How Hong Kong's Fittest Man Trains For The 2019 CrossFit Games
Former rugby player Anthony “Ant” Haynes may be best known in Asia for his performance on the pitch, but the world will soon meet the 29-year-old Generation T honouree as he gears up to compete in the 2019 CrossFit Games in Madison, Wisconsin.
Held from July 29 to August 4, the CrossFit Games is a competition featuring the world's best CrossFit athletes, many of whom have earned the title of national champion in their home countries—including Ant Haynes, who is currently the 'Fittest in Hong Kong (China)'.
Ahead of the Games, we sat down with Ant (who co-founded Coastal Fitness) to find out how his CrossFit journey started, techniques for staying on top of his mental game and how he's training for the biggest competition in his life.
How did you first get into CrossFit?
I was playing for the Hong Kong National Rugby Sevens team for seven years before I tried CrossFit. I had gotten to the end of what I wanted to do with the Rugby Sevens and ended up looking for a new sport to push my body. Andy Bratsanos, who is now a client at Coastal Fitness, introduced myself and Ed Haynes (my brother and coach) to CrossFit.
Everything was hurting when I did my first [CrossFit] workout but it was something that I felt I could possibly be quite good at, given my rugby and training background. I also liked the fact that I was coming from a team sport into an individual sport, so rather than relying on other people, I could now take things into my own hands.
What does a typical day of CrossFit Games training look like for you?
The weekend is probably a more realistic representation of my training since I’m still coaching classes during the week.
On Saturday morning, I wake up at 5:36am and head to Victoria Park for a full hour of running sessions around the track. It’s fairly monotonous but I enjoy that sort of stuff. Once that’s done, I head home, have my breakfast and do some recovery work within an hour before heading to the gym, where I work two to three hours with my clients.
At noon, I complete my second training which is gym-based, including barbell work and gymnastics for two and a half to three hours. The evening is when I refuel my body as much as I can for the Sunday session by staying hydrated, making sure I have eight hours of sleep and a hot-cold therapy with sauna and cold baths.
Sunday is basically the same but rather than doing a running session in the morning I have three sessions that are all gym-based—the idea is to replicate a typical CrossFit Game situation.
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What does a typical day of eating look like for you?
I started working with a nutritionist two years ago. Her name is Kylie, she’s based in the US and works for a company called Nova 3 Labs. Everything I put into my system—from the moment I wake up to the second I go to sleep—is weighed, measured, tracked and recorded. I eat just shy of 4,000 calories a day and that ends up being 550 grams of carbohydrates, 215 grams of protein and 85 grams of fat.
To put that in context on a daily basis, I’ll usually consume a kilogram of cooked white rice, about half a kilo worth of cooked meat and basically unlimited vegetables. On top of that, I’ll have protein shakes as well.
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Which of the athletes do you enjoy training with and also competing against?
My main training partner down on the floor is Alex Younger, whom I’ve competed against and with at competitions. We always have good laughs on the floor.
I’ve also now got a girlfriend (@tamarind111) who’s probably better than me at CrossFit. She’s supportive, great to train with, has the same vision as me and is willing to throw herself into a painful situation in terms of getting better at the sport.
The people I train with and those I surround myself with are my support system—they all support and understand me in my journey.
How do you improve your mental game outside the gym?
I always go back to my support system. I have people who understand what I do—my family, Ed my brother and my coach, the guys I train with—but not necessarily my friends.
Friends are great to have a laugh with but they don’t always understand the amount of effort, time and commitment you put into something and how much responsibility you have if things don’t go right, and the fear of letting people down.
I’ve always been pretty good with mindset and I’m pretty focused and good at staying in my own lane. If I do poorly in training or at an event, I’m good at drawing a line and moving on with it while other people would dwell on it and constantly talk about it.
What aspects of being a high-level athlete are the most difficult for you?
Balancing work, training and maintaining my body. I’m not young compared to the sport, and a lot of the guys coming to the sport in their teens or early 20s are freaks—it’s unbelievable.
I’m turning 30 this year so it’s natural that the body would start to deteriorate faster than a younger person would. I’ve just got to be more mindful of that and make sure I stay on top of my recovery.
Which aspects are the most fun?
The Asia CrossFit Championship was a great example. I’ve always enjoyed it even if I’ve not done so well in the competition.
I just love that side of things—having people cheer for you being out on the competition floor. That probably comes from my rugby background—you don’t get much better than playing HK Sevens playing in front of 40,000 people in the Hong Kong Stadium.
Having that kind of adrenaline as you run out on the pitch is the same as the “3,2,1...go!”, whether it’s a one minute or a 20-minute workout. Competition is the time you get to show what you’ve done for the last three, six, or nine months and showcase who you are as an athlete.
Follow Anthony 'Ant' Haynes' CrossFit journey on Instagram @anthayneshk
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