A Beginner’s Guide to the CrossFit Open

By Nicole Kurz | February 12, 2015
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If you do CrossFit, chances are you’ve heard of the CrossFit Open.  Now, that doesn’t necessarily mean that you have any freaking clue what it actually is, especially if you’re a beginner, so here at FitnessHQ we wanted to take a moment to answer your burning questions about this year’s event.

What is the CrossFit Open?

You’ve heard of the CrossFit Games, yes?  You know, where Rich Froning and Camille Leblanc-Bazinet put on the most incredible athletic performances you’d ever want to see in your life, and the crowd is just as fit as the athletes?

Well, think of the Open as step 1.

The Reebok Crossfit Games begins each year with the Crossfit Open.  Anyone, anywhere can register online to participate and post their scores.  It’s a five-week competition, with a new workout being announced each week on Thursday evening at 5 p.m. PT.  Athletes will have until Monday at 5 p.m. PT to submit their scores for consideration.

You can do the workout at a box affiliate in your area, or you can video yourself and submit it online to be judged.

The first workout is announced on Feb. 26, so we’re literally just a couple of days away from the fun!

The top finishers from the Open advance to their Regional competitions, and the top finishers from those competitions are the athletes who are invited to the CrossFit Games.  So yeah, you get to compete with Froning.

Who Should Sign Up For the Open?

You should.  No seriously, you.  Yes you, dude who just started doing CrossFit in January and still doesn’t really know what you’re doing.  And yes you, gal who has been doing it for several years but still doesn’t have a single double under (who me?).

Literally everyone who does CrossFit should sign up for the Open.

Not only is it a fun experience, but the Open will push you outside of your comfort zone in ways that you really don’t expect.  Sure, CrossFit already does that, but with the Open it’s different.  It’s a chance to compete with hundreds of thousands of folks around the country and see not only how you stack up against them, but by registering year after year you can see how you stack up against yourself.

And isn’t that what CrossFit is all about?

Last year over 209,000 athletes from around the world participated, and this year they’re offering scaled options to make the workouts even MORE accessible to beginners.

Seriously, you.  Sign up.

What Are They Going to Make Me Do?

Probably not die.  Though if they do a repeat of 14.5 from last year, then you might want to.

But seriously, the workouts change every year, and Games Director Dave Castro is known for coming up with some pretty awesome WODs to keep the athletes guessing and challenged over the 5 weeks.

Overall the WODs are designed to be really accessible, with the Rx weights generally “light,” and gymnastics movements that most CrossFitters can do.  That said, the Open is designed to figure out who the top athletes in every region are, so expect that some workouts will progress from easy elements (think burpees or box jumps) to difficult elements (think heavy deadlifts or snatches, or complex gymnastic moves like muscle ups).

Every athlete will be able to do at least a portion of the workout as prescribed to get a score.  And even if you think you can’t, you’ll be amazed by what you can do when the pressure is on for you to at least try.

The workouts will come complete with a set of movement standards.  Following the announcement on Thursday evenings you can go to the Games website to see the standards both in writing and via a video.  They will include things like squat depth, box height, Rx weights, and more.

Then, when you perform your workout either at your Box affiliate or while recording it, the workout will be judged.  At the box, your judge will be certified to understand the movement standards, and that bastard can “no rep” you if you don’t compete them correctly.

But let’s face it, you know if you miss the target with your wall ball or your squat isn’t at depth.  It’s not like you need someone to tell you. But they will.  It’s their job.

But that’s pretty much all there is to it!

And as I mentioned earlier, this year they are offering scaled options as well.  This is the first year for that, so who knows how that will affect the programming, but for beginners it makes the workouts even more accessible.

Though if you clicked that 14.5 link, not necessarily less intimidating.

But again, isn’t that what you’re in this for?

But, Oh God, What if I Qualify For Regionals?

Uh, don’t take this the wrong way, but you’re not going to qualify for Regionals.

Well, let me rephrase that.  Sure, you might, if you’re an exercise savant. But the competition in every region around the globe is stacked, and only 20 men, 20 women and 15 teams from the U.S. and Canada regions will advance to regionals.  In Europe and Australia 30 men, 30 women and 20 teams advance, but their regions are geographically huge.  In Latin America, Asia and Africa only 10 men, 10 women and 10 teams will advance.

If you’re a competitive athlete and have placed well in the large competitions in your area throughout the year, you will know it.  You can always look at scores of top finishers from events like WODaPalooza in Miami, Garage Games or the East Coast Championships to mention a few, to see how you stack up.

Following regionals, the top five men, women and teams will advance to compete at the CrossFit Games, the holy grail of physical fitness tests.

How Do I Sign Up?

You’re totally convinced, aren’t you?  I knew you would be.  And you should be!  The CrossFit Open is tons of fun, and if you’ve never been involved in one before be prepared for a whole new level of camaraderie at your box.

You can go here for more information, and a neat video about the Open, and then click the “Sign Up” link to register.

Signing up is easy, and cheap.  It’s only $20 to be part of the competition that over 200,000 people world wide are in!

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