Amanda Allen Interview: Part 1 CrossFit Training

Date Posted:15 July 2013 

Amanda Allen is the new Ambassador for Professional Whey and a household name within the CrossFit world. For those that don’t know Amanda, she is one of Australia’s most inspiring female athletes and at 42 years young, she holds some impressive training stats to her name. At present she can:

  • Squat: 120kg
  • Clean: 87kg
  • Bench Press: 80kg
  • Overhead Squat: 90kg
  • Consecutive Pull Ups: 40
  • Consecutive Hand Stand Push Ups: 30
  • 2k Row: 7:15mins
  • 5k Run: 18:45mins

Currently she is one week out from her attempt to win the Masters World Female CrossFit Games in LA and we caught up with her so she could share some insights into her training, diet and psychology.

Amanda Allen Winter 2013 Training

Amanda you are one week away the CrossFit Games in the USA, can you give us a breakdown of what your weekly training has consisted of for the past 6 weeks since you finished 5th at the Australian Regionals? It's been an intense period. I took one very light week of training coming off the Regionals...there's always a bit of shell shock after any big event, regardless of the outcome - and this year although I am satisfied that I gave the Regionals my best, I was disappointed not to have achieved my ultimate goal. So that transition period was important to reflect, refocus and just pause a moment to respect that a milestone has been reached. So steering my focus toward the Masters competition at this year's 2013 CrossFit Games I have spent 5 very intense weeks of training. Volume and intensity have ramped up, coupled with high rep, high skill work, mixed in with some gut-wrenchingly long, tough, character building sessions - twice per day - 6 days per week! Each week has consisted of a rowing, airdyne bike and running interval sessions, a long run, and then a variety of metabolic conditioning and Olympic lifting sessions - all very Games orientated! Here are a couple of days training I did last week:

Monday Morning Session

  • 10 x 500m Rowing Intervals @ 1:46m pace w 2.30m rest

Monday Afternoon Session

  • ISABEL (30 x Snatch at 40kgs)
  • Rest 5 mins
  • GRACE (30 x Clean and Jerk at 40kg)
  • Rest 5 mins 
  • 21-15-9
  • Hand Stand Push Ups
  • Toes 2 Bar

Tuesday Morning Session

  • 16mins EMOM (Every Minute; On the Minute) alt’g:
  • Odd - 7-8 Deficit Hand Stand Push Ups
  • Even - 3-4 Ring Muscle Ups
  • Rest 5 mins
  • 5 Rounds: 3min AMRAP (As many Reps As Pos) (w 1min rest ea round):
  • 2 rope climbs
  • 6 KB Snatch (20kg) 3left/3right

Tuesday Afternoon Session

  • 15min EMOM
  • 3 unbroken Squat Snatch @ 55kg
  • 15mins EMOM
  • 3 unbroken Thrusters @55kg
  • 1km Run
  • 15 Burpee Muscle Ups
  • 1km Row

I have also run through a range of 'testers’ - anything that has been a previous Games or Regionals workout - I've been put up against it to gauge where I'm at...then there are my weaknesses that get hammered in all manner of sneaky and creative ways  - most of it scares me as much as it excites me! Training has been building and building to the point that I have been on the very edge of the ragged edge. A dangerous territory, but a necessary evil...a place I have to go to be completely prepared for competition. This ragged edge peaks right before we begin my desperately needed and hard earned taper. This period is as much a physical as it is a mental game - the season of intense training is 5 months long - it's a fairly hefty period of time in which to stay switched on!

How has it been going? Have you set any new PB's? It has actually gone very well. I pulled up a few days earlier than our planned taper-start-date - I was utterly wrecked and know my body well enough to listen to its warning signals. All the work has been done by now and it's now time to regenerate. Nonetheless the things I have achieved in this period since regionals have astounded me! Yes, PB’s, PB’s and more PB’s...doing things I thought I was too fatigued to do. I PB'd 'Isabel' (30 x Snatch at 40kgs) for time - by 15secs with a time of 1:37mins on a day when I didn't think I was capable of even warming up after an extremely tough morning rowing session which in itself was a PB of sorts! That's pretty quick - I was shocked. Things like that have been happening each week, so that's reassuring and all very positive!

Does your training program change over a 12 month period? Has your training differed much going from Open to Regional's to Games? Open through to Games is competition season - so I am very much 'on' and maintaining a high volume of metabolic conditioning and intensity of work during this period. The off season like most other sports allows time for me to build strength, focus on refining movement patterns and take the time to address weaknesses! It's a much calmer period, not such a frenzied pace. Once the Open is completed we do focus on Games and Regionals style workouts, weights and scenarios...heavier, harder, more skilled and complex variations - again aiming to test me against known workouts, address my weaknesses in Games style scenarios and try to anticipate unknown random movements that may appear at Regionals or Games – e.g DB Snatch, Atlas Stones, Parallel Handstand Push Up variations etc!

Amanda Allen Muscle Ups

Do you have any strengths or weaknesses you would like to share?  My weakness continues to be ring muscle ups, I have improved, but not to a high enough standard. One rep max Olympic Lifts are the other area that we are slowly chipping away at! I have no gymnastics and no Olympic lifting background - I took up CrossFit when I was 40, so some things are just taking a bit longer than I'd like! Ring Muscle Ups have cost me a return trip to the CrossFit Games the last 2 years - in fact 3 muscle ups is what has stood between me and a podium finish at Regionals in both 2012 and 2013....they are at the top of my list! My main strengths are my versatility, my massive work capacity and my overall applied strength - I can lift a lot of weight over and over and over - that's what CrossFit is all about so I can feel confident in this capacity heading into big events!

How do you manage to improve on your weaknesses whilst building on your strengths? I just keep doing what I've been doing with a painstaking commitment to hammering my weaknesses! When I wanted to improve my handstand push-ups I spent many an hour by myself in a corner of the gym doing  5 handstand push-ups each minute on the minute for 60mins. I learned so much just doing one rep after another looking for the timing and effortlessness of the movement - they have vastly improved as a result! It will be the same with ring muscle ups and Olympic lifting! I may seek some specialist coaching in these areas this year too - if I can find the right people to work with! I trust my coach Ben Norman to program for me! He and I have built me into a world class CrossFitter (currently ranked 32nd in the world) in just 2 short years - we have the formula right! Sometimes you simply have to trust and be patient whilst continue to work like hell with passion and discipline!

What have you learned regarding your body and mind during such tough physical preparation over the last 6-12 months?  I am constantly - and I mean daily - staggered and amazed at my capacity to work and recover, work and recover whilst maintaining a love and passion for CrossFit! I know implicitly that if I continue to do everything in my capacity to support my health, wellbeing and recovery then I will perform beyond my wildest imaginings - the evidence is there. The most powerful thing that I continue to discover is that I am capable of the extraordinary (it never gets dull); in fact, this extreme work, suffering and effort, that I willingly put myself through is making me a physically, mentally and emotionally stronger human being. I am a better person, have a far greater depth of character and self-knowledge as a result of my efforts. My preparations have taught me a personal resilience and sense of self-esteem that I have only dreamed possible. Powerful stuff! Humans have remarkable capacity if we are willing to do the work! Amanda, on behalf of Professional Whey and our readers we wish you all the best for the Games. You continue to inspire us and we are 100% behind you. In Part Two of the interview Amanda shares her diet and supplements.