July 9, 2012
Holding Nothing Back: Austin Stack
By Robin Runyan

"I feel more prepared now than ever."


A lucky Google search over three years ago changed Austin Stack’s life. He is headed to his first CrossFit Games this year.

As a trainer at a globo gym, Stack was tired of the monotony and felt like his clients deserved better. In March 2009, he searched “cross training” on Google and discovered CrossFit. He tried his first workout, which happened to be Fran. He finished in 13:42. “She left me dead on the floor, heart beating out of my chest, in a pool of my own sweat,” he recalls. “It was awesome.”

Stack completed the Level 1 Seminar in October 2009 and was known as “The CrossFit Guy” at his globo gym. He then found CrossFit The Den in Medford, Ore., and began to train CrossFit and eventually partnered with the original owner.

Stack finished 11th at the North West Regional in 2011. He says his training wasn’t driven by diet or intensity. Stack was planning for his wedding at the time. “My sole focus was preparing to be a good husband,” he says. “I would change nothing about 2011. It was a phenomenal year, and I won the best prize ... Annie Stack.”

This year is a different year. Stack had a very consistent start to Regionals, leading after Events 4 and 5. “The crowd during the Snatch Ladder made every CrossFitters dream come true,” he says. “The crowd on their feet, shouting you on as you shot for PRs.”

Stack snatched 235 pounds and entered the last event with a comfortable lead.

He went into Event 6 knowing as long as he finished the first three rounds, he’d make it to the Games. Stack finished 16th on Event 6, ending up third overall. There were a few things he would change, however. “For me, it was a huge mental struggle. Event 6 has proved to be a pivotal point of change for my CrossFit career,” he explains. “I allowed myself to succumb to fatigue, and third place seemed good enough. Looking back, I learned that no matter where you’re at in the standings, you need to attack your WOD as if it’s your last. Hold nothing back regardless of where you’re placed. I don't want to be that guy who settles, because his goals are too small, or he's just happy to have made it this far. I'm here to take back what I lost in Event 6, and don't plan on looking back. That won't happen again.”

Mindset and training have changed for Stack since Regionals. Stack followed The Outlaw Way to prepare for Regionals, and has stepped up in preparation for the Games. “Rudy and Laura Nielsen are amazing people and coaches,” Stack says. “Once Regionals were over and I was fortunate to advance to the Finals, Rudy Nielsen let me rest maybe two days and I was already getting programmed workouts that were tailored to improve my strengths and hammer on my weaknesses. I honestly feel so blessed to have Rudy there to count on and trust to get me in the best possible shape before the Games. I trust in Rudy and The Outlaw Way 100 percent and it's taken my fitness to a whole new level in a very short amount of time.”

Since utilizing The Outlaw Way, Stack has seen drastic improvements in his Olympic lifts and stamina. He generally trains and programs alone. Training with Nielsen has changed everything. “I feel more prepared now than ever,” Stack says.

Stack is enthusiastic and determined as the Games approach. He looks forward to competing with CrossFit legends like Chris Spealler and Jason Khalipa, and representing CrossFit The Den and the North West.

Friend and training buddy Shane Sevcik thinks Stack will surprise the CrossFit competition at the Games. “His only weakness is setting the bar too low for himself,” Sevcik says. “He has made bigger gains than he realizes and is better than he thinks.”

In the past year, Stack has grown CrossFit The Den with 50 percent more members and more than twice as much space. Sevcik sees Stack as a coach first and an athlete second. “He cares more about helping his clients than his own personal gain,” he says. “I truly think he would rather go to the Games as a team, and share the limelight with his friends and clients.”

Stack says finding CrossFit makes him feel lucky. “I love what CrossFit does for my body and my mind. It exposes great weakness and great abilities,” he says. “Finding CrossFit on a lucky Google search was a game changer for me. It really did take fitness to a whole new level. I also am highly driven by the community of CrossFit. It's truly irreplaceable and I absolutely love it.”