What is this article about?
Volume Guidelines in preparation for the CrossFit Open
Focus points for creating performance training sessions leading into the Open
Setting expectations leading into the Open
We are four weeks out from the beginning of the 2020 CrossFit Games Open. I have spent the last nine years participating in the open as a coach, an athlete, or sometimes as both. After almost a decade, I’m no longer surprised by the mistakes both beginners and veterans make in this difficult five-week long global test of fitness. Competitions are often very difficult experiences and have the potential to harm your body or mind. So, in an effort to help you with your preparation or the preparation of your athletes, I am going to lay out three tips to help you have a more enjoyable and successful open experience.
Tip #1 Prepare for the volume
The CrossFit Open often releases a shocking number of reps of a specific movement in the open. For example, in 2018 a workout (18.3) was written which had a total of EIGHT HUNDRED double unders if you finished. Many people, myself included, didn’t prepare for this level of training volume of the movement and therefore got exposed. Now, the truth is we will all likely be exposed because it is impossible to predict exactly what will be asked of us in the open. But we do have nine years of history to help us understand the demands of the sport in the open. And as the saying goes,
“Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, shame on me.”
So, TTT coaches, Brannen Dorman and Becky Rogers, ran statistics on the past years opens to help us better understand how to prepare our athletes leading into the competition. Below you will find two charts that summarize the number of reps that someone who finished 10,000th in the world in a specific workout would need to be prepared for in training with some of the common open movements.
Now these values obviously would have to be run on all movements that have previously been released and the numbers would be different if you are working with a demographic that is better or worse than 10,000th on a specific workout. For reference, averaging 10,000th on every workout in 2018 would have you finish the open in 6075th in the world. So, these graphs and numbers can be used as a starting point for you to do your own evaluation to better understand how to train to be prepared for the amount of contraction volume you will face in the open. This will lower your likelihood of intensely crippling muscle soreness, overuse injuries, and getting to complete muscular failure in the middle of a workout.
Tip #2 Do Performance Training Sessions
In a past blog Evan and Kyle expanded upon our limiter-bridge-performance training model. In an effort to bring that theoretical model into application. At a basic level, preparing for the volume of contractions would be “limiter” training. The goal of those sessions is to ensure your muscles, heart, lungs, and joints are prepared for the total work load you will experience and raise your ceiling of performance. But, that isn’t good enough because performing under pressure is a skill of its own.
So, tip number two would be about getting some specific training sessions that are geared towards actually reaching your ceiling and replicating the specific demands of the open. Some of the things that should be covered in these training sessions would include:
REPEATS: If you plan to repeat workouts, perform a maximal effort workout and then repeat that same workout three days later. It is a specific skill to test yourself maximally on a workout, review your video, have pressure on yourself to perform better than previously, and execute a plan on a sore body. So, if you intend to do this, I would have some practice in your training regimen of repeating the same workouts or at least high volumes of the same movements with a short amount of recovery days between.
ENVIRONMENT: Many people are very particular about their training structure. They warm up for a specific amount of time, they get their set up exactly as they want it, they count their own reps, and then they expect when the open comes around that they will be able to adapt to the changing circumstances and put up a best effort. At least a couple times in your preparation you should plan on executing a workout under the same conditions that you will be doing the open. For example, if you are going to do Friday Night Lights, then get a big group together, make sure everyone has judges, set up cameras to film yourself working out, and do a workout in that environment so you have some level of familiarity with the experience you are bound to have in the open. Training Think Tank released weekly Throwdown workouts on our YouTube channel that you can check out if you want to get some practice over these last few weeks.
MOVEMENT STANDARDS: If we’re being honest, most people don’t pay attention to their movement standards in training at a standard that would hold up to competition. It is easy, in an effort to go fast, to ride the line of depth on squats, jump off of one foot whilst doing burpees, not open hips all the way on the top of the box, or even miscount reps when you are very fatigued. The simplest thing I can say here is to practice training while actually meeting standards that you are to face in the open. People are often surprised and upset when they have a judge how much worse they do on workouts, how costly no reps can be in terms of total time, and how frustrating it can be not to meet a novel movement standard. As you approach the open, be as precise as possible with your practice and strive for a standard that is MORE strict than the competition will require of you.
Tip #3: Set your expectations relative to your commitment
The open encourages the participation of a range of humans from professional athletes to recreational trainees at your local box. However, no matter what, every year I see someone who just joined the open “for fun” have an emotional breakdown about their lack of ability to perform. As you set goals for yourself in the open, I think it’s important to ensure that your expectations of your performance are in line with the commitment you’ve given to the process. For example, if you are a professional athlete and you are trying to make the CrossFit Games, then it’s understandable if you are upset with a poorly executed workout. If, however, you are a mother of three with a full time job and are using the open to get a little bit of an extra boost of intensity and focus in your training, then maybe you can cut yourself some slack if you don’t execute the workout like a pro. So, as you go into each workout and as you manage your emotions over the course of five weeks, make sure that you are only expecting out of the open what you put into your preparation over the last weeks, months, and years of training.
The open is a pretty unique platform to compete in a sport. It’s an opportunity for amateurs to play the same game as the professionals. You can’t just show up to an NFL football game and jump on the field with the players or enter into a PGA tour event just to see how you stack up. However, the CrossFit Open does allow this. Not only will it help you gain a tremendous respect for the work capacity of the best in the world in the sport, but it will also likely pull something out of you that you didn’t know existed. I hope you will follow these tips as you approach your final weeks of preparation and I wish you good luck, good health, and good performances on the workouts to come in this years (2nd) CrossFit Games Open.
If you liked this blog, Max has also posted full volume statistics for top 30 athletes in the open. You can find this in the Classroom.
Written by Max El-Hag