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Regional Athlete Interview – Julian Martinez

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We were lucky enough to have Julian Martinez drop-in to the gym for a couple training sessions this week. We took the opportunity to catch up with him and find out a little bit more about what kind of work it takes to make it at the regional level in CrossFit.

Keep an eye out for him at the California Regional (May 26-28, 2017). Best of luck to his girlfriend Janice who is competing at Nationals for USA Olympic Weightlifting tomorrow as well.

Name: Julian Martinez
Age: 27
Height: 5’8”
Weight: 165
Profession: Chef/restaurant owner
Athletic Background: Was a competitive distance runner in high school and college. Have worked in the restaurant industry for 9 years. Opened a restaurant in Santa Barbara in 2014.

WSCF: Congrats on making CrossFit Regionals, that’s certainly an amazing feat, especially in such a competitive region.

WSCF: How long have you been doing CrossFit? What made you start doing CrossFit?
JM: I began CrossFit about 7 years ago, as a way to help me train for distance running. In distance running, I found I was constantly getting hurt — I could only run about half the total weekly miles as my teammates (50 miles per week vs 100 miles per week). I used CrossFit as a way to supplement the endurance work. Unfortunately, I didn’t fully buy into CrossFit at that time, so I only did long met-cons; I didn’t see the benefit to lifting heavy weights, so I avoided the Olympic lifts at all costs. After I stopped running competitively, about 3 years ago, I began actually trying to be a complete CrossFit athlete.

WSCF: Have you every made regionals before?
JM: No. I was on track to last year, but then imploded on 16.4, as I was not competent at the handstand pushup.

WSCF: Where did you finish in the Open in 2016?
JM: 98th in Southern California

WSCF: Where did you finish in the Open in 2017?
JM: 11th in Southern California

WSCF: What did you change in training this year versus last year?
JM: I began focusing almost entirely on my weaknesses for about 6 months. I struggled a lot with the Olympic lifts and anything overhead. I had shoulder impingement, so focused about 30 minutes every day on improving shoulder mobility, and Oly lifted 6 days per week. I’d still do metcons most days, but the real focus was Oly lifts and overhead work. A year ago I could only snatch 185#; in the Open I hit 245# four times. So the work definitely paid off.

WSCF: One of the most common questions I get about Regionals and Games Athletes is how much time they spend training. What’s your training load like?
JM: For the majority of the past year I was working at my job a lot, so I’d put in one 2.5 hour training session 5 days per week, with one two-a-day on my day off work. Since this year’s Open, I’ve stepped away a bit from work to focus on training, so now I do two-a-days pretty much every day. It adds up to about 4-5 hours per day now.

WSCF: Do you compete in CrossFit much outside the open?
JM: Not so much. I did one competition this year. I’d like to do more in the future, as time permits.

WSCF: What exercises would you consider to be your strengths?
JM: Gymnastic pulling movements (MU, pull-ups), burpees, running, doubleunders, thrusters, all of the power lifts. Above all, anything over in the 15-30 minute time range.

WSCF: What exercises would you consider to be your weaknesses? How much time do you spend working on getting better at these?
JM: Clean and jerk, especially the jerk, handstands, overhead movements generally, 1RM lifts. Now that my weaknesses aren’t quite as drastic as they used to be, I spend about 60% of my time working on my weaknesses and the rest of my time on things I’m proficient at.

WSCF: A lot of athletes struggle with chronic joint issues or nagging injuries, do you have any injuries you’re dealing with currently? What is your go-to mobility exercise that helps with that?
JM: Major issue for me is the shoulder impingement/immobility. My go-to’s for that is hanging from the pull-up bar and an extended warm-up with just the barbell on whichever Oly lift I’m going to do that day (for the snatch I do a bunch of behind the neck strict presses, behind the neck push press, snatch balance, heaving snatch balance, then snatch drops). For handstands I find 30 second handstand holds facing the wall, holding my body as tight as possible, to be effective.

WSCF: What’s your diet look like throughout the year?
JM: The main thing for me is just to eat enough food. I’m a chef, so I can’t be too picky about what I eat. I usually eat a protein smoothie with cereal for breakfast, then have a big breakfast burrito or a turkey-bacon sandwich for lunch, followed by some protein and cereal as a snack, then a normal dinner with meat, grains, and vegetables, followed by more cereal and protein or yogurt after dinner. Pretty much every day includes the 3-4 bowls of cereal. Otherwise I lose weight.

WSCF: Based on your experience, do you have any specific advice for anyone looking to take their training to the next level or compete at regionals?
JM: Strength and skill is the cost of entry to compete at a high level. Meaning, you NEED a requisite amount of strength and proficiency all the movements to be able to have a shot. If you are not up to par in a given area, work on that area of your game diligently until you’re up to par. If you want to be competitive, there’s really no point in focusing on anything else other than your major pitfalls until you are at a respectable level in those areas. I worked on handstand pushups (or some version of them) 5 times per week for about 6 months. That’s what it takes.

But once you are good enough at all the movements, then I think you should focus on whatever it is that sets you apart. Also, something I’m seeing a lot in gyms is people focusing a lot on programming. They see the success of Invictus or Bergeron’s athletes, and they think it is because of the programming that those athletes are excelling. But really, the most important training tool is training partners and a community. There are no male athletes in the top 500 in my region at my gym, but I try to do as many workouts as possible with the class (although usually I have to scale up). Having people around me doing roughly the same thing pushes me way harder and keeps me honest with my effort.