WHEN Nicole Holcomb went on the Olympic rings nearly 10 feet in the air and balanced herself for 15 seconds, she made it look easy.
She continued that three more times, then put herself in a handstand to see how fast she could do 30 handstand pushups.
She did that successfully in a little over a minute, with not even a drop of sweat.
That was just her warmup, and she had nearly two hours to go.
But to be one of the 48 women competing at the Reebok CrossFit Games, doing that is routine.
“I start preparing for anything and everything,” Holcomb said. “The great thing about CrossFit is that it adds so many different elements to training, whether it be Olympic lifts to swimming.”
With more than 138,000 people competing in 17 regionals, Holcomb placed second in the Cincinnati Regional to advance to the CrossFit Games on July 25 in Carson, California.
In preparation for training, Holcomb put herself through two two-hour sessions at 812 CrossFit with a wide range of workouts.
For starters, one of her warmups for a workout consists of running 400 meters, five rounds of five pullups, 10 pushups and 15 squats.
After that, for time, she would row on a weighted machine for 1,000 meters and then add five rounds of 25 pullups and seven push jerks.
Once she finished doing 12 minutes’ worth of kettlebell swings, that concluded the first session.
“It’s a complex structure when dealing with CrossFit,” Holcomb said. “You could be in the best shape of your life, but when you do certain lifts in the programs that you haven’t done before, your body will hurt. You work muscles you never thought you could work.”
The second session consisted of 20 situps and back extensions, five sets of dead lift and split jerks, running two miles and pushing a 180-pound sled or running with a 50-pound sandbag.
“It’s never easy,” Holcomb said. “My trainers put me through so many different workouts that every day is different. At one point, I could be doing Olympic lifts, like clean-and-jerk, then at another session I could be swimming.”
While working out is the main focus for Holcomb, she also has to watch her diet. Holcomb does that by being on the Paleo diet. She steers away from non-processed foods and adds an abundance of meats, vegetables and eggs to her meal plan.
While the typical athlete would stay away from fats and worry about carb-counting, Holcomb said the diet relies on energy.
“I use fats from meats and eggs to give me a boost,” Holcomb said. “You utilize fat for energy, so I tend to go a little higher fat and moderate carbohydrates.”
For breakfast, Holcomb might have two pieces of bacon, three eggs and a peach. At lunch time, she would have salmon and an abundance of greens, with dinner being a hamburger and vegetables with guacamole.
“I try to eat as many vegetables as I can,” Holcomb said. “I stick to natural foods that come from the ground or from natural sources that aren’t processed. It may seem like it isn’t the best diet, but you can definitely feel a change of energy in your body.”
Holcomb trains twice daily Tuesday through Sunday with trainer Gabe Miller, with Mondays being her recovery day.
“She’s been preparing for this tournament for three years,” Miller said. “While she won’t know exactly what to expect going into the games, she makes it a point to do as many different types of training exercises.”
“He puts me through real intense training,” Holcomb said. “We go through every type of workout to prepare for the games because, in a way, you don’t know what to expect.”
Holcomb’s flexibility and balance from her gymnastics days at Columbus North High School are what Miller believes are her strong suits.
“When you see her balance herself on the rings or do things with her body that not many people can do, it’s unreal,” Miller said. “She does everything almost flawlessly, and she dedicates herself every day to make things perfect.”
Although Holcomb’s training schedule is packed tight, the transformation to do intense training didn’t happen overnight.
“I got a good glimpse of what I was capable of when I did gymnastics,” Holcomb said. “When I graduated high school, I still wanted to find a way to train, so I would go to my college and lift weights or do elliptical workouts.”
Later this month, all the training will be put to the test against the best the world has to offer.
“She’s definitely on a different level,” Miller said. “She is completely dedicated to improving herself going through four- to five-hour workouts every day. She will be exciting to watch.”