March 27, 2013
Matthew Barnett: Just Keep Moving
By Laura Watler

After undergoing knee surgery just four months ago, former Games athlete Matthew Barnett is back ... and stronger. 


After undergoing knee surgery four months ago, Matthew Barnett is coming back to CrossFit. He hopes that his six weeks of healthy training before the Open will be enough to qualify him and later make it past Regionals. Barnett tore his knee playing college baseball when he was 21 years old. Now at 33, he has finally undergone surgery and is on a healthy road to recovery.

Barnett says he feels almost like a new client just starting CrossFit, rather than a veteran. He’s competed at the Regional the past two years, and at the Games in 2011.

In 2011, Barnett says he felt like he was managing his injuries between workouts rather than resting. His attitude then was “just keep moving through.”

After his surgery, he was only able to do some strength training and had to stay away from anything that could reinjure his knee, including box jumps, running or double-unders.

Barnett is now fitting in more of the met-con work to improve his conditioning. As a result of the pure strength training, he has seen a lot of PRs. Before surgery, his snatch was 235 lb., and it’s now up to 250.  His back squat went from 345 lb. to 385, and front squat went up 40 lb. to 355.

Barnett fears the competition season might reinjure what he has been able to heal.

“I will have to listen to my body,” he says.

But Barnett´s bad day is still better than most in the region. On 13.1, he managed 14 reps at the 165-lb. snatches, enough to start out the Open in 11th place. He was surprised and happy with this result because of his recent surgery.

On 13.2, he almost completed 10 rounds, again impressive because of his knee. And finally on 13.3, he obtained 258 reps after his 18 muscle-ups. He currently sits in seventh place in the region.

Barnett is not concerned with scores or “Leaderboarding,” but is not closed to the idea of repeating workouts if they will help in his training.

“Whatever they throw at me, I am ready for, be it a high skill or a heavy weight,” he says.

As far as his preparedness for Regionals, he is going to monitor how healthy he feels and take it one day at a time.

“For, me it is more about developing the cardiovascular endurance and building the engine,” he says.

He’s focused more on building his endurance than strength right now. He is also working on weaknesses, but never forgetting to keep it fun and mixing in the things he’s good at. He is training everything, because if he does decide he is ready for Regionals, he will go focusing on the win.

CrossFit for Barnett is more balanced now than it was in 2011 when he competed at the Games, he says. He is currently more concerned with being physically prepared for life, and lately puts his clients and family needs ahead of his own training.

“My hope is that my identity in CrossFit isn’t solely on being a competitor,” he says. “That way if I do succeed, people can see more than just the athlete.”