It’s a sunny afternoon in February and we’ve just arrived at Peak 360 Fitness in South Miami. It’s great to see Guido Trinidad in his element. Trinidad owes his CrossFit athleticism to the 16-some years of football training. Having finished 5th in Regionals last year, Guido looks forward to another interesting Games Season.
When it comes to competing, what do you think is the most important component of CrossFit?
Guido Trinidad: I think its relative to your strengths and weaknesses. At the end of the day though, you need to be extremely strong. That’s obvious. If you’re not strong then the heavier weight will get you tired and you won’t be so great at the max effort lifts. But all things being equal: strength.
Do you think competition, in this case, the Games, are leaning more towards strength?
GT: Yeah, you could say that. But I think we’re evolving as athletes. We’re getting better at the sport. In order to separate good athletes, great athletes, and elite athletes, there needs to be something besides Fran times. As the weight goes up, you separate the guys who are really elite.
What’s your athletic background?
GT: I’ve played football since I was about 9. That’s pretty much the only sport I ever played. I played in high school and played in college. Did well in college. I played professionally in Europe, in Sweden and Spain. Played line backer and running back, as well.
Like Zach Thomas?
GT: Yeah, like Zach Thomas. That guy was my idol growing up. Love that guy. Great work ethic. The fact that he was undersized and played for the Dolphins helped.
How was the transition from football to CrossFit?
GT: I had a few decent coaches while I played and we did a little bit of CrossFit, a lot of functional movements. Obviously we did a lot of isolation movements, but the background was there. The transition happened when I stopped playing football. I wanted to stay fit, but didn’t have three hours to train like I did when I played football, so I asked myself ‘What can I do?’ I started doing all the workouts I was used to do but did them a little faster, with less reps. I was doing CrossFit but I didn’t really know it. My first exposure to CrossFit was at I Am CrossFit, back in December 2008, I think. From the time I stopped playing football, I stopped lifting heavy weights. I was bored of it. But when I got into CrossFit, I said “Sh!t, if I want to be good at CrossFit I have to start lifting heavy weights again.” And that’s where it all came back.
You’ve been doing CrossFit for a few years now, anything you consider a weakness?
GT: Definitely. Anything long distance. Whether it is a long distance row or a long distance run. It’s not fun, mentally or physically.
So not long WODs, just a long activity?
GT: I wouldn’t say long WODs are my weakness, but a longer run or longer row. After 10-12 minutes of any WOD, it’s all the same. I think if ten of us are racing in a 30 minute AMRAP, after 15 fifteen minutes, whoever is in the lead, is going to keep the lead. I don’t think it makes that much of a difference, I think it’s all mental after that.
How do you train?
GT: I don’t train nearly as much as I’d like to given time constraints. A lot of things pull me in different directions, being a box owner, opening another box, planning events, being a newly wed. When I played football, I had no doubt I trained all I could have and should have. Now, I don’t have the time.
In an ideal world, I’d start with regenerative work, get on the foam roller, stretch – about 20 minutes of that. Then, 30 minutes of gymnastics, skills: double-unders, handstand walks, muscle-ups; nothing that’ll make me too sore or too tired. Strength for 90 minutes, and some auxiliary lifts, reverse high pulls, walking lunges, sled pulls, etc. Finally, conditioning, short or long Met-con WODs, tabatas.
I write my program two weeks at a time and I try to cover as much as I can – knowing that I’m not going to get it all in. I’ve done 3 days-on, 1-off or 2-on 1-off that seems to work well for me. On those off days I go for a light row, run or swim. Let’s be clear, this is the ideal. This is not happening at all. I also like a lot of unbroken movements. For example, I’ll get a 70lb kettle bell and I’ll just swing it. I want to know how many times I can do it. That way when I go into a workout, I’m not intimidated by things because I know my max.
Do you use those maxes as benchmarks?
GT: I have. I know they don’t only make me better mentally, but I know they make me better physically. I don’t like to repeat the same workouts. It’s hard for me not to compare myself to other people. I don’t really get to train with others. I train with Chase [Daniels] and Jon Adams, about once a month. They’ll kick my ass in two WODs and I’ll beat them at two WODs. We always go back and forth. Every once in a while, we’ll share workouts and tips, and that helps too.
Muscle-ups were your goat, how did you overcome that?
GT: First, I just had to learn to do the damn thing correctly. I went ahead and got certified. At first, I was trying to muscle them up. I then realized it’s like a clean or snatch, very technical. Its muscle memory. So like a baseball swing, I kept practicing. Keep practicing and you automatically get better. I formalize WODs that force me to use the same muscles I use in a muscle up while being cardiovascularly taxed. For example, I did a muscle-up, dumbbell ground to overhead, burpees, where I knew I was going to break on my last set of muscle ups. I try to teach myself how to pace it. I get creative with the workouts, and do things where I can go unbroken, with things that I cannot do unbroken, and learn how I’m going to break it up.
How long will it take the average Joe (or Jane) who has some fitness background to make it to Regionals?
GT: I give them 2 years. Not knowing the person, I say they need an insane work ethic, some sports background, a “yes sir, no sir, I’m going to do whatever you say sir, whatever you need me to do” attitude. Having participated in a sport is important for strength, conditioning, and for understanding and knowing what it takes. They’d have to be mentally tough as well. There are so many factors.
People don’t realize how hard it is to be an elite Crossfitter. They look at a guy’s body, and say ‘Well, hey, if he can be a good Crossfitter, I got a good body, I can be one too.’ Does anyone ever say that about a football player or basketball player or baseball player? No. With my football experience, can I just go and try out for a soccer team? No, because soccer requires skill, so many skills. And in my opinion, CrossFit requires even more skills. How long is it going to take for your average Joe to learn that? Easily 2 years, maybe 3. He may never get there, no matter what his work ethic, no matter what his background. And what about all the things that guy has done throughout his life to limit his abilities? Flexibility is one of the biggest factors, one of the most overlooked factors of CrossFit, one of my best assets. Why can I overhead squat over 300lbs? Because I’m flexible. A pistol [squat], for me is easy. I think it’s genetic. I never worked on my flexibility, but I do try to maintain it.
What’s your diet like?
GT: I think diet is different for everyone. I’m not trying to get heavier. I think my weight’s fine. I would just like to get stronger. Ultimately, my eating to live a long life is more important than my eating to get to the Games. I’ve learned about my body and how it reacts to certain things. I used to eat super clean: protein, high fat; I’m not that way anymore. I eat clean foods 85% of the time: clean meats, whole grains, bread, brown rice, not too much brown pasta. I drink lactose free milk, in one protein shake a day. I probably don’t take as much vegetables and fruit as I should. I definitively think I should take more of that. Not as much fat as I used to. Ate almond butter like crazy for 3 years, and I got tired of that. I do eat a lot olive oil; I’m a big believer of it. I’m starting to use coconut oil. I do high-glycemic carbs after a workout. Eat 5-6 times a day, including a shake. The weekend is a different story. I go nuts! I eat pretty much anything and everything. Obviously, I don’t eat fast food. Who knows what’s in that. Who wants to eat that? But I won’t hold myself back from eating a good pizza. I eat a lot of cheese, nuts; drink a lot of water, some beer. Probably like 3 beers a week. A little bit of wine. No hard liquor. Lots of coconut water.
Why do you compete?
GT: Because I’m a competitor. It’s who I am. If God has given me these tools, it’s for me to use them. If I’m 50 and I can still compete in the CrossFit Games, without being in the Masters, then I’ll do it. I’m not looking to compete in the Masters anytime soon. I want to compete at the highest level of competition. I want to be the best that I can possibly be. And… also just for the thrill of competing against guys who are at your level. They push you to a level you never know you had. It’s fun. It’s a pretty amazing experience to compete at this sport.
Do you think you have to be a little arrogant when it’s time to compete?
GT: Yeah, you have to. There’s no doubt. Sometimes you get caught up because CrossFit is such a well rounded sport, you know your strengths and weaknesses, and you start to learn your competitor’s’ strengths and weaknesses. But you gotta throw all that crap out the door, when you walk into a WOD. You gotta think, ‘I am the strongest person in this whole damn room. I am the fittest person in this whole damn room.’ It’s this constant mental battle with reality (possibly not being best at this WOD) and the truth. If you let that little bit of doubt seep in, it can slow you 10 seconds, or make you lift 10 lbs less than you should have. I’m big on visualization. I’m big on goal setting and breathing techniques. A lot of mental preparation.
How do you prepare for a competition?
GT: I’ve done so many competitions now that I have my routine. The week before I don’t really change anything in my training. The week of, I won’t train at all the day before the event. Maybe a jog or do some mobility. Two days before, something real light, a row or pull ups; just something to get my heart up. Three or four days before, I’ll do regular WODs, but not something that’s going to tax me, especially my central nervous system. Maybe practice some of the WODs of the competition, if they release them.
Is there anything you do to keep yourself going in between heats?
GT: I just try to relax. I hydrate. Take some recovery: food, protein shakes, something. I wouldn’t do anything different than I normally do. I used to make the mistake, and see others make it, in trying to eat special meals for a competition and paying the price when their body goes crazy. I used to get the runs all the time before, I don’t any more. I actually don’t get that hungry during competitions. Maybe it’s the anxiousness. I recover with a foam roller. I sleep. Toss around a football. Just do things to relax me. I stay off my feet and save some energy to crush WODs.
Now during Games Season, how much of a priority is CrossFit in your life?
GT: God and my family are first, then business, friends, and CrossFit. It’s tough. It’s a tough balance for me because I so badly want to go to the Games. I know I belong there. I know I’m that caliber athlete. I want to prove it to myself more than anything else. I just want it so bad. I can’t describe in words how bad I want it. But at the same time, this is a business that I am not only passionate about, but puts food on the table. And my relationship with God and with my family comes before anything. Let’s say instead of getting home at 9pm to see my stepdaughter, I fit in another workout. I’ve just sacrificed my family and my business because I won’t have the energy to teach a 6:30am class. It’s a battle but I love it.
I know a lot of athletes are in the same predicament as me, so I’m not crying, “Hey man, feel bad for me…” Nah, I’m not doing that. I competed with Tommy Hackenbruck, I saw him there with two of his kids, and I know he owns his own box. I have mad respect for him. He won the damn competition and he’s got the same deal that I have going on. I think this is true for most CrossFit athletes, some of the more seasoned guys. If you’re elite and you have all of that going on, it says a lot. Football players don’t have their own businesses. Basketball players don’t have their own businesses. To have your own business, have a family and be an elite athlete, might as well put an “S”.
What are the chances we’ll see Guido Trinidad on ESPN competing in the 2012 CrossFit Games?
GT: That’s tough man. (pause and laughter) 90%. I’m not trying to be arrogant, but I have to be confident in myself and my abilities.
SAMPLE TRAINING WEEK
Back Squat, 3 RM
Reverse Hyper 4×15
Sprints, 10x200m every two mins
Romanian Deadlift, 3×8
3 rounds for time
21 KB Swings (70#)
14 OH Squats (155#)
Weighted Pull-ups, 3RM
Unbroken C2B Pull-ups
5 rounds for time
10 Hang Clean (165#)
10 Box Jumps (36”)
Bent Over Row
Shoulder to Overhead
5 rope climbs
10 Thrusters (165#)
15 Lateral Burpees
Prowler Push 40 yards