Training to become a successful CrossFit competitor takes extreme determination and confidence, not to mention a focus on nutrition and recovery. We spoke with international CrossFit competitor Cassio Oliveira about his philosophy and how he trains for longevity rather than short-term success. Along with CrossFit, he has competed in a number of sports including cycling and swimming, in countries like Australia, Brazil, Hong Kong and New Caledonia.
One thing that Oliveira stresses is the basics. “Don’t get deep into an experimental diet or a complex training program if you can’t even keep to a regular sleep schedule!” He recommends figuring out a sleep and nutrition plan first, and organizing everything else around it to remain consistent.
He has followed this same formula ever since he began competing in CrossFit competitions, regardless of their size. He started with “in-house” throwdowns at individual gyms, and then entered bigger events like the Australian region of the CrossFit Open, New Caledonia’s 2014 Coconut Games (finishing 2nd), the 2016 Arnold Classic Competition in Hong Kong (finishing 4th), and the Australia All-Star Alliance Team Series from 2012-2014, (finishing 5th, 11th, and 3rd respectively.)
Training and recovery cycles will differ depending on the type of competition. The CrossFit Open is a five-week long competition with one workout per week. It requires consistent training because the workouts are spaced so far apart. In a shorter competition that takes place over a weekend, athletes are more concerned about preparing themselves in cycles where they peak (increase their intensity) and taper (where they recover).
“I prefer to peak a month before a competition and start tapering two weeks out,” says Oliveira. “The week before a competition is all about recovery, proper nutrition, and skills-based training.” He has found this routine works well for one- and two-day events like Brazil’s ‘Wod.land’, or Australia’s ‘Again Faster’ competition, which are longer, technical workouts that may include elements like swimming or heavy lifts.
He is also not against spending time and money on recovery. He touts his chiropractor and sports massage therapist as key members of his team. He’s also been known to spend time in a cryotherapy tank in order to recover quickly. He values longevity over short-term victories, as it reduces the risk of injuries down the road. “Staying healthy and fit and is more important than over-training and alienating everyone around me,” adds Oliveira.
Finally, Oliveira recommends taking a good hard look at yourself to honestly assess your abilities and goals. “Your program will not be the same as (3-time CrossFit Games champion) Mat Fraser’s, and that’s ok. But you still need to find one that is challenging, inspiring, and allows you to improve.” He used his extensive experience in a variety of different sports like skateboarding, jiu jitsu, and paddle-boarding to design a unique CrossFit training regimen that maximizes his strengths. “Every other sport I've tried lead me to compete in CrossFit, because none of them ever felt as good.”