4 Workout Tips From 18-Year-Old CrossFit Star Emma Lawson

CrossFit’s rising star Emma Lawson said mobility exercise is part of her success as a young athlete.
Courtesy of pliability

  • 18-year-old CrossFit phenom Emma Lawson said a good routine is key to her success.
  • She said high-carb snacks, mobility training, and plenty of rest help her stay in peak shape. 
  • Her advice for working out is to enjoy the process, don’t get distracted worrying about results. 

Up-and-coming athlete Emma Lawson is one of the youngest stars of CrossFit, winning her teen division of the sport’s global competition in 2021, then ranking sixth in the world at the 2022 CrossFit Games at just 17 years old.

Now 18, the former Fittest Teenager on Earth has her sights set a first-place finish in the big leagues.

Her biggest challenge:  juggling two workouts a day with the demands of high school, and skipping normal teenager hangouts to prioritize her recovery, she told Insider in an interview about her new partnership with the mobility and recovery app pliability. 

“I have chosen to make many sacrifices to get to where I am today,” she said. 

To stay healthy, Lawson said she spends a lot of time taking care of her body to prevent burnout. A daily routine includes mobility exercise, rest and recovery, and plenty of delicious snacks are key parts of her training that you can try at home.

Carb-heavy snacks like bagels, smoothies, and fig bars are a high-performance workout fuel

Lawson said her current training involves a strength session early in the day, followed by a later session focusing on skills and metabolic conditioning.

Her go-to food between workouts is often carb-rich bagels and smoothies with added protein. She also eats more snacks during the longer second workout to maintain energy. For this she relies on snacks with quick-digesting carbs like apple sauce pouches, fig bars, and even liquid carb supplements. 

Carbs are crucial for supporting high-intensity exercise and helping muscles rebuild after training, according to sports dietitians. Not eating enough can lead to fatigue, excessive soreness, a drop in performance, and even sleep disruptions.

Mobility exercise can help you get the most out of your gym sessions 

Lawson said she’s been following a mobility routine for about three years, and does it daily before bed. Mobility training, which include stretches as well as resistance movements, focuses on increasing the body’s strength through a greater range of motion. 

She said mobility is a basic foundation of exercise that’s been a key part of reaching her athletic goals, helping her recover after workouts and perform better in competition. 

One of her favorite exercises is a long hold in the sumo squat position (with feet wider than shoulder width and toes turned out 45 degrees), which she said has made her better at hitting a low squat in challenging CrossFit workouts. 

Extra rest when needed can help prevent injury and burnout 

Recovering from tough workouts is crucial to being a successful athlete, even if that means occasionally missing a training session for extra rest time, or dialing back the intensity, according to Lawson. 

She said she makes sure to let her coach know if she’s in pain or feeling run down, which helps her avoid a serious mishap that would take her out of competition. 

“It is so important to listen to your body,” she said. “I have learned that modifying when necessary is never a bad thing, and that it is what helps me to stay healthy in the long run.”

Stay motivated by focusing on the process, not the results

Achieving fitness goals can be a slow journey, whether you’re trying to build muscle, improve strength and stamina, or learn complex skills like Olympic weightlifting exercises, coaches previously told Insider. 

Lawson said she’s careful to take care of herself so she can compete for years to come, and she hopes to someday win the CrossFit Games. In the meantime, she said it’s important for her to remember to enjoy the process, and be thankful for all the opportunities and support she’s had so far.

“It is so easy to get caught up in the results that sometimes the journey of getting there is not fun anymore,” she said. “Always remember your ‘why,’ have fun, and work hard!”

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