CrossFit Games

Winning the Strength Event Means Missing the Podium; Unless You’re Rich, Mat, or Tia. So How Strong Do You Need To Be to Win the CrossFit Games?

December 12, 2021 by and
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With the Dubai CrossFit Championship kicking off this week — an event that has traditionally featured heavy events — and in light of how well Guilherme Malheiros has performed in strength events at the 2021 CrossFit Games and Rogue Invitational, CrossFit data nerd John Young and I were curious how strong you need to be to win the CrossFit Games, whether winning a strength even correlates to a podium finish and how strong is maybe too strong. 

Strength Event Winners:

  • Unless your name is Rich Froning, Mat Fraser, Tia-Clair Toomey or Kara Saunders; winning the strength event at the CrossFit Games means missing the podium by the end of the weekend.

Other than Toomey, the women who have won the strength event at the Games have an average competition placement of 15th.

Excluding Froning and Fraser, the male strength event winners average an eventual finish of 17th place at the Games.

Games Champions on Strength Tests:

  • Again Froning, Fraser, and Toomey are outliers as the only Games champions during this sample set who also won Strength Events. 
  • However, the Games champions fare dramatically better on strength events than strength event winners did in terms of overall finish at the Games.

Davidsdottir’s 38th on the Deadlift and Briggs’ 22nd on the Clean and Jerk are the only finishes outside the top 10 by female Games champions on strength tests since 2013.

Only Fraser’s 23rd place finish on the Ranch Deadlift is an outside the top 10 finish by male Games champions since 2013 on the strength tests at the Games.

*Note: with both Fraser and Davidsdottir being the clear outliers on the same event (Ranch Deadlift), it probably suggests that test to be an outlier rather than their performance on it.

How Strong Do You Need to be to Win, and also to Podium, at the Games?

If you want to podium at the CrossFit Games, it definitely pays to be strong, but you do not need to be the strongest.

On average podium finishers at the Games lift about 93% of the overall winning score in strength events. 

The average finishes by podium position at the Games on strength tests are:

  • about 5th (men) and 6th (women) for the Games champions
  • about 7th (women) and 8th (men) for the runner-ups
  • and about 10th (men) and 12th (women) for the third place finishers. 

The big picture: Competitive CrossFitters have known for a while now that being strong pays off. And there’s no doubt that in the case of Guilherme Malheiros his overall competition results this year are in large part due to his strength. What this data points to is the fact that Malheiros is already more than strong enough to eventually podium at the CrossFit Games (and of course if we extrapolate to the larger fields we will likely find that certain athletes could have already been on the podium if they were a little stronger). 

It also suggests that even though there are somewhere between a handful and a dozen men every given year at the Games with a 300 pound snatch that Justin Medeiros at 285 (assuming he can hit it in competition) is strong enough in that lift (285 pounds happened to be exactly 93% of Malheiros’ winning 305 pound snatch this year, which is in perfect alignment with the historical trend for Games champions). 

Narrowing in on data like this can give elite athletes a well-defined range of strength numbers to strive for. And, if they’re already within that range, it also can give them confidence to focus more of their training time improving in other areas. 

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