November 17, 2009

TUESDAY 091117


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Kevin S. (trainer at CrossFit Redding in CA) competing in the CrossFit Sweatshop Masters Event held recently.

What should be the age limit of a masters event in CrossFit? For swimming, the term "Masters" starts at age 18, but in professional golf, the starting age for seniors is 50. Or is the concept of a CrossFit Masters event ridiculous? Would you watch one? Would you participate in one?

Check this out: Google Trends for CrossFit vs. Major Fitness Chains, courtesy of CrossFit Sweatshop (CA).

Posted by Lisbeth at November 17, 2009 12:05 AM

I'm 47 this year. If my back heals, I'll likely be a top competitor for the Masters (if its 45 & up). As it is, I'm training for the Sectionals, Regionals and Games (or Affiliate Team). I may not make it to the Games, but I look forward to making younger athletes have to beat my ass to get ain't gonna be easy.

And, I think Masters should be 50 and up.

Comment #1 - Posted by: CraigH at November 16, 2009 9:42 PM

I am 47 now and I have worked out most of my life. I believe you are at peak at age 40. After age 45 your body does not recover as quickly and you are more prone to injury. So I want to say 45 for masters events.

Comment #2 - Posted by: Yvonne at November 16, 2009 9:43 PM

I would concur with Yvonne -- and for the record I just turned 45! ;-) A few of us were discussing this topic just last weekend, and we concurred that a Masters event would be a good idea; as would perhaps other divisions. What with past injuries, I will never be a fire breather, but I love CF and pushing myself to my limits. Competition with others my own "age" (dare I say on perhaps a more level playing field) would provide a new and intriguing element.

Don't get me wrong -- I understand and subscribe to the philosophy that "LIFE is an unlevel playing field." And I revel in challenging myself across all age, gender, and physical domains. ;-)

So my vote is yes, definitely a Masters event; age 45 sounds about right; yes I would watch one; yes I would participate in one.


Comment #3 - Posted by: James at November 16, 2009 10:19 PM

Several of our clients have asked about this and want it. Not only would I watch it, I would push my interested clients to participate, train them for it, and root them on!

Comment #4 - Posted by: Tom at November 17, 2009 12:25 AM

Yes to watching and a resounding HELL YES to competing in Masters event. I would be more than happy to help organize the regional arm of the masters as well if Coach is leaning toward that window as well. If memory serves, a couple years back his take was: sure, if somebody else manages the class as he really had no interest in assuming the logistics of it along with the general complexities of the then emerging Games.

Lis, what have you heard from Mt. Olympus about this potential?

I dont want to be 25 again, I'm smarter, quantifiably fitter and profoundly happier now at 45. Did I mention sexier? I'll wait for my wife to slap me around for that, but to the point: I'm aware that over the next years I will become even less apt to personally contribute to CrossFit as a competitor and would like that added carrot at the end of the stick, not just for myself but for those adults that train with us.

I love watching the 20-something firebreathers out there, but I have always found the 40 somethings (and up) within our community as some of the most vibrant contributors and truly most colorful characters.

The masters ladies would be a joy to simply cast a gaze upon as well, no? "A beautiful youth is a gift of nature, mature beauty is a life's work.'

Comment #5 - Posted by: Chef at November 17, 2009 1:47 AM

I think 45 is the perfect point to start the masters. Perhaps a masters 45-55 and senior masters >55. I know that means 2 categories over 45, but not only is there a difference between 45 and under, but there's a marked change over 55 as well.

Comment #6 - Posted by: Steve- CF Ocean City at November 17, 2009 2:17 AM

I think 40 years old is the right age to start the masters at.Look around the pro sports world and see how many 40 year old athetes are competing and winning against 25 yr olds . You might still have some left in the tank at 40 but not enough to compete with the 20 somethings. The masters idea is definitely somthing that should happen.

Comment #7 - Posted by: merle at November 17, 2009 3:13 AM

45 years old is still young. I've played soccer in over 30s, over 40's and over 50's. There is a large difference between decades. Masters Crossfit should start at 50.

Comment #8 - Posted by: Peter Nathan at November 17, 2009 3:59 AM

Am 53 years old have been doing Crossfit for 2 years. It is part of my lifestyle, my group in Ft Worth most are 20 or 30 years old. Trust me I have tried to keep up. Can do must everything except the amount of weight they use. Everthing should stay they same except weight used. Yes I would enjoy competing against someone my age. But I think trying to keep up the the young is a challenge which I enjoy.

Comment #9 - Posted by: William C Bragg at November 17, 2009 4:20 AM

Boxing starts at 35, running starts at around 40, the Masters Division at the Olympia starts at 40 as well. I think that 40 would be the right age for a Master's division at the Crossfit Games. It would also encourage more of the over 40 crowd to get involved with their respective boxes. Would definitely watch that division.

Comment #10 - Posted by: Tony at November 17, 2009 4:57 AM


We start the Masters at 40 years of age for the Masters World Championships of the Scottish Heavy Events.

The logic is that 40 may be very young for a few but its also young enough to help keep people interested and training and competing for the rest of the population of athletes.

You won't have many 50, 60, 70 year old athletes if they lose interst and quit training at 45, for example.


Comment #11 - Posted by: Kevin Rogers (Springfield, IL) at November 17, 2009 5:45 AM

I think there should definitely be a Masters division. Age 40 is a good cutoff.

I competed in the Mid-Atlantic Hopper Challenge against mostly women 1/2 my age. It would be nice to be measured against women closer to my age (not that I still won't try to beat the youngsters!)

I also think you would get more people to compete if there was a Masters. I almost didn't compete for that reason.

Comment #12 - Posted by: Susan S. at November 17, 2009 5:50 AM

40 yrs old for sure.

Comment #13 - Posted by: Ron Fielder at November 17, 2009 6:08 AM

Now I am torn, I was originally thinking 40 as a good cutoff. But I am thinking I like the 45 year old cut off even better. Even if it does mean I will be competing in the non-Masters events for another 7 years!

There definitely should be a masters division! It would keep me motivated to see folks my own age tearing it up! I mean if they can do it, so can I!

Comment #14 - Posted by: Louise Smith at November 17, 2009 6:19 AM

I really think the masters should be limited to 53 year old men living in upstate NY with a last name ending in s-k-y.
Seriously ,there is a huge difference when the clock ticks 50. Night and day.
There were at least two 40 somethings in this years games. That shows they still have that capacity.

Comment #15 - Posted by: steve at November 17, 2009 6:24 AM

I would love to see a Masters division at the games, and would definitely watch it! For people like myself who are at or nearing masters age, this would be a great motivator!

Comment #16 - Posted by: wil at November 17, 2009 6:26 AM

Masters competitions. Every sport has them and they are definitely popular with participants. I come from a cycling background, where they have "masters" level events starting at 30! In my mind, that is WAY too young. After all, many top racers have competed well into their late 30's (Lance Armstrong ring a bell?).

However, 50 might be a little too late, since most 40+ people recognize that their level of effort may be the same as the younger guys, but their output is not quite as high because of past injuries, etc.

I feel the cut off of 45 is a good compromise. It's something the 'younger masters' (39-44) can look forward to, while still giving everyone a chance to compete and, at the same time, be competitive with other Masters.

Comment #17 - Posted by: CRBondur at November 17, 2009 6:32 AM

I suggest age grading instead of an arbitrary age to cutoff eligibility for masters competition. Age grading is whereby you get a handicap according to your age in years according to a formula, so 70 year olds can compete against 50 year olds. This can be done by points or by seconds.

Age grading formulas are used in many other sports including track & field and indoor rowing competitions. Also, age grading can be used to allow handicapped competition against athletes of any age including youth, open, and masters. It is just a matter of selecting the events and weights that are appropriate for a wide range of ages, and then collecting performance list data by age, and then fitting a curve to the performances to create the appropriate formula.

There have also been formula-based weightlifting competitions instead of arbitrary weight classes, which uses the same principle applied to adjust competition according to bodyweight as opposed to age. Ask Burgener or Rippetoe about the Siff formula (which is superior to the Sinclair formula, BTW).

Comment #18 - Posted by: aed939 at November 17, 2009 6:36 AM

MASTER ATHLETES lead by example for the younger athletes. critical in my humble opinion for our youth. keeps us healthy to keep working hard even at that OLD MAN/WOMEN LEVEL!!!

Comment #19 - Posted by: coach b at November 17, 2009 6:48 AM

I started competing in crosstraing fitness events (Basically a gym decathlon time trial type events)at age 38 and was reasonably competitive in the open events.
At age 40 I qualified for the master events (Same course, same weights just done at a slightly slower pace)and up to the age of 45 was ranked in the UK top Four.
From the age 46 onwards it just gets harder and harder to stay competitive with those in their early forty's.

I'm now 52 and still want to compete.

So I would like to see a masters catagory at 40 and a Seniors starting at 50 ( OK so I'm kinda biased)

Have a good one!


Comment #20 - Posted by: Neilfit at November 17, 2009 6:54 AM

Yes a Masters division need is as obvious as a gender-based division. You can't train away age. I would be interested in competeing and watching to see what is capable at my age group.

At age 46 was where I distinctly recall not being able to answer the bell on a daily basis...a definite drop off the cliff in recovery and/or performance, so I vote for 45 years old lower limit.

Comment #21 - Posted by: jimc at November 17, 2009 7:26 AM

A master's division or competition would be awesome and I would watch for sure! Whether that belongs at the CF games or at a different event all its own at another time, I can't decide.

Sure it's inspiring to see the CF Games level firebreathers and the UNBELIEVABLE things they can do. But frankly I find guys like Jacinto from NYC or the lady who did 16 pullups on her 60th birthday to be even more inspiring. Most of us will never be elite level international competitors, but we can all aspire to kick ass in our 50's and beyond.

A lot of our most dedicated clients are those in their 40's and 50's. They may not be as fit as the 20 and 30 year olds, but man they try harder and have way more heart. I think most have had a taste of what it means to lose some of your physical capacity and its scared them into taking care of themselves! Nothing like the very imminent fear of using a walker or having a quadruple bypass to improve your Fran time/FGB score/deadlift max/whatever :-)

Comment #22 - Posted by: Jocelyn@CFBrio at November 17, 2009 7:29 AM

I would participate and/or watch a Masters event CrossFit Games competition. I am a 41 yo Master Sergeant in the Army and it just aint the same as it used to be! I think 45 yo would be a Masters division and 55 or 60 yo for a Senior division.

Comment #23 - Posted by: Jeff at November 17, 2009 8:03 AM

I would absolutely watch the Master event. I think it would be inspiring.

I think it should start at age 50.

Comment #24 - Posted by: Wendy Shafranski at November 17, 2009 8:41 AM

How many young women have reported falling in love with CrossFit after seeing the "Nasty Girls" video? Shouldn't we be giving the over 40 crowd a similar reason to fall for CrossFit?

As a practical matter, it may be necessary to set the initial dividing line at age 40 or 45, since there are simply not yet that many older CrossFitters. But as more and more middle-age athletes start joining our ranks, there will surely be a demand for finer ages divisions (40-49, 50-59, 60-69, Jacinto).

No sport advances a stronger argument for lifelong participation than CrossFit.

Comment #25 - Posted by: Hari at November 17, 2009 8:42 AM

I know that badass in the pick. He is my Sensai and fellow trainer. He may be over 40, but he still woops on us younger guys in alot of workouts. And obviously he just won the masters event at crossfit sweatshop! He's a BAMF!

Comment #26 - Posted by: Jordan at November 17, 2009 9:31 AM

Picking the starting age group for a Masters event is a matter of logistics, deciding which age group you'd like to see enter and which age groups you'd like to see be competitive. If the age cutoff starts at 45, the 60 year-old athletes won't have a chance. If it starts at 40, you're not going to see a 55-year old winner. Historical data shows that performance drops off rapidly past the age of 35.

There's also the matter of Crossfit demographics, which is mostly the 20-45 age groups - as the cutoff for Masters age climbs there will be fewer and fewer athletes.

Comment #27 - Posted by: Lincoln Brigham at November 17, 2009 9:37 AM

First , The masters event is a great idea IMO it gives the 40+ Crossfiters something to train for (and we should all be training for something ,if not then were just 'working out'......aim for nothing & hit nothing )Im not saying we "Train to not suck at life " only, but some would like to compete aswell . Second , I have a question will there be a 'kids event'(like 12-17) in the future ? I only ask because 'OPT' made a good point in 'Every Second Counts' that he believes that soon kids will want to grow up to be a Crossfit athlete (like football or baseball) My son is 15 & trains very hard ( i am a very proud dad) and he looks up to the Fire-Breathers as hero's & tells me all the time he would love to compete . . . . .

Comment #28 - Posted by: Johnnycarbs at November 17, 2009 10:17 AM

Two years ago, at the age of 46, I did my first CF workout. When Fran rolled around for the first time, it took me 13 minutes to complete.

Two years later, on Nov. 7th, 2009, I was getting my Level 1 certification at CrossfitStrong.Com and on the first day of the cert, they had us do Fran.

This time, I did Fran in 4:52, at the age of 48. I'll be 49 in January.

I do believe there ought to be a Masters Division. The age cutoff is somewhat less clear for me, however.

40 is a nice sounding round number, but I do believe that it is somewhat still young for a Masters Division.

45 is better than 40 for me, because it kind of levels the playing field I believe when it comes to the declining hormone levels that men have to deal with.

50 seems to me to be the best option for a true Master's Division, however. And not because I'm about to be 50, but because it is the defining age marker for "being over the hill" in the eyes of society.

The inspiration that an over 50 Master's Division offers has - in my opinion - the best chance of motivating the average person to become active in their aging years.

Under 50 doesn't seem to me to have that same advantage. It doesn't relate to the average person as well.

As far as "would you watch it" is concerned, I believe that viewership flows seamlessly if the event were held at the same time and location of the CF games.

Have them both going simultaneously, and the viewership concerned is solved. This also creates ease of filming, documenting and saves the cost of a separate event.

Would I compete? Sure I would, assuming I could qualify against the beasts out there. Plus, I'd have to get my Fran time to sub 4 at the least to be competitive at that age.

Ony 53 seconds to go.

Comment #29 - Posted by: Aaron at November 17, 2009 10:23 AM

We have had this discussion on numerous occasions at CF Legacy, and many of my athletes would consider training for a "masters" competition.

Something to consider, Jeff Tincher, and Andy Petranek who are both over 40 competed and performed well at CF Games for past couple of years, so is 40 the cutoff? I'm not sure, but I would I think that 45 would be better age cutoff for such a competition.

I however think that it should not be held in conjunction with the Main CF Games, which crowns the fittest man/women on the planet. Those competing in a master's event would not be the fittest people on the planet.

Could there be a competition in another location run by a larger well organized affiliate in the Central part of the country....I am not sure.

I do hope this discussion continues though.

Comment #30 - Posted by: Brian Y at November 17, 2009 10:23 AM

I think there should definitely be a master event separate from the "open" event. Tough question on the age division. I lean towards 50. There is a huge difference between 40 and 50 yr olds.

Comment #31 - Posted by: mking at November 17, 2009 10:24 AM

Kevin (pictured in this post) took 1st place in that event which had a $300 cash prize to top male and female. And in a super classy move on the podium, Kevin gave the 2nd and 3rd place finishers $100 EACH!

You can check out a video and results from the event here.

Comment #32 - Posted by: Nabil - CrossFit Sweat Shop - Walnut Creek, CA at November 17, 2009 10:37 AM

I'm just guessing that everybody is picking a Masters age that is just a few years younger than they are! With that in mind, I'm 47, so I think the Master's age ought to be 45.

I started working out seriously about 5 years ago, first with a personal trainer, then in a kettlebell class, now with Crossfit. Each step resulted in better and better fitness. I'm now in the best shape of my life; but, if I was working this hard at 30, I would have been in even better shape, both then and now.

The Claw

Comment #33 - Posted by: The Claw at November 17, 2009 10:38 AM

Brian Y,
If you are going to use the "fittest on the planet" as a reason to exclude masters then you must also use this excuse to exclude the women. Masters can't win against the 20-something men for reasons of basic physiology beyond their control. Women can't win against the 20-something men for reasons of basic physiology beyond their control. Think on that.

Comment #34 - Posted by: Lincoln Brigham at November 17, 2009 10:45 AM

@ Lincoln

Very good thoughts indeed.

Comment #35 - Posted by: Brian Y at November 17, 2009 11:09 AM

Sure there should be a Masters Division and it should be at 45 years.
The title of the winner doesn´t have to be the "the fittest man on the planet" but it could well be "the fittest over 45 man on the planet".
Greetings to all from Panama City, Central America.

Comment #36 - Posted by: Oyden at November 17, 2009 12:04 PM

Yes to masters and at age 56, I'd like to see the age cutoff at 50. Six years is still a bunch over the half century mark and I believe 40 is too low.

Comment #37 - Posted by: Ron at November 17, 2009 12:07 PM

We've got a 45year old with a 2:40 Fran who stands up top the leaderboard for several benchmark WODs at our place. He also says he has to pay extremely close attention to strict form and his recovery to stay competitive. I'd like to see 45 & up. If there were enough competitors it would be fun to see 35-44, 45-54, and 55 and up.

Comment #38 - Posted by: Damon at November 17, 2009 2:27 PM

In triathlons, the masters divison starts at 40. I've also heard of grand masters at 50+. I'd participate for sure. HQ could have a Masters Championship the Wednesday and Thursday before the Games and us ol' folks can hang around and help out for the big show. See y'all in Aromas! BTW, I'm 61.

Comment #39 - Posted by: john wopat at November 17, 2009 2:35 PM

The US Cycling Federation and American Cycling Association have varied masters classes: 35+, 45+, 55+, and 65+. They very often compete together, with awards broken out by age classes in the ceremonies. In cycling though, there are many in their late 30s and early 40s that are very fit that can still compete in the open categories (i.e., the best amateurs). After competing in ACA and USCF racing intermittently from my late teens to early 40s (I am now 47), I would say that a 40-year threshold is appropriate for a "Masters" category - I saw too many 37 - 38-year olds just as sharp as the 25-year olds. But anyone who is 50, knows their decline since 40, and 60, their decline since 50, and so on. Trying to lump a very fit 65-year old with a very fit 41-year old is not a valid competition. With "+" categories (e.g., 40+), a stud 50-year old can still try to hang with the youngins, and reap the better prize money and accolades if he/she places. But the stud 65-year can still compete with his/her peers in the 60+ if he/she wishes. I vote Masters as 40+ and the event organizer may elect to split out sub-categories (40+, 50+, 60+, 70+?) if the budget allows.

Comment #40 - Posted by: Greg at November 17, 2009 2:39 PM


Comment #41 - Posted by: Skip Chase at November 17, 2009 3:12 PM

and yes, I would participate.

Comment #42 - Posted by: Skip Chase at November 17, 2009 3:13 PM

Masters start at 45, and Seniors at 55.

Comment #43 - Posted by: Peter Nathan at November 17, 2009 4:01 PM

over 45 for Masters, and over 55 for Seniors

Comment #44 - Posted by: peter Nathan at November 17, 2009 4:05 PM

Masters start at 40, and over 50 for Seniors

Comment #45 - Posted by: Vinny at November 17, 2009 4:38 PM

Anytime I hear the term "Masters" I automatically think 50. I'm 51 and been doing Crossfit (Threshold in Miami) for a year and I've thought there should be an older division. I would love to try and compete in it!

Comment #46 - Posted by: Gary at November 17, 2009 6:31 PM

45 and over. It would be great. Definitely not the same person I was at even 35.

Comment #47 - Posted by: Keith at November 17, 2009 6:36 PM

I definitely think there should be a Masters' division. It seems to fit completely with the philosophy that Crossfit really is for everyone, not just young fire breathers. Are there plans to add this to the Games in 2010?

Comment #48 - Posted by: Jim at November 17, 2009 8:15 PM

Had this conversation a few weeks back... I think there should be three age divisions:
Up to 35
50 +

If you are older than 35 you can still compete in a younger age bracket if you choose to do so. This would even it out a bit and get more people 35+ competing in CF events where now they won't because they don't feel they can compete with the 20 year old crowd.

Comment #49 - Posted by: Steve at November 18, 2009 6:05 AM

In rowing, the age qualifications for masters events vary depending on the regatta.
For example, the Head of the Charles has multiple categories for the singles event.

Master: At least 30
Senior-Master: At least 40
Grand-Master: At least 50
Veteran: At least 60
Senior-Veteran: At least 70
Grand-Veteran: At least 75

The Championship Singles event is unrestricted, so athletes > 30 still have the option to compete with the young bucks if so desired (and can qualify).

Smaller regattas usually just have one masters event.

Comment #50 - Posted by: smac at November 18, 2009 6:13 AM

Wow! This topic generated some serious buzz!

I vote for the 45-55 Master & 56+ Senior.
What about for youth?
And sounds like there will be some city/regional event opportunities.

Comment #51 - Posted by: michaelchasetx m/56y/76"/236# at November 18, 2009 7:09 AM

Damon..who the f*ck is that 45yo firebreather? Want to get that guy on our website soon!

Comment #52 - Posted by: CraigH at November 18, 2009 10:24 AM

I'm 35 and train and race with people from 25 - 65 y/o. A masters category is terrific idea, and a seniors category is great as well. Masters 45+, Seniors 60+.

Comment #53 - Posted by: Adam Price at November 19, 2009 12:03 PM

I am 57 years old and just received my Level 1 Cert. As a Fire Chief I train daily with 25-40 year old firefighters. Part of our "gimmick" is to make CrossFit a career investment for our employees so that they can work safer and physically hold up for a longer career. I think it would be very motivating for these men and women to have age related goals for their fitness levels. I say Masters at 45 and Seniors at 60.

Comment #54 - Posted by: Mike Bradley at November 19, 2009 1:44 PM

I am a 61 year old female. My sister, who is 60, and I train 3X's a week. We modify when necessary. We've been consistently doing CF for 9 months starting out only with 3 sets of warm-ups and eventually doing the WOD's on the CF site. We ALWAYS complete the WOD albeit much slower and/or lighter than the 20 and 30 year olds we work out with. Our goal is more to complete the workout as recommended than go for speed/time. We absolutely love it. As for the CF games, that would be cool for us, but competing against 40 year olds would be tough. I like masters 45+, Seniors 60+.

Comment #55 - Posted by: Cindy Hoadley at November 20, 2009 7:52 AM

I totally support a Masters competition. 50 seems reasonable. I'm 62 and looking forward to competing in the sectionals, trying out for my affiliate team or competing in a Masters competition. Whatever goes down I look forward to being in Aromas 2010. Thank you Crossfit!

Comment #56 - Posted by: Charles at November 20, 2009 1:37 PM

At 62 my husband does a 6 minute fran - I know he will compete no matter if it's in the masters or otherwise. He can seriously out perform people 30 or even 40 years younger. I think the masters is a great idea.

Comment #57 - Posted by: whitney at November 20, 2009 7:23 PM

On a side note- the google trends information. This tells me a couple of things: Crossfitters are repeat visitors to their affiliate sites and repeat searchers for Crossfit information, whereas members of globo-gym style setups visit the site primarily when looking to sign up (as indicated by the doubling of hits concurring when people traditionally are looking to sign up). Also, although there are slight peaks for Crossfit at the end of the year, they taper down much faster and never get as high- something I blame (in a good way) on the CF prescription. People are looking for guilt amelioration with New Year's gym sign-ups, not performance improvement, and they are not willing to pay the price in challenge and effort Crossfit requires.

Here's what I found most interesting, though: try adding "yoga" and "pilates" to the trend searches-you'll notice the exact same dramatic New-Year's spike of applicants. I'm curious to see how closely the business models of Yoga studios (who are resisting being sales taxed for religious reasons in Missouri and other states), model the practices of your standard globo gyms...

Comment #58 - Posted by: CJ at November 22, 2009 1:09 PM

Its about being competitive and winning. I truly don't see why masters doesn't start at 40. I know the sport is young. It needs timing devices better then a stop watch. So you can see the sport needs tweaks. Starting with the very simple, age groups.40 to 43 D-1 masters
44 to 47 D-2 masters
48 to 50.D -3 masters
The body changes at 40 we know this by menopause in females and in males . Alot of sports have senior or masters events. Cross fit to excell will have to adjust to this. We all do not like to get older. It's a fact and as much as I like to compete and beat twenty and thirty year olds the odds are not in my favor. Being fittest at 40

Comment #59 - Posted by: Darin at February 19, 2012 3:06 PM
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