2017 Crossfit Open Preparation - Written by Jenn Astle

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2017 Open Prep
Written by Jenn Astle
 
The countdown has commenced and with the holiday season behind us, the 2017 CF Open steadily approaches.
 
For the avid Crossfit athlete, the Crossfit season has become the focal point in which our diet, our sleep, and our training are all centered around. With the temptation to make up ground on any missed training opportunities, it’s critical that we don’t find ourselves constantly tapping into that “6th gear” -  inserting unpredictable patterns of training into our Open prep programming and thus undermining any chance of that programming being successful.  
 
Fortunately, the sport of fitness is still so new that a gold standard for “how to train” is nonexistent.  With this said, it is important we recognize that there does exist plenty of great programs that have proven to be successful in the brief time Crossfit has gained popularity.  But if you happen to be new to the sport, not following any established programming yet still have the desire to make a run for the 2017 regional, you may be a little too late to this party. 
 
So every year the season "ends" after the CrossFit Games and up until now, it would be a costly mistake to think any competitive athletes took time off from expanding their skill sets.  Although strength training is generally a part of most programs year-round with added emphasis in the first part of the season, our current Open prep season is underway and focused primarily on ensuring our metabolic engines are primed and ready to go for 17.1.
 
What we’ve learned witnessing the development of the CF Open over the past several seasons is that the workouts are designed for the general Crossfitter.  This means the Open has historically been much more focused on basic movement patterns relying on the source of differentiation between athletes to be an exhausted metabolic engine, with far less of a focus on sheer strength or skill. However, in the most recent years as the general athlete and the sport have progressed, so has the programming, and therefore so has the Open. This year it should be safe to assume further development in the bank of Open movements to pull from, especially given the newest Open categories including a Teens, Scaled, and Masters Divisions basically ensuring that no specific movement excludes any large group of athletes.   
 
This means that for the Rx division, to be best prepared, your current programming should include Bar MU, Ring MU, Double-Unders, Handstand push-ups, with the occasional strict movements just to be safe.  As a community, we love the success stories of athletes achieving their first muscle up or getting further in a double under set than ever imagined, but again, if you are planning to compete as an Rx’d athlete and you don't quite have these skills, I recommend reaching out to a coach who can assist you in refining this skill work asap.
 
As far as your engine is concerned, I think it’s imperative to fully understand your current capacity.  Going into the Open you have to know what your strengths are as well as your short comings.  Knowing yourself will give you the best chance to leverage your strengths and also identify places to potentially make up ground.  Learning capacity comes from finding your limits, pushing to and through your red-line in workouts so you can best predict and then manage the onslaught of this limit during the Open workout.   
 
Competing in the open previous years or familiarizing yourself with all past workouts can also prove to be beneficial.  Considering the high probability of certain movements showing up every year provides a pretty good road map to understanding where your capacities should be understood.  It’s almost guaranteed that we will see burpees, thrusters, snatches, toes-to-bar, chest-to-bar, etc., there is really no excuse to having weakness remain in these movements.  Rather than a weakness, improving cycle time & movement efficiency can ensure these basic movements are great strengths.  I'm sure this is a part of your current programming, but an excellent way to increase your thresholds for cycling speed is the classic EMOM (every minute on the minute) style workout.  For example, if you can execute 20 wall balls every minute for 10 minutes without fatigue, I would say you are in a great working place.  To build capacity, I would recommend you start with numbers that you can manage and then increase reps while decreasing your rest over time.
 
We also have a strong prediction on what to expect for the duration of our workouts. To date we have observed the longest AMRAP (as many reps as possible) in the open to be 20 min (16.1).  So I’d say training to perform in a longer than 20 minute workout at this point can be put on the back burner.  We also know there will be a fast sprint of some sort with the majority of workouts falling in the medium range (12-15 min). 
 
The time is closing down. Keep focusing on your goals. Be realistic in setting them and find experts to help you continue to climb! Good luck this season! Stay healthy! Stay hungry!

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