Not all of us have a Navy Seal mentality nor are we aspiring to compete in the CrossFit Games; but we can learn a thing or two about daily discipline, mental toughness, and enduring adversity from our recent guest, Josh Bridges.
Josh wrestled in high school and college. He worked as a telemarketer and a loan officer (both which he despised!) which led him to the decision to pursue the navy. The same friend who enticed him to aspire to become a Navy SEAL introduced him to CrossFit in 2005.
Before becoming Navy SEALs, candidates are put through some of the most mentally challenging and physically demanding training in the world. Basic Underwater Demolition/SEAL training, or BUD/S, is designed to find and develop men of the strongest character who give everything they have to accomplish their mission and support the men on their team.
(Bridges far right)
Josh recalls collegiate wrestling training being more (physically) challenging at time than BUD/S. He attributes this to starting CrossFit at the time of his BUD/S training which resulted in the BUD/S physical challenges being less difficult for him as compared to others. Over 300 started in the BUDS training with only around 40 finishing.....Josh Bridges was one of them.
Josh Bridges has never let his smaller size keep him from believing he can do anything he puts his mind to. In 2011 At 5'5" 160#, Bridges finished 2nd place at the Games. "I wasn't given the gift of height or weight but I was given the gift of WORK and the ability to get the job done. For me it's always been what can I change or do to come out on top of whatever it is I'm doing."
In 2012 Josh sustained a knee dislocation while stationed overseas. He tore his ACL, PCL, and MCL and had to return to the states for surgery and rehabilitation. He was told by many that his days as a SEAL and CrossFit athlete were over. Although the injury cost him most of the 2012 competition season; once recovered, he picked up right where he left off, winning the SoCal Regional (2013) and performing strong in the Games in 2013 (7th place) and 2014 (4th place). Josh had another strong summer in 2016, finishing 1st in the California Regional.
After 8 years as a Navy Seal, he retired to spend more time with is young boys.
He is now a professional CrossFit athlete with numerous sponsors. He only accepts sponsorship of products and programs he is passionate about.
Josh recently learned that his knee ligaments are once again torn (not one specific injury). In fact, he almost withdrew from the 2018 Games because he knew he couldn’t run or do pistols with the current condition of his knee. He competed anyway and was able to complete every event.
He’ll undergo at least 2 reconstructive surgeries early next year and will take at least a year off from competition. His training will continue but will obviously be modified to focus on knee rehabilitation and exercises and movements that he can do without compromising his ligament repair. He plans to return to competitive CrossFit.
A day in the life of Josh Bridges:
Wakes up a little before or after 7:00 AM.
His morning routine always starts with making his bed. He feels this is an important daily habit, “Accomplishing even this simple task first thing every morning sets the tone for the whole day.”
The next thing he does (this is a recent activity he’s added) is a neck down immersion in a 34 degree cold tub (he uses a chest freezer that he plugs in for a couple hours each day to chill the water). He says he’s not sure if it’s doing anything physically for him, but “I do it because it’s something I don’t want to do”. He takes about slow 20 deep breaths (turn your next shower to cold and try taking slow, deep breaths!) This cold bath lasts around 3-4 minutes and is a form of daily meditation for Josh
He then has a well-deserved morning cup of coffee (he recently decreased his daily coffee consumption from 2 cups to 1 cup). Then breakfast is a bowl of oatmeal with 2 spoonfuls of peanut butter and 1 spoonful of honey, 4 eggs, and some berries.
After breakfast he’s off to his job—which is working out!. Josh feels blessed to be able to do what he loves for a living everyday. Josh does not currently train at a CrossFit affiliate. He has a garage and outdoor gym at his home in San Diego. He has a couple of workout buddies that join him at times.
He does not have a CrossFit coach, but does consult with skill-specific coaches to help program his training specifically swimming, running, and rowing.
His morning workout begins with a 30 minute dynamic warm-up, then all-day training sessions covering strength, metabolic conditioning, and gymnastics. Sessions are paused for lunch and dinner and additional protein shakes mid-morning and later in the day.
Occasionally after dinner he’ll return to the gym if he feels he needs to hit a certain aspect of his training that was lacking that day. Josh is not afraid to work on his weakness, and he intentionally programs his training to focus on them.
Lunch and Dinner: meat (grass-fed beef or chicken thighs) He orders meat from a company that sends hormone-free, antibiotic-free products. Lunch and dinner almost always include sweet potatoes- eats around 4-5/day, then maybe a spinach salad. In recent years, Josh visited a homeopathic doctor who discovered gluten and dairy were causing inflammation in his body. He has removed these from his diet (for the most part) and has since felt less joint pain, better recovery, and better sleep. He doesn’t log food or count macros. He just eats clean most of the time allowing for occasional indulgences (like a weekly burrito!) Josh is 5’5” 170#. He has always struggled to gain weight. When he nears closer to competition, he tries to get to 180# which requires a 6000 calorie/day diet. Josh is described as one of the world's top pound-for-pound athletes.
He puts his boys to bed at 8:30 pm and puts himself to bed at 8:45 pm so he gets at least 9 hours of sleep. He does not have “FOMO” (fear of missing out) because he knows the value a good night’s sleep has on his training and well-being. In fact, when asked if he could pick ONE thing that makes a difference in his fitness and athletic performance he said, without hesitation, SLEEP! In his SEALS days, when he was making significant gains in his CrossFit workouts, his coach asked him what his magic supplement was. He told him it was SLEEP. Throughout BUD/S training, candidates are intentionally sleep deprived, but at a time during his training while a Navy SEAL, he was able to get 12-13 hours/night and learned that a well-rested body has incredible potential.
Also important to his recovery: body work (massage), PowerDot, compression (voodoo banding),15 minutes of stretching each night. He focuses on his hip flexors which are often tight.
Josh’s mentality is to “always choose the hard route.” Even if as simple as taking the stairs when there is an elevator or escalator. He stresses the importance of the little things we do each day that eventually lead to big positive change. "Small goals lead to big goals.... When I have 5 workouts to do, I'll think about the first part of the first one. In the military training you're always told, just get to the next meal, don't think about the long haul. In training, don't think about the weeks and months of training it might take to get to where you want to be. Focus on what you are doing in that moment and how you can do it at the best of your ability. When I'm training I can't think about the 5 things I'm going to do the rest of the day, I think about the reps I'm doing right then, not what is coming up next."
Josh still gets nervous before workouts. He designs and finds workouts and knows “this is going to hurt” — part of being mentally tough is a willingness to put yourself in a state of discomfort. He learned in his SEAL training that there is an end to all discomfort. Reminding himself that the discomfort won't last forever helps him endure it.
Josh feels he would’ve been a much better wrestler had he been introduced to CrossFit at a younger age. Josh enjoys coaching his 6 and 8 year-old sons in wrestling.
They workout with him once in awhile, the younger son enjoying it more than his older brother! They think 18 minutes on the ski erg is fun!
Josh advises others to not take yourself too seriously in the gym. Enjoy your workout time and the people you are with. Value your time in the gym—it’s time you invest in yourself. It’s great to have goals, but don’t beat yourself up if you don’t hit those goal. Be grateful for the opportunity to always work on improving.
Thank you, Josh Bridges, for inspiring us all to do hard things.
And thanks for making your visit it all about the kids!