By Ryan Humphries
Ladies and gentlemen, 19.4 is…
- 200’ of Overhead Walking Lunges (50/35)
- 50 Box Step Ups (24”/20”)
- 50 Handstand Push-ups
- 200’ Handstand Walks
- 12 Minute Time Cap
The fourth workout of the CrossFit Open couldn’t have hit at a better time. I was almost finished with Todd Herman’s book “The Alter Ego Effect” and when I first heard what the workout was, I was…discouraged…to say the least. Here are a few of the things that went through my head as the workout was released. (Please remember that I was once a sailor)
F*ck CrossFit. This is f*cking bullshit, 24” box step ups? Just because most men are taller than women? Shit, most women in the gym are taller than me. This is going to crush me! F*ck CrossFit. They must hate short people. First wall-ball shots and rowing, and now 24” box step ups with a 50lb dumbbell. That’s more than third of me! F*ck CrossFit. They only used those box heights because most of the lame ass gyms out there only have 3 options for boxes (30”, 24”, and 20”). There’s no strength and conditioning protocol anywhere that has people stepping up on 24” boxes. F*ck CrossFit. Maybe I’ll go scaled. WTF?! Scaled is the same f*cking thing for the step ups!?!?! CrossFit is for everyone eh? F*ck you Dave Castro, you f*cking prick.
I was a little fired up to say the least... And then it hit me. I'd been thinking about the workout all wrong. I'd been thinking about doing the workout as the guy who stands 5’5 and used an inhaler to control his asthma as a kid. The guy who's broken one knee and had 2 knee surgeries on the other. The guy with six screws and plate in his ankle. And the guy who apparently didn't have a lot of confidence in the amount of work he could do in 12 minutes.
So back to that book I was reading (and when I say reading I mean listening to on Audible). Do people still read? Weird. Anyway, as you might image by the title, the book is about what happens when a person "becomes" someone else (an alter-ego). The author dives into what happens when we create an alter-ego, and the massive impact it can have on our lives in specific situations. From musical performers to pro athletes, alter-egos have been attributed to the success of thousands, probably hundreds of thousands of people around the world. He lays out a step-by-step process for finding out who/what you would "need" to become to achieve a desired result.
When we “become” someone else on the field of play, our limiting beliefs disappear into thin air. We take on the characteristics of that alter-ego. What would they do? What would they say? How would they act? What would be their next move?
You think Superman would second-guess himself on a basketball court? Would Aquaman think he wasn’t a strong enough swimmer? Hell no. If you’ve ever played a sport, then this may not be a new concept for you. For me however, it was completely foreign. Growing up, you could say that I wasn't exactly an athlete… And although I did play baseball as a kid, I played like, well, me. Me as me could be. The funny, nice, jokester that makes people laugh. Great for the party, not so great on the baseball diamond.
So back to the “field of play”. For the football player, the field of play is exactly that, the field. But if you’re a football player who also happens to be a happy go lucky father of 3 and you’re staring into the eyes of a 300LB offensive lineman, you better become something else for at least the time you’re on that field. For example, in the book the author tells a story about Bo Jackson (The all star ball player, not our wonderful Lorax). Bo never actually played ball. Before stepping onto his field of play, he would mentally transform himself into someone else. For Bo, that was a very specific evil villain from a well known horror film series. Sounds a little weird right? Well, it turns out that ole Bo had a tendency to get anxious and nervous around game time. So at some point, he must have thought to himself ‘who’s the most non-anxious person I can think of’. Luckily for Bo, that alter-ego helped him to become one of the most notable figures in sports history. I mean, shit, even I know who Bo Jackson is :). (Read the book to find out who Bo's alter ego was.)
Back to that stupid ass CrossFit workout, or as I had started looking at differently, that 12 minutes that was going to be an awesome challenge for someone of my stature; A chance for me to really test myself. But I was still a little confused on “who I was going to be”. An evil villain wasn’t exactly doing it for me. Although becoming evil may help ease my nerves, I needed lungs, leg strength and focus. I thought about becoming Garrett Sylvester for a while due to his height and just overall badaserry. But that didn’t seem to fit either. Who was I going to be on the field of play?
As I was trying to figure this out, Vicky, one of our Axistence athletes and a member of Team Honey Badger, suggested “You should be Godzilla”. I immediately visualized Godzilla just smashing everything in his path. Lunging overhead for Godzilla? Piece of cake. Godzilla ran out of f*cks as soon as he stepped out of the sea. You think the lizard monster cares about a 24” box? He’ll smash that mofo into the ground! So that was that. I would become Godzilla for the next 12 minutes.
I tightened my headband, pulled my knee sleeves on, and with the countdown of 3-2-1, I became Godzilla for the next 12 minutes. I had lazers for eyes as I lunged with the dumbbell overhead and I’m pretty sure that I scared a few bystanders by yelling “I’M GODZILLA!” several times. I crushed the step-ups as only a giant lizard could, and made it into 21 reps of the handstand push-ups. Now, if you’re following any CrossFitty folks in the CrossFit world, then you know that getting 21 handstand push-ups isn’t much compared to the top athletes. But I’m not competing with them. I was competing with my former self. For me, 21 handstand push-ups was just enough to log a top score in the training center.
Would I have been able to get the same score if I hadn't been Godzilla? Maybe, maybe not. Regardless, I will say that I had more fun in that twelve minute workout than just about any other workout in the past. It felt like being a kid on the playground. I'M GODZILLA!!!!
Using the alter ego I created had a pretty powerful effect on me and while I know that it was “inside of me all along” (said in whiney kid voice) I also know that we all have that tendency to get inside our heads with the “I’m to ________ for that, or “I’m not _______ enough”, and so on and so forth. Godzilla was none of those things. He was just a monster, a monster focused on destroying that workout.
Over the past few years, I've been reading, listening, and watching a ton of content in the realm of self development. Tony Robbins, Jim Rohn, David Goggins, Gary Vanderchuck, Aubrey Marcus and all the other inspirational mofos out there. I've consumed their books, videos and podcasts and continued to "do the work" on a daily basis. Most recently, I completed the entire Landmark Curriculum For Living. However, for whatever reason, it was this book in particular that shifted my perspective. (Note: I would HIGHLY recommend every author and course I mentioned above if you want to level-up your life).
If this post piqued your curiosity about how an alter ego might help you in sports, business, relationships, or just life in general, I’d highly recommend Todd Herman’s book “The Alter Ego Effect”. And although Godzilla since gone back into the deep, I know that I have access to that glorious beast whenever I need it.
Cheers to the unlimited powers you possess and haven't even unlocked yet!
Our coaches research and report on all things regarding fitness, adventure and the community within.