Mat Fraser was in Dubai recently and we caught up with the American professional CrossFit athlete for a chat
You are the fittest man on the planet. Three years in a row. What motivates you to keep coming back?
I don’t need that motivation. If I want to do something, I’ll do it. I don’t need a big carrot at the end of the stick. I think if there was a reason it would be finding that limit and setting myself up for the future. I don’t want to be 40 years old and think what if. When my career is done, I want to hold my head up high and say that’s what I got cause that’s what I worked for and what’s what I deserved.
Why CrossFit? Why not any other fitness discipline?
The original sport for me was Olympic weightlifting and that just didn’t pan out. I’m sure it had to do with my natural ability as well as not training the right way or trying the right things. I don’t think I tapped my full potential in that and I think with CrossFit, as soon as I started, I started getting success off the bat. I also think I was at the right maturity level where I could dissect my performance and figure out OK I didn’t know do well at this and how do I get better at it? I had the discipline to apply it. Knowing what you need to do and doing it are actually two very different things and I feel like I did a fairly good job at that with CrossFit and I’m sure that’s partly age related and partly my influencers in the gym guiding me. I think all these factors contributed to me continuing this sport.
How sustainable is CrossFit on the human body? Has the CrossFit community overcome the negative associations with Uncle Rhabdo?
I think the negative connotations aren’t on CrossFit, they are on bad coaching. If you say I want to get into shape and I want to try running and on your first day you attempt a marathon, it’s not going to go well. It’s the same with CrossFit. When you’re in the CrossFit gym if you’re not taking the time to learn the technique to move properly, it’s not going to go well. Take my first month weightlifting for example, I lifted a broomstick everyday. My coach didn’t even let me lift an empty bar. I think it’s just the emphasis on good technique and finding a gym that has coaches that care.
Where you one of the first or last to be picked for team sports at school?
I really didn’t play too many team sports at school. When I was young, I was short and fat so I was never picked then. Going through high school I was a junior champion national weightlifter. I always preferred individual sports and didn’t really care to be much on a team.
If you weren’t a professional CrossFit athlete, which profession would you choose?
I have a double major in mechanical engineering and business. So if not CrossFit, I’d be crunching numbers in a cubicle somewhere. I did that for a little while at an aerospace company before my sporting career really picked up. I’m not really suited for a desk job. That I can tell you.
How do you chill out?
Put on a movie and kick the feet up. I always like watching movies that I’ve seen a hundred times before just so that even less thought goes into it. I can zone out for like 10 minutes and jump right back in.
What’s your typical day/work out routine like?
Coffee, eat, train, coffee, eat, train and then train some more.
How strict is your diet? What sort of calorie intake are we looking at? Do you have a cheat meal? What is it?
I got some tests done and they said I need to consume at least 9,600 calories a day. My wife does all my cooking so I try to consume between 6-7k calories a day but yes, it’s a ton of food. I cheat almost everyday after a good workout with anything sweet! Cookies, ice cream, all of it.
With the recent CrossFit documentaries and the Ricky Garrard doping revelation, questions arise around doping in sport. How damaging has the doping news been for the sport?
I don’t know if it was damaging. So many people look at what we do and I think it’s easier for most people to say “oh they’re on steroids” then to say “oh I’m lazy”. It’s unfortunate that he took a spot.
Is the sport putting the right measures in place to prevent the use of performance enhancers?
Yes. I email in my location every day of the week. They have sent out random drug testers to my person gym and even my home. I get tested at every competition I go to. I take this very seriously.
What do you say to the cynics who say that the athletic performances of CrossFit athletes – running sub-6 minute miles, lifting 150kg+ cleans, 50+ uninterrupted muscle ups, etc. – is impossible without some sort of drug cycling program?
It’s very easy to see a successful person and say they probably cheated to get where they are. The most accusations come from people who aren’t in sport. There’s always going to be people who try to pull you down to make themselves higher. It is what it is.
END OF INTERVIEW
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