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8 things I have learned after 5 years in the CrossFit Open

I know everyone is excited for the open this year, including me! This is my 6th time participating in the CrossFit Open, so I wanted to share some valuable things I have learned over the years.

#1 Don’t stop training just to perform well on 1 workout. So many people decrease their intensity and volume around this time of year thinking it is going to help them perform better. This is a huge mistake for anyone trying to make it through the Open to Regionals and even more so for anyone who knows they won’t be making it to Regionals. If you plan on making Regionals and decrease your intensity and volume for 5 weeks, good luck performing well during the later weeks of the Open. Also your body probably performs better under a slightly higher volume since that is what it is used to. If you don’t plan on going to Regionals, then what is your goal? Fitness?? Body composition?? To generally feel better?? Then why would working out less to prepare for a single workout make any sense? My recommendation is to workout just like you would any other week and if you want to plan a rest day, I would plan it for 2 days before you plan to do the workout.

#2 Don’t get caught up in comparing yourself to other people. If this is your first year in the Open, do the best you can do and be happy with your performance knowing you did everything you could. If you have done the Open before, give it your all and try to take down your previous years performance. If you do, congratulations! If you don’t, it’s ok…the competition gets harder every year and there are many outside factors that play into your scores, like outside stress. No matter the outcome, use it as motivation to improve for next year. Don’t let trying to compete with other people ruin your experience. Plus, you will likely perform better without the added stress of “I have to beat Jack from the 9:30 class.”.

#3 Meet the standards and have integrity. No one wants to no-rep you!! You will have a judge and it will be someone you know. They will be briefed on the movement standards and be expected to hold you to those standards. So again, don’t make them no-rep you. You know the movements and how to do them, so do them correctly!! If you get called for a no-rep, adjust and move on. Getting upset will only make things worse.

#4 It’s ok to do a workout twice, but don’t get carried away. If you are trying to compete at a high level, by all means, do the workouts twice. Often times these workouts require a bit of strategy that can be figured out after doing them the first time. That being said, remember your goals and do what is going to help you achieve those goals. If you are here to get in shape, loose weight, and be healthier, repeating a workout might not be the best plan to reach those goals. No one should be doing these workouts 3 or 4 times. There is only one scenario where that should be done and that is on the last workout and only if you are in contention for a Regional spot. Even then, it may be a bad idea.

#5 Don’t get hurt! Be safe and perform the movements correctly. Don’t get in such a rush that all form goes out the window. If you feel something isn’t right, it’s ok to slow down or stop.

#6 No excuses! No one wants to hear your excuses. No one wants to hear “I’d be a regional athlete if it wasn’t for [insert high skilled gymnastics movement or heavy lift].” You know the format every year, you know there will be gymnastics movements and heavy lifts. If you can’t do something, maybe you should spend the time to learn how to in the off season.

#7 Set realistic goals! This is not to discourage anyone from thinking they can make it to Regionals, but remember they only take 20 males and 20 females from most regions. Be honest with what you are capable of this year, learn from past Open performances and set long term goals. If you finished 500th in your region last year, instead of aiming to be in the top 20, a better goal might be top 250 this year, top 100 the year after, and in 3 years make the push for top 20. You will save yourself a ton of disappointment, and in fact feel much better by making these smaller achievable goals.

#8 Just have fun! Enjoy the friendly competitions at your box, enjoy seeing the results of your hard work, enjoy the feeling of pushing harder than you have ever pushed, and enjoy supporting and encouraging other members of your community to succeed. Have a great Open!!

Written by Jake Huddleston, head coach at CrossFit Shakerag, in Peachtree City, GA

Top left 2014 Open, bottom left 2013 open, right 2017 open