Push Press – Find a new 2RM
Odd – 5-TTB
Even – 10-KB Swings (2 pood M/1.5 pood F)
THOMAS ACKERMAN MAKES CROSSFIT GAMES DEBUT
After finishing the first-ever Masters Qualifier in fifth, Ackerman is headed to Carson, California, for his first trip to the CrossFit Games.
While he has worked out all his life, Ackerman has only been doing CrossFit for a year-and-a-half. His weakest showing in the Qualifier, and in all events including the Open workouts, was Event 3—3 rounds of a 30-calorie row, 15 handstand push-ups and 30 double-unders.
“Being new to CrossFit, I haven’t had a chance to get reasonably proficient at a lot of things,” Ackerman said. “I struggled on handstand push-ups. I haven’t quite mastered the technique.”
As a result, he came in 30th, which was the only Qualifier event in which he was not in the top 10. His best performance was a sixth place in Event 2, the chest-to-bar pull-ups and squat snatch combo that played more to his strengths.
“I find my biggest asset is that I’m just a strong guy naturally,” he said. “I’ve worked out in the gym for a long time, but I need to work on my technique. I’ve been playing basketball forever, and doing some running, so my metabolic activity is very good.”
Last year, he finished in the top 10 percent in the Masters 55–59 Division. This year, he’s bumped up to the 60+ Division.
“I thought I did pretty well last year given that I was at the upper end of my age group and it was the first year that I had done it,” Ackerman said. “I did go back and benchmark myself against the 55–59 age group this year, and I did better. This year, I would have been about 6 or 7 percent.”
When he’s training, he makes it count.
“Tom is one of the hardest workers in our gym,” said Dan Reale, Ackerman’s coach and general manager of AE CrossFit. “He is constantly staying after or coming in early to get in extra work. He usually does Rx and beats the younger guys with the same weight.”
Reale also sees Ackerman’s impact on the CrossFit community.
“Everybody knows him in the gym even before his great run at the Open and Qualifier,” Reale said. “People look up to him. He is also very modest and one of the nicest, most down to earth guys. He’s always cheering others on during WODs and helping people get through their workouts.”
There are also more practical reasons for Ackerman learning to train smarter and make every workout count.
“I’ll expand my workouts in terms of frequency and style, and at the same time try not to burn myself out or injure myself,” Ackerman said. “At my age, most of the injuries tend to be strains in my shoulder or a little bit of tendonitis, and it takes a little while to heal. If you strain something pretty bad and you can’t train for three to four weeks, you’re losing all that time. If you do it right before the Games, it could be a knockout injury.”
His training is also limited by the fact that he has a demanding full-time job as a financial executive for Charles River Laboratories in Wilmington, Massachusetts, a medical research company with facilities around the world.
“I’ve got a pretty important job and it keeps me busy, so my workouts tend to be in the 5:30- or 6:30-a.m. class on my way into work,” he said. “I want to use the time to train as wisely as I can. I need to figure out how to work it in without being disruptive to work.”
He’s also seen various reactions to competing as he ages. Ackerman competes in road races, and he’s found other athletes who eagerly look forward to moving into a new age division.
“Guys say to me, ‘Geez, I’m 53. In two years I’ll be 55. I can’t wait to compete against the 55-year-old guys,’” Ackerman said. “I’d laugh, thinking, ‘Who the hell wants to get older faster just to win a neighborhood race?’”
Ackerman is focusing on improving his technique in certain movements like handstand push-ups. But he needs to be smart about his training and scale some workouts.
“Rx weights are a good for strength,” he said. “If I’m doing thrusters in a workout like Fran, I’ll do the Rx weight. But if I really want to hone my skills, I’d probably do something like 65 lb.”
In addition to work, Ackerman also balances his training with his family—and the two will be combined in a fortuitous way. Married for nearly 40 years with three adult children, one of his daughters lives in San Diego, California, so the trip to Carson will be a family affair.
“So my wife is excited,” he said.