The Open is coming! It's the single largest community event in the world of CrossFit. Last year, upwards of 400,000 people participated all over the globe. The numbers have only been increasing each year since its inception in 2011, so you can count on this year being even bigger than the last.
So what should you expect when you register for The Open? What should you be practicing extra hard for? Lets explore the history of The Open workouts and see what we can learn. Here's a complete list of all the movements that have ever appeared in an Open workout since the beginning.
Chest to Bar Pull Ups - whether it's the extra level of difficulty or the ease of judging (chest either hits or it doesn't), but C2B pull ups have been a standby every year. Expect to see a high volume required to get a good score and often followed by or following a week involving a lot of hands (like muscle ups or toes to bar). You cannot afford to shred your hands!
What to work on now: It's a bit too late to get fantastically stronger but you can add in some volume of strict chest to bar pull ups (5 sets of 1-5 reps) at the end of any workout 3 days per week for the next 4 weeks. Also, if you're not already accustomed to wearing hands wraps you need to get some asap and get used to using them.
Consider popular favorite such as
Double Unders - A simple way to test the "Coordination" element of our 10 Types of Fitness, you can count on having to bust out your skipping rope during The Open.
What to work on now: Practice squeezing your butt as you jump in order to maintain a straight body position. This prevents expending way too much effort through piking or tuck jumping (who want to work harder than they have to??) and also prevents downward pressure on the pelvic floor to keep ya pants dry (ladies...). If you don't already have your own rope, consider investing in a good one and get used to using it.
At the end of any workout, when you otherwise want to lay on the ground and die, have your skipping rope handy and do 100 Double Unders as quick as you can. If you do this after every workout for the next 4 weeks, you will have greatly improved your coordination under fatigue.
Thrusters - We're CrossFitters. We do thrusters. They are as much a part of our identity as excessive use of chalk and obsessively talking about CrossFit.
What to work on now: practice squatting in your thruster with your heels firmly planted and a very upright torso. This keeps the bar over your feet and prevents you from fighting with the weight as it dips out front of your center of balance. Find places to breathe and work on your mental games to fight through bigger sets. As soon as that bar hits the ground, chances are many seconds are going to tick by before it's moving again.
Toes to Bar - Toes to bar were first introduced at the CrossFit Games in 2009 and they've been a staple of The Open since the beginning. They are easy to judge, easy to video, and use standard equipment found in any box so you can count on them being a part of your life.
What to work on now: Focus on finding your flow of linking your reps together. Upper body (shoulders) and lower body (feet) need to always be on the opposite side of the pull up bar from each other in order to keep the rhythm. Expect to see a high volume required in order to get a good score, so just like your C2B pull ups, get used to using your hand wraps. If you regularly use a suicide grip (thumb on top), get your life together and start making better choices. Wrapping the thumb under the bar saves your grip in case the work combines other grip-intensive movements like light deadlifts and power snatches (15.1) and reduces the friction of your hands sliding around, which prevents tearing. It also greatly reduces the chances of you flying off the bar and ending up in a CrossFit Fails video.
Wall Balls - Expect to see 20/14lb balls and ladies using a 9' target. Women should always be training with a 10' target, and enjoy the "treat" of a lower standard, while also being prepared should Dave Castro decide to up the expectations for the women. Typical volume has been 150 reps, and often in combo with muscle ups and double unders, although the previous two years we've only had to do 1 set of 55.
What to work on now: Practice dropping your arms between reps, while the ball is in the air and focus on that moment as rest. Make every rep count and minimize break time in order to get your best score.
ALSO COUNT ON...
Snatches of some kind - We've had to move an object from the ground to overhead every year. In some cases we were tangoing with a light barbell for lots of reps (16.3), a dumbbell that ends up feeling way heavier than it should (17.1), or an increasingly heavy barbell with a squat snatch required (17.3).
What to work on now: Plenty of options here, as the variations of snatches have been extensive. Practice passing the dumbbell from hand to hand for quicker reps, but make sure you're making the exchange below your eyes, as Dave Castro has hinted that will be the standard this year.
Rowing - The Concept 2 Rower was introduced in 2014, to much moaning and complaining from gyms that did not own this kinda pricey piece of equipment. But now that it's here, it's here to stay. Rowing in The Open has always been done for calories rather than meters, which severely punishes a slower pace. Read more about this in my previous post The Damper Debate.
What to work on now: Practice an efficient stroke using your legs first, followed by a slight swing of the back, and finish with the arms pulling the handle in to the middle of the torso. Return to the start position in the reverse order - arms first, then the back, then the legs. You'll need to row hard to get a good score, so make sure you're not wasting energy with poor technique.
Muscle Ups of some kind - We saw ring muscle ups from 2011-2015 and bar muscle ups in the last two years. Will we see the return of the rings this year?
What to work on now: Like your C2B pullups, it's a bit late to get a whole lot stronger, but adding in some volume of strict Chest to Bar or Chest to Ring pull ups will help condition your pulling strength. Make sure you are comfortable using hand wraps and work to eliminate sloppy movement by keeping your tight hollow body arch activated when you're on the rings or the bar.
Burpees - Like the thrusters listed above, burpees are as much a part of a CrossFitters life as high fives from your fitness friends and accusations of joining a cult from your other friends. Every year The Open has some kind of surprising twist, and in 2015 the twist was no burpees! ...Which was summarily followed in 2016 by doing burpees TWICE. Variations in past years have included
- burpees jumping to a 6" target
- bar facing burpees
- burpee box jumps
What to work on now: In the preview workout 18.zero, Dave Castro explained that stepping back 1 foot at a time will be considered the "scaled" version. So get used to hopping your feet in and out in all variations of burpees.
Cleans - We saw power cleans in 5 out of 7 years and increasingly heaving squat cleans in 1 of the others. You can reasonably expect to be picking something up off the floor and bringing it to your shoulders.
What to work on now: Simply practice being efficient in your cleans! Shrug your shoulders, rather than doing an enthusiastic bicep curl, and work on recapturing your hook grip when linking reps together.
Deadlifts - We've had deadlifts every year except 2012 - sometimes light and sometimes heavy, with the last two years a nice medium load of 225/155lbs.
What to work on now: Make sure you know the difference between hinging at the hips (good) and bending the spine (sad!) and that you are able to maintain your form when fatigued. Sacrificing your form and wrecking you back to get a better score in one week of The Open will only hurt you in the weeks that follow.
Handstand Push Ups - introduced in 2015, we've seen HSPUs in each of the last 3 years.
What to work on now: The standard used in The Open where the heels have to cross a pre-measured line is excellent, both for ease of judging and maintaining consistent reps.... aaaand it fucks a lot of people up. To be prepared, practice kipping out of the bottom with your feet together, leading with the heels not the toes. Lock out each of your reps emphatically and make sure you are not over-arching through the back as this makes it harder for your heels to reach the line.
THE NEW MOVEMENT?
Each year, Dave Castro loves to add to the theatrical drama of The Open by shocking people with the introduction of a new movement.
In 2014 they brought in the rower
In 2015 we were introduced to handstand push ups (with a novel judging standard) and a 1RM lift
In 2016 we got to try bar muscle ups for the first time
and in 2017 dumbbells became a standard piece of equipment, used for power snatches, weighted lunges, and power cleans.
Can we make a wild ass guess what the new movement might be in 2018? Much of it is a mystery, but we do know a few things. Movements used in The Open need to follow a few criteria:
1) They must be able to be captured on video
To make The Open as open as possible, videos can be submitted online for those athletes not participating at an official CrossFit affiliate gym. Regional contenders too, are asked to submitted video verification of their performance before earning their invite to the next stage of competition. The video requirements eliminate things like a 400m run.
2) They must use standard equipment found in most CrossFit gyms
This likely rules out GHDs (too many different versions out there), rope climbs (too many different ceiling heights), and prowlers/sleds (too many versions and flooring types).
I used to say we're unlikely to see the use of kettlebells too since it's difficult to expect most affiliates to have multiples of the prescribed weights, but last year's introduction of the dumbbells negated that reasoning. The only reason I'll still wager we won't be using kettlebells is that last year we were given advanced warning of the introduction of the dumbbells and what the weights would be in order for affiliates to prepare and this year we've been given no such notice.
3) They must be easy for an average person to judge
The Open relies on participants to judge each other, so standards need to be as clear as possible for the average person to uphold. The push ups in 11.2 proved to be a total disaster as no one seemed to be able to eyeball the difference between a solid rep and a pile of broken dreams. Difficulty of judging rules out tricky skills like triple unders.
Common CrossFit movements that have never been done in The Open include Pistols, short line sprints (10m perhaps?), Sit Ups, Sumo Deadlift High Pulls, and Med Ball Cleans.
It's pretty likely we will be using those dumbbells again, but perhaps in a different movement like deadlifts, thrusters, front squats, shoulders to overhead, or farmer carries.