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CrossFit Open Workouts and How to Get Prepared

On the last post, found here, I talked about how to train for the CrossFit Open, but we never really went into the weeds on what to expect during the workouts. Without knowing what to expect, how can we train for it? In this post, I’ll briefly go over some of the past workouts, in order to explain what is a useful training strategy to do the best you possibly can in this competition.

“We live in the couplets and triplets.”

This was said to me at my CrossFit Level 1 certification course at CrossFit Carbon in Vernon Hills, Illinois. Beautiful box, by the way.  Anyway, given that we know this about CrossFit, it’s fair to expect that the Open will feature a ton of two and three exercise workouts.

When you first look at that, you may think, “Cool, alternating between just a couple of exercises is generally not that terrible. It could be worse, we could be doing Filthy Fifty!” You would be wrong. In my humble opinion, nothing is worse than a long couplet. Your muscles get crushed on each move and you really don’t have a chance to recover. For example, last year for week 5 CrossFit HQ put out this monster. If you follow that link you’ll see a couplet of 21-18-15-12-9-6-3 Thrusters at 95 pounds and burpees. That is sadistic. That hurts. Don’t underestimate the couplets.

There be AMRAPs

Just to be honest with you, I hate AMRAPs. Give me rounds for time or EMOMs every day of the week. But AMRAPs hurt more. They allow you to go deep into that dark place where the workout just burns. But, in the Open, there are always AMRAPs, and typically they are long and heavy. For example, in Open Workout 12.3 (which we are doing today in the box) you have an 18 minute AMRAP (long) in which you do 115 pound Shoulder to Overhead movements for sets of 12 (heavy-ish). From watching 6:30 this morning, it looks like it hurt.

Lots of endurance…and then heavy as can be

CrossFit is getting heavier, because the athletes are getting stronger. Many, if not all, of the Games male athletes snatch over 300 pounds. This is while running 5 minute miles and knocking out rep after rep of muscle ups. It’s impressive. Anyway, because it’s getting heavier, CrossFit HQ seems to enjoy testing the ability to move heavy weight under fatigue. In CrossFit Open 15.1, the workout was a 9 minute AMRAP of toes to bar, deadlifts, and snatches, and then directly into a 6 minute time frame to find your one rep max clean and jerk. Expect it to become more and more necessary to be able to lift heavy while very tired.

Gymnastics meant to eliminate the field

Here’s the thing…if you don’t have sets of 10 muscle ups down, you’re just probably not going to make it past the Open. Not to say you won’t do well, or that there will even be a workout requiring you to do 10 muscle ups at one time.

My point is simply that CrossFit has been using a difficult gymnastics movement such as bar/ring muscle ups to force people into getting better at the hardest gymnastics movement. Last year there was a quick AMRAP with 3 bar muscle ups per round. I saw countless videos of people getting through not even 1 round. They were still really happy because many of them got their first ever bar muscle up in that workout. But that effectively eliminated them from the competition to move on. Which is totally fine. Just be prepared for that to happen.

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