British CrossFit athlete Jack George has had a complicated career. After eight years in the sport, the 32-year-old Brit won the CrossFit Open in 2020 to become the UK’s fittest man. This qualified him for the CrossFit Games, but then he lost the spot due to the pandemic. The following year, his season was cut short by a flare-up of IT band syndrome, which was so painful that he could not squat more than 150 pounds.
This year, George put up strong numbers in the first rounds of the CrossFit Games qualifiers. However, he lost in the semifinals and will not be competing in the games, at least not this year.
It took a while to talk to George MH About training through injuries, the 80/20 rule, and ways to succeed as one of the heaviest men on the field.
First of all, how is your body? Are you still feeling the hurt from 2021?
I always struggle with my legs and feet. I’m flat-footed so my feet turn in, which puts pressure on my knees. I have dealt with this my entire career and even saw a specialist who recommended surgery to get the foot in the right position. But that means I’ll be out for a year, a year and a half, and I can’t really take that much time off. So I have tried to solve the problems as best I can. It’s just part of what I do, and I’m very aware of what I can and can’t do.
Did you always know you had this weakness?
In fact it stopped me from playing rugby. I played rugby for my county, and from the age of 14 to 17, my ambition and ambition was to become a professional rugby player. That’s the way I walk.
And then at age 17, every game I rolled my ankle two to three times. If I did a sharp turn, I would get a sharp pain in my knee, and it wasn’t until six months into the season that someone said, “That’s because you’re flat-footed.”
What was different in 2021? If you had been dealing with this problem for so long, how did this problem increase that year?
I think it’s partially missed in 2020, which makes me really want to make a big statement in 2021. So I can feel a little pinch in my hip, but you’re so determined, you try to stop it and pretend everything is. L. And in the early stages, it wasn’t enough to stop the training.
But then, during the Open, I was lifting max and felt a shooting pain in my knee, and I couldn’t squat for about three months.
If I had been smart, I would have accepted the pain and stepped away from training a bit. But it took me seven years to qualify for the sport, and to miss out because of Covid, you’re determined to make it next year.
Especially at your level, you’re probably never going to feel 100 percent. So what’s the lesson here about when to throttle?
I knew it was a pain, and I knew it wasn’t just tightness that worked itself out or that my muscles were just feeling sore that day. I knew it was a real pain going into my hip, and I think it’s just something that comes from training so long in CrossFit. You learn to distinguish between what feels like death during a workout and what is real pain.
Say you’ve got your left knee hurting you but you’re still training. Your body is naturally going to shift your weight to the right, and then you usually get a kind of niggling in your right knee as well. And then it’s one thing after another. So, you have to be really careful about not letting things get out of hand. At least for me, I’ve spent a lot of time in recovery now.
What does that look like?
I see the physio at least twice a week. I make sure I get enough sleep. I stretch for an hour every day and make sure I use all my recovery tools, including my ice bath. I get into it once every four days for three minutes at waist height. After that I’m completely immersed every couple of weeks.
What nutritional recommendations do you have for other people?
I always tell people to live the 80/20 split. So your goal is to stay in shape and live a healthy lifestyle, but you’re not an athlete, so you don’t have to be 100 percent every day and every month. Eat healthy Monday through Friday. On weekends, go out with friends, have drinks, eat sweets. Life is about balance. If you eat well 80 percent of the week, then indulge yourself 20 percent of the week.
What is your favorite protein source?
Clear Whey by MYPROTEIN. I don’t like thick, milky protein shakes. It tastes like fruit juice, and it’s a complete game changer. It also contains vitamin D, omega-3, creatine and beta alanine.
At 220 pounds, you are considered by many to be one of the largest elite CrossFitters, perhaps 30 pounds. [George is typically listed at 6′, 100kg]. How has it affected your training and how you approach sports?
I spend a lot of time in gymnastics and fitness because strength has never been a problem for me. The first time I touched a barbell, I cleaned 240 pounds. I have always been a strong rugby player. I know I can’t touch a barbell for a month and then do a 350 power clean. But, if I don’t do a ring muscle-up for a month, I’ll lose 50 percent of my strength.
So very quickly, I knew what kind of athlete I was and what I needed to work on. It took me a long time to do ring muscle-ups or bar muscle-ups or handstand walks or anything related to body weight. If you’re a big guy—anything over six feet or 200 pounds—that’s probably going to be the case for you, too.
What’s the biggest mistake you see beginners make when they first start CrossFit?
People are quick to exercise. Every week we get someone new and the first thing they want to do is ring muscle-up. And you say, “Well, this is a really complex movement that involves a lot of strength. Can you do five hard pullups? No.” The force is not there. The technology is definitely not there. And if something goes wrong, you can seriously injure yourself. So it’s a big deal, don’t try to rush into these complicated movements.
At our gym, we have a method that we take people through. Even after someone can do five full, hard pullups, we take a resistance band and loop it through the rings so they can practice the banded transition work. That band helps you turn over and practice the next part of the movement. If you can do that with the black band, which is our least resistance, then we know you’ve definitely got the technique. That’s when we’ll let you try the ring muscle-up.
What is your favorite exercise?
A muscle-up, partly because I enjoy doing it, and I enjoy people’s reactions They don’t expect this from a big man.
Pistol squats because they are something that really massages my legs. I can barely squat with my heels on the floor. I have poor mobility in my legs. The insoles definitely help, but the insoles are the cause of my hip problems. It’s 220 pounds going into a leg that’s already in bad shape.
Any specific movements you recommend for mobility?
Front or back barbell Sots Press. You get to the bottom of the squat and put your hands in a snatch position. While in the squat, you press the barbell above your head. You can also do this from the front rack in the same position as you would hold your cleaner. This is a great way to improve your ankle mobility, your hip mobility, and your shoulder mobility. If someone knows how to do it, it looks easy, but it’s not.
What’s the workout gear you can’t live without?
One hundred percent Hyperice by Hypervolt, which is a really powerful massage gun. It’s super silent, and I use it twice a day. I use it too Normatec leg sleeve, which has been really good for my hips. It compresses and decompresses the muscles to stimulate blood flow. I use those two tools every day.
What’s the biggest misconception about the way you eat or train?
A lot of people think I’m going to be some big, angry dude. I think it’s from social media and my size, but when they meet me, I’m a really high-pitched, friendly guy. They also said that I am bigger in real life than I look on Instagram.
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