Posts Tagged ‘CrossFit Games Open’

Each year after the CrossFit Games Open, roughly 29% of CrossFit athletes say: “I’m going to train SO HARD for the next 330 days and DESTROY Chest-to-Bars and Thrusters next year!”

Then, January 16th rolls around and they start to panic. If that’s you, don’t worry, it happens to a LOT of people! SO many, in fact, that memes are popping up all over the place from amazing places like the UnitedLifters Instagram page.

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@UnitedLifters on Instagram

Now don’t get all butt-hurt if that’s you. Don’t say, “But life just got really busy! Stop being mean!” I’m saying I UNDERSTAND! I’m sure I told myself I’d snatch 275lbs and row a 5k in under 18 minutes by “next year,” too. The point is, for some of us, it DIDN’T happen.

Does that mean you should just give up if you don’t have your muscle-ups yet? Or quit if your double-unders aren’t where you’d like them to be right now? OF COURSE NOT! I’m writing this post just to help everyone establish realistic expectations for themselves.

If you can’t do a few strict pull-ups and a few strict dips, it is unlikely (not impossible, just unlikely) that you’ll get your first muscle-up in workout 18.2. If there even are muscle-ups in workout 18.2, but you get the drill. So many athletes set a goal to acquire a new skill by late February each year, and if they don’t have it YET, they view themselves as a failure or that the last year is a waste. If you DID work on something all year, or even for a few dedicated weeks, that is ALWAYS something you should celebrate!

Find yourself a good coach, or someone you trust. With them, work together to develop a plan that will help you accomplish your goal over time. Most of the time it just takes hours of practice achieve a new skill. Often, learning and rehearsing simple modifications of something until it becomes second nature is the best thing for you. Practice doesn’t necessarily make perfect, but “perfect practice” with purpose can certainly help even more!

So, if there’s something you want to improve before the Open starts, more power to you! I believe in you! If I can help you get there, let me know! But at the end of the day, you just need to remember that the Open is a random five week competition. For fun. If you want to learn a skill, learn it just to learn it! Learn it to get better. If you have it, keep practicing until it’s even easier.

People say, “It’s about the journey, not just the destination!” It’s true. Pick a skill, and master it because it’ll just feel great to learn something and improve little bit more. I’m here to help in any way I can. Few good things happen overnight, so put in the practice, and reap all of the rewards of it.

Yes, friends. I’m talking about practice.

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One of the strangest phenomenons I’ve noticed about the CrossFit Games Open, is that the trend of wanting to “redo” workouts to improve one’s score exists with both beginners and CrossFit Games athletes alike. Today’s post is on the motivation behind the do-overs. WHY do people choose to put themselves through the same torture they just experienced, with only a few days (if that) between attempts?

***Before we dive in, let the record show I am 100% one of those people who typically retests!***

In my experience, athletes will typically retest the Open workouts for one of a few reasons:

  1. “On the Bubble”– These people find themselves right on the cusp of those who might qualify for Regionals. (Or at least they think they’re on the bubble…) It’s so crazy to think that over 5 the course of workouts ONE SINGLE REP could be the difference between making it, or not making it, to the next phase in this worldwide competition.
  2. Beat Friends– Here’s something that you might find hard to believe: CrossFitters are typically very competitive people! That means if you go head-to-head with your friend and they beat you by a few reps, you only have one option: Redo the workout, beat THEIR score by a few reps, and defend your family’s honor! Am I Right? Obviously.
  3. Type-A / Perfectionists– These folks “shouldn’t have set down the bar” with only 5 reps to go. They “could have rowed” just a little faster. That chalk break “wasn’t really necessary” at the end. We know, we know. We all feel that way. Just because you could have squeezed out a few more reps during round 4, though, doesn’t mean you need to do the workout again.
  4. Leader-boarders– A lot of times, these people don’t even know why they do workouts over! They’re not going to qualify for Regionals. They casually work out a few times per week to stay in shape and hang out with their friends. The Open is just a fun few weeks out of the year, then it’s back to normal. Yet for some reason, going from 2,528th in the Region to 2,194th in the Region on workout 3 makes them feel a lot better about themselves. Improving a mostly (completely?) irrelevant ranking usually isn’t worth putting your body through doing 200 deadlifts at 225lbs in 48 hours! Be smart. Train safe. Recover adequately. Repeat. As one of my friends used to say: Don’t Let Ego Be Your Amigo.

If you’re one (or more) of the people above,  I’m not here to judge you! I have done nearly every single Open workout (since the Open was a thing) more than once. Nearly every single one! From the list above, I’m a ‘Reason #3’ person.

For MOST of us, though, please remember: Your score on an Open workout doesn’t really matter!

I’m serious. That’s not meant to hurt your feelings. In fact, it’s meant to encourage you to NOT hurt yourself! CrossFit is hard. The Open workouts typically make us push even harder. That means that doubling or tripling down on the stress you’re putting your body through will take more out of you than if you just did them once. Decide if it’s really worth it to give it another go.

After all that, if you still decide to retest workouts each week, more power to you. The only thing I want you consider is: Why?

If the risk (of being too fatigued, getting hurt during your attempt, the frustration if you don’t do better) outweighs the reward (a few higher spots in your ranking and a higher score?), maybe sit it out. To truly perform at your best during the Open, it takes months of training and preparation. Retesting because your body just knows where the pain hits doesn’t necessarily mean you’re any more fit, either. These workouts were designed to be one-and-done. When it’s Game Day, you typically don’t get a second shot anyways!

Finally, let’s address the elephant in the room about “Reason #2” people. I know you love competing with “so-and-so” at the gym. Maybe they know it, and you push each other every day. Maybe you’ve never even met them, but you always see their times and scores on the whiteboard. And just maybe, they’re your “Gym Nemisis”… the person you HAVE to beat or it ruins your day. Our competitiveness in this fitness thing can quickly turn into something negative. Instead of wasting energy being mad that someone beat you, criticizing them and making up “excuses” as to why they beat you, maybe this is the year you can just be excited for everyone! Positive and encouraging energy in a gym is so contagious! Unfortunately, so are those people who sit in the corner scowling because someone beat their score. You know, at the end of the day, they might just actually be better at exercise racing than you are in those particular workouts. Guess what? It’s ok. Don’t lose sleep, or friends, over a stupid competition!

All that said, I’ll still likely redo some of them. So, there’s that.

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It’s time for me to go ‘Uncle Rico” on you for a minute…

It was the final event of a two day CrossFit Competition. I was basically in a tie going into the final event. My friends who were there lined the “competition floor,” which in this case happened to be a pool deck, prepping to cheer me on. The head judge yelled, “3, 2, 1, GO!” and we were off.

When I work out, as much as I’ve tried, I typically don’t enjoy myself. I haven’t mastered the Annie Thorisdottir yet, where I can smile throughout the suffering. So often times mid workout, it probably looks like I’m crying. (Spoiler Alert: I probably am!) Even worse, I don’t love being the center of attention (believe it or not), so when a bunch of people are standing around watching my suffering, I’m even less comfortable! I think it’s because I wish I could be faster FOR THEM, and get frustrated with myself. Ridiculous, I know!

So the workout starts and I’m neck and neck with the other guy. Halfway through the event, we’re still going rep for rep! At this point, “THE SUCK” starts to hit. My muscles scream and all I want to do is slow down. Those friends who are cheering me on are right next to me. One of them in particular started to scream the things that most CrossFit fans yell… “Dig Deep!” and “Pick It Up” and “3, 2, 1, GO!” to keep me moving along. The other people around were just saying things like…. “You got this, Tom. C’mon.” After hearing, “YOU HAVE TO GO NOW! GOOO!” for the last time, I couldn’t take it anymore.

Mid workout I turned to that person, gave them a death stare, and stared back down at the ground trying to regain my composure enough to keep going. Seconds later, I heard other friends in that group chuckle to each other and say, “Did you see that LOOK?! Oh man, he is NOT happy!” Typing that story makes me laugh pretty hard. Why? Because I was so ungrateful and selfish that I WASN’T appreciating friends trying everything in their power to encourage and support me. I was exercise racing and was so caught up in my own brain, that I couldn’t have just been flattered and honored that so many of my close friends chose to be there in my corner.

Why tell that story? Well, it’s because the 2018 is coming!!

That means that in a few short weeks, thousands of people worldwide are going to care a little bit more about CrossFit. They’re going to register for the CrossFit Games Open, and once (or twice?) per week, they’re going to throw down in their garage or at their box with a few dozen of their friends. The music will seem just a bit louder, the cheers will be a little bit more passionate, and the pain cave will be a little bit deeper. It’s just how it goes.

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Photo Cred: carrotsncake.com

But yesterday, while I was finishing a workout alone, some friends in the gym were cheering me on. I couldn’t get myself to push anymore, but the “Pick up the bar, Tom” I was hearing was starting to upset me again. “I can’t pick it up!” I’d say to myself. The “C” word that I always yell at my athletes for saying to me. Can’t. “You CAN, don’t tell yourself you can’t!” Afterwards, one of my friends walked up to me and said, “I just realized, I don’t know the type of encouragement you like.” What an awesome question to ask!

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Photo Cred- DenverPost.com (also, hi friends!)

As the Open approaches, have that conversation with your friends, training partners, and classmates. Some people want and NEED the crowd in their faces SCREAMING AT THEM to Pick Up the Bar! Some people just want positive and encouraging support from their friends. Others want to be left alone. By talking about that with your crew, you help ensure that when the clock starts counting, you’re in a position to be as supportive as possible to those you care about. At the end of the day, that’s what I always strive to do. In every aspect of fitness, what works for one person might not work for another. Even though it’s “just a workout,” it can have a much more profound impact on someone else than you might realize. Don’t lose a friend because you yelled at them when they had 5 Wall Balls to go…. or because you didn’t, when you were just trying to help!

The Open is almost here, friends. Start getting excited!

p.s.- Once I regained feeling in my body and got oxygen back in my brain after that event I talked about above, I apologized for being a jerk to the friend that cheered me on, and thanked them for being there for me!

Week 2 of the 2016 CrossFit Games Open is here! After watching the video for the 16.2 Workout Reveal, I was pretty floored by watching those guys get after it. Obviously most of us know how much of a beast Dan Bailey is after watching him at the Games for the last few years, but even then I never would have expected him to get through the entire thing in 20 minutes! (I know there was the “missed rep” debacle after the live show, but I’m just saying I didn’t think that 275 and 315 pounds would look that light to those guys!)

Strategy on this one, for me, is going to boil down to knowing your own ability level on Toes to Bar and Double-Unders. In my mind, those are two movements where being proficient can be an absolute game changer. Just because an athlete CAN do 25 reps of TTB in row, does NOT mean that they SHOULD do 25 reps in a row. Once your TTB fatigue your grip and/or your core, sets of 10-15+ will very quickly become sets of 2-3 reps. It is not worth crashing and burning that hard for that movement.

For athletes who have controlled kips, and can get through reps smoothly, I think sets of 5-10 will be best to try and maintain throughout the entire workout. Remember, hopping down off of the bar, turning around, chalking up, hopping back up, can all take a MINIMUM of 5-10 seconds every time. The smoother those transitions can be, the easier it will be to make it through to the next round.

I feel the same way about DUs. Just because an athlete CAN do 50 in a row, if it’s going to take so much out of them that on the next round, they mess up every 5-6 jumps because they’re so tired, 50 in a row wasn’t worth it. While in my video I emphasize the importance of getting to that tie-breaker as quickly as possible, unless time in the round is about to expire, I don’t think it should be at the expense of absolutely crushing your pace.

Remember, after all of that jumping rope, you need to pick up a heavy bar, quite a few times. So, if fatigue starts to set in by the 20th or 30th rep of DU, take a short rest, regroup, then finish the set. That will minimize the time needed to feel prepared to attack that next set of cleans.

In my opinion, the longest rest of the round should be taken after completing the final clean, and before the first TTB. If an athlete rushes back to the TTB too soon, they’ll likely get far fewer reps before needing to jump down. Remember, every time you hop off of the bar, it’s probably going to take 5 seconds to get back on. So, sets of 5-7 reps will be far more efficient than having to hop down every 2-3. Take your time, and make sure you’re getting slightly larger sets before having to hop down as long as your kip is solid.

Truthfully, unlike 15.1 last year, I don’t really see this as being a workout where TOO many people will PR and hit a weight for the first time and keep repeating. However, given how the tiebreaker is set up, I do think that the folks who move through the other movements (TTB and DU) as smoothly as possible, will have a big advantage over their counterparts who come out swinging and just can’t hold on.

I feel the breaking point for “regular” people 🙂 on this one will be the round of 225lb squat cleans for men and 145lb for ladies. The athletes who can cycle through consistent singles and keep their breathing under control will pass the folks who get too excited and try to hit 3-5 reps of touch-and-go through the first few sets. Athletes who make it through the round of 225 will have a HUGE advantage. If time is getting close to capping during that 4th round, athletes will be able to go harder with their final sets. Remember, if toes to bar get completed, the reps added to the score due to double-unders at the end are significant! Get to that final tie-break as quickly as possible on the last round!

Have fun, and as always, please let me know if you guys found this helpful!

It’s finally here! They announced the first workout of the 2016 CrossFit Games Open, and it’s a long, slow, grinder.

The 20-minute adventure includes Overhead Walking Lunges, Bar-Facing Burpees over the Bar, and Chest-to-Bar Pull-Ups for the Rx’d Division. Scaled athletes will complete the Lunges in the “Front Rack” position, and Jumping Pull-Ups as their two modifications.

Please CLICK HERE to go to the official workout page to read up on all of the details.

In my first video of the 2016 Open Season, for those of you who actually use my videos for strategy and advice on how to attack this thing, please let me know what you think of it! As of the time I’m writing this, I haven’t done it yet, and didn’t get a chance to watch the ladies do it tonight… so I may be way off.

The word for 16.1 in my opinion, however: PACE!

Let this workout be one where when the halfway point hits, athletes still feel pretty good. Very few people will be able to go at a blazing pace for the full 20 minutes, so slow and steady throughout will be the way to go for most of us.

Let me know what you think, and let me know how you do. Good luck, friends!

-Tom

As some of you know, I started this blog a years ago, and have given my thoughts on a lot of topics in that time. When the video below from four years ago popped up in my feed today, I took a few minutes to watch it.

First of all, yes, I’ve always been a huge nerd and watching this video made me laugh. Second, aside from the gym where I work, not much has changed in regards to my feelings on the integrity of athletes who compete in this event. So, instead of writing a huge post on it, I’ll be brief, and then just share my thoughts from 2012 with you guys once again.

My friends and I always joke with each other about how one’s ranking or placement in “The Open” really has no impact on any aspect of practically anyone’s lives (unless you make it to the next level.. then, you’re a better exercise racer than other people… congrats). So, to be 682nd in the Region, and to do so by cheating even though your squats weren’t low enough, or you didn’t lock out your arms, is honestly just kind of sad.

Most people, nearly all in fact, who compete in The Open do so honestly and fairly. Most of us simply enjoy the spirit of competition and the excitement of being pushed out of your comfort zone for a few weeks. Most of us think it’s fun. However, as the next five weeks come and go, and you start seeing names you’ve never heard of before, and scores from people you DO know that jusssst don’t seem right…. my advice is simple:

Don’t worry about it. Smile. Have fun. And enjoy the competition and sense of community that this event brings to the CrossFit world.

Good luck. Have fun. I believe in you guys!

THE OPEN IS HERE!!

Here are my initial thoughts on workout 14.1, which is a repeat of the first ever Open workout, 11.1.

14.1

What do you think of my advice? Let’s talk.

Alright, the second-to-last workout of the 2013 CrossFit Games Open, WOD 13.4, has been released!

Here is the workout listed below, pasted right from the CrossFit Games Website.
Workout 13.4
7 minute AMRAP of:
3 Clean and jerk
3 Toes-to-bar
6 Clean and jerk
6 Toes-to-bar
9 Clean and jerk
9 Toes-to-bar
12 Clean and jerk
12 Toes-to-bar
15 Clean and jerk
15 Toes-to-bar
18 Clean and jerk
18 Toes-to-bar…
This is a timed workout. If you complete the round of 18, go on to 21. If you complete 21, go on to 24, etc.”

The gist of my advice is this:
Ground to Overheads, in my opinion should all be done as Power Cleans, followed by a quick push jerk. (At no point should an athlete rely on push press v/s push jerks because of the significantly larger amount of strain that’s put on the shoulders.)
Toes-to-bar should be completed in a fashion where that athlete is never approaching failure. That means that if 8 is the max number of reps possible at once, hop down at 4, shake it out, and get right back on that bar.
For most people, once Toes-to-bar grip strength goes, the no-reps start coming out. Don’t get to that point.
The final ~90 seconds or so is when the gloves come off, and you just go.

This workout is fun. Just take your reps at a pace that is comfortable for YOU! Don’t be psyched out by people who come out swinging (and believe me, they will exist).
Breathe, breathe, breathe, and efficient transitions.

Any questions, let me hear ’em!

Good luck, friends.

This year, I will be competing in the CrossFit Games Open for the fourth year. It’s crazy for me to think about how much this event has grown in that time.

I wanted to try and record a quick video giving a little bit of insight as to WHY I decide to sign up for this thing.

While I am someone that can be pretty competitive, the main motivation behind registering is more about the sense of community for me. It’s fun for me to be able to check in with, and relate to, friends from all over the country about how they did on a particular workout. Not to see if I beat them or not, but bc it’s fun that for five weeks, everyone does the same workouts!

Also, I have seen the sense of solidarity that it can bring to a gym when so many people are committed to giving their best together, once a week. It’s just inspiring to see!

So, as I say in the video… Do I think you should register for the CrossFit Games Open?

Absolutely yes.

BUT, I think you should do it for yourself, not for anyone else. Give yourself a 5-week commitment, and look back in a month and see how you’ve done for 5 workouts. These workouts turn up the intensity a bit in terms of ensuring that we’re all held to legitimate range-of-motion standards. Sometimes a change as simple as that can help our own focus and standards improve.

The Competition starts in just over a week! I hope you sign up, it’s going to be a blast!

It feels like it’s been a while since I got to visit a new gym, but when I stopped to think about it, it was only last December that I dropped in to a few spots out of town. To me, it’s so fun to see and visit different gyms!

Last week I went to the booming metropolis of Indianapolis, Indiana. The purpose was to cheer on my Alma Mater as they competed in the NCAA Division III Swimming Nationals (ok, swimming AND diving). There were some mind-blowing swims, but that wasn’t the only competition going on at the time. The 2012 CrossFit Games Open still had 3 days left!

I attempted Workout 12.5 once on Wednesday, but after doing some research learned that I had done worse than when I did it last year as WOD 11.6. I did not feel good about doing worse a full year later, so I decided to give it another go! After searching for the best CF Gym in Indy, there was a clear favorite… CrossFit NapTown was the clear winner, so that’s where I was going to get in my final WOD of the Open.

CrossFit, Smashby Training, CrossFit NapTown

CrossFit NapTown!

Not only was the gym awesome, but the coaches were incredibly nice (letting me do the workout in the middle of one of their classes, while one of the owners judged me), and the members were incredibly supportive before, during, AND after I was done with the workout. Stand-up people there, thank you guys so much for the encouragement!

CrossFit, Smashby Training, CrossFit NapTown

Part of their awesome space. Thanks again, guys!

The best news of all, is that even with a late night the night before (c’mon, it was a mini college reunion for me!), I still improved my score to end the Open on a high note. CrossFit NapTown = Awesome!