Final Preparations for the 2017 CrossFit Open
Ready to Go!
We are officially one week away from the World Wide CrossFit Open. If you have not registered yet, there’s still time. Log on, create a profile and get ready for an awesome Open season. A few weeks ago, we wrote about the 2017 CrossFit Open under More Ready Than You Think. Some of this may sound like a review of that article, so without being too redundant, check it out to get an idea of the history of the Open and what to expect. This week, we are going to dive a little deeper into how to prepare or the Open, some strategies, and — dare I say — a few predictions.
Get Your Mind Right…
If this is your first Open, I’m sure you have a ton of questions. Feeling apprehensive? Not to worry, everyone feels the same. Much like following CrossFit main-site programming — or even the programming at your local box — the Open workouts are only revealed the night prior. The mystery follows a foundational CrossFit mantra of being ready for the unknown and unknowable, so pregame jitters are real and universally felt. Just think of it as another — albeit harder — Thursday afternoon WOD. With this in mind, don’t let the mystery or apprehension cause you to miss out on a great event. The Open was designed to give athletes the opportunity to compete for a spot at Regionals and hopefully the CrossFit Games. For the rest of us, it’s a fun and challenging means to test your fitness. There is a category for everyone…and their mother. That’s right; my 65-year-old mom is signed up!
Another neat feature this year are the professional categories. If you are a 32-year-old nurse, you can compete against 32-year-old nurses around the world. In line with the categories, you can compete as Rx or scaled — meaning executing the workout as it is presented or using one of several possible scaled versions. Whether you pick Rx (as written) or scaled does not have any bearing on the rest of your Open season, unless you are working toward a Regionals slot. For example: Let’s say you can do a Clean & Jerk, but not Toes-to-Bar. That’s fine; you can either do Rx Olympic lifts and work on getting your first RX toes-to-bar during the Open (the adrenalin is real), or do the WOD scaled. What if you can do 17.1 Rx, and have to scale 17.2 — no problem. Click on the video below for a little more information on the Rx and Scaled process.
Believe it or not, you are ready for this. Whether you have been CrossFitting for three months or three years, the Open is geared more toward testing your work capacity. I would argue that save one or two workouts, the majority of the Open programming will be light movements, at high reps in a structure that will last roughly 15-minutes or less. In saying that, surviving an Open workout is all about pacing. CrossFit Open Workout 12.1, was 7-minutes of Burpees. When I saw that I thought, “no problem.” At 3–2–1, Go, I fired through the Burpees at a lighting pace. I heard my judge count off about 35 Burpees and I glanced at the clock gasping for breath — and about a 1:30 had passed. It was a rough five and a half minutes. Needless to say, that was a bad strategy. Here’s how I would recommend approaching the Open.
Typically, CrossFit HQ announces the Open workouts on Thursday nights at 8 p.m on the East Coast, and 5 p.m. on the West Coast. The announcements feature elite athletes — and on occasion, us novices — performing the workout immediately after the announcement. What is fortunate for those of us watching is that we get to see some of the best in the Sport of Fitness adapting to the elements of these workouts. This is an excellent first step to devising a strategy for the workout. Soon after the announcement, the internet is abuzz with videos and articles posting strategies and suggestions. I highly recommend Barbell Shrugged’s blog for advice. I have used their site for years when it comes to working on a plan and developing a focused warm-up for each particular Open workout.
For example: In the 2014 Open, one of the workouts included a long string of Chest-to-Bar Pull-Ups. I was given an excellent tip from Andrew Killion, owner of District CrossFit in Washington D.C., suggesting that athletes drop from the bar after each Chest-to-Bar to save their grip strength. This was a lifesaver for this particular workout and not a strategy that I would have considered otherwise. If sifting through the various blogs and websites is not your thing, you can ask any of our skilled coaches for advice, tips, strategies and helpful hints.
Once you have a strategy, it’s time to talk execution. It’s great to dive right into the workout, but not always great if you are interested in posting a good result. Give it a day or so to digest the workout. Depending on how you choose to submit your results (by video or at an affiliate) you will have the entire weekend to attempt the specified workout. In past Open seasons, I have taken Friday to test some of the elements of the specified workout without the pressure of the clock or a judge kneeling to my side. Then on Saturday, I would take a shot at the workout for submission. The danger in having the entire weekend is the lure to try the workout several times in the hopes of getting a better result. If you plan on that, proceed with caution. As stated above, the Open is all about work capacity. If you recover quickly, try the workouts as many times as possible. If you are one of us mere mortals, give it your all one time, post your results and look forward to the next week.
You have until the following Monday to post your results. Once they’re all in, you will be able to see how you stack up against some of the best in the world in your age category, or every 32-year-old nurse in the world. What do we do next? Depending on your programming at your Box, you will want to take it a bit light during the week. DON’T take the entire week off. That spells disaster not only for recovery but also for any chance of doing well in the next Open workout. Take a day of active recovery: rowing, foam rolling, band stretching — nothing heavy or fast.
Don’t try to PR every day, but do enough to maintain your current fitness level. In athletic terms, consider the five weeks during the Open “in season.” Going 100% all week might leave you with only 80% on your next Open workout.
Finally, once you post your score, let it go. I’ve had conversations with fellow coaches and CrossFitters where we bemoan our performance during a specific Open workout several years in the past. However, the memory of not being able to do a muscle-up or double-unders should inform your focus for the following year of training.
A few weeks ago we offered predictions when it comes to the Open. The problem with predictions is they are everywhere, and seldom correct. You can guarantee that the Open will contain a Fran-like workout and burpees. But, as recent Open seasons have demonstrated — you never really know what will come next. Take a look at Open programming from previous years to gain a better understanding of what we may encounter. Not to mention, every year an old Open workout is revived — and it’s usually a pretty gnarly one!
A few weeks ago CrossFit Games organizer, Dave Castro, posted an Instagram photo of dumbells. A few days later you could not find a set of 50# or 35# pound dumbells on any fitness sight, and Target held a 20% off sale on dumbells. I would argue that this photo was not random or intended to boost dumbell sales. Prepare for dumbell thrusters, overhead lunges, or single arm snatches.
Expect to jump-rope at some point. Over the past few years, I have spotted triple-unders on the CrossFit main page programming. I would not put it past HQ programmers to add this nemesis to all of us with poor ankle mobility, but it is pretty difficult to judge double-unders in person or on a video — it stands to reason that triple-unders will introduce a little more subjectivity when it comes to accurate judging. But, you never know.
My personal GOAT. Pistols have consistently appeared on CrossFit main page programming and in the CrossFit Games over the past few years. Key to this exercise if you lack ankle mobility is a good set of Olympic weightlifting shoes. Yes, you can scale this exercise with the scaled options provided for your age group.
Toes-to-Bar, Chest-to-Bar, Bar Muscle-Ups
These gymnastics movements take your Pull-Ups to the next level and tax your grip. In past open workout, I have noticed these elements — particularly Toes-to-Bar, and Chest-to-Bar Pull-Ups — in conjunction with an Olympic Lift or Power Lift. Do you see the trap here? Holding onto the Pull-Up bar and then transitioning to a Dead-Lift will make your forearms feel like they are on fire. Not only that, but your body will begin to involuntarily let go of these external objects. Pacing, pacing, pacing. If you see a long string of these elements in an Open workout, just attack them in singles. I guarantee that when you look around at your fellow Box-mates trying to string multiples together, you will be far ahead of them. As always, if you struggle with these movements, or you are still on your quest for a Pull-Up, use the scaling options — it will still be challenging.
…And everything else
CrossFit is all about being prepared for the unknown. Expect to see a bit of everything in the Open workouts. Olympic/Power lifting, muscle-ups, hand-stand pushups, hand-stand walking, wall-balls, box-jumps…etc. What you can count on is the fact that you will be familiar with every element of the workouts. The surprise will be how the elements are presented. If you find a movement or element that seems impossible, remember that it is scalable.
CrossFit Ferus Open Season
Our plan at CrossFit Ferus for the 2017 CrossFit Open season is to provide flexible times for our athletes to come in and compete. The coaches will view the workouts during the Thursday announcement and then get down to work devising strategies and warm-ups for our athletes. Fridays from 4–7:00 p.m. is dedicated to Open workouts. We will be available to support you and judge your performance. As always, if you need to come in on Saturday, one of our coaches will gladly set you up for the Open workout. Don’t hesitate to approach any of the knowledgeable CrossFit Ferus coaching staff to get tips and suggestions for tackling the Open.
Sign up, have fun and test your fitness!