CrossFit’s Next Super Team (w/Khan Porter)

Today I’m talking to CrossFit athlete Khan Porter, an Australian native who’s competed in the CrossFit Games as both an individual and on a team. One of the sport’s most durable stars, Khan had a choice for the 2022 season: Find a new training environment to make yet another run at Individual competition, or form a team in Australia. But on Christmas 2021, a third path opened up: legendary athlete Annie Thorisdottir invited Khan to live and train with her team in Iceland. Now part of CrossFit’s newest super team, Khan joins us to talk about optimizing your training environment and how to continue improving after nearly a decade in the sport of functional fitness.

Khan Porter on the BarBend Podcast

On this episode of The BarBend Podcast, host David Tao talks to Khan Porter about:

  • “We wake up and we live and breathe getting better” (2:30)
  • Working on individual strengths and weaknesses while training as a team (6:50)
  • The CrossFit workout no one has finished (10:20)
  • “What’s expected of you in the gym is so high that it forces you to make good decisions” (14:10)
  • How carrying extra bodyweight can hurt you in CrossFit competition (18:10)
  • How the super team came together (21:30)

Relevant links and further reading:


I most likely would have had to try my very best in Sydney, but I know myself and know my wonderful mates who are nowhere near interested in being professional athletes.


It’s hard when you’re the only one that’s taking it exceptionally seriously. It just is. I trained with these boys up until the quarters last year. After the quarters were done, none of them progressed to semis.


They like, “Yeah, we’re going to train with you. We’re going to make sure we do it.” Then it just became, “Oh, also we want to go out drinking. We don’t need to do that. We’re tired.” I just didn’t care enough. I didn’t care enough in that environment. I needed to be put in an environment like this where I have to care.

David TaoDavid Tao

Welcome to the “BarBend Podcast” where we talk to the smartest athletes, coaches, and minds from around the world of strength. I’m your host, David Thomas Tao. This podcast is presented by


Today, I’m talking to multi-time Australian CrossFit games athlete, Khan Porter, who’s competed at CrossFit’s highest level as both an individual and a team competitor. This year, he’s going team again, but based out of Iceland on the super team, led by multi-time CrossFit games champion, Annie Thor’s daughter.


I talked to Khan about training. What’s changed as he’s gotten older and more mature in the sport? How he went from training in Australia and not really sure what his season was going to look like to living and training in Iceland with some of the best athletes in the sport? It’s an exciting journey that spans continents. I think you’ll enjoy.


Khan, thanks so much for joining me today. The first question I got to ask you, you’re training in a new country. You’re training in Iceland with a fantastic group of teammates. How’s training going? What’s it been like training with a team? You’re perhaps better known as an individual athlete. How’s that process been?

It’s good, man. I actually have done one year on a team in 2019, the first year, they changed all the games format. I went on a team then. I have a little bit of team-based experience.


In so far as how this compares to that, taking nothing away from the team that I was with then, I’ve never been in an environment where the sole purpose of every day is to improve your performance in the gym, which probably sounds crazy having been doing this for as long as I have.


We wake up, we live and breathe getting better. We wake up, we live and breathe getting better as a team. Being surrounded by these people, being surrounded by the group having access to not only Jami. Jami’s phenomenal. He’s just a brilliant, brilliant coach.


Not only him, but everyone has their own unique expertise and their own experiences that they’ve had as athletes. It’s really cool to get that information and bounce off each other like that.

David TaoDavid Tao

What have been some of the surprises so far? Things you’ve learned from different people on the team of just anything that’s maybe not caught you off guard, but just been like, “Oh, OK. This is this is not what I was expecting.” Could be in a good way, could be in a bad way.

 I think just how much all the one percent is that I never gave too much mind to before this affect your training, most of all food. I didn’t realize how little food I ate until I got here, started eating more, and watching how much that benefited my performance and recovery.


It’s like I would have a couple of good training days and a bad training day. Or I’d have a good training day then a bad training day. I just kind of chalked that up to that was just normal. Then when I was early on chatting to Jami and Annie, they were asking about my fuel and like, “You are not eating anywhere near enough.”


That was something that really surprised me. Particularly with the volume that we’re doing now, I’m able to keep the intensity with the volume we’re doing now because I’ve changed how much food I’m eating. That’s been something that’s I don’t want to say it caught me off guard, but that I didn’t even realize really leading into this, but that’s been cool.


From there, I think how much I value time in the sun [laughs] is another thing. Yeah, that weather, it’s just adjusting to the weather here has been a trip.

David TaoDavid Tao

Yeah, you’re switching, I think, two hemispheres, right? Going from Australia to Iceland, going from southern to northern…

Yeah, that would make sense. It’s about as far away from home as you could get.

David TaoDavid Tao

What are some of the other things about adapting to life in Iceland that have either surprised you? Again, it could be really, really good and really exciting. Or it could be like, “Oh, I kind of miss this about home. I understand why that’s familiar.”

Yeah, definitely the weatherman. That’s by far the thing. Having that freedom to go out, even in the middle of winter, to walk around in shorts, flip flops, and a sweater. It’s coming into summer now or midway through spring, and we can occasionally wander around.


I wouldn’t walk for an extended period of time in shorts and a sweater, but it’s not multiple layers, which is nice. It’s also not snowing as much as…Oh, it’s not snowing anymore. I’m going to say that now, and we’re going to get a dump of something. It’s going to come back


Yeah, the weather’s been the biggest adjustment for me and just the sunlight. Then socializing too because we’re training such long days. The intensity is so hard. Most of the time when you get home, the last thing you want to do is go and be social. We just downtime chill out. Spending a lot of time just like laying in my room.


Tola and I were sharing an apartment, and it was effectively two bedrooms, with this tiny little space, there was enough room for a small table between the two bedrooms, and then a bathroom and a small kitchen area.


That was challenging because it didn’t fit the two of us in the kitchen at once, we had to take turns in there. Because there was no real communal space for us to hang out, even together, it was spend your time in your room on your own. That’s been challenging.


The culture here is quite different, I’m starting to get to know a few of the guys that are at the gym, and that’s really cool. There are a few of us that are like, “Yeah, we are going to get some food,” and stuff like that.


For what I found, maybe this is a winter thing, people mostly keep to themselves here. It’s not like back home where on any given Friday, Saturday afternoon you could at least rally four to five different people and go and hang out, have a couple of beers, or even just go have a [indecipherable 6:20] , sit down and talk.


I’ve missed that. I’ve missed that a lot. I miss that socializing, but it’s also been a really nice opportunity to just spend a lot of time on my own, which I do spend that at home. That’s been challenging, but it’s also been different. Enjoyable.

David TaoDavid Tao

Let’s talk about a typical training schedule. Are you all training together all the time or are you doing individual sessions and then also training together? What is the typical week look like? I know it can vary a little bit from week to week.

Yeah, it does vary and it varies with what’s coming up in terms of what events are coming up.


For the most part, we’ll get to the gym at the same time. Some people take a little longer to warm up than others, some people they take more warm up sets. If we are doing strength stuff, because we typically do strength on its own, we’ll probably move at different paces.


We are not all share bars all the time. We have different accessories stuff, we have different movements that we’re doing. When we are doing our conditioning, we try to all go together.


As the season’s progressing, we’re now doing a lot more team-based conditioning, so a lot of team workouts where we are using the worm, synchro stuff as well.


When we do those individual workouts, we get hopefully the [indecipherable 7:35] will come from his gym. Kat will jump with us as well. We’ll have a bigger group of people, and we’ll all go head-to-head.


We just finished, I want to say, one of the hardest workouts I’ve ever done. I can barely string a sentence together.


It was, honestly, and that was cool. We had the whole crew in for that. We’ll try to get everyone together for the hard conditioning pieces. There might be three, four of those per week. Maybe even more, four, five, if you include the amount of structural work we do.


As a team, we will try to train together almost all of our sessions. Myself, Tola, Annie, and Lauren.


Sometimes we won’t link up with Kat. Sometimes BK won’t come in, but we will, for the most part, try to get our sessions done together. Unless someone has something they have to do, or Annie’s always got the little ones to look after as well. We’ll juggle a little bit around that, but otherwise all day together.

David TaoDavid Tao

You said this was one of the hardest workouts you’ve ever done. What did you do today? What was this soul-crushing workout? By the way, you are doing a great job stringing sentences together, so don’t worry about that.


[laughs] Probably, I’m just rambling at this point. We started, we had a big lifting session this morning, then we went back this afternoon.


The first workout was four rounds 200m run [indecipherable 8:53] . Then we went from that into a EMOM, basically as long as you could hold on for. Five power snatches, 95 pounds for guys, 65 for girls, so 43/30 kilos, five toes to bar, five thrusters, five bar facing burpees. You did that on the minute, every minute, until you failed.


Once you failed, you rested a minute and then you added an extra round until you accumulated 20 pass rounds. If you did the whole thing unbroken, you do 20 minutes. If you miss a round, you have to do 21 rounds, so that’s 22 minutes of work. If you miss two rounds, you have to do 22 rounds total. That adding a round for the rounds that you miss… [scoffs] Forget about it. It’s so brutal.

David TaoDavid Tao

Did anyone actually finish it straight in 20 minutes?

Nobody finished it.

David TaoDavid Tao

Who was the closest?

Annie and BK only broke once.

David TaoDavid Tao

That’s pretty impressive. That’s pretty darn impressive.

Yeah, then I was after them. Then Kat, Tola, and Lauren. That workout is just…Phew. It’s added to the list, there’s a few workouts we’ve done, that Jami’s programmed for us, that just I haven’t been able to finish. That’s always super humbling when you get a workout and I just could not complete that.


I have this little list that I’m keeping of all the workouts I haven’t finished, and I want to get them done by the end of the season.


I was like, as we get closer to the game, let’s revisit some of these. I would love to finish them.

David TaoDavid Tao

That’s also a super mentally challenging aspect of those workouts where it’s like, OK, go until you can’t anymore, especially in Every Minute on the Minute. Like in EMOM where it’s like, OK, keep this pace until you can’t anymore, because you know you’re going to reach your complete limit.


Going into that, that’s a huge mental challenge because you know you’re going to reach the point of failure, right?


It’s almost like doing a set of…For folks who are listening to this who aren’t CrossFitters, imagine you’re a power lifter. It’s like, OK, put a certain amount of weight on the bar and keep back squatting until failure. Knowing that you’re going to reach that vulnerable point, it really screws with your head.


 Yes, and particularly, Jami briefed us before the workout. He was like, “Listen, I don’t expect anyone to finish this. This isn’t programmed for it to be finishable, particularly not after the [indecipherable 11:15] workout. I want you guys to just deal with the internal chatter of realizing…”


I was fairly confident I wouldn’t do the 20. I realized, four or five rounds in, I was like, “It’s going to be really hard to do this with two breaks,” and then broke the first time. I was like, “All right, I’m going to finish it now.” Then, realizing I needed to break again, I was like, “Oh, no. OK, you are mentally in this now.”


David TaoDavid Tao

Let’s talk a little bit about how the team came together. A little background, which I’ll give in the intro, that I’ll record separately, is that Annie Thorisdottir, all-time great CrossFit athlete, puts together a super team for the 2022 games season, which actually caught a lot of folks off guard, especially since she made the podium last year.


A lot of folks were thinking, well, wouldn’t she want to go again as an individual? It’s pretty rare that we see someone go from that individual success straight to team. Not that she won’t come back as an individual in the future, but how was that recruitment process from your perspective? Was it like you got a DM on Instagram saying, “Hey, let’s do this”?


David TaoDavid Tao

Oh, really? It was? OK.

I believe they had the team lined up and it was supposed to be a European athlete, and he pulled the pin last minute. Then, obviously, a lot easier to get a European athlete in Iceland than fly someone in from Australia.


I got the last minute call-up. Christmas day, I believe I got a message, a DM from Annie on Instagram, “Hey, do you want to move to Iceland and go team with me? Also, Merry Christmas.” It was the right time for me to say yes to something like that. It was the perfect opportunity for me because I had no idea what I wanted to do this season.


I knew, to have any kind of competitive season, I could either find a team, throw together a team back home that could maybe get to the games and take it, have a bit of fun with it. Just be at the games, and that be the goal.


If I wanted to go back individually, the Australian, our region, is so competitive, and it’s only three spots. I knew to have a shot at taking one of those spots, I was going to need to be training really, really hard and putting a lot of other stuff on the back burner.


I didn’t know if Sydney was going to be the right environment for me to do that, which left the question open of where would I go to knuckle down and train distraction free, if you will. Then this opportunity came up. Yeah, it was perfect. I thought it would be an awesome opportunity.


Like I alluded to before, it’s been not only an awesome opportunity to start training like a professional athlete, but also to start doing the little things like the recovery stuff, eating, getting more routine, or taking supplements. I never used to be super religious about taking protein or taking creatine before in my life. Doing that every morning.


It’s like doing everything right. Resting on your rest days because you’re actually so fucked that you don’t want to go and do stuff. Even just making smarter choices. The training is so hard, and the environment is so competitive. Everyone is so good that what’s expected of you in the gym is so high that it forces you to make good decisions.


Whereas if I’m training back home, I’ve got my buddies and stuff around me, If there’s something on Friday night, I want to go and have four or five beers. I know that I’m not going to be too hungover to train, but I’m not going to feel my very best the next day. I’ll just take a chill. I have that option.


I have that say amongst the guys. If I don’t want to train, I don’t have to train. If I have a uni assessment that I need to do, I can spend an extra day in there at uni and stuff like that. Whereas here, every decision you make you’re making a decision, it is all in.


It’s all or nothing. It’s basically, is this making me better? Is this going to allow me to be at my best tomorrow in the gym when I’m training? Because, one, the benchmark in the team is Annie, and like you just said before, she’s the reigning third fittest woman on Earth.


Then you’ve got Kat has been on the podium. Kat’s won it a couple of times. She’s been on the podium many times. BK has got to be the most consistent male CrossFit athlete outside of your Frasers and your Fronings. And he’s just phenomenal as well. That’s the benchmark. That’s the standard that we go in every day.


Then, not to detract from Lauren and Tola, either. Tola has got to be the one, if not the strongest man in CrossFit. He’s also been amazing to live with and to be around because he’s so switched on with his routines and with making sure he’s doing his recovery.


He’s got those 1 percent. He’s so dialed in that, that then makes me think, man, if he’s doing these things to make sure he’s at his best, I need to do that, too.


When Annie asked, I knew it was going to be a great opportunity to learn and grow as both an athlete and a person. I didn’t realize just how much it was going to be, how good it was going to be.

David TaoDavid Tao

I’m curious, with eating more and also utilizing creatine for the first time in your athletic career, how has your body weight adapted? Have you put on some kilos?

I was losing weight rapidly when I first got here because I was still eating how I was eating, and my strength numbers were going way down. They’ve only just started to climb back up because I’m still finding the balance of how much food to eat.


I’m also 32, so I’ve got to be conscious of the quality of the food because I don’t want to be putting on too much body fat, but I dropped down. I was 88, 89 kilos after a few weeks of training here, after probably the first five weeks of being here. I’ve hit those numbers before, but I haven’t sat there consistently.


I’m back up to about 91, 92 now, but the volume that we’re doing is managing my weight. I want to do a little before and after post at some point.


If you look at my body shape last year, I was weighing 96 kilos, and I was not in shape when I was competing because I was balancing study full time. I was eating less than I am now, but it was just poor quality food and not timed well around training.


I’m eating more now, training more, and maintaining four or five kilos…I’m four or five kilos lighter than I was last year. I just feel so much better doing pretty much everything except for max lifting at that lighter body weight.


I dropped down. I probably put on two or three kilos since I’ve really started to ramp up the quantity of food that I’m eating, but I’m watching what I’m eating to try and make sure I don’t really want to get much heavier than 92. I think that’s a really good competing weight for me to feel good with my gymnastics and stuff.


I really did not feel good competing at 96 last year.


…for being a lazy prick. [laughs]

David TaoDavid Tao

For CrossFitters, you just have to compound that weight across however many gymnastics movements, right? For a max, you might want that body weight, but if you have to do 150 pull-ups in a workout, that’s 150 times however many extra kilos you’re carrying.

Effectively, that’s what kept me from the games last year was a couple of gymnastics workouts that realistically I should’ve done much better on had I been less body weight. Yes, carrying those extra kilos cost me. I think that gave me impetus to focus more on my gymnastics and also be more mindful of food and stuff.


That’s been an ongoing balancing act to figuring how to eat more, increasing the quality and whatnot, then still having the odd indulgence here and there, but yeah, it’s been good.

David TaoDavid Tao

How tall are you? Just to give folks a gauge as far as relative to your body…


182 centimeters, so we’ll round that up and say 6 foot.


David TaoDavid Tao

 [laughs] We’ll give you the extra credit.

That extra centimeter.

David TaoDavid Tao

 For an elite cross-fitting male, that’s on the slightly taller end. You have the Brent Fikowskis of the world, who are like 6’2, 6’3, but you’re definitely in the upper 50 percent of height for the sport.

Same as Tola. Tola’s like 6 foot, 6’1, and Annie’s on the taller side for the girls as well. I think she’s 5’9, 5’10, so we’ve got quite a tall team. I think that certainly comes into play in certain workouts. It comes into play in those open style work-outs.


I think they’ve gotten much better at programming in-person competitions, so that being taller…It’s always going to be disadvantageous on those fast barbell, fast gymnastics movements, but at the same time rope climbs, [indecipherable 19:52] , the machines, and stuff like that. They started to incorporate a lot more stuff that does actually…Higher box jumps, step overs, things like that.

David TaoDavid Tao

If you have to go over the obstacles, on an obstacle course, you have to go over the walls again, you guys are going to do great relative to everyone else. Those extra few inches make all the difference.


100 percent. It’s what Shay said.

David TaoDavid Tao

 [laughs] I was waiting for that. I walked right into that one.

[indecipherable 20:04] . [laughs]

David TaoDavid Tao

Walked right into that one. Oh, my goodness.


David TaoDavid Tao

Can’t believe I did that. I want to go back a little bit. You mentioned that you were considering environments to train in. How living and training in Sydney, if you wanted to make another run as an individual, might not have been optimal this season.


What were some of the other places you were considering to get that more ideal training environment?

Vegas was one. I’d actually spoken to Justin Cotler, who owns Underdogs out there. He’s a very close friend of mine. Him and his partner, Ashley, are two of my favorite human beings on the planet. I can’t speak highly enough of both of them.


We talked about the idea of putting together a team, and if not that, then even just going out doing a stint out there with them, even as an individual. Justin and Ashley are such great people, and I know they really got a great group of athletes out there.


I spoke to Newbury about him and I maybe getting something together and doing a bit of training as much as we could together. The closest people to me in Oz are the Garard brothers and they’re in Wollongong. It’s about an hour and a half.


Then there’s a couple other quite competitive young guys down there too that are up and coming in Oceania. I’ve spoken to them about maybe doing a once a week thing where we would all get together and train.


Training once or twice a week with a group of athletes it’s cool, but being in this environment every day, it’s crazy dude. There’s so many good training camps out there. Just going into the gym, it’s the norm for me. To be surrounded by the people that I’m surrounded by are just wild.

David TaoDavid Tao

Cutting down on travel time too is also cutting…That doesn’t cut into your recovery time, your sleep time, your training time, right? A lot of people do these commutes. I’ve talked to folks where they do commute once a week to train with a group of athletes.


Some of them are driving…I was talking to Zack George from the UK. The first time he started doing that, he was commuting two hours each way once a week to train with other athletes. That’s time he wasn’t’ sleeping. That’s time he wasn’t focusing on his nutrition.

There’s nothing good about sitting in the car for four hours. [laughs] That would just [indecipherable 22:13] my old hips and knees and ankles, I would be jacked up. I would train, and then get in the car, and it would jack me right up.


That’s been some of the worst days I’ve had here has been when I’ve been trying to go sight-seeing and sat in the car for five, six hours. I’d get back and like, “Damn, that was worth it, but my body is so sore.”


Having that kind of group here…That’s what I mean when I say this opportunity came at the right time. It really did because I had no clue where I was going to go.


I had, as I said, brief conversation with Justin and Ashley about maybe doing something. That would have been short term as well. I would’ve just gone over and come back. I most likely would’ve just had to try my very best in Sydney, but I know myself and know my wonderful mates who are nowhere near interested in being professional athletes.


It’s hard when you’re the only one that’s taking it exceptionally seriously. It just is, because they all want to support me, and they will train. I’ve got a group of guys that I’ll train with most of the time back home, but it’s one of those things. It’s one of the first things to get cut from their schedule when they’ve got other stuff on.


I trained with these boys up until the quarters last year. After the quarters were done, none of them progressed to semis. They were like, “Yeah, we’re going to train with you. We’re going to make sure we do it.” Then, it just became, “Oh, also we just want to go out drinking. We don’t need to do that. We’re tired.”


Then, for me, I’m doing this for so long that not having that environment where there is other people there, this would lean on that. I just didn’t care enough. I just didn’t care enough in that environment. I needed to be put in an environment where I have to care.

David TaoDavid Tao

 I know you still keep tabs on the individual field. You mentioned some up-and-comers in Oceania. Who are you really excited to watch in the rest of this year? We’re already part way into the CrossFit Games season. Who are you really excited to watch on the individual side?

I’m definitely watching the Oceania. I don’t know what’s happening next year with the team, but I know that if we don’t come back for another season, I’ll probably come back here and train here for the season. Going to go back over and try and spank all the boys back home.


 I am pumped to see that region. I’m pumped to see the fellows because three spots is insane. The depth of the field there is ridiculous.


I’m excited to see Ricky obviously come back. I think he gets a spot. I’m excited to see Jay Crouch, young fella. He has been on the up and up, and I’m excited to see how much he’s progressed. I feel like he’s going to be phenomenal this year.


There’s a young dude from New Zealand, Bayley Martin is his name. I think he came seventh or eighth last year. I was hanging out with a good friend of his, who’s a videographer who got stuck in Sydney last year during COVID. Shout out to Cal for spending six months there.


He came and shot a bunch of stuff for me, like the last chance qualifier. We shot a bunch of content together. He’s good buddies with him. He’s now working full time for a buddy of mine, Sonny Webster.


Cal was saying, he’s Bayley’s…I don’t know if he made it in the teens or something. He’s someone that I’m extremely excited to watch because he looks like he’s doing really well. From speaking to Cal, who obviously knows this kid really well, he said he’s someone that’s on the up and up.


I’d love to see James go back just because he’s my boy and I dig everything that he’s about. I don’t know. That region is so stacked, man.


Then the girls as well Tia, Kara. That’s obviously an awesome match-up. Then you’ve got Jamie Greene that flies back. She’s phenomenal. Ellie Turner who crushed it last year and crushed it out. What a palooza. Then there’s a few other girls that, on the day could just jump in and do really well. I think that battle for the third girl’s spot’s going to be really good.


It’s going to be a battle for the third men’s spot. I think Jay and Ricky take one and two. I don’t know in what order, but anything could happen. The programming, you never know what’s going to come out there. Racey’s so good in front of a home crowd.


I’m pumped. It’s annoying they’re the same weekend as we’re going. I’m going to have to just do the recaps every day, rather than staying up late because it’s going to be lit. We are 12 hours difference here, almost, 10 hours different. It’s almost the inverse.


Sadly, I’m not going to get to watch much about live, but it’s the home region. You can probably tell how jazzed I am about that whole thing. I’m bummed I’m not going to be there. I just love that event.


I love the guys that runs [indecipherable 27:01] . They’re such good dudes. They’re so committed to creating not only an awesome test for the athletes, but a spectacle. There’s flamethrowers and shit while we’re doing ladders last year.


As much as I’m pumped to be here on the team and I look so forward to competing in Europe, because that’s going to be a really cool new experience, I am definitely bummed I’m missing [indecipherable 27:22] .

David TaoDavid Tao

Khan, I appreciate you taking the time today. Your excitement for the season, even in the regions you’re not competing in, is infectious.


Where is the best place for people to follow along with you, your training and your team this Games season?

Just jump on the old Instagram, @iamkhanporter. It’s nice and easy.

David TaoDavid Tao

Easy enough. Khan, I really appreciate you taking the time today.

No worries. Thank you, buddy.