You can learn so much from the CrossFit Open. It can teach you a lot about yourself and about the community you have become part of. As a newbie to the Open here is what I learnt and the new found tips I can share with you
- You will learn what a great supportive community CrossFit has, and that you are now part of it
During both 17.1 and 17.5, arguably the 2 most gruelling of the 5 workouts, there were times I thought f*ck this and I was close to stopping. However, I was surrounded by people screaming and urging me on and they pulled me through. At the Training Ground, the box I go to, there has been the same incredible support for everyone competing. On Instagram I have seen videos around the world of people cheering and celebrating at their local boxes as they help push someone to smash a PR or achieve new incredible feats.
- You learn what you’re capable of (you will probably surprise yourself) AND You will be proud of yourself for doing it
Irrespective of where or when you finish each workout the Open is tough, you will have worked incredibly hard, and will certainly feel like you’ve accomplished something. You may even get a PR or manage to perform your first muscle up or pull up. Perhaps, if you did some of the workouts again you might do something differently or perform slightly better. But that’s the point – To do it, learn from it, and improve for next year.
- You learn what your weaknesses are and where to focus your training
Each workout asks something different of you and will really highlight any areas of weakness. For me, the Open highlighted 1. How weak my Olympics lifts are, 2. That I need to improve my shoulder/overhead strength, and 3. Now that I have certain skills (muscle ups and double-unders) I need to build capacity and be able to do them for reps.
- You realise just how incredible the games athletes are
I watched ‘Fittest on Earth’ a few weeks back and when you actually do the same workouts as the Games athletes, as you do in the Open, you realise just how insanely amazing they are! The guys at the top of the leaderboard completed 17.1 and 17.5 in half the time it took me! During 17.3 Matt Fraser snatched 265lbs (a whole me and a half of me) above his head, after having already performed approximately 140 chest to bar pull ups and 60 snatches, AND all within 17 minutes. Even those that don’t make the Games, like @ronharveytg and @matt_cass123, regional athletes at my box are doing things and achieving times that impress and amaze you. You may never be at those levels but it inspires you and pushes you to get fitter and to close that gap even just a little.
A FEW TIPS
- Eat, Sleep, Drink, Repeat – LOTS!
I think @littlebigshimmy, a coach/athlete at my box, worked out that he burnt 600 calories in 12 minutes doing 17.2. You are doing these workouts at least once a week, alongside normal workouts. Some people re-do, so you may even be doing 2 or even 3 of the Open workouts a week. To help your body recover you need to stay hydrated (drink lots of water) and you need to make sure you are not in a calorie deficit. Basically, the Open is a good excuse to eat, eat and eat some more!
- Active Recovery
LISS will help your recovery. Have a read of HIIT versus LISS. Lots of stretching, foam rolling, and massage is also going to help.
- Don’t drink and workout
The week of 17.2 a friend was over from Hong Kong and it was my birthday so I had to go out and have a few drinks. Following a day of feeling sorry for myself, Monday came and I decided to give 17.2 a go. I felt like death for the entire workout and I really could have and should have done better.
- Don’t over practice gymnastics
I was due to do 17.2 on the Friday before my big night out (see point 7). However, I had a feeling there would be muscle ups so did loads of technique work on the Thursday. At the end I thought why not pump out a couple of muscle ups to finish. Well I performed 1 and straight away caused a rip! Hence why I did 17.2 on the Monday. So don’t be silly like me; rest up and conserve your energy and non-ripped hands for the big event.
- Get as much guidance as possible before each workout
Listen to everyone! Ask your coach, go on YouTube, google the workout tips, watch the games athletes, and watch the best at your box. You can pick up so many little tips to help improve your score! My friend @thejosephliu wrote a great blog post about preparing for the open.
- Ask your judge to help you
Get them to tell you when there is 1-2 minutes left so that you can really push (you don’t want to clock watch, you want to focus on each rep). When you are strong in a certain area get them to push you, to keep you on the bar/pick up the weight. You may want to punch them in the face at the time but you will thank them after for helping you to squeeze out that little bit extra.
- Stay Calm and enjoy it
Some people (me included) watch Dave Castro’s tweets and spend days trying to make sense of them and guess what the workout is. Then wait for the live Open announcement. Once they’ve seen it they then strategise and spend all day thinking about it. Don’t! I worried far too much about 17.3. I saw the announcement, saw how heavy some of the snatches were and got anxious. I missed my first 3 attempted snatches at 95lbs (a weight I can and did easily lift). Do all of that stuff if you want, but remember it’s meant to be fun. Try your best, enjoy the atmosphere and take everything as a learning experience on your journey to a fitter you.
- Dave Castro’s clues are meaningless
Don’t take them too seriously, they make absolutely no sense. It is all part of the fun!