March 20, 2013
The Threat That is Josh Bridges
By Jaimie Bougie

“There isn’t any workout that I’m really worried about or don’t want to see.”
- Josh Bridges

The 2013 Reebok CrossFit Games Open has been the stage for the return of 2011’s second Fittest Man on Earth, Josh Bridges.

Since news broke eight months ago that Bridges would be returning to the competitive CrossFit scene for the 2013 season, speculation has circulated on whether his time off and recent injury would prevent him from challenging the two-time champ, Rich Froning.

Although Bridges has only competed at the CrossFit Games once, fans remember him well.

Bridges isn’t afraid to admit his goal this season is “to win everything,” which includes the possibility of dethroning Froning.

Due to military deployment, Bridges was forced to miss the 2012 Open, but that didn’t stop him from testing the workouts and comparing himself to other big name athletes. Bridges performed the Open Workouts while overseas, often after spending a couple of nights in the field and with minimal equipment, such as a two-inch diameter pull-up bar. This made movements like the toes-to-bars in Workout 12.3 challenging. While his scores were not judged and unofficial, he would have beat Froning in many of the workouts.

With a new year and a new Open, Bridges is currently sitting in first place in the SoCal Region, and eighth worldwide. He has turned out successful performances with a first-place finish for 13.1 (192 reps) and sixth place for 13.2 (358 reps) in the region. With three Open Workouts to go, Bridges is looking forward to conquering anything thrown his way.

“There isn’t any workout that I’m really worried about or don’t want to see,” he says. “I am just looking forward to them.”

Bridges suffered a catastrophic knee injury while overseas last April, resulting in complete tears of his ACL, PCL, MCL and meniscus. Following reconstructive surgery, Bridges was forced to take time off from most CrossFit movements.

Instead of feeling discouraged about his limitations, Bridges focused on ways to keep up his training without jeopardizing the healing of his knee. What started out as one-legged rowing (with his immobilized leg on a skateboard) and arms-only AirDyne sprints, slowly gave way to power cleans and squats, and eventually running and jumping.

When 13.2 was announced, Bridges expressed immediate concern that the box jumps would pose the real test of the workout for him, as it’s a movement he had been unable to train for nine months.

"I think 13.2 was a great test,” he says. “The weight was light, but the box jumps were the real test. I don't really think about my knee much anymore, but I also haven't done a lot of box jumps, so I knew my calves would feel it. It didn't bother me at all and I'm super happy with how I felt during the workout.”

Bridges was also very pleased with his 13.1 performance, knocking out 192 reps, all while having a good time. His 13.1 score placed him first in the SoCal Region and sixth overall in the world after the first week of the Open. Bridges scored two more reps in 13.1 than he did in 2012 (90 reps), which would have placed him fifth in the SoCal Region and 19th worldwide for 12.2.

“I loved 13.1,” he says. “It was too much fun for one workout! I thought it was a great test of conditioning, strength, skill and mental toughness. Couldn't ask for more, and I scored two more reps than I did on 12.2. Thanks, CrossFit.”

Reflecting on his 2013 goals, Bridges is looking at the bigger picture.

“Right now, I’m just trying to get stronger while keeping up with my conditioning and skills. The Open is in focus because I want to win it, but Regionals are the real goal.”