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We sat down with our newest athlete Taylor Drescher to find out more about how this cheerleader has become a CrossFitter to look out for this year in the CrossFit Open!
Q: I know you have a background in cheerleading but what intrigued you to start CrossFit and Olympic weightlifting?
TD: One of my friends who was a male cheerleader at the University of Louisville introduced me to CrossFit in September of 2009. I had always enjoyed physical fitness and working out, but the intensity and constant challenge of CrossFit was what caught my attention. I wasn’t very fond of Olympic lifting at first. The high demand for technique drove me crazy, especially working on the snatch. Once I started to get the hang of it and realized I was actually pretty good at it, I started to enjoy it. My coaches entered me into a few competitions and I decided to stick with it.
Q: What is your favorite thing about CrossFit vs. “traditional training”?
TD: The best part about CrossFit is the constant variation of movements and WODs (workout of the day). It’s a sport that is almost impossible to become bored with. I don’t see myself ever becoming “burned out.” Once you master a movement, there’s always something else that you really suck at, so it keeps you on your toes. Mainly it keeps you humble.
Q: I know a lot of CrossFitters are very strict with their diet, do you have a certain nutrition plan that you follow?
TD: Yes I follow a strict diet. I do not follow the common diet of most CrossFitters, that of Paleo. I used to eat paleo and when I started becoming more competitive I found myself needing more fuel. My coach Shane Sweatt wrote me a diet when I started lifting here at the Sweatt Shop/ CrossFit Conjugate (home of the 39 World Record Holder and World’s Strongest Woman Laura Phelps Sweatt). In my plan I eat about 5/6 times a day. The morning starts out with 1 cup of oatmeal, 1 cup of blueberries, 1.5 scoops of protein, 2 tbsp. of liquid fish oil and HMB capsules. My next two meals are about 4 oz. of meat with 6 oz. of carbs: brown rice, red skin potatoes, or sweet potatoes and veggies. I eat half an avocado with one meal, and usually a little olive oil with my spinach. After that my meals consist of protein, and veggies with one more small serving of fruit, maybe a banana and a protein shake after a WOD. I take HMB with one lunch meal and with my last meal. I drink at least 1 gallon of water a day. When I came to Cincinnati at the end of August my body fat percentage was about 15%, now it is down to 11%.
Q: I know that the CrossFit Open begins in March, what type of training have you been implementing to prepare?
TD: I train at Westside Barbell Certified with coaches Shane and Laura Sweatt who are the powerlifting strength coaches and seminar teachers for CrossFit Conjugate. My strength training programming is the conjugate method derived from Louie Simmons. My numbers have gone up tremendously on all of my lifts since implementing this program. When I started here I benched 170, it is now 200; I squatted 285, it is now 300; and my biggest gain was in my deadlift. My old personal record (pr) was 315 and it is now 425. My Olympic lifts have gone up as well, my snatch was 160, which is now 170; clean and jerk was 210, and is now 225. I also work two nights a week with Chris Cleary, an Olympic lifting coach in Cincinnati. The conjugate method uses two max effort days upper and lower, lower alternating between a squat and a deadlift week to week. It also includes two dynamic effort days, speed bench, speed squats, and speed pulls on deadlifts. We have a constant variation on all of the lifts and accessory movements so “accommodation” does not occur. 80% of our strength gains and strength movements come from our accessory work. We do heavy accessory, top sets, meaning usually until failure. We have a heavy emphasis on the posterior chain, glutes, hamstrings, spinal erectors, rear delts, and lower head of the tricep. These are muscles that are commonly neglected and will make a huge difference on all your lifts. I pull the sled 3 days a week and normally WOD 1-2 times a day. I do short fast sprint WODs on max effort days and longer endurance WODs on dynamic days.
Q: How do you feel about your chances of making it to Regionals/Games this year? What sets you apart as an athlete and gives you an edge against the competition?
TD: I plan on making it to regionals this year. I know I am worlds ahead of where I was this time last year. I am hoping on making a significant jump in the polls on the open workouts coming up soon. My ultimate goal is to make it to the games this year. We will see if I will be eligible to come back from TBS in Quantico, where I will be stationed with the Marines, to participate in competing at regionals.
I think that most competitive athletes all have determination and drive, or they would not be competitive. What sets me apart is that I am not willing to go backwards in life, and when I set my mind to a goal or dream, I will do whatever it takes to get there. I also think that my size in numbers on strength overall will make the heavy WODs much easier for me. Anything with a barbell….I’m good to go. If this year isn’t my year, I will not back down. I have made enormous gains using the conjugate system in less than 1 year. I can’t imagine where I will be this time next year. I may not be the fastest girl in the Central East, but I’ll be damned if I’m not the strongest.
Q: Who has been your inspiration through your competition journey?
TD: There are so many good girls in CrossFit that I look up to. The ones that instantly come to mind are Lindsey Valenzuela and Elisabeth Akinwale. I think I look up to them so much because I feel like we have similar characteristics in common. They are bigger, stronger, and excel in Olympic lifting. My goal is definitely to compete alongside them soon. In our region I really look up to Lindsey Smith. She has been a games competitor for years and continues to make it there each year. Her faith in God plays a major role in her training and shows in her attitude. I value that virtue in her, because I know I would not be where I am without God in my life. I thank him every day for blessing me with this gift. I hope that one day I can share my gift he has given me by inspiring others to challenge themselves every day and reach their full potential in life.
Q: I know that you recently opened your own box (gym) with a group of people… What inspired you to do this?
TD: I met Shane and Laura on a visit to their gym when I was 19 and we stayed in touch. I ran into them at the CrossFit Games in California and they mentioned they were planning on opening a CrossFit gym in Cincinnati. I was already moving to Cincinnati and was very interested in working with them. I sent them my resume, and started working with them the week I moved out. We calibrated ideas and plans and opening the gym a little over a month ago. We reached over 50 members in our first month. We are incorporating the conjugate method into our classes and competitive athletes. We have already started to see gains and progress. This gym will definitely be one of the best in the U.S.
Q: What do you tell others they need to do in order to be a successful athlete?
TD: The most important thing I ask for from most of my athletes is a good attitude and to be “coachable”. You look at the number of college football players vs. pro, there are more that played college but never made it pro. I am convinced that most of those athletes all had the same level of talent; the ones that make it are the ones who are coachable. A coachable athlete must be willing to trust that their coach always has their best interest and willing to take a small step back in order to move forward.
Q: I know that you have been competing in CrossFit and Olympic weightlifting for some time now, what has been your proudest moment thus far in each of the sports?
TD: The most proud moment I have had was recently when I competed in an individual competition that we hosted. The last event was a “powerlifting meet” CrossFit style. With 10 min of rest in between each lift and a 2 min max reps of double unders at the end. I pulled a 415 lb. dead lift after competing in three other events beforehand. Shane has trained me so much mentally, I was not accepting a pull lower than 400, so 415 was very exciting.
Q: What are your ultimate goals and how do you think that HMB will help you to achieve them?
TD: My ultimate goals are to become the best competitive CrossFit athlete that I can be. I want to be well known and continue to coach and inspire others. I think that HMB can help me reach out to other people by spreading my story. I also think HMB has helped me so much with my recovery and continues to help me with my gains.
Q: What are some fun facts about Taylor that most people do not know?
TD: I am super girly! I love to lift heavy, get dirty, and I tend to cuss a lot….but I was a competitive cheerleader for 15 years. I love to get dressed up, paint my nails and go tanning. I also LOVE tattoos….one day I want to get a full sleeve, but for now the Marines won’t allow it and my dad will KILL ME! I was born in London, England when my dad was stationed there, but have never been back! I hate feet! Because I hate my feet, that’s probably my least favorite feature on my body, and my favorite is probably my arms. I am VERY close with my younger sister Madeline, and we are polar opposites! I also have a best friend named Ginny that looks like my identical twin, we went to high school together and she also does CrossFit in Tennesee!
Thanks Taylor for your time today and we are very proud to have you representing Team HMB! We look forward to seeing how the CrossFit Open unfolds for you!