CrossFit Games

Luke Schafer: Prioritizing Medical School Over the Games

September 9, 2020 by
Photo Credit: Athlete’s Eye (
Enjoying Morning Chalk Up? Access additional exclusive interviews, analyses, and stories with an Rx membership.


That is the word best used to describe Luke Schafer and he’s totally fine with that. The 2020 CrossFit Games qualifier has other items to worry about right now —  the Games however are not at the top of that list. Since early July, Schafer has been enrolled in medical school at Still University in Kirksville, Missouri. That has kept him busy and has become his main priority. But nevertheless he has committed to participating in the online portion of the Games on September 18-19, you just won’t hear much from him about it.

Remind me: Schafer is not a Games rookie —  he has made two appearances as a team member in 2015 and then again at last year’s Games. At last year’s Games he helped OC3 Black to a fourth place finish. Despite his Games experience on a team he has also competed as an individual including the 2018 and 2018 Central Regionals, finishing eighth and 11th respectively. Altogether he has five Regional appearances including three on a team.

During the 2019 season he competed in four Sanctionals including two as an individual. He started his season with an 18th place at the star-studded Dubai CrossFit Championship before placing seventh at the Granite Games.

For the second-straight year Schafer finished within the top-50 in the Open. He recorded a career-best placing of 46th, a three-spot jump from his 2019 finish.

Enter 2020: Schafer earned his ticket to this year’s Games after taking second place at the CrossFit Mayhem Classic. He received the invite after Chandler Smith qualified through the Open giving Schafer the backfill spot. Schaefer recorded three top-three finishes at the competition finishing 14 points behind Smith.

Path to the “Live Five”: Schafer admitted that his training has taken a backseat since starting medical school.

  • “I train a lot less than most of the other Games athletes. I try to get two 1-hour sessions in a day at the most, so I have definitely decreased my warmup time in order to get stuff done. Kirksville doesn’t have a CrossFit gym, so I have been training out of my garage. It worked out that we had a minimal equipment list to work with because I only have a rower and haven’t really been able to do many ring muscle ups or rope climbs.”

Schafer thrives in “grunt-work” events, longer workouts and chippers. Workouts that also incorporate running in them is also a strength of his. Schafer may get his wish as running will be incorporated into one of the workouts of the online stage of the Games.

His top finishes at the Mayhem Classic show that as he finished second in the grueling five-mile ruck-run with a time of 51:00. His other runner-up finish at the Mayhem Classic was in a chipper that included burpee box get-overs, assault bike, GHD sit-ups and bar muscle-ups.

In this year’s Open his best event was 20.5 where he placed 26th in a workout that featured 40 muscle-ups, 80-cal. Row and 120 wall-balls.

Where Schafer has struggled in the past has been in events that test strength or have heavy loads.

  • I am probably one of the weakest athletes in the field, so I prefer workouts with a lot of reps of heavy weights as compared to a 1RM,” said Schafer.

In 20.4 he placed 207th as he just finished under the 20-minute time cap of a workout that ended with five clean and jerks at 315 LBs which is his listed 1-rep max.

Schafer has also historically struggled with workouts that require being upside down. His worst finish at the Mayhem Classic was the 18th in event three, a couplet which included four rounds of 100-feet handstand walks.

In the Open, his worst event was 20.3 where he finished 241st worldwide. 20.3 included handstand pushups and walks along with deadlifts.

Benchmark 1RM Lifts

  • Back Squat = 425 LBs
  • Front Squat = 380 LBs
  • Clean = 355 LBs
  • Clean and Jerk = 315 LBs
  • Snatch = 265 LBs
  • Overhead Squat = 300 LBs
  • Deadlift = 500 LBs

Get the Newsletter

For a daily digest of all things CrossFit. Community, Competitions, Athletes, Tips, Recipes, Deals and more.

This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.