More Ready Than You Think

The 2017 CrossFit Open

San Francisco, Calif — Samantha Briggs, Dave Castro, and Rich Froning (Pictured) at the Open 14.1 Announcement

It’s upon us again. All across the world, thousands of CrossFitters are gearing up for the annual test of their fitness. For some — the elite among us — the open is a gateway to Regionals, and perhaps for even fewer, the CrossFit Games. For us mere mortals, the Open is a wonderful time to get together as a box and test our fitness. But from elite to novice, we wait for late February with baited breath for what CrossFit HQ has determined that test to look like.

Unlike many competitions in sport, the Open is universally scaleable and therefore agnostic when it comes to age, gender, fitness level or experience. It’s one of the few competitions in all of sport that anyone can join and compete. The Open provides both athletes and coaches the means to test and evaluate the past year of hard work. But most importantly, it’s a time where the Ferus family can come together and share in friendly competition, encouragement, and the achievement of hard earned goals.


The CrossFit Open began in 2011 as a means to “cast as wide of a net as possible” to discover the hidden fire-breathers among us. Based on the growing popularity and athlete pool in the CrossFit Games, CrossFit HQ realized the necessity to offer every athlete a venue to potentially compete at the highest level of the Sport of Fitness. In the years since, the Open workouts have increased in intensity, load, and variety. This escalation in difficulty is in response to the observable improvements to overall fitness levels across the global CrossFit community.

What does all of this mean to us? Athletes such as Dan Bailey, Julie Foucher, and Ben Smith benefited from strong Open performances, which led them to their respective regional appearances and eventually to the games. There are still men and women out there who will step on the regional and games stage having first watched in anticipation as the clock drilled down to begin Open workout 17.1. However, for the majority of us, the Open provides us with a means to evaluate our current fitness level and set goals for the coming year.

Whether you started CrossFit last week or six-years-ago, the Open is an often humbling, sometimes surprising, assessment of your fitness. The Open may be your first competition, and that’s OK! Competing in the comfort of your local box will inoculate you to the anxiety associated with competing in front of an audience. For us coaches and coaches-in-training, the Open provides us the chance to truly put our knowledge of CrossFit movements into application. Nothing is harder than objectively grading your friends and fellow gym mates. Breaking Muscle provides a great breakdown of why every CrossFitter should participate in the Open.


Ok, so we’re doing this. First things first — sign up here for the International CrossFit Open. Registration begins in one week and will cost $20. But don’t worry, it’s well worth it and a small price to be a part of such a wonderful experience.

Next, let’s talk preparation. If you haven’t noticed, our programming at CrossFit Ferus has ramped-up in the past few weeks. This is in the interest of increasing our collective work capacity and strength. In a few weeks, we will decrease the intensity level and volume. Hold on tight and trust the programming. When the Open comes around you will be more ready than you think.

Gear. We all love it. If you’re like me, Rogue Fitness benefitted from your wish list this holiday season. But, make sure that your knee sleeves, wrist wraps, weight-belts, weightlifting shoes and new Metcons are all broken-in and comfortable by February. Like any other competition, we don’t want to try something new on the day of the event.

Continue to fuel and sleep well. Follow the programming and try not to miss too many days. We all know that the post-holiday work environment is all business, but please make time to continue your hard work that has brought you this far.

The Open is specifically designed to ensure that every CrossFit athlete can compete. However, as athletes improve worldwide the tasks subsequently increase in the Open. But with that said, the Open is designed with the flexibility applied to the programming that you can either perform the workouts in your garage gym and film your performance for submission, or in a box with a certified judge. For our purposes, we will perform the workouts at Ferus on Friday evenings and Saturday mornings.

Every Thursday night for five weeks starting February 23, CrossFit HQ will release the Open workout standards. In previous years, CrossFit Games Director, Dave Castro, announced the elements of the workout with a live demonstration followed by a face-off between two (or more) elite CrossFit athletes. Watch the demo and begin strategizing how you will approach this workout and developing your mental preparations. Take notes and approach any of our knowledgeable coaches to get individualized strategies. In the meantime, check out this article from Tabata Times on mental preparation for the Open.


For the most part, you will not see too many surprises. The past six years have revealed tons of double-unders, thrusters, box jumps, deadlifts, snatches, and the clean and jerk. Sounds familiar right? However, in the months leading up to the Open, CrossFit HQ hides Easter eggs in their daily programming blog. Here are a few things I think we’ll be seeing this year:

Handstands: As mentioned in a previous article, much of the HQ programming and international competitions have involved handstand walks. Now, it’s unlikely that we will be expected to walk on our hands for a set distance, as this is not conducive to stationary filming, but don’t be surprised if you find yourself upside-down for a bit of the Open.

Dumbbells: They’re not just for curling anymore!!! CrossFit founder and Owner, Greg Glassman, has for some time advocated for more dumbbell work. He believes — with good cause — that dumbbells have a variety of uses, from forcing good form to causing asymmetry in movement. As a result, dumbbells have appeared consistently in HQ programming. We may see some dumbbell overhead movements in the near future.

Burpees: Do we need to go any further? Check out Open Workout 12.1.

Muscle-Ups: Unfortunately, this might become the deciding factor between RX’d and Scaled athletes. In years past, Dave Castro added the muscle-up after noticing regional athletes struggled with the movement. Don’t let this drive your Open approach. If you don’t have muscle-ups, we’ll get you there!

Olympic/Power Lifts: It should go without saying, but we need to address this. As with any strategy, Olympic Lifting and Power Lifting require a bit of forethought. Understand and know your 1-Rep Max (1RM) and percentages off of that. The Open has often presented a gymnastics or bodyweight metcon coupled with a heavy weightlifting movement for a single or a 1RM. (Check out Open Workout 15.1) You will already be pretty gassed after one or two rounds. Reset, breathe, and lift what you know you can hit. You may hit a PR, but don’t get stuck trying to climb the PR ladder and paying for missed lifts with more work capacity.

Previous Workouts: Almost every year one of the workouts is a repeat of previous years. Use some of the embedded links above or search previous CrossFit Open workouts to both get a feel of what has been programmed, and what you may see in the near future.

What we may not see: There’s always the fear of tripple-unders, rope climbs and the…unknowable. I hesitate to make any solid claims, as Dave Castro has proven to be unpredictable to say the least. Trust in the fact that the Open has to be flexible enough that submissions can be filmed — as thousands elect to do. Running, climbing, crawling, and rolling are difficult to film and highly subjective. Breathe easier knowing that everything that will be programmed for the Open has been seen before.

In our next article, the Ferus Coaches will provide some strategies to apply in anticipation of the Open, and as you prepare for each Open workout. Until then, let’s continue to focus on refining our technique and working our weaknesses. Allow the programming to take effect, don’t cheat yourself, and don’t make any unnecessary or drastic changes. Approach any of our coaches and ask about preparing for the Open — especially if this is your first time participating in the competition. Finally, in the Open and all CrossFit competitions, you are competing against yourself.

Don’t talk yourself out of the Open because you think you’re not ready!

Please feel free to drop-in to a red-eyed 5:30 a.m. class or comment below.