Photo: ice5nake

Want to see serious feats of superhuman strength, stamina, and sweat? On Wednesday, July 24th, the world’s best “CrossFitters” will battle it out under the Los Angeles sun for a chance at winning the title of “Fittest on Earth” — and a $275,000 grand prize. We have the scoop on how, who, and what to watch at the championships of one of the world’s fastest-growing sports.

What It Is

The CrossFit Games are the pinnacle of competition for CrossFit, a fitness methodology based on functional movement performed at high intensity. The Games pit athletes against various workouts to determine the fittest man and woman on earth. That means competitors will face workouts that include a mix of running, swimming, weightlifting, and gymnastics movements, usually performed as fast as possible.

Sound impressive? It’s all in a life’s work for elite CrossFitters. Founded by Greg Glassman in the early 2000s, CrossFit has grown from a niche community to fitness phenom with more than 7,000 affiliated gyms opened in the past ten years. And while CrossFit has come a long way as a sport, most top athletes are still regular folks who compete without big-name sponsorships and balance full-time jobs on top of training.

Aside from being grueling, the Games are also a total blast to watch. This year, competitors will compete in 15 to 20 workouts over five intense days. Some events will draw from existing CrossFit workouts — like “Fran,” an infamous combo of thrusters and pull-ups — while others will be made up specifically for this year’s competition. Last year’s test included a rugged triathlon, heavy clean ladder, and jump rope-sledgehammer couplet, among other challenges. The better athletes do compared to other competitors, the more points they earn.

While most of this year’s workouts were kept secret to ensure a level playing field, the first day’s workouts were leaked a little early. On Wednesday, competitors will face a combo of swimming sprints and gymnastics movements, followed by a half-marathon row (that’s 21,097 meters). From Friday through Sunday, they’ll regroup at LA’s StubHub Center for the remaining events.

For their efforts, the fittest man and woman on earth walk away with $275,000 each, while the top Team (comprised of six athletes from a single gym) and Masters (over age 40) competitors receive smaller prize packages. Look for two-time defending champ Rich Froning to defend his crown against an onslaught of new and returning competitors. Two-time champ Annie Thorisdottir is sidelined with a back injury, leaving the women’s field wide-open.

How to Watch

While the Masters events for competitors age 40+ started Tuesday, July 23rd, the individual men, women, and team competitions begin on Wednesday, July 24th. For those who can’t make it to Los Angeles to watch live, there are still plenty of options to follow the action:

  • The entirety of this year’s Games will be broadcast online through ESPN 3 (you'll need to verify your Internet service provider). For viewers outside the U.S., the same stream will be broadcast for free on Games.CrossFit.com.
  • The CrossFit Games website will also feature regular highlights and updates throughout the competition.
  • The final hour of competition on Sunday — 4-5pm Pacific Time — will also be broadcast on TV on ESPN 2.
  • Following along on Twitter? Make sure to follow @CrossFit and @CrossFitGames for real-time results and video updates.
  • Check out regular photo updates from the events on CrossFit's Instagram page.
  • Fans can also follow CrossFit on Facebook for results, leaderboards, and photos of athletes in action.

Do you think CrossFit is a real sport? Will you be watching this year’s CrossFit Games? Sound off below and tweet the author @d_tao.

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