Using the CrossFit Open to gauge your Progress

Put away the heavy weights (for the most part), get your callouses shaved down and get ready for burpees to a target, chest-to-bar pull-ups, muscle-ups (yes, muscle-ups) thrusters, ground-to-overheads and at least one movement we’ve never seen before, because Castro. The CrossFit Open officially arrives in 8 days.

As much is known as is unknown when it comes to the Open.  Sites start guessing or “predicting” what the workouts will be each week, and of course they are never right  - but there are certain things you can, and should have been, training for. We know the workouts will typically be AMRAPs (F*ck you 14.5) with the timeframes generally in the 10:00+ area. After last year, we can only hope they continue the 1rm as they did in 15.1a. Not only was this fun to watch, but it threw the bigger folks a bone. The movements are fairly similar every year – movements that are typically easy to judge – and of course, muscle-ups are coming. We also know Dave Castro will more than likely toss us a workout from Open years past – (Oh God, please don’t be 14.5).

 CrossFit Open Workout 14.5. The single worst workout I've ever done. I have never felt so mentally and physically broken in my entire life.

CrossFit Open Workout 14.5. The single worst workout I've ever done. I have never felt so mentally and physically broken in my entire life.

Gyms across the world gear up for the Open by dialing down the heavy lifting and cranking up the longer metcons with standard Open movements late in the calendar year. I typically loathe this – I lift heavy (heavy for me – it’s like when you buy a used car – it’s a new car…to you) because it’s fun, I metcon to stay sexy. This year has been different. I am actually enjoying this Open prep season. Pushing myself through longer metcons, focusing on going to the dark place more often – finding the pace I can hold for long periods of time. I really feel like I am peaking at the right time when it comes to my conditioning.

I’ve used recent competitions more as a training tool than anything else - finding different areas of my conditioning and different movements to train at higher intensity. I worked on my muscle-ups and feel more confident about them than I ever have (more than before – still far from what I would call a strength)

 Performing the Open WODs with a judge is important. It provides a baseline for you for years to come. 

Performing the Open WODs with a judge is important. It provides a baseline for you for years to come. 

This is why the Open is such a great time in CrossFit. Every year is different for each athlete. Every athlete’s focus is different. At my home gym, CrossFit Frontier, we have “Benchmark Mondays” – and as the Open approaches, we have done a past year’s Open workout on these days. Seeing how far I’ve come in the past two years has been awesome. I’ve deal with some nagging injuries over the last 6 months and this has lead to some very discouraging times in my fitness journey – not being able to perform certain movements, seeing my 1rm in certain lifts fall and in some cases having to start over (What do you snatch? Well, right now it’s a measly 205, but back in the day, bro I could snatch a lot more)

Seeing my numbers on these old Open WODs has been exactly what I needed to gain some confidence back. This week I added 32 reps to my 15.1 score. The week before that, I added 2 muscle-ups to my 14.4 score – and got to the muscle-up portion of the chipper two whole minutes faster than I did in 2014.

 This is the first year of the Open that the thought of muscle-ups being in the workouts doesn't make me think "well, fuck this workout I guess my Open is officially over."

This is the first year of the Open that the thought of muscle-ups being in the workouts doesn't make me think "well, fuck this workout I guess my Open is officially over."

The Open is the ultimate sign of progress in CrossFit. For most of us, we aren’t going to Regionals – and with so many more people signing up each year, judging your performance by where you finish is also not going to be a great indicator of your progress. It truly is completely about you. This is also the reason I won’t re-do Open workouts. As I said, I’m not going to Regionals. My score is my score. I watch the Outlaw Open strategy videos a couple times, listen to people who have done it before me – and go get after it. (Confession: I have redone one Open workout. The HSPU standards in 15.4 were new and I got no-repped for my foot height like 20 times. I added 33 reps in the redo.) I like doing the WODs once and that being my score. I don’t get caught up in other people’s scores. If I had a shot at Regionals, this would be different, but right now that’s not where I am. I enjoy doing these workouts again maybe a year later and judging my progress from that.

 Chest-to-bar pull-ups. One of my biggest weaknesses and one that is sure to be exposed every Open season.

Chest-to-bar pull-ups. One of my biggest weaknesses and one that is sure to be exposed every Open season.

So next week, remember this: The Open is about you, versus you. Where are you as an athlete? Were you able to leave it all out there on the gym floor? Did you learn something about yourself, your mental and physical strength? Did you get crushed by a workout, and if so, why? All these workouts will give you another baseline for the next 12 months to gauge your progress. So go pay the 20 bucks and register. Your baseline is not as valuable if you aren’t performing these workouts with a judge.

Also, if 14.5 is the workout Castro picks to repeat – disregard everything I’ve ever written about registering for the Open – I’m f*cking out.