2015 Open Prep Guide

It’s that time of year again.

With the first WOD of the 2015 CrossFit Opens dropping in exactly two weeks we’re taking a look back at the past Opens to see what insights they can give us into what we might see this year.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Although this year provides a new wrinkle with the scaled division, there are plenty of worthwhile lessons we can learn:

  • The days of the AMRAP only Opens are likely over. While all of the 16 WODs from the first 3 opens were AMRAP format, last year only 3 out of 5 were traditional AMRAP style (remember 14.5? of course you do)
  • Castro has settled into the movements he sees as most fundamental to CrossFit. If you have weaknesses in your snatch, muscle up, C2B pull up, DU, T2B, box jump, wall ball, thruster, or burpees you have two weeks to prepare. Rest assured these are all showing up at some point
  • CrossFit loves to test and retest to give athletes a snapshot of their improvement, so you can expect at least one WOD from a previous open to make an appearance

Even with 4 years of precedent there are sure to be some surprises, and that’s part of what makes it so much fun. Whether this is your first Opens or you’re a veteran, get pumped for the CrossFit event of the year!

and hope we don’t see 14.5 again…

The 2014 Open is done and dusted… Now what?

Well, if you’re in the top 50 – the answer is obvious: prepare for the regionals. Or, if you’re Lucas Parker shoot for the top five. For the rest of us however, the answer may be a bit harder to discern. We’ve got a couple ideas for what’s next for you to check out:

1. Find and improve your weakness

Because the open is unscaled and covers a broad range of movements and weights it is a great litmus test to see where you excel as an athlete and where improvement is needed. The easiest way to do this is ask yourself “Which open WOD did I hate the most?” Didn’t get any T2B? Only get 5 C2B? Work on your gymnastics. 14.5 take you forever? Invest in your stamina. Didn’t miss a double under in 14.1? Probably safe to say you can move on to practicing a new CrossFit skill. We naturally gravitate to the movements we excel at, but time spent critically assessing and addressing your performance in the open will not be a wasted effort. Making large gains in overall fitness is wildly easier in new/unpracticed areas. If you have glaring problems simply because of neglect or simply being new to the sport, begin attacking them and you will see massive improvements. However, if you overlook a hole in your fitness it won’t magically improve a week, month, or year from now. Maybe that weakness improves slightly because of gains in other areas of fitness, but it will none the less continue to be an issue without thoughtfully diagnosing the problem area and methodically tackling it. Which leads us to….

2. Set goals for yourself

Come up with a plan to tackle that 165lb snatch. Talk to your trainers to see where you can improve efficiency in your chest to bar pullups. Improvements in CrossFit come with a serious cost. It’s only after hundreds of perfect repetitions that you will be able to truly excel at any one movement. Set S.M.A.R.T. goals to work on the areas that need improvement.

 

3. Remember or Discover: Why

Now – the open is done and all of your training is complete for the 2014 season. Remember why you embarked upon the journey to the opens or simply why you began CrossFit. Why do you wake up every day and get to the gym in the morning? Why did you put so much effort into getting that 70 pound thruster? Why do push past the physical barrier in Helen? Over the next year that you participate in CrossFit you will be challenged. You will call into question your motivation for running yourself through the gauntlet 5x a week. Remember why you CrossFit today so that when you ask yourself in the future, “Why do put myself through so much pain?” or, “Why do I care anymore?” you have an answer.

If you don’t know why you CrossFit – take a minute or two and think about it. Come up with reason that will withstand the test of time. Increasing your fitness is not an easy task. It’s one that requires active, self-motivated consistency. Without having a proper foundation, repetitively beating yourself up will be a difficult task to continue. However, If you know why you decided to put yourself through Fran (… again), if you know why you want to increase your work capacity then even when things get tough you’ll be able to push through.

4. Celebrate!

Go and grab some friends and have a good time! You made it through 168 thrusters and burpees, and at least 35 minutes of unscaled CrossFit mayhem. Enjoy and share what you’ve accomplished with others. Take some time to remember your accomplishments this Open.

Lessons Learned: 2014 Open

I, like the rest of you went through the Open sore and extremely out of breath. Here are just a few of the lessons I learned while participating:

1. Pace. Pace. Pace.

In 14.4 I finished my 60 calorie row in 2:30 – 3 seconds behind Josh Bridges. I felt pretty good, until I hit the toes-to-bar. For the rest of the workout, I couldn’t find my breath. Little did I know, I ruined my workout in the first two minutes and thirty seconds. We can all empty our gas tank. Save that part for the end. For the rest of the workout plan your recovery periods on movements that are easy and save up for especially difficult sections of the WOD. Even in the shortest open workout of all time, a 5 min AMRAP, it’s impossible to sprint the entire workout. I paced myself on my second attempt of 14.4 and improved my score by 15 reps! Pick a pace and stick to it. You’ll be glad you did.

You want to look like this after the WOD… not during it.

2. Taper your Workout Schedule

In the sport of CrossFit there are a few different parts to the game as in any other sport. There is practicing skilled movements, training to improve your endurance and strength, and lastly, showing off your work by competing. The Open is a time to compete. Now is the time to show off your accomplishments. Now is the time to perform. And, if you want to perform well it is essential to schedule your workouts appropriately around your attempts. Workout everyday for 4 days before your attempt? How well do you think your sore, beat down body will perform? Not as well as if you had given yourself a rest day or two before. You might not “feel” like you’re gaining much ground physically during the open. Guess what? That’s ok! It is a time to strategize, plan, and compete. It’s a time to showcase your talent and how much work you’ve put in. You have the whole next year to build your work capacity. As a general rule, to maximize performance your training during the open season needs to contain a far lower volume of work along with an increase in focused practice on the upcoming movements. If you’re looking for a little more strategy check out CrossFit Impulse’s take on smart tapering.

3. Don’t Breathe

Remember how you did such a good job pacing yourself? Well now you have 1 minute left. Now you have 30 seconds left. Why are you looking at your bar? Pick it up.

4. Expect the Unexpected

This year alone they added a new movement requiring a $5000 piece of equipment and for the first time ever scheduled a workout that was “For Time” (not an AMRAP). Last year, they introduced an increasing AMRAP (if you were good enough). While Dave Castro’s singular goal in programming the opens, regionals, and games isn’t to surprise us, he definitely enjoys it. Be ready for the unexpected and unknown! Train in anyway you can think of: long, short, heavy, light, in the rain, in the morning, fast, disciplined pace, rested, sore – with every movement.

What lessons did you learn? Share in the comments below!

 

Recovery: Maximize Your WOD

The importance of properly recovering from a Wod cannot be understated. Failing to maximze recovery can lead to injury, prolonged fatigue, tight/sore tissues, and decreased performance. But optimum recovery consists of more than rehydrating, sleeping, and pounding a protein shake. There are several ways immediately after a workout to ensure your performance increases with every Wod.

Cool down

How good of an idea do you think it is to stroll into the gym and immediately jump into 14.5? Most elite athletes wouldn’t dream of it, and for good reason. Warming up gradually primes our bodies for the output any given Wod (especially the Open) demands, leading to better movement, reduced risk of injury, and improved performance.

Cooling down after a Wod is no different. Collapsing to the ground post Wod may feel like the only realistic option, but easing your body out of high intensity provides significant benefits. Continuing to move (light jogging or rowing) after a Wod:

  • Promotes blood circulation: In addition to helping supply oxygen to your tissues, your blood recycles tons of chemicals and hormones released during a workout your body needs to do process once they have served their purpose. One such chemical is lactic acid, and promoting blood flow after a workout prevents build up in your tissues which leads to soreness.
  • Prevents tissues from stiffening: We’ve all felt it: after high intensity situations our tissues adapt by getting tighter and stiffer, and we want the opposite. We need to work to stay loose post Wod, doing so maximizes the window in which we can make significant mobility gains and ensure we are fresh for the next Wod.
  • Make a statement: CrossFit is a sport and in no other sport does the victor collapse to ground in exhaustion after winning. Look at the picture below:

Which of these men would you guess won? Winning is a mindset as much as it is physical (if not more) and each Wod you remain on your feet afterwards declares “I conquered this Wod.” Perhaps Mikko Salo said it best:

“I once read an article about it: when animals surrender they go lying on their back, from then on I decided I would never go lying on my back. It’s a sign of weakness and surrendering. I’m never lying on my back.” -Mikko Salo

(Disclaimer: This last point may not be for everyone, no judgement passed on those who choose to collapse)

Mobility Work:

Just like with nutrition, the post Wod window (approximately one hour) is a strategic time towards making gains in mobility when your body is most malleable and accepting to change. Your body just survived some insane Wod and is now prepared to adapt to pretty much anything you throw at it. The post Wod window presents the biggest “bang for your buck” mobility timing and a unique opportunity to put yourself in positions you normally can’t. For an extra bonus, focus on specific muscle groups and positions just tested in the Wod. For example, after heavy deadlifts go after your back. Pull ups: hammer those shoulders. Squats? Work those hips. Maximizing is key to reaching your position, movement, and mobility goals.

Learn:

As said above in the “make a statement” section, CrossFit is a sport, and like all sports the mental/strategic element exists along with the physical. Any athlete or coach worth their salt will spend time reflecting on their performance and draw insights from mistakes and successes in past competitions. Each Wod offers an opportunity to assess yourself as an athlete “What did I do well?” “What could I have done better?” “Where do I need to improve?” Thoughtful answers to questions like these lead to smarter training, better preparation, and increased performance.

Pay attention to other athletes in your box as well. Surprised you were passed by everyone on Toes to Bar even though you were the first one off the rower in 14.4? Wondering how you lost to that guy you have 15 kilos in 14.3? Understanding why things happen is crucial to progressing as an athlete and competitor Looking for an edge to help you jump 200 spots in next years open? Take every Wod as an opportunity to learn and grow as an athlete.

If you don’t believe me, listen to the MAN:

What is CrossFit?

CrossFit is a core strength and conditioning program

Simply put – we workout.  We workout hard and we workout fast. We constantly vary our workouts using functional movements at high intensity. We vary our workouts to force our bodies to adapt new situations and avoid monotony in the gym. We workout using functional movements because they provide a high power output and prepare your body for movements that are necessary in every day life (moving furniture, picking up your child from the ground, jumping). We workout at high intensity using functional movements to increase endurance, stamina, and strength. However, simply put – we workout.
CrossFit is a sport
Greg Glassman (the founder of CrossFit) writes: In implementation, CrossFit is, quite simply, a sport—the “sport of fitness.” We’ve learned that harnessing the natural camaraderie, competition, and fun of sport or game yields an intensity that cannot be matched by other means… …Using whiteboards as scoreboards, keeping accurate scores and records, running a clock, and precisely defining the rules and standards for performance, we not only motivate unprecedented output but derive both relative and absolute metrics at every workout….
CrossFit is a community
CrossFit is a fitness program based around meeting others, sharing experiences, and individuals seeking to reach their maximum fitness potential. It doesn’t matter whether you finish first or last, because everyone involved wants each person to have their own victories and to reach their personal potential. When a CrossFitter sets a new personal record it provides energy, excitement, and a new experience that is invaluable to the rest of the community. Some of the most inspiring PRs (personal records) are some of the most basic movements: pushups, sit-ups, pull-ups. When a CrossFitter that wasn’t able to do a pushup three months ago – but now can – that gets me pumped. CrossFit is a community full of unique, fun, and encouraging people looking to connect and support those who are looking to challenge themselves and improve their fitness.
CrossFit is all of the above
CrossFit is many things to many people. Everyone has their own goals. What are you looking for? Are you looking to compete? Begin a healthy lifestyle? Deadlift twice your bodyweight? Do a pushup? Whatever your goals are we believe CrossFit is the most effective way to see your fitness goals happen.

The 2014 Open Prep Guide

With the 2014 CrossFit Open just weeks away, many of you are likely in one of two situations:

  1. Deciding whether or not to enter the Open
  2. Wondering how to best prepare for the five unknown WODs
Either way, we’ve got your back. If you are looking for some quick tips to work off check out the infographic below. If you want to study a bit further, check out the complete history of the Opens at the bottom of the page.
In order to determine if it’s in your best interest to register for this Open, take some time and study the past 16 WODs featured in the last three Open’s. If you feel confident than you can complete at least 80% of these, you are good to go! If you’re trying to prepare, spend some time familiarizing yourself with the types of WODs you are likely to encounter at the end of February. Below are some general observations:

  • Your normal pull-ups are no good here. In the Opens chest to bar (C2B) is the standard
  • There has been a Thruster/C2B Pull-up WOD in all three opens
  • Each Open has repeated a WOD from the previous Open (which of the 4 from 2013 might we see?)
  • Ascending rounds (3,6,9,12…) have been featured in every Open
  • Practice your Karen…150 wall balls have been in the last two Opens