5 Exercises That Elite Athlete Chandler Smith Swears by for Big Results

·3 min read
Photo credit:  kylie_photog
Photo credit: kylie_photog

To succeed in CrossFit, as Chandler Smith continues to do, it takes years and years of relentless practice. Top-tier athletes need to have an expert working knowledge of gymnastics, Olympic weightlifting, athletics, conditioning work, running, swimming, cycling and much more. Plus, of course, they need a competitive edge.

For Smith, a US Army veteran and two-time CrossFit Games athlete, this is something he knows all too well. But, as he attests below, there are a handful of exercises that he deploys to keep him at his peak, wherever he's training. You'll find them below, plus a workout that Smith shared with Men's Health for you to try yourself.



  1. From standing, plant your hands on the floor and kick your feet back into a high plank position.

  2. Now, drop your chest to the floor, launch yourself back up into a jump and clap your hands behind your head.

Why: "You can do these anywhere and there’s no limit to the variations to make this exercise challenge any part of your fitness," says Smith.

Back Squat


  1. Stand with your feet more than shoulder-width apart and hold a barbell across your upper back with an overhand grip – avoid resting it on your neck.

  2. Hug the bar into your traps to engage your upper back muscles.

  3. Slowly sit back into a squat with head up, back straight and backside out. Lower until your hips are aligned with your knees, with your legs at 90 degrees – a deeper squat will be more beneficial but get the strength and flexibility first.

  4. Drive your heels into the floor to push yourself explosively back up. Keep form until you’re stood up straight: that’s one.

Why: "I think this is the best exercise out there for building strength, so it’s a staple in any phase of my season," says Smith. "If you’ve only got time to do one lift in the gym, it should probably be this one.



  1. Grab the handles of a rower with an upright torso.

  2. Keep your head and neck neutral. Drive hard with your legs, keeping your arms straight until your legs are fully locked out.

  3. Then lean back slightly and finish the stroke by pulling hard with your arms until your hands tap your ribs. Reverse and repeat.

Why: "The wide variety of usage you can get from a rowing machine makes it a winner. You can use it to build power through short sprints or endurance over long time domains. I think it’s the best available tool when it comes to mono-structural endurance development."



  1. Hold onto a pull-up bar with hands just outside shoulder-width.

  2. Start hanging with your arms extended and lift your feet toward the bar while pressing down with straight arms.

  3. Both feet should contact the bar between your hands.

Why: "This movement is one of the most common workouts in CrossFit and can challenge your grip and core like few other exercises can," says Smith.


Why: "Whether it’s Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu or wrestling, the full-body workout that comes from a grappling session is top-notch," says Smith. "On most days, you’ll leave the mats with burning lungs, sore muscles, and a host of learned lessons to review."

'Loredo' Hero WOD

Set a stopwatch and complete six rounds of the following circuit as quickly as possible. Smith’s record time is 16:54. To drop your own time, focus on the run. "Your time will be dictated by [the fastest] run pace you can sustain while still recovering from the other movements," Smith says. "Having more top-end speed makes you more effective here."

Bodyweight Squats: 24 reps
Pushups: 24 reps
Walking Lunges: 24 reps
Run: 400 meters

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