Name: William Joyce USAW L1 CertifiedOccupation: Assistant CrossFit coach
Livin' in: Hanson, MA
Vegan for: 6.5 years
Can you tell us about your fitness background and how to came to Crossfit?
Well I have always been very active. I played team sports as a youngster (baseball, hockey, basketball). As I got older (18+) I got into MMA for quite a few years on and off but stopped finally after breaking my foot. No matter what sport I was doing I've always been a gym rat.
A little over a year ago I had a fellow vegan friend talk me into really giving CrossFit a try. He had been talking it up for quite awhile at this point. I had known about it for a few years and thought it looked pretty cool. I mean, all the YouTube videos of people flipping tires, swinging kettlebells, climbing ropes, jumping on boxes and doing deadlifts. It just looked fucking cool!
Well, I finally went into the local affiliate on a Sunday morning and we ended up doing a combination of Waiter Walks (kettle bell locked out overhead), farmers carry (kettlebell down by your side), sit ups and deadlifts. It absolutely kicked my ass. And I loved it.
I had 1 month left on my membership at the local globogym (it used to be a Gold's Gym) so I decided to do my own CrossFit training there until my membership was up. I followed programming from various blogs and loved it. I was doing something different everyday and each of those days was as inevitable ass-kicking. And of course everyone else at the gym looked at me like I was crazy. Fast forward to today and I've been at my local affiliate Cynergy CrossFit for just over a year and can't imagine being anywhere else.
Do you tell people at your gym and that you train that you're vegan, and if so how do they react when you do?
Oh yeah. I definitely make it known. At first I get the typical weird looks or questions about where I get my protein from and people saying soy is the devil and all that.
But now I don't even think anyone I train with gives it a second thought. I'm pretty sure everyone just looks at me as another crossfitter not "hey there's that VEGAN crossfitter" ya know.
Granted there will always be the anti-vegan naysayers and when I meet new people I'm sure there will be some that are surprised but I'll just let my athletic ability speak for itself.
It's Thursday. Walk us through your routine.
I always make sure I get my 8 hours of sleep. I think that is one of the most overlooked aspect of training. I know I need my 7.5-9 hours of sleep per night my performance will suffer. I wake up around 3:45am and grab my smoothie out of the fridge (I always make it the night before so I don't have to worry about wasting time getting it ready before I head to the gym). My smoothie typically consists of coconut milk, banana, berries, chia seeds, hemp seeds, wheat grass, spinach, cacao, maca, kale, flax seed oil, avocado and a scoop of protein. I love SunWarrior Warrior Blend Raw Protein. It's a combination of pea, hemp and cranberry protein. It's pricey but it's probably the best protein supplement I've ever used. And I'll drink a small cup of black coffee. I don't really do that for the energy boost or anything I just enjoy the taste.
4:45am I get to the gym. I like getting there at least 15 minutes before class so I can stretch and mobilize. 5am class starts with a group warm up. Which varies each day depending on what movements we'll be focusing on that day. After we warm up we will do 5-10 minutes of mobility on whatever we need to get ready for that's day's WOD (workout of the day). Once everyone is warm and mobile we will focus either on a skill (muscle up, handstand push up, Turkish get up, box jump, etc) or strength (deadlift, shoulder press, snatch, back/front/overhead squat, etc) then do a WOD.
I'll give you a rundown of what we did a few weeks ago. We got all warmed up and for our strength aspect we worked on Snatches. 8 Rounds at 65% of your 1RM(rep max). Do 5 reps every 90 seconds. Focus on full depth on your squat. Then you take a few minutes, get some water and catch your breath for the WOD. That day we did 3 Rounds (for time) of 5 Muscle Ups, 10 Front Squats(95lbs) and a 200m Shuttle Run(18.104.22.168). Post-WOD, after you're recovered we usually do some sort of core exercise. That day we did 3 sets of 25 reps of GHD Hip Extensions. That's a typical CrossFit class. And its an hour long. I always stay after and do more stretching and mobility. Another aspect in training I think a lot of people overlook.
Immediately after finishing the WOD I'll drink a protein shake (which is just protein and water). I'll go home and eat a banana and then shower. By 7-7:30 I want to eat a good sized meal which usually consists of a sweet potato and some sprouted tofu or tempeh. Throughout the rest of the day I make sure I eat every couple of hours. If I'm hungry I'll eat. I always have some nuts (or nut butter), seeds (or seed butter), some very dark chocolate (85% cacao or higher), tons of veggies, black beans, quinoa and usually another soy product at some point.
Let's say I'm having trouble building shoulder strength (which I totally am btw.) What would you recommend I do?
As long there are no injuries of stabilization issues be patient. It takes some time but it will come. And try not to over train.
I would focus on your strict shoulder press. You could also do a behind the head press too. Start out light and make sure your mechanics are all there. Then gradually work up in weight and decrease your rep scheme. Push Presses are great as well.
Push Ups (weighted, extended range of motion), hand stand holds, handstand push ups, Turkish get ups, kettlebell swings, ring dips, pull ups, etc. There are A LOT of CF movements that use your shoulders. Try switching it up and doing a few different exercises in your routine.
I don't take any supplements other than what I already mentioned. Which is mainly protein pre and post WOD and some flax seed oil.
Talk to me about your protein intake.
I eat A LOT throughout the day. And just by the amount of food I eat I end up consuming a lot of protein. It's usually right around 1 gram or more per pound that I weigh which right now is just under 160.
I've heard Crossfitters won't wear gloves or tape up their hands, then work out til their palms are bleeding. That seems uh, kinda silly. Do you do this? What the hell dude?
Haha well nobody WANTS their hands to rip. It fucking hurts. BUT, it certainly does happen. As a crossfitter your hands endure a lot of stress on a daily basis whether it's from heavy deadlifts, cleans, toes to bar or you're doing 100+ pull ups in a WOD. I guess it's just bound to happen. There's a lot of reasons for it. Usually people aren't taking the best care of their hands, using too much chalk, not using enough chalk, overgripping on the bar, etc.
Personally if we're going to do a WOD with a significant amount of pull ups I will tape up. I know a lot of other people that do as well. As far as gloves go, I can't wear them. I've never liked them. But there are other people that will wear them and love them.
Bloody hands are just something that you'll probably always see. I think photographers love taking those photos, haha.
There is an intense rivalry raging between those who train Crossfit, those who train MMA, and bodybuilders. Every camp thinks the other is a total weakling. Where do you stand in all of this?
I wasn't aware of a CF / MMA rivalry. Actually, I personally know a few MMArtists that train CrossFit and know of at least few professional MMArtists that do CrossFit as well (most noteably BJ Penn and Jason MacDonald).
Anyways, as far as a rivalry between bodybuilders and crossfitters; I definitely agree it's there. I used to use a bodybuilding programming at the gym and I loved it for years. I definitely see the purpose behind it. But I think if you're not going to compete or do any fitness modeling that it's kind of futile. It's just not functional. How many bodybuilders do you know that can run a 5k or do a triathlon? CrossFitters, on the other hand do those types of things regularly. There is just such a variety of functional movements in crossfit that you can't argue how productive it is.
One of the biggest arguments I've heard from non-crossfitting haters is that crossfitters are all weak. Well, that's just not true. If you want proof just look at Elisabeth Akinwale power cleaning 235lbs.
CrossFit is just great for whatever goals you have. Whether it's to lose weight or bulk up. Get stronger or run faster. Become well versed in Olympic lifting or work on cardio. Or if you just want a change from the mundanity of the typical "chest day, leg day, back day" routines. All of these things are possible.
I'll use my self as an example. I've gained 10 pounds since starting CrossFit. Actually most of that weight has been gained in the past 5 months. Something that has never been easy for me. And that's come with keeping my BF% relatively low (under 9%). In the past using a bodybuilding mindset I would have wanted to bulk up then cut. Repeat. It's just a silly process when you can get bigger (and more importantly stronger) while staying lean.
Every single one of my lifts have gone up. I've gotten faster. And my conditioning is the best it's ever been (including my MMA days)
Who are your top fitness inspirations?
Are you vegan for the animals, the environment, or your health?
Animals. The number one reason I am vegan has always been and will always be that it is the absolute easiest choice that you can make to not contribute to the senseless murder of innocent beings.
The world is ending tomorrow! What's for dinner tonight?
Oh man this is tough. I love food but I would have to say that I would eat a whole lot of pizza. That is my weakness. And for dessert maybe a cinnamon bun from cinnaholic and cannoli from vegan treats.
Cynergy Crossfit is hosting it's 2nd annual WOD 4 PAWS on September 23rd in Hanson, MA. This year all of the proceeds are going to benefit BraveHeart Rescue. A group I've been involved with for a long time now. BraveHeart is a non-profit that envisions a world of compassion and responsible ownership for pit bulls and pit bull mixes. The money raised from this event will help provide rescue and placement of homeless pit bulls and pit bull mixes, veterinary treatment, spay or neuter services, food, shelter and other basic necessities. Braveheart Rescue advocates for needy dogs in collaboration with local, state and national agencies to prevent cruelty and inhumane treatment of pit bull and pit bull mixes.
Thanks so much for taking the time to interview me!