What is the CrossFit Open?

Even before I had written my latest post about the CrossFit Open and why you should enter it, there were people asking me what it was and why I was doing it?

Put simply, it is the first stage to qualify for The CrossFit Games. During The Open a new workout is published every week for 5 weeks. Everyone registered in The Open and linked to a CrossFit affiliate then has 4 days to give the workout a go and submit their score. To make the Games you have to 1st make the top 10 for your region and compete at Regionals. Eventually it is whittled down to the top 40 men, 40 women, 40 teams, 80 teenagers, 240 masters (35yrs+, split into various categories) in the World to compete at The Games. Last year 300,000+ people entered, and this year it is probably closer to half a million. Therefore, approximately 0.1% of people that enter The Open make The Games.

So why bother? Why am I entering as a newbie with no chance of making The Games?

Not only is it a qualifier for the Games, it acts as an opportunity to test your progress over the past year and identify weaknesses and targets for the forthcoming year. It will help focus your training.


  • At least one workout is repeated from the previous year. For example, this year 17.4 (17 = 2017, .4 = workout 4) was the same workout as 16.4. This allows people to clearly identify progress year to year by beating their time/reps.
  • The movements each year are pretty similar, they are just rearranged into different workouts of varying duration and rep ranges etc. This makes it easy to highlight what you weren’t able to do in previous years but can now do. For example, this year some of my friends weren’t able to do double-unders last year, but could this year.
  • If you move from scaled to Rx. There is the option to scale workouts, which means that if you are unable to lift the weight prescribed or perform a movement given, you can perform an easier variation. If you are able to move from the scaled division to the Rx workouts that shows significant progress.
  • Finally, for every workout you complete and submit you are ranked. You are ranked on where you come in each particular workout and overall. You are also ranked on where you stand in your country, your region, and the World.

Below I have included a screenshot of the leaderboard to help show the ranking system and how it can be used to judged progress and inform future training. At first glance, it looks pretty confusing…

my open score in thailand.JPG

The first column is where I finished – 17th (In Thailand, amongst Rx men). The second column is my name and region (Adam Reid, Asia, 32 years old). The 3rd column is my score, which they use to calculate my positioning (119). The lower the score, the better. Your score is calculated by adding the numbers in columns 4-8, which is your positioning for each workout (8th in 17.1 + 27th in 17.2, + 34th in 17.3… etc). The score next to these numbers, in brackets, is my actual time or number of reps for that workout.

Using this data I can clearly identify my strengths and weaknesses. For example, I did best in 17.1, finishing 8th in Thailand, my highest position in any of the workouts. This was a long, endurance based, and less skilled workout. The worst I performed was 17.3 and that was because I couldn’t snatch 135lbs. Therefore I can say my endurance/work capacity is ok but I need to work on and improve my Olympic lifting. I can also identify other areas that let me down from each workout and use this information to focus my training for the next year. I can even use my positioning or score to gauge progress year to year. For example, this year I finished 17th in Thailand with a score of 119. May be next year I could set a target to finish in the top 15 or top 10 and score under 100.

Below is my data when compared to all Rx men that entered in the entire World. How many competitions can you, as an amatuer, compare yourself to over 200,000 people from all over the World!? 

my open score.JPG

To summarise;

What is The Open and why have I entered? It is:

  1. The first stage of qualifying for The Regionals and then The Games
  2. An opportunity to clearly establish how much progress you have made in the last year
  3. Great at identifying your weaknesses and will help you to set new training goals for the following year
  4. An opportunity to compare your level of fitness to the rest of the population
  5. Fun! One of the most challenging, yet rewarding experiences I have had – read my last blog post





4 thoughts on “What is the CrossFit Open?

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