Ask Cheryl Brost: Does Getting Older Make You a Wiser Athlete?
Interview by Michele Vieux
Wisdom in athletics, as in life, is often gained through experience, learning, and reflection. But wisdom doesn’t solely come from aging. Becoming a wiser athlete requires active engagement with the learning process, a willingness to adapt, and a commitment to continuous improvement. Here’s how Masters Legend – Cheryl Brost – has approached the sport of CrossFit, learned from her experiences, and incorporated those lessons into her training and competition.
Q: You have battled injury throughout your career and some due to previous injury. How has working through those injury experiences helped you improve as an athlete?
Cheryl: All sports have the risk of injury. And yes, I have had my share of injuries over the years. First major injury (ACL/Meniscus rupture) was suffered in 2002 while playing soccer. In 2008, I was still experiencing knee pain, so I underwent a 2nd surgery (microfracture) on that same knee. In 2013, I ruptured my achilles tendon while competing at the CrossFit Northwest Regionals. In 2018, the day after qualifying for the CrossFit Games in the 45-49 age group, I tore my shoulder playing soccer. In 2019, I tore my other shoulder competing at the CrossFit Games. In 2021, I suffered a torn hip labrum. Six major surgeries in all. Each time I sought out the best surgeons and physical therapists available to me. I was diligent in my recovery and rehabilitation of each injury. I had a plan and followed it. My coaches also played a huge role in modifying training to make it appropriate for each stage of my recovery. Working through these injuries each and every time has not only given me the confidence that returning to full strength after major surgery is possible but returning to the top of the podium is as well.
Q: Does getting older make you wiser, better, or something else?
Cheryl: The older I get, I feel I have definitely gotten wiser. I do a much better job listening to my body and knowing when I can push and when I need to dial it back; and being ok with modifying a training session so that I am meeting my long term objectives and not just plowing through it just because that is what was prescribed.
I also feel that I’m still getting better in areas of CrossFit. Learning new skills, like crossovers and pullovers, and working on refining skills, like ring muscle-ups and gymnastic complexes.
Q: Can you share a little more detail about the injuries that kept you out of the 2013, 2018, and 2021 Games? What did you learn from them?
Cheryl: With the Achilles rupture in 2013, I had previously experienced some signs of achilles tendinopathy a couple years prior. I went through physical therapy and eventually had a Platelet Rich Plasma (PRP) injection performed, which ended up healing the tendinopathy. But what I didn’t realize was that I had a bone spur on my calcaneus which eventually caused the rupture. So, hindsight, I would have got some simple imaging done, and perhaps I could have fixed the crux of the problem.
Q: When did you start following the Invictus Masters Program and why?
Cheryl: I have been with Invictus since February 2012, this is when I was still competing in the Elite division. When Invictus rolled out their Masters Program, I decided to make the switch. At first, I was wondering if it was going to be challenging enough, as I had been so accustomed to following CJ’s programming and the Competition program for so long. The Invictus Masters program was promoting more focus on mobility and a lighter volume on lifts and loads. It didn’t take me long to realize this was the perfect solution for me.
Q: Can you share some of your PR lifts and benchmark workouts from the first year you started following the Invictus Masters program to this year’s numbers?
Cheryl: I believe I have hit all time PRs while following the Invictus Masters program in just about every lift including the deadlift, back squat, front squat, overhead squat, clean, snatch, clean & jerk, jerk, push press, strict press, thruster, etc.
Cheryl’s All-time PRs:
Back Squat 270#
Front Squat 227#
Overhead Squat 195#
Clean & Jerk 206#
Split Jerk 227#
Push Press 175#
Strict Press 128#
Q (for her coach, Nichole Kribs): What is the key to Chery’s athletic wisdom?
Nichole: Cheryl has been an absolute pleasure to coach. She takes feedback very well, listens to her body and prioritizes recovery. She is always learning new things and helping others on their competitive journey. I think this has helped her keep the love of the sport alive when so many burn out much earlier in their career. She is also a fierce competitor and is very clear with her goals. She knows what she wants and confidently pursues those goals. I have had an incredible time working with and am so appreciative of the years we’ve spent together.