- Mat Fraser is the five-time “Fittest Man on Earth,” having won the CrossFit Games from 2016 to 2020.
- After retiring, Fraser began coaching elite CrossFit athletes and created his own training app.
- He told Insider that the No. 1 movement people should master to get fitter is squats.
Mat Fraser is the five-time “Fittest Man on Earth,” having won the CrossFit Games from 2016 to 2020. In February 2021, Fraser retired from competitive CrossFit, but that doesn’t mean he’s slowed down.
Fraser told Insider he’s busier than ever, not only maintaining his own fitness but also training both elite CrossFitters (including the 2021 champion Justin Medeiros and the up-and-coming star Mal O’Brien) and everyday people through his new workout app, HWPO Training.
HWPO stands for “hard work pays off,” which Fraser says is his mantra.
Although CrossFit requires hard work across disciplines, Fraser said he believes squats are crucial to master, whether you want to get fitter or stronger,
or build muscle.
Fraser said squats are the best move for improving health and fitness
If you’re new to CrossFit, or any kind of strength training, Fraser said nailing your technique is crucial.
“Don’t rush to the heavy barbells and high-skilled movements,” he said. “It can be frustrating in the beginning when you see everyone else doing all the fun, sexy stuff, but putting in that groundwork and building a solid foundation is going to pay dividends through the rest of your athletic career.”
Fraser recommended mastering squats to people who want to get fitter. Squats are compound movements, meaning they recruit multiple muscle groups.
“Proper squatting is probably one of the best movements to make you better and healthier for life,” he said. Moving your lower body while holding weight with your upper body is “so valuable,” Fraser said.
If you can back squat properly — with a barbell across your rear delts — it will translate into lots of movements, whether it’s getting out of a chair or carrying boxes, Fraser said.
He said he believes the main mistake people make with squatting is not getting proper coaching and learning how to do it correctly, which can lead to injury (especially when lifting heavier weights).
Fraser said he is in the ‘honeymoon phase’ of his strength-training workouts.
Fraser no longer competes, but he said he still works out six days a week, and he’s enjoying doing more strength training.
“I’m still in the honeymoon phase of bodybuilding workouts,” he said, adding that he likes not always being out of breath and can now take his time completing movements.
“I’m really enjoying this new style of training of hitting a set, trying to go to failure, and then resting three to four minutes in between sets,” he said.
Fraser said he initially struggled to stay motivated without a particular goal, so he now sets focuses for himself, such as bench pressing and deadlifting.
“My emphasis is more on general health and fitness and making sure I have a good time,” he said.
Recovery is still important to Fraser to keep his body healthy
When Fraser was competing, he said, he spent hours in the gym every day but made sure he put just as much emphasis on recovery. After retiring, he said he made the mistake of neglecting recovery, which led to aches and pains.
“I’m still demanding a lot from my body and need to make sure I give back to it,” Fraser said. He said he now incorporates foam rollers and massage guns into his routine and aims to sleep eight hours a night.
“That’s not a requirement just for training at the highest level; it’s a requirement to feel healthy day to day,” he said.
Fraser said his body weight has stayed about the same since retiring, but he eats about a third as much as he used to.
The foods haven’t changed much, just the quantity, though he said he no longer needs quick-burning fuel for mid-training sessions, like Snickers bars and gummies.