04 Feb 2017 – My Advice for the CrossFit Open

Teams for the CrossFit 1864 Open Competition will be announced Saturday afternoon! Have you registered for the Open yet??

2017 will be my eighth CrossFit Open! Holy moly!

During my 8 years I have taken part as a complete newbie, a gym member, a CrossFit coach, a gym owner, an injured athlete and a seasoned CrossFitter. I have also seen hundreds (maybe thousands) of friends and fellow CrossFitters go through the Open, so I like to think I have a few nuggets of advice I can offer up…

My Advice for the Open newbie

So this year is your first CrossFit Open? Get ready for an awesome experience!

#1 Ignore the clock

The Open can be an intimidating experience for the CrossFit newbie. There are lots of people around, workouts you don't quite understand, movements you don't quite have confidence performing, people talking about leaderboards, workout strategies and the best way to get the fastest time. Your head might be spinning so, just take a moment…and breathe.

The Open is a wonderful experience but it can be tainted if you focus on the wrong elements. Our advice for Open newbies is to forget about your workout score, ignore the clock and focus on enjoying the environment. The Open is a time when the whole gym comes together. You get to meet new faces and catch up with friends who train in other classes. It's a chance to have somebody cheering you through your final reps and an opportunity for you to repay the favour when they need your encouragement.

The Open is FUN! So make sure it stays that way.

#2 Avoid the strategy trap

Workout strategies… be prepared to see Facebook littered with videos and blog posts on "the best way to approach open 17.1!". Workout strategies are hugely individual and what will work for one athlete will be terrible for another.

Those that need a serious workout strategy are athletes who are on the cusp of qualifying for Regionals (a very small % of CrossFitters worldwide).

If you are new to CrossFit, your goal should be to take part in each of the 5 workouts, get involved in the community atmosphere and give it your all (think about the email I recently sent - now is your time to go HAM!). What happens in the workout happens…it's just a workout after all!

#3 Be proud of your achievements

The Open is a great opportunity to test yourself and set some markers for the next year of training. Open workouts provide a great benchmark from which to measure your success, so with each workout give your best effort and be proud of what you accomplish. You'll be surprised at what you can do!

#4 Have fun!

You will only have one First CrossFit Open, so enjoy the experience! Work hard, be silly, try new things, challenge yourself, help judge a fellow athlete, get involved in the Team Competition, use these five weeks to learn what the Open and CrossFit is all about…Having Fun!

For the experienced Open athlete

I see this is not your first rodeo, you have been here before, you know some of the ups and downs the next 5 weeks can present….

#1 Know your capabilities

The Open is the most fun and exciting time of the year, but it also coincides with Silly Season.

Each year of the Open we see athletes attempt to take 10 giant leaps forward, and it often ends in frustration. As an example, a couple of years ago there was a 1RM Clean & Jerk attempt as part of an Open workout. I witnessed several athletes attempting to lift weights waaaay above anything they had achieved prior. Not only are you more than likely to miss, but you are increasing your injury risk and sitting on the side-lines for the rest of the Open.

That being said, we encourage everyone to push themselves and use the Open as a chance to try and achieve new PBs. However, bear in mind where you are in your fitness journey. If your pull-ups are sketchy do not become frustrated if you do not get a muscle-up when a workout with muscle ups is inevitably announced. If your best overhead squat is 65kg and a workout calls for 50 reps at 50kg, do not be surprised if you are doing sets of 2-3 reps instead of blasting through the 50 reps on 2 sets of 25 reps.

The other thing to discuss, is injuries. If you have a present injury then do not power on through regardless. The only thing you will achieve is putting yourself in danger of further harm and prolonging your recovery. However, being injured does not mean you cannot join in! The word that comes to mind is 'modifications'. If you need to scale loads or reps then do it, if you need to completely change a movement, then change it!...It's ok! Not doing a workout "because you cannot go RX" is just being bull-headed.

What's better yet, why not get in touch with the other people with broken limbs and wonky appendages and all agree the same workout modifications (with Coach's advice) and all do the same workout together! 

It's about knowing your strengths and weaknesses, it's about setting goals and targets, and it’s about remaining humble and respecting the training process.

*Always check-in with a coach before the workout to discuss your injury and limitations

#2 Have a plan (but be prepared for it to go out the window!)

The more experienced CrossFitters out there will have a good idea of how their bodies hold up against certain movements, certain loads and certain workouts. When an Open workout is announced, you will almost instinctively know that it's going to be a strong workout for you, or you're going to dread it and just want to hide under the covers.

Have a plan in mind - this coincides well with point #1 and knowing your strengths and weaknesses - but be prepared for the plan to crumble alongside the ability to move your legs after you just did a 60 calorie row with a litttttle too much gusto (Open 14.4 anyone?).

The best thing about Open workouts (and it is the best thing) is their ability to smack you in the back of the head and give you the world's biggest wedgey right when you thought you were on track to get the best time on the leaderboard. It's such a humbling (and nauseating) feeling, but the realisation you still have many areas to improve upon and so much more potential is exciting!

#3 Celebrate every success

The Open is the PERFECT time to set some goals and benchmarks for the year ahead. Your experiences in these five workouts will teach you more about yourself that any other session at the gym.

However the usual thoughts are 'Wow that sucked!' or 'I thought I would do better', but there is always something in every workout you can be proud of. Perhaps it's that you actually got a couple of squat clean reps at the 82.5/52kg weight (Open 16.2), or perhaps you did the most Handstand Push-ups you have ever in a workout, even if the number is only 6 reps (Open 16.4) or maybe it's just something as simple as 'at least I took part!"

There are ALWAYS some positives, you just need to be a strong enough athlete to possess the awareness to see them.

#4 Have fun!

You are the wise CrossFitter who the Open newbies look up to in awe, with your graceful toes to bar (at least to them) and your super heavy barbell (at least they can't lift it, yet).

This year the Open is about sharing your experiences with others and improving on your past year's achievements. Work hard, have fun, and learn about yourself, because there is never a better opportunity.


In teams of two, complete for time:
50 Back squats (60/40 kg)
40 Pull-ups
30 Shoulder-to-Overhead (60/40 kg)
50 Front squats (50/35 kg)
40 Pull-ups
30 Shoulder-to-Overhead (50/35 kg)
50 Overhead squats (40/30 kg)
40 Pull-ups
30 Shoulder-to-Overhead (40/30 kg)



(and don't forget to list CrossFit 1864 as your affiliate!)