me to get more involved in the CrossFit community.”

However for now, Smith will continue to set PRs in front of the refrigerator that has become so famous in the community. “(The fridge) is fully functional and it seems that we can never get rid of it now,” he jokes. “Some people carry lucky charms, I got my fridge. I'll have to carry it with me to competitions.”