If there’s one person who knows a thing or two about training hard, it’s Laura Horvath. The R.A.D athlete from Hungary won first place at this years’ CrossFit Games, giving her the prestigious title ‘Fittest Woman on Earth’. Since Horvath stepped onto the CrossFit scene back in 2018, she showed the makings of a champion and it was only a matter of time before she reached her full potential. But even though winning the Games is something Laura has dreamed of, and finally achieved, the 26-year-old says it was special, but not as life changing as she thought it may be.
“It’s great, but it’s just a title,” she tells T3, modestly. “Before I won I thought it was going to be this life changing moment, but I don't think it is. When I won it was very special because my whole family was there and it was the first year that everyone came, so it was more special to experience it with them than just win the title.”
It hasn’t been Laura’s only success this year either. After the Games she took first place at the Rogue Invitational (another prestigious CrossFit competition) for the second year in a row, as well as winning the Hungarian Weightlifting National Championship. It’s safe to say it's been a stellar year for the athlete and, although she’s taking a bit of time off for the holidays to go skiing with her family, she’s determined for another great year. “Right now the focus is to do what I did last year – win – and hopefully continue like that,” she says.
But before she does, we had the chance to sit down with her and find out how we can better our own training. Here's what she said...
1. Don't overdo it
Smashing out your sessions consistently and still not seeing results? You may not be getting enough recovery. “When I was younger I always did a lot," says Laura, "I went to the gym and I trained until I couldn't anymore. It took me a couple of years to learn that less is more sometimes and that you get better when you rest, because training destroys your muscles. Then when you recover, sleep and you eat, that’s when you actually get better.” Make sure you're you're getting a minimum of one, if not two active rest days.
2. Fuel your body
“If you don’t eat enough and you go to the gym, you won’t see any results," says Laura. "You’ll go down this spiral of ‘I’m eating less and not seeing any results what’s going on?’. You have to fuel your muscles, you have to eat protein and you have to eat carbohydrates."
When it comes to the most important meal of the day, Laura definitely sits firmly in the breakfast club. "I love eggs, so I either eat an omelette or scrambled eggs with some vegetables and a piece of bread. Any kind of carbs, but something with protein for sure." However, she does confess there's a coffee shop near her home that makes amazing pastries, so every once in a while she will treat herself to a chocolate swirl or cinnamon bun – after all, it's all about balance. But her real guilty pleasure is her Grandma's killer chicken soup.
3. Setbacks are ok
Setbacks are something Laura has certainly experienced throughout her CrossFit career – in 2018 she had to pull out of the Dubai CrossFit Championship due to injury, then in 2019 and 2020 she placed outside the top 10 at the Games. “Life is not a linear journey, there’s little mountains and valleys and those years didn’t go as I wanted them to, I had all kinds of challenges in my life, but they’re important for you to grow as a person,” she says.
So, the next time your training session doesn't go as planned, instead of throwing your dumbbells down in a huff, or beating yourself up about it, just remind yourself it's completely normal. “I learned all my lessons from when I lost, when I did something poorly or didn’t succeed, that’s when you learn the big lessons,” says Laura. “Then when you win it’s so much sweeter.”
4. Form over weight, everyday
When it comes to strength training, particularly weightlifting, this is something Laura is incredibly skilled at (her Olympic total is a whopping 470lbs). But, sometimes we can just push the boat out too far and try to lift more than we should – don’t. Leave your ego at the door. Not only could you potentially injure yourself, but you can actually prevent your lifts from improving.
“If your form is bad your improvement in weight is going to stop because if your form isn’t where it should be the weight is going to crash on your body and you’re not going to be able to stand it up or lift it up,” says Laura. “I think the foundation is form and then when you have solid form, then you can load the bar up and add more weight. But your form and technique is very important.”
5. Mobility is a must
Mobility and stretching is a big part of Laura’s training, and if you aren’t scheduling any into your workouts, maybe now’s the time too. "I mobilise everyday before my first session, because if your joints aren’t warm when you lift a heavy barbell you’re going to get injured," says Laura. You don't need to spend ages doing it either, 10 to 15 minutes of active dynamic, stretching is more than enough she says. Laura suggests saunas, foam rollers, massages and even going to yoga once a week, can all be really beneficial.