Case Study: Ryan Sowder

Meet Ryan Sowder.

He competed in the 2019 CrossFit Games as an individual competitor after not working out for 8 months following his return from basic training in the Army.

Before competing in the CrossFit Games, Ryan was your everyday military man who enjoyed working out “for time.”

Eventually, he believed that he could turn this sport into something more than just a hobby and sought out a professional coach to help him realize his potential.

Enter El Senouvor, a Tier 2 Coach here at Brute Strength with an impressive collection of athletes including 2017, & 2019 Fittest Teen on Earth, Chloe Smith.

No stranger to building champions, El decided to plan for the long term and put Ryan through a 6 week introductory cycle to assess his abilities and prepare his body for the training ahead.

“He was more worried about mindset, character and the intent rather than qualifying for the Games. It’s like he knew that if I took care of the small things, the big things would take care of themselves. El is the reason I qualified for the CrossFit Games!”

After the 6 week cycle, Ryan performed 2 weeks of testing to establish what his biggest priorities were in order to not just perform well in the CrossFit Open, but realize his dream of becoming a CrossFit Games Individual Competitor.


Let’s break it down:

Who? Ryan Sowder


  1. Poor Olympic Weightlifting technique
  2. Weak vertical pressing strength (handstand push-ups were his kryptonite)
  3. Mediocre aerobic power output
  4. Gymnastics Skills were at the level of a competitive 5th grader.


  1. Focused skill work for the Snatch and Clean with an emphasis on 3rd pull mechanics.
  • Muscle snatches and muscle cleans were performed as warm-up primers, and technique work was trained at 70-80% working on pulling from different positions.
  1. Vertical pushing strength
  • Strict barbell press, single arm presses using drop sets & linear progressions
  1. Strict HSPU’s volume and density
  • Intervals and emoms building volume each week while increasing work within various time frames
  1. Aerobic Power Work
  • 30 on 30 off intervals and 500m row repeats
  1. Gymnastics Skills
  • EMOMs and skill based intervals

Did it work? You betcha. Ryan qualified for the CrossFit Games in 2019 and is training hard to make his return trip for 2021.

“My training on a day to day basis is very diverse so that I am prepared for any physical task thrown at me. “


His benchmark testing results after working with El are as follows:

  • 2K Row Test
    • Before: 6:51
    • After: 6:28
  • 1RM Front Squat Test
    • Before: 375 lbs.
    • After: 425 lbs.
  • 1 Mile Run Test
    • Before: 5:57
    • After: 5:19
  • 1RM Strict Press Test
    • Before: 190 lbs.
    • After: 205 lbs.
  • Max Ring Muscle-Up Test
    • Before: 14
    • After: 19
  • 1RM Back Squat Test
    • Before: 445 lbs.
    • After: 500 lbs.
  • 1RM Power Clean Test
    • Before: 315 lbs.
    • After: 330 lbs.
  • 1RM Deadlift Test
    • Before: 525 lbs.
    • After: 600 lbs.
  • 1RM Snatch Test
    • Before: 240 lbs.
    • After: 270 lbs.
  • 1RM Overhead Squat Test
    • Before: 285 lbs.
    • After: 325 lbs.

Click the Image for the exact 4  week training template El used to to peak Ryan for the 2019 CrossFit Games

“Training volume has increased significantly. In my coaches words “I’m going to try to Kill you then let you recover, kill you then let you recover.” We are doing a lot of aerobic work and focusing on quality sleep and diet so I can maintain a high training volume.”

How Brute 1-on-1 Coaching Helped

One of the most important problems many aspiring competitors face is training on a one size fits all program. They believe they have to do EVERYTHING all the time because they simply don’t know what they need or how they should train. In reality, this leads to burnout and a broken body.

Ryan decided to train smarter rather than harder. He decided to seek out a professional coach who could pinpoint exactly where he was lacking and focus the majority of his training on bringing up those weaknesses.

El helped Ryan achieve his goal of becoming an Individual Games Competitor by doing exactly that – running a thorough assessment and prescribing him only what he NEEDS. Do you think Dmitry Klokov would need to spend an hour and a half per day strength training if he wanted to qualify for the CrossFit Games? Think again.

You have to train smarter if you want to be at the top. Are you ready to take your training seriously?

Check out the EXACT 4-Week Training Template El designed for Ryan leading into the 2019 CrossFit Games.

It will give you some great insight into how our coaches design individualized programs to help their athletes achieve their personal goals.