After competing in the powerlifting world for years, Taylar Stallings put a hold on powerlifting to pursue competitive CrossFit.
Taylar Stallings of CrossFit Jaguar has only been doing CrossFit for nine months and currently sits in 24th place on the South East Leaderboard. Having scored 190, 330 and 250 on Open workouts 13.1, 13.2 and 13.3 respectively, Stallings is quickly making a name for herself in her new sport.
With a deadlift of 534 pounds, snatch of 170 pounds, back squat of 462 pounds, and bench of 275 pounds, there is no denying that Stallings is a powerhouse on a mission to make it to the CrossFit Games.
An athlete all her life, Stallings was a former track and field star at the University of South Florida, and, most recently, a competitive powerlifter. The 27-year-old says she found CrossFit by accident.
“I had an expired Groupon that I needed to use, and the owner of CrossFit Jaguar said I could still redeem it. I originally just wanted to just lose weight to get down to my next weight class in powerlifting,” she says.
Stallings was a competitive elite powerlifter for four-and-a-half years before making the switch to CrossFit. During her powerlifting career, Stallings posted 10 all-time world records spanning across four different weight classes (198-pound, 181-pound, 165-pound and 148-pound).
After her first CrossFit workout, which included a max clean and jerk followed by a 500-meter row, 50 kettlebell swings, 100 squats and a 600-meter run for time, Stallings says she was hooked.
“I decided to pause my powerlifting career because it honestly became too hard, physically and mentally, to train both as a competitive powerlifter and the demands of trying to be a competitive CrossFitter,” Stallings says. “I had to choose which one was more important, and I knew I wanted a new challenge. CrossFit definitely presented me that opportunity.”
Within about one month of starting CrossFit, Stallings entered her first individual competition.
“I had the honor of competing alongside the third fittest woman in the world, Talayna Fortunato. I ended up placing second to her, of course,” Stallings laughs.
Stallings knew she had found her new competitive calling and went right to work, programming with coach Chris Gartrell of CrossFit Works.
“I train five days a week, usually twice a day. Train two days, rest, train three, rest, repeat,” Stallings says.
Prior to the Open, Stallings also competed in two more local competitions and placed first in both.
“I’m still learning a lot and know there is much more that I need to learn and get better at, but I am happy about my progress thus far,” she says.
Reflecting on her progress this past year, the powerlifter-turned-CrossFitter says her biggest improvements have been found in perfecting her skilled movements, such as double-unders, muscle-ups, handstand push-ups, and butterfly pull-ups. She has also been working on how to pace workouts and on her overall conditioning. Stallings says she considers her own personal strength both a strength and a weakness.
“I know that because of my strength, weight will never be a factor for me, and my body can handle many movements and exercises that many would have trouble with just starting out,” she says. “But on the other hand, I also know that my strength can hinder my aerobic capabilities in many long met-cons. So I get gassed pretty quickly. Therefore, pacing has been very beneficial in conserving what energy I do have.”
As CrossFit continues to challenge Stallings to merge both her strengths and weaknesses together, the athlete says she is continually humbled with each and every workout.
“Wow! This time last year I was lifting heavy things only! Definitely wasn’t worried about walking on my hands or even thinking about how many burpees to do this week. I have come a long way in my short career in CrossFit and am proud of what I have accomplished so far. CrossFit is very humbling, to say the least, and it has challenged me in every aspect, so I am excited to see where I will be at this time next year.”