May 8, 2012
The Outlier: Bill Grundler

​By Hilary Achauer

Out of the top 50 men in the Open worldwide, 40 are in their 20s, nine are in their 30s, and one is in his 40s: Bill Grundler.


Bill Grundler has been competing since he was 5 years old. Now 42 and 4th in the SoCal region after the 2012 CrossFit Games Open, that means Grundler has been competing longer than most of his fellow competitors have been alive. 

Growing up, wrestling was Grundler’s main sport. “And I swam mostly because there were girls in bathing suits there, plus it was good cross training,” Grundler said. He was the Arizona State Wrestling Champ and Tournament of Champions Champ in 1987, and was ranked 10th in the nation by the Wrestling Poll before being sidelined by injury. 

As a lifeguard and then a firefighter, Grundler needed to stay in shape for his job, but he quickly became bored with the usual workout routine. A friend introduced Grundler to CrossFit in 2002. “I started to look back into the CrossFit thing and actually read Coach Glassman’s "What is Fitness" article. A light went off in my head. I wanted to be good at everything and be able to do anything well!”

Now Grundler runs CrossFit Inferno and works as a captain at the Shell Beach Fire Station in Pismo Beach, Calif. You may have seen him on camera as a commentator for the 2010 and 2011 CrossFit Games. He also has a 10-year-old daughter. 

“I’m a single father, I’m a boyfriend to a busy woman, I’m a fire captain, I’m a gym owner, and I’m a competitor in one of the toughest regions around. The speed bump I constantly hit is time,” Grundler says. “It takes time to really train for the Regionals and the Games. The competitors out there are unbelievable and to be the best you need to train really hard.”

Grundler has been competing in CrossFit since 2009. He finished in the top ten at the 2009, 2010, and 2011 regionals, but has yet to qualify for the Games. This year Grundler is determined to make it to the Games. 

He has spent the year focused on this goal. To “get more juice,” as he puts it, Grundler wore a weighted vest during workouts for four months. “It didn’t matter what the workout was, I had the vest on,” he says. “At first, it was an absolute crusher. Doing a WOD with 185-pound front squats in it is already a pain, but when you now make it 210 pounds and then have to run or do handstand push-ups, it gets brutal fast. Once I took the vest off, I started pushing for speed. I felt a lighter and faster on everything.”

Although Grundler often seems superhuman, he does acknowledge age plays a role in his training. “I need to be able to maximize what I’m doing and the results I get out of it. I really need to listen to my body. I make sure I'm getting my volume in but ensure that I get enough rest between the workouts so I can really hit it hard on each workout,” he says. “After that, I ice bath and fish-oil myself to death!”

As the SoCal Regionals draw near, Grundler is focused on staying loose and ready. The week before the event he plans to get his heart rate up, but not lift heavy. “I actually like Brian MacKenzie's CrossFit Endurance set-up for the week before an event. It gets your body moving and really primed for the event.  Also, I’ll definitely be mashing myself out and following Mobility WOD so that my body is ready to go to work on Friday.”