Murtaza (Taz) Nadeem is our first 80/20 ambassador. The Rotherham native is just 17 years old and is ranked number 1 in 16-17 year age group in Europe & UK and 4th in the world. He is also ranked 42nd in the UK in the men’s age group! To give you an idea of his achievements, he can deadlift 405 lb and do 60 consecutive pull-ups.
This week, he’s travelled to the US to represent England in the Reebok CrossFit Games 2017.
I met with Taz at the restaurant, gave him the behind-the-scenes tour and asked him a few questions about his increasingly popular sport and what makes him so successful.
Q: What do you like most about CrossFit?
A: Before getting into CrossFit, I did boxing. I loved boxing, but the training was quite repetitive.
With CrossFit, there’s so much variety. Every day is different, with weightlifting, gymnastics, running, swimming, cycling and more. It keeps me on my toes and keeps me motivated. (You can watch a video with more on my training here.)
From speaking to others, this is a common reason people like CrossFit, and it’s why you see more and more gyms offering the equipment and training. Even if you’re not competitive and just want to keep fit, it’s a great way to see results quickly and stay interested in exercise.
Q: What’s in store for you at the CrossFit Games?
I’m over the moon that I qualified for the Games, and I’m focused on doing myself and the country proud. They’re over 4 days in Madison, Wisconsin in the US. To give you an idea, the first day has a Run-Swim-Run, which is a 1.5-mile run followed by a 500m swim and then another 1.5-mile run. Then there’s a max snatch, where you lift a bar with as much weight as you can while doing a squat.
The second day has an assault lunge, pull ups, toes-to-bars, clean and jerks and an obstacle course race. Then there are runs, squats, burpees, more snatches, squats and other strength events like sandbag carries and handstand walks.
There’s huge variety, and you compete in lots of different skills.
Q: Describe your typical daily diet.
A: I need the right food to fuel me because CrossFit requires lots of strength and endurance. I have 3 meals and 2 snacks. A typical day involves something like oats for breakfast and protein balls for a mid-morning snack. For lunch, I have rice, chicken and veg. Then an afternoon snack of yoghurt, a banana, a handful of almonds and a protein shake. For dinner, I’ll have rice with chicken, salmon or steak. And before I go to bed I’ll have some yoghurt, peanut butter and an overnight recovery drink.
It’s low GI with a mix of protein types that release energy slowly, so I can maximise my endurance and build my strength.
Q: You mentioned energy, endurance and strength as key elements you think about. What foods do you eat specifically to help with those?
A: For energy, rice carbs, yoghurt and healthy fats. For endurance, lean proteins like chicken, as well as veg and rice. Strength is similar – chicken, steak and protein shakes.
Q: What foods do you avoid?
A: Sugary foods. The sugar gives you a temporary lift, but you fall fast and hard. It’s better to focus on slow-release energy. So no fizzy pop, chocolate or sweets. I also avoid bread and pizza, which are carbs without the same nutritional value so they don’t give you any fuel.
Basically, I don’t eat foods that fill you up but don’t give you sustained energy.
Q: What advice would you give people who want to go to the next level with CrossFit?
A: Train more than once a day and be consistent with training. Find someone to be your partner to keep you motivated. Don’t let yourself off the hook – attack sessions with purpose and leave nothing in the tank.
Then make sure you refuel and rest so you can repeat later in the day or the next day.