© Iko PB Photographer
Last year, Norwegian CrossFit athlete Kristin Holte clocked up a career-best second-place finish at the 2019 CrossFit Games, beating some of the sport’s biggest names to earn the title of second Fittest On Earth. Since then, Kristin’s repeated her national title win, earned a second-place finish at the Filthy 150 event and taken third place in the 2020 CrossFit Open, whilst gearing up for a very different spectator-free CrossFit Games this summer.
In this Q&A, Kristin, a former national pole vault champion and a member of the Norwegian heptathlon team, shares her journey to CrossFit, her training during lockdown, how she prepared for last year’s Games and some of her favourite workouts.
*N.B Kristin answered my questions last month before the controversy surrounding CrossFit’s then CEO Greg Glassman, which is why it is not covered in this interview*
Firstly, are you safe and well amid the coronavirus pandemic?
Yes, I am doing well thanks. I have gotten used to the new situation and I am enjoying some more time at home. Usually, I am travelling a lot during springtime, but since all my plans got cancelled I have enjoyed more time at home and in the beautiful surroundings around where I live here in Norway. I am very happy that we have been able to be outside and can use the nature for hikes and short trips.
You had surgery on your left wrist in January – how is your rehab going?
Yeah, I had been struggling with Carpal Tunnel Syndrome in my left wrist for over a year and I got to the point where there was no other option than surgery. I had the same surgery in my right wrist in 2016 and I was back to full training in 7-8 weeks. This time it took over 3 months, and that was really frustrating. But now it’s all healed up and I am able to do all movements again which feels really good.
Have the pandemic’s restrictions meant a change in training or motivation for you?
I was still rehabbing my wrist when the restrictions started so my training didn’t change that much, except that I did all my sessions at my home gym instead of going to the CrossFit gym. For the most part, I have been very motivated because my body gradually felt better and I was able to incorporate more and more movements again. But some days have been really hard. The hardest part has been to start. Once I am moving it’s fine, but when the gym is only some stairs and a door away from my home, where I am used to relaxing, it’s hard to just switch from ‘relax mode’ to ‘beast mode’ in a second. So that’s been challenging, but I am just super happy that I have my home gym so I’ve been able to train pretty much like normal through this time.
Can you talk through what a typical week of training currently looks like?
A typical week of training looks like this:
AM: Weightlifting and strength work
PM: Aerobic Intervals – e.g. 5 x 5 minutes. This can be running or CrossFit-style intervals with different ergs or movements
AM: Strength work and gymnastics
PM: Low-intensity training for 60 minutes
AM: Weightlifting and strength work
PM: Anaerobic intervals such as the Assault Bike – for example, 6 x 2-minute intervals with 3-4 minute rest – or CrossFit-style workouts with different movements and ergs
Thursday: Active recovery – easy movement for about 60 minutes and yoga/mobility
AM: Weightlifting and strength work
PM: Gymnastics and conditioning
AM: Weightlifting, strength work and conditioning
PM: Running intervals
Sunday: Rest day
Last year you came second at the 2019 CrossFit Games – congratulations! Did you go into the competition believing you could podium?
Thank you. You know, I don’t set any goals for placement because I know that is out my control. If I put out my absolute best effort I will get the placement that I deserve. So, my main goal is always to make sure I give it my absolute best in every single event – and to have no regrets.
With that said, I knew I was in the best shape of my life and the best prepared I had ever been before The 2019 CrossFit Games, so I knew I could do well if I performed my absolute best.
How did you feel about the process of athletes getting cut last year – did it add a lot of pressure?
I think this added a lot of pressure to a lot of athletes, but not to me. I loved it! I always love a good challenge and I thrive when things are a little chaotic and when our mental game is the determining factor. I had to focus on myself and my own performance. It was all-out in every single event and if I was good enough, I got to do the next event. It was all-or-nothing and I think that was really cool.
Rewinding a lot, you have a very sporty background – you were a national pole vault champion and also part of the Norwegian Heptathlon team. How and when did you find CrossFit?
I had just finished a marathon in cross-country skiing in March 2012, when a friend of mine told me about CrossFit. I had heard about it a few years earlier, but I didn’t think that it was for me. Now I had been doing endurance sports for two years and was ready for something new. I went to CrossFit Oslo in May 2012 for a session and I was hooked right away. I was only going to do it to keep my fitness level at an average, but after two months I was tricked into doing a CrossFit Team competition and it was no way back after that.
You’ve steadily progressed each year in the Games. Did you do anything different in your training or preparation last year?
After the Games in 2018, I decided to put 100% focus and effort into being the best athlete I could be. That meant bringing together the best possible team around me, a focus on quality in training, making sure I worked on my weaknesses, that I ate enough food and that I did my recovery properly, including sleeping enough, getting body work, floating (flotation tank for recovery), sauna, meditation and relaxing.
I was able to stay healthy without any major injuries throughout the year, which also helped a ton.
Coming into the 2019 Games, I really felt like I had done everything in my power to be as prepared as I could be, so when it was ‘Game time’ I could trust my abilities and just go in there and do my thing.
What does a typical day in your life currently look like?
I wake up at 7am and eat breakfast. Then I have my first training session from 9am-11:30. I eat my lunch at noon and then head into my second training session in the afternoon from 2pm-4pm. I eat after training (4:30pm) and then have my dinner at 7pm. I have a snack around 9pm and then at 10pm, it’s bedtime!
Please can you share one of your favourite workouts/training sessions with us?
Yes, this is a workout that my coach, CJ Martin, and I created called “Holte”.
Buy-in: 1200m run. Then three rounds of:
100ft handstand walk
10 Front squats (135/185lbs)
20 Burpee box jump-overs
30 Toes to bar
Buy out: 1200m run
Otherwise, I love to run and the following running workout is a favourite of mine. If I have a long hill close by, I would choose to do it uphill – it’s spicy but so good! Try three sets of the following: 40-second run – 20 seconds rest x 8. Rest for 3 minutes between sets.
You have a website which includes a coaching programme is that right?
Yes, I have four different Gymnastic Programs which you can find on www.kristinholte.com. The programmes cover muscle-ups, handstand and basic gymnastics.
What are your favourite items of kit for training and competing?
Reebok Nano shoes, Wrist bands, WodnDone thumb tape, Lacrosse ball, hairband and a Red Bull.
Who are you sponsored by right now?
Reebok Nordics, Unbroken RTR, Red Bull Norway and Nordic Sportsmaster.