Before I tell you why I love to hate the CrossFit Open let’s first discuss why the Open was created and what step it is in the process of the CrossFit season. The Open is the first step in determining the fittest on earth and it leads to finding the 20 athletes that will go to Regionals. The top 5 athletes from each of the Regionals goes to the CrossFit Games. The best part is this first step is for everyone, and that’s what we love about it. It’s a chance to compete. It may only be for five weeks, but just like me, you too can sign up and test your fitness against your friends at CrossFit HellBox or around the world. You can see where your numbers stack up against the best athletes on the planet no matter how far back you might end up.
Now why do the CrossFit Open in 2017? Because if you love to compete, than it’s a chance to compete across the whole CrossFit world. It’s also a forum to test your fitness and make sure you are getting more fit and becoming a more well rounded athlete. I know not everyone loves to compete but everyone should love the fact that they have proof they are improving their weaknesses. Another reason I love the Open is because of the atmosphere it creates in all the affiliates. Everyone is focused on the same tough workouts, sharing their struggles and accomplishments, and reveling in their fitness. Yes, the open workouts are tough, really tough. Not because they are super intricate but because they are simple tests of fitness covering a certain core group of movements in perfect combination. CrossFit always prides itself on the “unknown and unknowable” element of competition, and that aspect remains true today just as it did in 2007 at the very first CrossFit Games, but what history has told us is in the past six years of the Open is there seems to be a certain number of movements that will pop up in some manner over the five weeks of the Open. There are 9 movements, to be exact, that have been in every Open since 2011. Those 9 movements are burpees, snatch, wall balls, double unders, toes to bar, pull-ups (usually chest to bar), cleans in some form, thrusters, and muscle ups (usually ring but bar was added last year). There is also a good chance of seeing (have been in at least 3 or 4 opens): box jumps, dead lifts, rowing, shoulder to overhead, and overhead squats. Each year there has been a “new” movement with last year unveiling the overhead walking lunge in 16.1 and in 2015 the handstand push up. Having said all that, one of the greatest things about the Open is that every year people post videos of themselves getting their first pull up, or muscle up or handstand push up, that amazing accomplishment is always pushed by competition.
Since we know the core exercises, the next element to look at is duration and movement combinations. Almost every workout is designed as an AMRAP with the majority of them being short, 10 minutes or less, to the longest at 20 minutes. Almost every year a workout is repeated from a previous Open, what better way to see how much you have improved than by repeating the same workout a year or two later?
My opinion is that everyone should do the Open. I know there are a lot of reasons that people do the Open and don’t do the Open. One I hear quite a bit is that they “aren’t ready” or “haven’t been doing CrossFit very long.” That’s not a great excuse, in fact, with all the workouts for the Open being scalable (as are all CrossFit workouts), there is no level of experience that anyone needs to have in order to participate. If your excuse is you can’t afford it, than your lying! $20 dollars to enter a worldwide competition is nothing compared to the $40 or $50 or even more it costs to enter your local 5K. Why pay $20 to enter the Open? It creates value and buy-in and lets you see your results up against everyone else. Could you do the Open workouts on your own in your box or affiliate? Sure. Could you go run a 5K on your own around town? Sure. But paying to be a part of the official experience and to put your scores out there for the whole world to see cultivates a vested interest in the process. I know — I’ve done it both ways.
This year at CFHB we are going to have a concentrated effort towards getting ready for the open. The next 7 weeks are going to focus on those 9-12 movements we are destine to see during the Open. Then the 5 weeks of the Open will be geared towards practicing and recovering for that weeks Open workout. There will be a progression of shorter more intense AMRAP’s mixed with some heavy lifting in a fatigued state. There will also be skills practice and drill progressions so you can get your first pull up or chest to bar or bar muscle up and be ready for the Open. The warm ups will involve non-timed sets of skills/practice of movements and position practice. We will also have some skills clinics on DU’s and gymnastics work in our open gyms on Sundays so look for those dates at the box. Don’t worry there will be a long chipper every week to build your endurance and your mental fortitude. No, 7 weeks isn’t enough time to perfect your snatch but it is enough time to improve your technique on all those basic movements making sure you are moving well and to develop your energy systems for those short intense AMRAPs.
So as the CrossFit community braces itself for an onslaught of online bitching about the workouts being too hard while a like number of participants cry for much heavier and more difficult workouts, we will all sit together and eagerly watch the CrossFit Games site countdown clock tick away until Thursday February 23rd. As 17.1 is announced live we will be cheering on our favorite professional CrossFit athletes and then watching our friends and coaches do 17.1 at CFHB in Thursday night lights. I hope you will see the value in proving your fitness and committing yourself to the 5 weeks of the open from February 23-March 27th. Registration opens on January 12th, 2017 so start preparing now because 17.1 awaits.
Move Well, Live Well