The holiday season is almost officially over, which means we can start preparing for the ACTUAL most wonderful time of year — the 2017 CrossFit Open!
Here at FitnessHQ, we’re just a little bit obsessed with the Open. In fact, if you want to know every single Open workout ever, check out a full history including standards and top scores here. If you’re not sure what the CrossFit Open is and somehow stumbled upon this page, give this a click and learn a little bit more about one of the biggest events the CrossFit community puts on each year.
As of today, we are officially only 59 short days away from the kick off of the 2017 CrossFit Open. If that inspires a small thrill of panic in you like it does in me, do not fear! We’re here to give you an idea of things to start working on so that you are optimally prepared come February to kick ass and take names.
Now remember, the Open is supposed to be about having fun — there are a handful of people who will perform in the Open with achievable hopes and dreams of making it to Regionals. However, for the rest of us, it’s an opportunity to jam with our box community and push ourselves to new limits. As my coach always says — amazing things happen during the Open!
However, with that being said, please remember that if you still don’t have a strict pull up, getting a muscle up before the Open may not be the most realistic goal and you shouldn’t beat yourself up over that. If that’s you, grab a sport in the scaled division in the Open — learn more about whether or not you should scale here. The Open is all about testing yourself and pushing yourself to new limits, not holding yourself to impossible performance standards and beating yourself up with you (duh!) fail. FitnessHQ writer Mike Orth has some great advice about setting and achieving attainable goals here.
8 Ways to Prepare for the 2017 CrossFit Open
1. If You Don’t Have a Double Under, Get One
Unlike the previously mentioned muscle ups, double unders do not require a certain amount of strength or finesse. Instead, a double under is a skill obtained through sometimes minutes, sometimes hours, sometimes days of whipping your legs with a rope repeatedly. A double under combines speed and coordination and is an achievable goal for even CrossFit newbies if they’re willing to put in the work.
Double unders almost always show up in the open — 16.2, 14.1, etc. Not only that, but they’re a great skill to have and will wildly improve your agility and cardiovascular endurance if you practice them regularly.
2. All Strict Errythang
Kipping is wonderful, but nothing builds strength like routinely practicing strict versions of pull ups, muscle ups and handstand push ups. Not only will you see improvements in strength and power leading up to the Open as a result of keeping your movements strict for the next two months, but you also won’t be caught off guard by any strict movements that they incorporate into the workouts.
Although strict movements haven’t made an appearance during the Open yet, we definitely saw how devastating they can be to even the most well-rounded athlete this year when athletes performed Nate with strict muscle ups at Regionals. It’s a matter of time before Dave Castro and the strict pull up fanatics at CrossFit HQ begin testing athlete strength by incorporating more strict movements into workouts.
3. Brush Up on Muscle Ups
In the intro, we talked about how if you’re years away from a strict pull up, then a muscle up by the Open may not be a realistic goal. However, if you’ve recently conquered your first strict pull up or ring dip, you may be closer than you think to your first muscle up. Start practicing now and set a goal to either conquer your first muscle up before or during the CrossFit Open.
If you can do a muscle up, now is the time to work on stringing them together consistently. Get up on the rings several days a week to build stamina, strength and power.
4. Incorporate Barbell Cycling Into Your Routine
Although the Open will definitely test your lifting ability — see 15.1 for a max lift or 16.2 for heavy, heavy squat cleans — it will also test your engine. More about that later on, but one thing you will definitely need to do well is barbell cycling.
Barbell cycling takes emphasis off of the weight of the lift and instead places it on doing the lift many, many times very efficiently. Take 16.3 as a perfect example. 16.3 was an AMRAP of relatively light snatches (75 pounds for men, 55 pounds for women) and bar muscle ups. To improve your barbell cycling abilities, drop your weights drastically — use just the bar if you need to — and work on doing as many snatches, ground to overheads, cleans, etc. as fast as you can. As Guns ‘N Roses would say, “You’re gonna dieeeeeee….” but maybe not so much if you’re consciously working to get better at it.
5. Embrace the Thruster
The thruster. Just the word puts a sour taste in my mouth, but the thruster is one movement that is guaranteed to always show up in the Open. For the past six years, HQ has been nice enough to save the worst for last.
Some people love thrusters. Others, like myself, really struggle with the movement. If you aren’t comfortable thrusting, get busy. You will see it sooner than you’d like and we’re willing to bet money it’ll be in 17.5.
6. Get Your HSPU Straight
Handstand push ups are a mainstay during the Open — that much is a given. During the Open, judges use tape to determine whether or not a repetition is valid. They do this by asking the athlete to perform a fully extended handstand and then placing a strip of tape below the athlete’s heels. In order for each rep to count, their feet must go fully over the line.
Although this seems pretty basic — HSPU are never supposed to count if the athlete is not fully locked out and extended at the top — every year, I see athletes who fail again and again at HSPUs because they haven’t been performing them correctly in the off season. Make sure you make every single rep count when you’re WODing in the gym — you’re only cheating yourself in the long run if you don’t lock out at the top of each HSPU.
Some other things you can do to be successful at HSPU is keep your hands close to the wall and point your feet downward — you can read more about that here in our breakdown of 16.4.
7. Stick to the Basics
The Open is not the time when HQ is going to bust out a crazy new piece of equipment or ask you to do a ten-mile trail run. Remember, any athlete with a legitimate shot of making it to Regionals submits a video of their WOD, meaning that the workouts have to be relatively quick and easy to record.
Get good at the foundational movements of CrossFit. Practice your wall balls, your bodyweight movements and your gymnastics. Perfect your form on your lifts. Get comfortable with your jump rope and the box you use to do box jumps.
8. Fine Tune Your Engine
Conditioning is not something you can earn overnight, but there is still enough time before the Open to significantly improve your endurance if you feel like you’re lacking.
Open workouts are fast and furious — the longest one has been 20 minutes, but most fall somewhere in the 5 to 15 minute range. This means you need to be able to get in the red zone and stay in the red zone for that long. This is where stamina comes into play — you can come out of the gate on fire in a workout and burn out within a couple of minutes if you aren’t careful. Instead, you need to train so that you can come out of the gate at a moderate pace and maintain that pace throughout the life of the workout. Some of the best CrossFit athletes in the world are consistency machines.