- Top CrossFit coach Ben Bergeron has retired from working with pros to train more everyday athletes.
- He said you can use the same training techniques as elite athletes to efficiently improve your fitness.
- A workout plan with three types of exercise can help you get fit in as little as 30 minutes a day.
You can work out like a professional athlete to make faster gains from your garage or local gym, even if you don’t have all day to exercise, according to an elite CrossFit coach.
Ben Bergeron of CompTrain has more than 15 years of experience coaching both everyday athletes and superstars of the CrossFit Games like Katrin Davidsdotir, Mat Fraser, and Brooke Wells. This month, Bergeron announced his retirement from working with pro athletes to focus on building the CompTrain community and bringing his training to more regular people.
The same techniques that work for the fields can also help you get fitter regardless of whether you’re new to fitness or an experienced athlete looking to improve your weaknesses, he said in an interview.
“The biggest misconception about elite athletes is that they need to be doing something very different,” Bergeron told Insider. While the elites work out as a full-time job, Bergeron’s program is built on the idea that you can improve more quickly and work toward multiple goals at once by incorporating three elements of fitness in each workout, even if it’s just 30 minutes. The strategy is to have each workout include lifting weights, a gymnastics or bodyweight movement, and some cardio for overall conditioning, so athletes can work on different skills as well as strength, stamina, and power.
The end result is helping athletes get in better shape overall, whether they’re trying to win the CrossFit Games or just get healthier, have more energy, and perform better in their day-to-day lives.
“Do you have the capacity to not be tired after a really challenging shift? That’s the most overlooked aspect. You gotta be able to outwork people,” he said.
Make faster gains with a simple strategy called concurrent training
Traditionally, high-level athletes use a strategy called periodization, which means they dedicate a large block of time (often between two to six weeks) to a single fitness focus, such as maxing out the deadlift, or running the fastest possible 5K. Once a cycle ends, athletes shift to a different focus, building one thing at a time.
“Periodization works if you’re trying to get world-class levels of one single thing,” Bergeron said.
The downside of focusing on one thing at a time is that other aspects of your fitness can decline — for instance, doing just deadlifts for six weeks will boost your strength, but you may notice you have less speed and stamina while running.
To avoid losing gains or hitting a plateau, you can train multiple aspects of fitness at the same time by incorporating the right mix of exercises, according to Bergeron.
“You don’t need to sacrifice one for the other. We bring up our strength, our skills, and our conditioning all together,” he said.
The idea is that by improving your overall fitness, you’ll have more gas in the tank for each individual task, and can work harder for longer before you get tired. At the same time, you can shore up any weak points, since those areas will improve the fastest even if you’re improving all your other skills, too.
“You’re going to get more bang for your buck because you have more room for improvement on your weakest areas,” Bergeron said.
You can improve your fitness in just 30 minutes a day
To use concurrent training in the gym, Bergeron often uses a type of workout called a “triplet,” or a sequence of three different exercises. Each exercise comes from a different category — weightlifting, conditioning or cardio, and bodyweight or gymnastics. You can also select a time period that works for your schedule: the CompTrain app offers workouts from 30 minutes, up to an hour or three.
Bergeron shared one example of a classic CrossFit style triplet: three rounds of a 400 meter run, 21 pull-ups, and 15 clean-and-jerks, completed as quickly as possible.
You can also scale the movements to make them more accessible. Beginner-friendly versions of bodyweight exercises include eccentric or “negative” versions of pull-ups or push-ups, personal trainers previously told Insider.
And some great weighted exercises for any level include deadlift variations, goblet squats, power cleans, and farmer carries, trainers say.
Add your favorite cardio such as rowing, running, or biking and you’ve got a workout that can build well-rounded fitness without long hours in the gym or overly-complicated exercises.