Garage Gym Yoda: An Interview With Ben Smith


Ben Smith is a top CrossFit Games Competitor, having competed in the games since 2009. In 2010 he finished  8th place, in 2011 he finished on the podium with a 3rd place finish and in 2012 he came in 11th.

What does it all mean?

It means Ben Smith is one of the fittest people on the planet, and he did all of that while training in his Garage for many years.

Ben recently opened up his own CrossFit Affiliate , called CrossFit Krypton, but his approach to mental toughness and his overall physical accomplishments, while training in his garage, forever earn him a spot in the Fitness Nonconformity Hall of Fame and, ultimately,  makes him the Garage Gym Yoda.

Ben is a great guy who attributes much of his success to his family, and he is extremely down to earth. Even when we got to the end of our phone conversation he let me know that I was always welcome at CrossFit Krypton and that I cold stop by anytime. What a guy!

I want to start and end this article with one of his quotes from the interview, as it seemed to be a staple to Ben’s success…and it’s a freaking awesome quote:

Find something that pushes you and motivates you, and just keep doing it, you will get better.

I could not have said it better myself. Ben has a simple outlook on training, yet he is one of the fittest dudes on the entire planet (seriously), so if Ben is keeping it simple, why are you complicating all this fitness stuff?

Alright, to the interview!

Interview with CrossFit Games Competitor Ben Smith

Ben Smith CrossFit Games

When did you get into CrossFit and how did you get started?

I started CrossFit when I was a sophomore in high school, around 2006 or 2007. I was one of those people who was kind of in it, but not in it at the same time. I was playing baseball at the time, so I just did it occasionally, but when I got into college that’s when I really started to pick it up, and really started to like it. That’s also when I started competing, and things have just gone from there.

I know when I was getting into CrossFit, I only had the CrossFit Journal and YouTube, what’s your story as far as coaching and learning CrossFit?

Yea similar story, but when I got into CrossFit the idea of going to an affiliate wasn’t a reality, really, there were only like three affiliates I knew of. You had to go online and learn everything, so it never really crossed my mind to go to an affiliate. I read articles on how to do things in your garage, how to make equipment and where to get equipment. After CrossFit took off, I stayed in my garage for a long time, because I was comfortable doing it there and it worked for me.

You mentioned building things in your garage, what have you built for your garage gym?

Oh yea, I’ve built plyometric boxes and pull-up bars for outside, and just putting my rings wherever I could. When I started I didn’t even have bumper plates, for a long time, just a regular barbell, metal plates and a pull-up bar. I made a makeshift squat rack from an old smith machine, but that was before I was even in the garage. I actually started in an old attic room we had in our old house. But overtime I added to my collection, I got rings, and eventually bumper plates.

How about Olympic lifting? I mean that’s complicated stuff and you’re one of the top dudes. 

Yea it was all self-taught. I learned from the CrossFit Journal and by paying close attention to world-class Olympic Lifters, and all the videos they have on YouTube. I just did my best to mimic what they were doing, filmed myself, did my own critiques and coached myself through it. It was never stubbornness to not go see a coach, I just never had that opportunity.

Training alone is tough, do you have any recommendations for getting a little more of that mental edge with your training?

I think it all depends on how motivated you are, and how invested you are in what you do. CrossFit, right now, is my job and I absolutely love it. I love coaching and I love working out. I’d probably workout about the same, well maybe a little less, even if I wasn’t competing in the CrossFit Games. I enjoy pushing my self and seeing how far I can go. We don’t know how far CrossFit will go, and I like to keep pushing that limit.

Alright Ben, I gotta give you some of the generic questions: Least favorite exercise and most favorite exercise?

Well, I can tell you my least favorite workout was probably the 7 minutes of burpees we saw last year during the open, and even the snatch workout from last year’s open was pretty bad. My favorite would have to be heavy clean and jerk, especially when it’s in a workout and even ground to overhead lifts. I prefer the medium time domain workouts too, over the short ones.

Tips to those training in their garage, or for those who want to get started?

Find something that pushes you and motivates you, and just keep doing it, you will get better.

To get started you really just need the basics; a barbell, some plates and a pull-up bar. Those are probably the three most important things.

Ben is an impressive dude! A self-taught monster athlete whose mental toughness has to be on par with a Navy Seal to accomplish so much, while training in his garage, often alone.

We could all take a page out of Ben’s book. For me, that’s staying motivated. I love what he said about finding what pushes you and to just keep doing it. We often get wrapped around how quickly things are or are not happening, but the truth of the matter…just stick with it, and you will get better.

Ben is looking forward to the 2013 CrossFit Games season with the Open in just a few short day, and he said he has a feeling we may be doing some burpees :)

Good luck this year Ben!


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  • Scott

    This was shockingly refreshing. I always wondered if someone could “do it” simply working out in a garage by themselves. And by “do it” I mean reach elite level fitness goals. Whatever they might be.

    • Jerred

      I know right!? Pretty impressive dude!

  • Misty

    I had the chance to watch him compete at regionals last year, he was very unassuming in person but just destroyed his competition which was incredible to watch!
    Seth and I are always cheering for him to go all the way!
    Impressive athlete indeed!

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