How James Newbury became one of the fittest men in the world

James Newbury is fit. Proper fit. Eight hours of training a day fit. Fifth-fittest-in-the-world level fit.

Over the recent, four-day Crossfit Games, Newbury took fifth place from a field of 100. Over the 12 events of the 'weekend', the fittest athletes from across the word were whittled down until only ten remained on the final day of competition.

Getting through the four days of competition takes a team, a strategy and love of fitness; day two started with a 6km run carrying a 22kg backpack. Plus plenty of food.

"I was probably going through 5500 to 6000 calories a day. And it's not particularly because I needed it for that day, basically you're eating Thursday, Friday, Saturday to make sure you're okay on Sunday", notes Newbury.

A diverse regime

The actual physical training it takes to take a CrossFit championship, however, is a multi-platform approach that needs to cover a very large base.

"I guess you have to just really love training and love a very diverse training regime,"  he adds.

To prepare for this year's Games, Newbury lifted weights, rode bikes both on and off road, jumped in the ocean and paddleboarded with his surf club, went to swimming club and ran sprints. He also did more traditional Crossfit workout in his Adelaide gym.

"I put myself in every situation where the people that I am working out with in any given sport, or any given modality of sport are better than me."

Camp CrossFit

To further give him the edge, Newbury flew to Montreal to train intensively with five-time Games athlete Michele Letendre and fellow competitors, Pat Vellner, Laura Horvath and Sam Cournoyer, at Deka Comp.

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"The good thing about training over there with Michelle is that the things that she was really good at, she was strong and very good at Crossfit crossfit, are all the things that I'm not that great at. So getting the opportunity to workout with those guys kicked me up the butt a bit, to be honest."

Newbury also visited Under Armour's Portland campus to work with their Athlete Performance division.

"Athlete performance is a performance service to our athletes to help support them in terms of training, recovery, assessment, monitoring, nutrition, mindset, so absolutely everything to do with performance. We take this holistic approach to performance" states Mike Watts, Senior Manager of Under Armour Athlete Performance.

From form to power

Following an intensive athlete assessment, the UA team looked at everything that may affect Newbury's performance, from training to sleep to recovery to movement to vision to sensory performance to brain speed to profiling power to symmetry and asymmetry.

"I'd say that'd be the uniqueness of working with a James, where you're having to look at every single detail of human performance where for some athletes it doesn't matter. James is the first CrossFit athlete that I've worked with and I've never seen an athlete who was as well rounded as him," states Watts.

While improving performance is the ultimate outcome, the UA team worked closely with James on building a foundation of health and wellness to drive his capacity.

"I think if you chase after the performance side of things first, then you're very much building a house on sand so I think our uniqueness is how we go after some of these fundamentals. Which we really believe are forgotten about with a lot of modern day training and athletes, they'll go after the quick fix or they'll go after the tool or object that claims to get them faster stronger, but very much it's the fundamentals. The fundamentals always sounds easy but the actual discipline is real tough," notes Watts.

"We keep talking about this addition by subtraction and quite often it doesn't need more tools or more intervention, sometimes it needs to remove certain things that are distracting or actually creating fatigue that's not required or creating stress that's not required."

Prepare for everything

Newbury's time with UA arguably comes in handy at the Games. Athletes enter the weekend without any knowledge of the nature of the events that they will be competing in. Event workouts are announced one-by-one as the weekend progresses giving athletes little insight into what's to come and the best strategy to make it through.

"I treated each workout like it would be my last workout. And I relied on the fitness and the ability to recover, just to handle the load and I think that was the best approach," said Newbury.

This year the Games introduced a new format – athletes were cut from competition at points throughout the weekend until only 10 remained to see out the final day on Sunday. Some athletes were less than impressed with the new state of play, Newbury enjoyed the change.

"I kind of enjoyed the fact that as the cuts came down it took away people with really, really drawn out areas of expertise, so I think it made it a more well rounded test."

 And well rounded he is. With the 2019 Games barely in his rear-vision mirror, he is preparing for the Crossfit Open in October, the first event of the 2020 season. And podium finish at the 2020 Crossfit Games.

"That's definitely the aim. How the weekend pans out I guess that will be fate for me. Deep down I would love to place better and get on the podium for sure."

Take a look at the gallery up top to see some of the best kit to take to your local box.