Before I get into HOW we did as a gym, I would like to look at WHAT we did.
First, I am obsessed with CrossFit tests. I always have been. It started with the named workouts, then when the Games started in 2007 and especially 2008, I really dug into the specific tests and how to program for them. Post Open is an excellent time to look back on the tests of the year, what we did well, where we could improve to be better prepared and come up with a path for the future.
Second, it is easy to complain about workouts, programming standards, your mother-in0law, the weather, yada yada yada. But, when you choose to play CrossFit, you are accepting that the test is basically anything, and any curveball (scuffed, spit on, spider tacked) that can be thrown is fair game. I think I have always been reactionary to the tests. When the tests are good I don’t think that’s a bad thing. The 2008 Games were heavy, fast and short. So for that year, I programmed short, fast and heavy (mostly couplet) workouts. I got really good at fast, heavy workouts. That has served me well over the years. After 2012 Regionals, when the weight got impossibly heavy for me, I dug hard into weightlifting. So a gym, we got really good at weightlifting. In 2014, I got really good at walking on my hands.
Over the years, the Open showed us some of the most creative workouts we have ever seen in the training methodology and the sport of CrossFit. Before the Open in 2011, the idea that CrossFit was going to cast a wide net for everyone in the world to try, yet find and test the fittest seemed daunting. Prior to the Open era, we saw lots of repeating couplets, chippers and sprints. The Open introduced us to workouts where you had to “unlock” the next level of fitness. Maybe we’ve been spoiled with creativity.
Workouts like 12.4 (retested as 13.3): 150 WB into 90 double-unders into 30 ring muscle-ups (with a 12 minute cap!) illustrated this perfectly. The muscle up is one of those great CrossFit goals – it requires strength, skill and some finesse. Folks take years to develop the ability to do 1, much less 30. Then, to demand that you perform your muscle-ups at an extreme level of fatigue, sent a clear message. Its not good enough to have skills, you need to have toughness and grit to earn the right to display your skill. Some of the coolest moments were had in the history of out gym is folks getting their first muscle-ups under extreme metabolic distress.
I know I personally have some programming biases. I like strength and skill training. Mainly because it’s deep, it’s intellectually challenging as well as physically challenging.
14.3 was a deadlift/box jump ladder, where the deadlift weight increased from 135 to 185 to 225 to 275, then 315, eventually finishing at 365.
In 2016, we saw what I believe is the most creative Open workout – 16.2 – the T2B/DU/Squat Clean ladder. All these workouts tested fitness in interesting and creative ways. For all the folks that program – Misfit – CompTrain, Outlaw, Invictus – NO ONE was making up cool workouts like this.
I love these workouts, and I program to them. I’m a firm believer that don’t really have a 400 pound deadlift unless you can do it tired. Or 100 unbroken douvleunders when you’re on the verge of puking.
One of the other hallmarks of the Open has been the workout that essentially feels like you are running as fast as you can for 1.5 to 2 miles. Generally, running this distance takes 10 to 15 minutes. Workouts like 11.1/14.1 (Snatch/DU), 12.1 (Burpees – blech), 13.2 (light DL, S2O, BJ), 17.1/21.2(DB Snatch/BBJO) 19.1 (Row/WB), and 20.1 (G2O/Burpees).
These are great workouts. I suck at them, but they are great. They are all pretty simple, get people over the hump of signing up AND leave you on floor gasping for air. There is olympic weightlifting, but it’s light and very manageable.
Generally, these workouts demand that you start a relatively smooth, medium-fast pace that becomes impossible to hold by minute 10. Maybe earlier. One thing ALL these workouts have in common is they appeared in week 1 or 2 of the Open. When we hit weeks 3 to 5, the Open basically opened up to challenging movements, heavy weights, and more varied tests.
That brings us to 2022. In workouts .1 and .2, we saw workouts that were essentially that were these type of pace tests. 22.1 and 22.2 were both great workouts by themselves. In the scope of a 3 week Open with 3 total tests, were also extremely similar – both asked you to pull a weight off the floor with a hinge, push against the floor and jump over something. I would say 22.3 was the type of test I expect from the Open.
How does that leave us to prepare for the future? The simple answer is – I don’t know yet. No olympic weightlifting? doubt that will continue. Last open, 21.1 asked us to do hundreds of DU. Like 500 plus! The quarterfinals made the same demand – 300 in both the Quarters and the AGOQ. This year, we were only asked to perform 108 doubleunders total.
How do we adjust? Do we? Do we do an extra beat down workout a week? Do we program 100 fast deadlifts at 225/155? Probably not my dudes.
Now, the Open is not the end all, be all of fitness. But I do want all of you to feel like you are fully prepared for the challenge, that you are able to display your feats of strength, and I want you to make the next levels. In the old days, you would see a series of Open/Regional/Games tests that were all grunt work, and say – well, it’s all sleds and dumbbells now. And you would be wrong.