Plus: via Boxmagazine
“I’m a bit obsessed with Everest. There’s something about the mystique and being in that situation so close to death. I just find it really interesting. It’s like the last place we can go where we’re still explorers — apart from the sea.
“When I go climbing here in Scotland, the mountains are beautiful and stunning in the summer, and I even go up in shorts and T-shirt. It’s pretty cold, but in the winter, I’ve been close to real danger, like so easily. In fact, I went up Ben Lomond in I believe it was April last year. There was still snow up there, and I was climbing with a friend of mine. We didn’t have any snow gear, and it was fine, but suddenly we’re in a blizzard — couldn’t see like 10 yards. We sort of knew the way and we started climbing around, up in the snow. Then, at the same time, we both slipped. We slid down the mountain for about 100 feet and it was snow just falling off the mountain. Luckily we just went straight down and just sort of missed [the precipice], but we were like, What are we doing??
“The funny thing is, I’m very safe in the mountains. The friends I go with are less so. I’m always the one who’s like, “No let’s turn back.” I’ve turned back quite a few times. But there’s this thing when you get so close to [death] — that’s the reason that Everest, they go up there and they want it so much and they get so far and they apparently push too far and that’s when they get into trouble.”
Was there a point when you realized CrossFit was working to change the way your body looked or to help with activity on set?
So we built a gym in the studio [where Outlander is filmed], and at first it was really basic. We had one bar, a set of plates, a TRX and I think a rower. That’s all we had, and I was on my own in there. I just smashed it out every evening after work.
But yeah, I definitely think there was a point when you don’t really notice your gains or something and then at some point you go, Oh my god, I’m actually deadlifting way more than I did. Or in fact, yesterday, I was doing a warm-up, and I was like, I remember this weight used to challenge me and now I’m using it as a warm-up. And certainly any of the physical stuff we do on set, a lot of the sword-fighting, I just feel very agile and strong and I don’t feel I’m ever challenged, and I think that’s definitely down to the conditioning that we do and a lot of long hours.
What’s a sample WOD that you do?
If I’m on set, yeah, it’ll be more of a WOD. It’ll be something for time, well we’ll start off with a row or an Airdyne or a ski-erg session to warm up, then do work up to a percentage, like an 80 percent 1RM on a certain lift and then maybe do five sets of whatever at a certain percentage of that. One compound lift and then finish it off with a WOD and it will be something like “Fran,” or a Hero WOD but I’ll probably adapt it, it just depends on time. If I’ve got time, then we’ll do something longer. If I need it to be short and sweet, I’ll smash it out. It can even be just intervals on the rower or burpees for time.
But every day you’re doing something?
Yeah, pretty much. It depends again on the schedule but five, six days a week, yeah. And I’ll alternate it. If I can get in, I’ll do a spin class with John [Valbonesi, Heughan’s CF-L1-certified trainer] or on Thursday mornings the Fight Camp trainers — there’s like four of them or five — they do a competitive conditioning circuit.
You tend to beat John in those competitions.
Well, anything row or ski I can beat him. It’s a little bit unfair, but when we do like kettlebell swings or wall balls and stuff, he’s pretty strong. We’ve got a couple of guys who are more muay Thai-based, but their conditioning is intense.
What are your favorite lifts?
I love deadlifts. Though it’s something you can lose quite easily. When I lost weight at the end of last season, I very quickly dropped the weight I could lift. But even though I couldn’t get the bar up, the technique was still there, so I felt that my body kind of remembered.
I used to alternate grip a lot, but I don’t anymore because I found that if I did that, I’d slightly put my hip out or strain my back muscles, and I’ve also found that not alternating has made my grip strength better. Which means I can’t always lift as heavy, but then you build it up and certainly, my 1RM is slowly building again.
Hated lifts? Besides burpees?
Thrusters. I hate thrusters. Or wall balls. They’re the same thing aren’t they? Just horrendous. I don’t know why, they just really fatigue me. Terrible.
Last year John and I regularly, like maybe once a week, did 100 burpees for time. It’s just such a mental challenge. And actually, as part of My Peak Challenge last year, we had a five-minute AMRAP of burpees. It’s funny, even just doing that regularly, I found my burpees went up really quickly, but now it’s horrendous. As soon as you get out of the habit, they’re not fun.
My fav is still the hoodied one. What's yours, Sassies? Will you sign up for MyPeakChallenge or have you already reached yours?