-by Coach Rachel
So you’ve finished the 2018 Open--congratulations!
For most of us, starting Tuesday, March 27th, our competitive CrossFit season was over, and our training for the 2019 Open began. What did we find out about our training this year--what are we already good at, and what can we improve?
By using this guide, you’ll be able to determine where your training focus should be for the next year.
To start, you’ll need to find your name on the full CrossFit Games leaderboard. From there, you’ll be able to see your placements for each workout throughout the world. What was your strongest workout and, more importantly, what were your weakest workouts?
Principles for Long-Term Success
Minimum Effective Dose
The “minimum effective dose” is an important principle to bear in mind. We have a tendency to take an all or nothing mindset when it comes to our training and nutrition. Minimum effective dose is the smallest amount of time or energy we can devote to a process that allows us to see changes.
Every single WOD is an opportunity to practice at what your particular weaknesses are. This is good news, because many of us do not have the time for extra work before or after training. Come to coaches with your training and nutrition goals and know ahead of time what kind of time and energy you can devote to making changes.
Choose the Lowest Hanging Fruit
The most glaring weaknesses are the ones that we have the most room to improve on, and will give us the biggest bang for our buck. Often, our most glaring weaknesses are the things that we hate to do--while it may be more fun for me to work on high level gymnastics skills, if my Open performance reflects a greater weakness in aerobic conditioning, I will be better served by focusing on that.
Understand the Why
By no means is this an exhaustive guide. It is one thing to know what a weakness is and another to know why it is a weakness. The why is important when creating a plan for improvement. For some of us, mobility limits our overhead squat. For others, it is motor patterning, and for still others, it is midline stability. Should you find yourself unable to determine why a movement or metabolic pathway is a weakness, a goal setting session with a coach is a great step to take.
Mindset Is King
Our mind can be our greatest ally or it can be our biggest liability. The most simple thing (remember minimum effective dose?) we can do for mindset is to set a training focus before every single session. This is based on what we want to practice: what we want to focus on getting 1% better at that day. We can then leave every workout knowing that we practiced what we needed to in order to get better, rather than worrying about how our results compare to everyone else’s. Remember: you’re training not to prove how good you already are, but to improve where you are now.
10 DB Hang Clean & Jerks (5 ea arm)
14/12 Calorie Row
*Aerobic conditioning (long, sustained effort) needs improvement.
*Rowing efficiency needs improvement.
*Grip strength needs improvement.
*Toes to bar are inefficient.
*DB Hang C&J are inefficient or need more strength.
If it was the length of the WOD (needing to sustain your effort for 20 full minutes) that weakened your score, then the fix is simple: prioritize coming to long workouts. You can also add in the Cardio/Endurance Focus found on the Daily Challenge page if you have an All Access Membership.
If you know that your rowing needs work, commit to rowing once per week on your own, practicing technique for 5 minutes. When rowing comes up in WODs, work with your coach to reduce volume so that you can prioritize technique.
If you needed to break up the DB clean and jerks or the T2B or hanging knee raises a lot, you may need to work on your grip strength. Start hanging from the bar each week, setting goals like 0:30, 1:00, 1:30 unbroken.
Toes to Bar:
If you had trouble stringing together T2B for the duration of the WOD, train more kipping L-sits this year. This builds the motor patterning for the kip while strengthening your hip flexors. As you become more proficient, start lifting your legs higher than parallel. Doing GHD Sit-Ups correctly will also strengthen your hip flexors.
If your shoulders became tired from the T2B, work on hip flexor strength this year. Many of us learned to compensate for weak hip flexors by using our lats (the big muscles on the sides of our bodies) to pull ourselves high enough to kick the bar. Practice kipping L-sits during WODs.
DB Hang Clean + Jerk:
If this was the movement that you lost the most time on, you may need to work on your shoulder to overhead strength and stability, your grip strength, or on your ability to hang on to weights beyond comfort, building intensity tolerance.
With a 12-minute clock, For Time:
DB Front Squats
Bar Facing Burpees
In remaining time:
Set a 1RM Clean
*Anaerobic conditioning (fast, powerful, short duration) needs improvement.
*Squat efficiency needs improvement.
*Squatting strength needs improvement.
*Burpee efficiency needs improvement.
*18.2a: Squat clean technique needs improvement.
We earn the right to go fast in a workout like this one by moving with great mechanics consistently and then by adding intensity. If your burpee or squat mechanics need improvement, focus on those first, then add speed or weight to them once they have been refined.
To practice anaerobic conditioning, add in a Tabata workout once per week (8 rounds, 0:20 max effort, 0:10 rest, for a total of 4 minutes), changing the movement each time. Wallballs, assault biking, burpee variations, light sled pushes, and rowing are all safe for the majority of trainees to perform a Tabata outside of class.
Prioritize coming to classes with a short workout and hit it with everything you’ve got. Less is more.
DB Front Squat:
Are squats challenging in general? Understanding why is critical (and the cues coaches use during classes are a clue). Develop power by lowering into squats with control (which sometimes means slowly) and driving fast through the heels to return to standing. Once your squat mechanics are sound, learn to use the stretch reflex to stand from the bottom of a squat fast. Develop mobility by working at it intentionally, with a plan to follow each week.
If the weight was challenging and mechanics are sound, start going heavier during workouts this year. Start with 5 lbs heavier than normal, while still committing to move fast. Bit by bit, you’ll find yourself getting stronger.
Bar-facing burpees with a new standard threw lots of us off. Keep practicing it: CrossFit made the change because they know that it’s more challenging. It will increase our fitness more to perform burpees with the jump back and jump forward.
Burpees also challenge many of us because our mechanics and efficiency need improvement. If this is the case, like with the squat, understanding why is important. Ask coaches for tips and experiment!
Burpees are also a movement that may challenge our mindset. What are your strategies for flipping your mindset from a negative one to a positive one, one that is oriented around the process of improving?
Technique, technique, technique! Scale back in weight and/or modify to a hang position in order to refine your Olympic lifting! Challenge your ego to practice at lighter loads or less volume so that technique is the priority, rather than the results of individual workouts.
Two Rounds For Time:
20 Overhead Squats
20 Ring MUs/Pull-ups
20 DB Snatch
20 Bar MU/Pull-ups
*Jump rope technique needs improvement.
*Overhead squat needs improvement because:
-you tend to squat with your knees forward vs your hips back,
-your thoracic, shoulder, ankle, or hip mobility limit your ability to get to the bottom comfortably, or
-your midline and/or shoulder stability need work.
*Still working on pull-ups or muscle-ups.
Commit to practicing singles correctly, only cycling in double unders when proper technique is employed.
There are many reasons that an overhead squat challenges us--understand why!
Have you mastered the strict version of the kipping version? If no, return to building strength before continuing to practice kipping. This builds a stronger foundation for dynamic movement, keeping our shoulders healthy and our movement efficiency sound--in fact, we should always be practicing the strict versions of gymnastics movements.
Have you mastered both the strict and the kipping pull-up? This is the year to learn butterfly pull-ups.
If you have strict chest to bar pullups and ring dips and you’ve been practicing muscle-up transitions, check your false grip strength. Practice hanging from the rings or even from the bottom of a ring row in false grip for 0:15, 0:30, 0:45, and 1:00. Check out CrossFit Gymnastics' Progression for Muscle-Ups here.
Handstand Pushups/Hand Release Pushups
Deadlift (heavier weight)
50’ Handstand Walk/Bear Crawl
*Conditioning needs improvement.
*Deadlift efficiency and/or strength needs improvement.
*Pushup or handstand push-up efficiency and/or strength needs improvement.
Another consideration to take if conditioning is a weakness is nutrition. Are you fueling your body with whole foods in the right amounts for you? Without proper fuel, we are always fighting against ourselves in training.
What do you receive coaching on when you deadlift? Is it keeping your lumbar curve/stabilizing your midline? Is it keeping your hips and/or knees back? Is it pulling the bar in closer to you or staying in your heels? These are great clues to determine where your training focus should lie when you deadlift.
Hand Release Pushups or Handstand Pushups:
Like the pull-up, there is an important progression in strength building for the handstand push-up. When pushups with great midline stabilization (no snaking or lifting the hips) can be executed, then strict handstand pushups are ready to be worked on.
Strict handstand pushups are a pre-requisite for efficient kipping handstand pushups. Are your strict handstand pushups a thing of beauty (consistent tripod, hips off of the wall throughout the movement, and no back arching)? If no, your focus is on building the midline stability and shoulder strength and stability to support strict handstand pushups.
*Anaerobic conditioning needs improvement.
*Thruster efficiency needs improvement.
*Chest-to-bar pull-ups need improvement.
Jumping pull-ups are another generally safe Tabata movement to train anaerobic conditioning with. Check out 18.2 and 18.4 for further information on training conditioning.
Thrusters are a movement that challenge us mentally as much as physically. What are the pre-workout, mid-workout, and post-workout habits that you’ve developed to keep a process-oriented mindset?
Squat mechanics, push press mechanics, breathing, and squat and pressing strength all play a role in how efficient our thrusters are. Understand why they need work and develop training focuses for working on them.
Chest to Bar/Jumping Pull-ups:
Efficient chest to bar pull-ups were necessary for getting far in this WOD. Take note of what you’re coached on during kipping or butterfly pull-ups and implement the feedback during WODs and practice on your own.
Being able to consistently get our chin over the bar is critical for the jumping pull-up. Training strict pull-ups that are bar assisted or banded are great for building this strength.