When Sam Briggs first qualified for the CrossFit Games in 2010, the firefighter from Manchester, England, finished a respectable 19th. The following year, she raced up the rankings, finishing just outside the top three. Though a knee injury forced her to withdraw from the 2012 Open, Sam bounced back strong in 2013, winning two Open workouts (14.1 and 14.4) on the way to the top of the women’s worldwide table. Riding this momentum, she went on to win the Europe Regional and claim the title of Fittest Woman on Earth.
Sam followed this up by going back-to-back in the Open and reeled off successive fourth place finishes at the 2015 and 2016 Games. Transitioning to the Masters (age 35 to 39) division, Sam was back on the podium in 2019. Now she’s setting her sights on qualifying for CrossFit’s premier competition in the women’s division for the next two years. In this interview, Sam – who’s the latest addition to our Momentous ambassador team – reveals what’s motivating her to chase this lofty goal, how her nutritional approach has evolved, and why her mental game is her biggest competitive advantage.
How have you kept your training consistent during the pandemic?
When everywhere started to go into lockdown, we rented a garage unit close to our apartment and filled it with as much equipment as we could get our hands on so I could keep my training as normal as possible. Since then, gyms in the US have reopened and we’ve bought a house with a garage, so the first thing we did was kit it out in case we encounter another lockdown! Luckily, I love training, so although it was weird at first and I definitely prefer working out with others, I stayed motivated.
Why did you decide to set yourself the goal of making the CrossFit Games this year and in 2022?
I set the goal to keep trying to compete in the individual category for the next two years, taking me through my 40th birthday. If I manage to achieve it, CrossFit will award me the title of “Fittest 40-Year-Old in History,” which is pretty cool! I want to prove to people that age shouldn’t be an excuse to not try something. I didn’t start my CrossFit journey until I was 27, winning the Games at 31. Now I’m 39 and competing against athletes who are literally half my age. Hopefully, I can inspire some people who’ve wanted to take up different hobbies or sports but feel they’re too old to actually go out there and try new things.
How has your approach to nutrition evolved?
Over the years, I’ve tried many different ways of eating, including Paleo, vegan, and Zone diets. I have listened to my body, taken the best bits from each that work for me, and now have a very balanced way of eating. I try to eat as clean and healthy as possible, making sure that what goes into my body is high quality. I spend hours in the gym so I want to ensure I’m fueling my body to not only support my workouts but also help me to recover so I can train again the next day.
Through the course of your CrossFit journey, what has been your biggest mindset challenge, and how have you tackled it?
In 2016, I’d had a spell of pretty serious injuries and had just competed at the Games on a shoulder requiring surgery. I thought my body was telling me enough was enough and it was time for me to retire. After the surgery, it wasn’t clear if I would compete again, so the mindset had to change. I had to refocus my energy into the rehab and stop thinking about the athlete I was. If I was to get back onto the competition floor, I would have to be a new athlete. The Sam Briggs you see now is a completely different athlete to the one who won [the Games] in 2013. In some areas I’m not as good as that person was, but I’m now ok with that, as in many ways I am a better athlete.
You recently stated on Instagram that success is no accident. Can you share a few of your own keys for being successful in CrossFit and life?
I think the biggest thing that has helped me stay at the top for so long is that I love what I do. Some days are obviously harder than others, but I love pushing myself and seeing what my body is capable of and I’m not afraid of hard work. If you want results, you’ve got to put in the work. When I said success is no accident, I meant that becoming successful is the result of years of grinding in the gym. When everyone else is going to a bar, catching a movie, chilling at the beach, or partying, you’re going back to the gym to do another session. Only you can do the work, but if you truly love what you do, it’s worth it.
Have you changed anything in your Open prep this time around?
I have been focusing a little more on the recovery side. Training is pretty much all systems go, so I’m trying to take a few extra steps to ensure my body is recovering as best as possible. This way, I can keep training hard with the hope of qualifying for the semi-finals, while still being able to give everything to the Open workouts. One of the things that I’ve found to help is taking an ice bath each day.
What are a couple of tips you’d give a recreational CrossFitter who wants to up their game?
I think finding a good coach is key as you can only get so far on your own. Don’t neglect good mechanics, as moving well will save you from numerous injuries down the line. And have fun! Being an athlete takes a lot of hard work and sacrifices, so be sure to enjoy the journey.
Why did you decide to partner with Momentous?
When cleaning up my diet, I tried to eliminate foods that were jam-packed full of unnecessary ingredients and fillers. The first thing I noticed about Momentous products was how clean looking their branding looks. Then when I examined the actual products, I realized that this is carried over. They’re careful to source the best ingredients and the products are free of fillers, making Momentous an ideal choice for someone who cares about what they put into their body. As an added reassurance for athletes, Momentous also conducts third-party testing, ensuring their products are clean and safe to use.
Which Momentous products are you using regularly, and how do you fit each into your daily routine?
I start every morning with a scoop of Momentous Collagen Peptides in my breakfast oats. After my long afternoon sessions, I take Momentous Endurance Recovery Protein with a scoop of creatine added, which tides me over until I get home from the gym and can eat. Before bed, I have a shake with Momentous Essential Protein and one of the Elite Sleep capsules to send me off for a good night’s rest.