HWPO: Hard Work Pays Off - book cover
Exercise & Fitness
  • Publisher : Rodale Books
  • Published : 11 Jan 2022
  • Pages : 320
  • ISBN-10 : 0593233751
  • ISBN-13 : 9780593233757
  • Language : English

HWPO: Hard Work Pays Off

Transform your body and mind with the definitive guide to building peak strength, endurance, and speed, from the five-time CrossFit Games champion and Fittest Man on Earth

No matter your level of fitness, no matter if you've never attempted CrossFit before, this book is your total training manual.
Mat Fraser is undisputedly the fittest man in CrossFit history for winning the CrossFit Games an unprecedented five times. A student of engineering, Fraser optimized his body like a machine, and his absolute dedication to the training program he designed for himself is now legendary. For years, every single decision he made was weighed against the question: "Will this help me win?" If the answer was no, he didn't do it. If it would give him even the slightest edge or advantage, he would-no matter the cost. Fraser became a master of identifying his weaknesses and then seeking out training methods to improve them, and he's idolized in the fitness community for his relentless pursuit of peak performance. It's not hard to see why he achieved so much success-but how is a different question.

Throughout his career, Fraser has been highly guarded about his specific training techniques (after all, sharing them would not help him win the CrossFit Games). But with his recent retirement from competition, Fraser is finally ready to open up about his path to the podium. HWPO reveals the workouts, training hacks, eating plans, and mental strategies that have helped make him a champion. It's an incredible resource of elite training strategies, illustrated workouts, and motivational stories, and it's a glimpse into the mind of one of the world's greatest athletes.

Editorial Reviews

Praise for Mat Fraser

"Mat Fraser isn't just the first and only 5-time ‘Fittest Man on Earth' . . . he has cemented his status in many people's minds as the greatest CrossFit athlete in history."-Rogue Fitness

"The LeBron James of CrossFit."-TMZ Sports

Short Excerpt Teaser



For my first five years of weightlifting, every part of my training was focused on technique. My starting position, my pull from the ground, my bar path as it traveled up-everything had to be perfect, and I hated it. I started weightlifting because I wanted to get jacked, not to have the best form. But now, almost a decade after I quit that sport, I see how much that foundation paid off.

Just by looking at a workout, I know exactly how to adjust my technique. If the weight is light and the reps are high, I can shorten my movement and cycle the bar as quickly as possible. If the weight is heavy or I need to recover, I can switch to slow, efficient single reps. And whether I'm fresh or at the end of a WOD, I never need to worry about not meeting the movement standards-the infamous "no rep."

However, technique alone wasn't enough to make me great. When I went to the Olympic Training Camp, I was the weakest guy by far, which is how I ended up breaking my back in two places. From then all the way through my CrossFit career, I've had to dedicate myself to strength-sometimes to the exclusion of all else. It's a long, repetitive process, but to be your best self, you need both strength and technique.

I'm here to teach you both.

Strength Technique 101

My weightlifting career began by accident. In middle school, my best friend and I were on the football team, and for a few days each week, we'd get to lift with the high school guys. There was no training program to follow, so each session we'd max out our bench press and do bicep curls until we failed. At that age, your body's growing so quickly that you don't need good form to get stronger. Almost every time I lifted, I'd hit a new personal record.

During one of these sessions, a football coach saw my passion and suggested to my dad, who along with my mom was a former Olympic athlete, that I train at an actual weightlifting club. At the time, I had no clue how any of the movements were supposed to look, and I didn't even know I was already doing a "clean and jerk." I just thought it was cool to get the barbell from the ground over my head.

When my dad and I walked into that weightlifting club in Essex, Vermont, it was nothing like what I'd expected. For starters, no one looked like the guys I had seen getting pumped at Muscle Beach. They weren't absolutely shredded, and a lot of them weren't even lifting weights. Instead, they had a PVC pipe in their hands and would do nothing more than bend forward at the waist and stand. Bend at the waist and stand. I didn't even see a rack of dumbbells, just a narrow room with white walls, drop ceilings, and twelve platforms made of unfinished plywood.

I expected I'd train like we did at football practice-no supervision, no form, just lifting as much as I could and dropping the bar when it was too much. Instead, Coach Polakowski told me to grab a broomstick.

For the next few weeks, all I worked on was the starting positions, which differ slightly depending on which of the two Olympic lifts you're doing: the snatch, where you get the barbell from the ground over your head in one motion, or the clean and jerk, where the bar goes first from the ground to your shoulders and then overhead.

Olympic weightlifting consists of two lifts: the snatch and the clean and jerk. For the snatch you get the barbell from the ground over your head in one motion. For the clean and jerk the bar goes first from the ground to your shoulders and then overhead. The starting position is slightly different for each.

Advanced Technique

I worked on my starting position for weeks, then Coach Pol let me move on to the next step, pulling the stick from the ground to my knees. It was slow, repetitive work, and I hated it. I just kept wondering, "How am I going to get stronger on a broomstick?"

The only encouraging sign was that, when Polakowski pointed out where I was making a mistake, I could usually feel it and make a correction. As I'd realize later when I studied engineering in college, my brain is pretty well wired to understand movement. So once Coach Pol gave me the cues, they intuitively made sense.

This body awareness is one of the greatest assets you can have in weightlifting, but I just wanted to set a new PR at every session, especially when I realized how strong the other lifters actually were. Thank goodness Coach Pol prevented me from picking up bad habits that are nearly impossible to break later, like lifting the shoulders too soon or pulling with the arms before the legs are fully extended.

Over the course of months, I graduated from the broomstick, to the PVC pipe, to the 5- and 7-pound bars, then to the 35-pound bar. At the time,...