Fall just arrived and spring is just around the corner, and when we hit the third Thursday of February, the functional fitness world starts going crazy about one thing. The CrossFit Open.
The CrossFit Open was traditionally a 4-5 week "test" every year, where athletes all over the world test their fitness and are able to set goals for improvement for the next year. In 2021 it was 3 weeks of tests. Who knows what the future hold. If CrossFit has prepared us for anything it is the unknown and unknowable.
THE NEW CROSSFIT OPEN
Unlike previous Opens, the Open in 2021 was only 3 weeks long. We can assume (or not), the format will remain the same for 2022. Each week, one workout will be released on Thursday at 7pm CST with scores due by Monday afternoon, 7pm (CST). During this time period, you can perform the workout as many times as you wish.
Many athletes, especially those who are serious about their placing, will redo the workout once leading to them competing 6 total workouts. A good rule of thumb is, if you're not getting paid for fitness, do each Open WOD once. Otherwise you're unnecessarily putting your body through unneccessary training.
Open WODs traditionally have movements easy to judge (Deadlift, HSPU, Wall Ball, Rower, etc) and are famous for being a couplet (2 movements).
While the competition looks different this year, athletes need guidance more than ever. So let’s look at how to prepare and get through the CrossFit Open successfully.
HOW TO PREPARE FOR THE CROSSFIT OPEN
Let’s get the "fine print" out of the way. If you plan on doing well in the CrossFit Open, you should prioritize skills (pull ups, double unders, handstand push ups and muscle ups) along with conditioning over strength. Yes, we're sure you think it's fun to deadlift and snatch all the time, but the strongest athletes do not place higher than skilled and conditioned athletes in the Open. The prescribed weights in the Open are always "light". Don't neglect strength, as it should always be worked on. But prioritize skills and conditioning. You'll be rewarded for doing so.
It takes months (or years!) of diligent training, alternating between accumulation and intensification to increase ability.
1) LOOK AT LIFESTYLE AND PSYCHOLOGICAL FACTORS
Before you start preparing for the CrossFit Open, athletes need to take a minute and think about lifestyle and psychological factors that might affect their performance.
Are they sleeping well? How are their nutrition habits? How are their stress levels? Are they happy and healthy? Take the time to dial in their lifestyle. It will dramatically improve their performance.
How an athlete eats before a workout is a simple lifestyle factor you can control. Here is how we recommend clients eat before The Open.
2) USE THE EQUIPMENT
Leading up to the event, only use the equipment that is on the list. Practice the skills associated with each implement so when competition rolls around, your client is familiar with the equipment and how to use it.
Example: There is no running / biking (Assault Bike) in the CrossFit Open. Yes, both are great conditioning tools, but leading up to the Open, an athlete's butt belongs on a Concept2 Erg (rower) Seat. Same goes for GHD's and Rope climbs. Great tools, but not in the Open. Use what is in the Open.
3) USE A HIGH-LOW SPLIT
In the weeks prior, use a high-low weekly training split.
This involves alternating between simulations, easy training days, tough training days, and rest days.
An example training split could look like this:
Monday - Open Simulation (Annihilate the body with high reps and fast transitions.)
Tuesday - Easy Training Day (3x 10-12 minutes row, low rep gymnastics skill, etc)
Wednesday - Tough Training Day ( 80-85% Snatch / Clean & Jerk Practice and Low Rep Weightlifting)
Thursday - Rest (long slow aerobic on rower, bike, skierg, swim). Heart Rate Low.
Friday - Open Simulation
Saturday - Easy Training Day
Sunday - Rest (long slow aerobic on rower, bike, skierg, swim). Heart Rate Low.
Exactly how this will play out depends on the athlete. The only important days are the Open Simulation days. The rest are to keep moving. If the athlete isn't recovered by Wednesday, skip the weightlifting and give them another Easy Training Day so they will be ready for Friday.
During these weeks, vary the simulations as much as possible. The variance will prepare them for whatever workout gets thrown their way. Thankfully, these workouts are more predictable than they seem. Check out this article by Morning Chalk Up that shows how likely a workout is to be repeated.
4) DROP THE VOLUME
Reach your max training volume 2 weeks before the Open Starts. Then, drop the volume entirely and take it easy until The Open. Use this time to refine skills and do a lot of high-volume low-weight contractions
GAINS ARE MADE IN THE OFF-SEASON
Random programs get random results. A one-size-fits-all WOD works… until it doesn’t. At Okie CrossFit we pride ourselves in not being random in our workouts. We program Strength year round with WODs that focus refining the body's energy systems (#science). The group fitness model is great for motivation and gets people to show up every day, but sometimes people need or want more.
If it is time for you, to address your individual needs, reach out to me @ firstname.lastname@example.org I would love to talk to you about your goals, lifestyle, abilities and help guide you in getting on Individual Design for your specific needs. We can either help you crush the CrossFit Open or finally wear the bikini 👙 you bought 2 years ago. Let's talk.