Things I learned From the 2016 CrossFit Open
The Open is my favourite time of year. There’s an electric feeling at the gym, a sense of purpose to the training, the anticipation of that Friday workout building during the week, the buzz of the Friday Night Lights.
I try to learn something from every workout I do. I find a limit, attempt and evaluate a strategy or apply something another coach has suggested. Below are my reflections on how the 2016 Open went for me.
Complete as many rounds and reps as possible in 20 minutes of:
25-ft. overhead walking lunge
25-ft. overhead walking lunge
8 chest-to-bar pull-ups
Score: 8 rounds
I entered this workout hesitantly as I had quite seriously hurt my back a few weeks before. It would twinge every so often and had no idea how it would react to lunges. I thought I might as well try, it wasn’t going to get any worse and at the first sign of pain I could call time and take a zero on the first week. There was an almost liberating lack of pressure.
It turned out that lunges were exactly what my back needed, and it felt better after the workout than it had for weeks prior (Thanks, Dave Castro…) I was relieved that I could express at least some of the hard work I’d put in before I got hurt.
Lesson learned: Don’t count yourself out before you’ve tried. What you’re avoiding could be the thing you need the most.
Beginning on a 4-minute clock, complete as many reps as possible of:
15 squat cleans, 135 / 85 lb.
If completed before 4 minutes, add 4 minutes to the clock and proceed to:
13 squat cleans, 185 / 115 lb.
Score: 1 round, 12 squat cleans
After the encouraging first week, I wasn’t as concerned by my injury and was really looking forward to this one. Had a crack at it on the Friday intending to repeat it on the Monday. Ended up a single rep shy of getting into the third round, but no matter, I’d get it on the next try. Circumstances prevented me from doing so, however, and I had to suffer never knowing what might have happened.
Lesson learned: Focus on what is happening right now and give it everything. Don’t trust too much to the future, ‘Next time’ will only ever hold you back.
Complete as many rounds and reps as possible in 7 minutes of:
10 power snatches
3 bar muscle-ups
Score: 10 reps
I had made so many excuses for not practicing bar muscle ups. ‘They’ll never come up in the Open, too hard to judge. I’ve got ring muscle ups…’ When they in fact DID appear in the Open my lack of exposure was obvious and I had to effectively take a zero on the workout. I broke one of the cardinal tenets of CrossFit: ‘Hiding from your weaknesses is a recipe for incapacity and error.’ I was embarrassed practicing them because I was so bad at them, so I got no exposure, never improved and hid away in my comfort zone.
Since then I have worked hard to build the necessary strength and develop the skill required to do them, something I’d never have done had I not had the deficiency highlighted so violently.
Lesson learned: Do not ever hide away from your weaknesses, they’ll always find you. Meet them head-on, attack them, tame them, move on to the next one. (Hint: That one movement you pray won’t come up every Thursday night? That’s what you need to practice.)
Complete as many rounds and reps as possible in 13 minutes of:
55 wall-ball shots
55 handstand push-ups
Score: 16 handstand pushups
This one was fun. The deadlifts were the main concern given that my back was still on the mend. I had to focus more on quality of movement than speed, making me more efficient and faster overall. This workout truly was a revelation for me in terms of pacing.
Lesson learned: Sometimes you have to slow down to speed up. ‘Slow is smooth and smooth is fast.’
21-18-15-12-9-6-3 reps for time of:
Everything just came together for me in this workout. Applying the pacing I’d picked up the previous week and eager to prove myself after the failure on the bar muscle ups, I pushed harder on this one than any other workout I can remember. That it was legitimately the only possible time I could do it highlighted that not subconsciously giving myself the crutch of a redo really does elicit the best results.
Lesson learned: Sometimes, just sometimes, it all goes the way you want it to.
I’m really excited to see what the Open has in store this year. Whether you get your first double under or muscle up (A common occurrence) or identify areas to work on for the rest of the year, it’s great to be a part of it. See you on Feb 24th!
– Coach James