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Meet Dylan Gibbs: The First U.S. Male Collegiate Functional Fitness National Champion

By Presser
February 22, 2024
5 min read

In early February, Dylan Gibbs, a biology student at Louisiana State University in Baton Rouge, LA, became the first USA Functional Fitness National Collegiate Champion in a down-to-the-wire competition that was determined in the fifth and final test between himself and Will Campbell.

The test: 12-calorie row, 12 bar-facing burpees, and 12 thrusters at 135 pounds.

  • “It was neck-and-neck, and whoever won [the workout] would win the competition…he was right next to me, and I was able to edge him out,” said the 21-year-old Gibbs, a senior set to graduate next December.

Remind me: The first-ever USA Functional Fitness National Collegiate Championships was put on by the USA Functional Fitness Federation, a nonprofit organization that’s part of the International Functional Fitness Federation. The federation’s goal is to promote the growth of functional fitness as a sport.

  • The competition, held at CrossFit Reston in Herndon, VA, on February 3-4, featured both individual and pairs divisions and was open to anyone under the age of 25 currently enrolled in a degree program at a U.S. college or university. Participation was determined through an online qualifier consisting of four tests. 
  • Though not an official CrossFit competition, the event looked similar to one, albeit with one significant difference: Athletes were put through five tests of fitness — an endurance test, a strength test, a gymnastics test, a mixed modal test, and a power test — in a 90-minute window, with 10 minutes of rest between events. 

[Related: I Trained at CrossFit Mayhem for 4 Days. Here’s What I Learned]

Dylan Gibbs’ Story

Gibbs, who has been doing CrossFit since the eighth grade and currently trains at Red Stick CrossFit in Baton Rouge, first caught wind of the competition when the Morning Chalk Up wrote about it last August.

His goal was not just to qualify but to win the whole thing, which he was ultimately able to pull off.

The win has helped Gibbs believe he can reach his goal of qualifying for Semifinals this season. (Last year, Gibbs placed 114th in Quarterfinals in North America West). 

  • “Definitely, this builds my confidence because a lot of the training I do is on my own, so it was nice to see where I stack up against other college kids who are trying to compete,” said the 6-foot, 200-pound Gibbs, who played football, baseball, wrestled, and threw the javelin in high school.

What might be most impressive about Gibbs is that he doesn’t even have a coach. Not a CrossFit coach, not a gymnastics coach, let alone a mental coach or a nutrition coach. In fact, Gibbs does his own programming.

  • “I do have some pretty good connections that I can bounce ideas off of […] but I do all my own programming,” he said. “I geek out over this stuff.”

[Related: The Untold History of Functional Fitness]

Gibbs builds his strength program first, which acts as the foundation for the rest of his program, he explained. And then, every Sunday, he sits down and fills in his conditioning and gymnastics work in a way that compliments his strength training.

Sometimes he says he pulls workouts from Mayhem Athlete or HWPO, but he is systematic about fitting it in, he explained.

  • I won’t just randomly throw 100 handstand push-ups in there and then go strict press later in the afternoon,” he explained. 

The same is true of his nutrition. It has been a whole lot of trial and error, researching, listening to podcasts, and paying attention to what other elite CrossFit athletes are eating.

  • “Any time athletes post a day of eating, I just look at what they’re eating, and I can see it’s mostly whole foods, and they’re eating a lot,” Gibbs said.

Though he doesn’t count his macros — ”I just slowly kept increasing my food until I stopped losing weight,” he said — Gibbs figures he eats about 5,000 calories a day, starting with six eggs on four pieces of toast, oatmeal, a banana, and a protein shake with berries for breakfast. This is usually followed by a bowl of white rice with “a giant steak” and a protein shake for dinner.

Figuring it out on his own is working for him for now, but Gibbs also said he’s open to the idea of hiring a coach once he graduates from college at the end of the year.

The big picture: Gibbs sees his recent win at the Collegiate National Championships as just the start of what he hopes to be a successful career in the sport, well beyond college.

  • “I’m going to be really real with myself. I definitely think Semifinals are in the cards this year,” he said. But he expects it might take him another couple of years to get to the level of being able to qualify for the CrossFit Games.

Ultimately, Gibbs is in it for the long haul. Not only does he have his eyes on the CrossFit Games eventually, he wants to be the best in the world.

  • “I just really enjoy what I’m doing every single day, but the ultimate goal is to win the whole thing,” he said. 

Featured image: @shotsbysroka / Instagram

The post Meet Dylan Gibbs: The First U.S. Male Collegiate Functional Fitness National Champion appeared first on BarBend.

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