After taking the gold medal at the Wodapalooza, Crossmaxx® athlete Antonio Alves was approached by Spain's Men's Health for an interview about this achievement. In this blog you can read the translation of that interview.
Crossfit at age 50: advice from Antonio Alves, 'El Bicho'
It's never too late to start crossfit. Regardless of age or physical condition, this fitness discipline adapts to all profiles and any time is a good time to start training in a crossfit box. Today we talk to the athlete Antonio Alves, 55 years old and vegetarian. He just participated in the Wodapalooza in Miami, where he won in the Master's category 55-59, and who tells us about his crossfit training and advice. He is sponsored by Crossmaxx®/Lifemaxx® and follows The Program, in the hands of coach Kritof Hovart.
What did you think of the Wodapalooza experience?
"I've been participating for many years and this time I did it in a new category. I'm 55 years old and I entered the 55-59 category for the first time. It was a good experience because it's a great event. It took many months of preparation, since August, to be able to give my all. I am Portuguese, but I am participating for Spain, as I have lived here for 25 years. At the level of Spanish athletes, we have generally done very well. Also with the teams, with very good classifications. More and more Europeans are going there to compete and are very good."
When did you start CrossFit?
"I did fencing until I was 20. Then I went to the regular gym to train, and because I was bored, I switched to crossfit in 2010, when I was still living in Sweden. Little by little I got addicted, mainly because of my competitive side, and in 2011 I started training hard here in Catalonia. Since then I have not stopped competing in almost all categories, from 35 till now. I love that competitive part and the types of training. Crossfit encompasses many different aspects, it's always different and that's what makes it a lot of fun."
Do you notice a lot of change on a physical level?
"A lot. Both physically and mentally I feel better than when I went to the gym, and also on a cardio level. I have more energy, more strength, I sleep much better... And on top of that I became a vegetarian 4 years ago and I noticed that change even more. You see the results of crossfit very quickly and that is why it is so addictive. You just have to know your limits. I am turning 56 and I know that I have to train with more responsibility than when I was 20. I know my limitations and within those I give everything, but on the level of resistance and strength I'm very good."
How did your way of training change?
"Because of my age I focus a lot more on technique, so that I don't injure myself. As you get older you also become more responsible and you take those things into account, also because I now need much longer to recover. I train with my head, without lifting a lot of kilos. I take care of the technique and then give my all to get a place on the podium, as I did during the Wodapalooza. I work on my strength, but I don't push it too far. That has worked really well for me, but it also depends on each person. I try to be as complete as possible in everything, also taking advantage of my fencing experience. At the level of strength, I'm not the best, but I'm not the worst either I work a lot on cardio, mobility..."
What exercises do you excel in?
"I try to make my training as complete as possible, which is the hardest thing in this sport. Now during crossfit competitions they demand more from you than before, such as swimming and running. Years ago everything was more focused on the barbell, but competitions have changed and are more complete. This means getting out of my comfort zone to go running, swimming and things like that. My training is six days a week; two or three days lifting weights and other days swimming, running or something else."
You are vegetarian, what about your diet?
"I've never had a nutritionist. As a vegetarian, I only take a B12 supplement to compensate for not eating meat and fish. In terms of quantity, I eat a bit more, but everything is vegetable-based. Of course I eat carbs after training and to fuel myself before I am going to give my all. I don't do a specific diet and on performance level in these 4 years of being a vegetarian I have had the best results in competitions. I just stopped eating meat and haven't gone back. It was pretty intense, especially because I went to McDonalds every once in a while and ate 4 or 5 burgers (laughs). The first month without meat I lost a lot of weight and noticed that I had less energy, but then my body got used to it and now it's going great. don't miss eating meat at all. My skin is also better and I rest well, and I feel less bloated and heavy. Not eating meat and fish took some of my strength away, but I don't care, it's not my priority."
How many hours do you sleep per day?
"Because I do two training sessions, two or three hours in the morning and two hours in the afternoon, I take an hour-long nap during the day; and at night about six or seven hours because I go to bed early and get up really early."
Do you do cheat meals?
"Yes, I love pizza, vegetarian of course, and the occasional glass of red wine. You have to enjoy life and find a balance."
What advice would you give to those wanting to start crossfit?
"Firstly, it's never too late to start crossfit, no matter your age. It's something I tell everyone who comes to my box in Sitges. I first recommend training in an accredited box, that is basically a guarantee of quality and involves trained instructors. Then just have an open mind, have patience, learn, improve little by little and ask whatever comes to mind. This sport requires technique and patience, so you have to take it slow and enjoy the journey, while listening to your teacher's advice. And of course understand the limitations of your age."