Breaking Down The CrossFit™ Open For 2019

The CrossFit™ Open is the cornerstone event for the sport of CrossFit™. It is not “The Games” or “Regionals” (*insert sad face #RIP), or Wodapalooza. Almost 500,000 people signed up for the open last year which, in my mind, makes it by far the biggest and most influential piece of the sport that we all love.

Many of us know that there are changes to the Open this year, what do they affect? And, how should I be preparing for the Open? In this article, I will discuss a basic overview of what the Open is for those of you new to the sport. I will also discuss some basics on the rule changes, and how to prepare for the Open.

The Movement Dr. on CrossFit Open Prep

What is The Open?

The CrossFit™ Open is comprised of five workouts over five weeks and is open to anyone. To compete in the Open you must sign-up via games.crossfit.com and register. Workouts are released at 5 PM PST on Thursday and are due by 5 PM PST on the following Monday. This year the Open begins on Thursday, February 21st and will end on Monday, March 25th. To submit your score you must complete the workout at an affiliated gym where you will be judged. You will sign off on your score recorded by the judge and the owner of the affiliate will validate your score before the following Monday. Or if you choose to do the Open at your home garage gym or an unaffiliated gym then you must video your workouts and submit them via the website where they will be judged and either validated or denied. To learn more about the Open click here.

The Open Rule Changes

In past years the top 20 individual males, top 20 individual females and top 15 teams (2 males 2 females-averaging scores together) would qualify to go to Regionals, from their respective region. The neighboring regions would combine to create super regionals, for example, the South East and Mid Atlantic would combine to make the Atlantic Regionals. The total amount of athletes at each Regional would vary from region to region. At Regionals the qualifiers would come together to compete over a weekend and the top individuals (male and female) and top teams would qualify for The CrossFit™ Games.

There are teen and master divisions ranging from ages 14-17 and ages 35 and up. The master divisions are split into five year apart divisions and after the Open, the top 200 would qualify for the Online Qualifier. Then the qualifier would occur and the top athletes in their respective age group would qualify for The CrossFit™ Games.

What is new this year is that there are no more regionals and there are no more team scores in the Open. So how do you get to the games? There are a few ways, which I won't go into too much detail about for this article. Individuals can qualify three ways: finishing first in their country in the Open, finishing top 20 worldwide in the Open, or win a sanctioned event (events created and licensed to help produce The CrossFit™ Games’ rosters). There are a lot more details to that but that is enough info for now. Teams can only qualify one way and that is through a sanctioned event. Lastly, masters athletes making the top 200 in the Open, for their respective age division, will now have their scores restarted (in past years their placing was their first score) and everyone begins the workouts for the online qualifier with a blank slate. However, only 10 athletes from each age group will qualify for The CrossFit™ Games.

How Do The Rule Changes Affect You?

For the majority of us, it does not matter. Most of us do the open to compete with our friends, gym members, frenemies and most importantly ourselves.

Were you a regional hopeful? If you were then these sanctioned events are where your focus should be. I offer coaching for regional and games athletes and can help you get there. Get in touch with me and let me help you reach your goals.

Open Preparation

First, you need to know what movements will likely be in the open. There have been five movements in every open since its inception:

  • Toes-To-Bar
  • Double Unders
  • Chest-To-Bar
  • Thrusters
  • Muscle Ups (bar or ring)

There are other movements that were not in the open in the early years that are almost a guarantee to be in there now though. Those movements are:

  • Calorie Row (could be distance). This has been in the Open for five straight years.
  • Handstand Push-ups. This has been in the Open for four straight years.
  • Snatch. The first year this was not in the Open was last year.
  • WallBalls. The first year this was not in the Open was last year.
  • Cleans. This has been in the Open for five straight years.
  • Deadlifts. The only year this was not in the Open was in 2012.
  • Can't forget about burpees or some form of them. The only year they were not in the Open was in 2015.

Obviously, there are other movements that can be used, especially since the inclusion of the dumbbell and you must be prepared to see it in the open this year as well.

Knowing the rep scheme and time domains are important as well. Historically the Open is comprised of couplets (two movement workouts) and triplets (three movement workouts). Only a few times have there been singlets (one movement workouts) or chippers (four or more movements for time). Thrusters have shown up in week five every year of the Open and have been paired in a couplet for most of them with chest-to-bar pull-ups but they have also been paired with rowing, double unders, and burpees.

Lastly, the time domain in the Open ranges from 4 minutes to 20 minutes. A handful of athletes completed 18.2 in under 4 minutes but these are usually outliers in the scheme of things. The average Open workout ranges from 8 minutes to 13 minutes for most.

It is important to understand what movements you will see and what time domains and pairings these movements can come in order to tailor your training for Open prep.

What you don't want to do is just hammer past open workouts all out. The issue with that approach is you aren't really improving your skills. You are just beating yourself into the ground. Sure your capacity may go up, but what does the rest of your week look like after that? If you do 18.5 (chest-to bars and thrusters) at open intensity, the likelihood of you being able to work muscle ups and heavy squat cleans that week is low. Even if you do hit them, you won't be at 100%. So what do you do? How do I program for my athletes to tackle Open Prep?

For the low price of 1,000 dollars, I will show you. Follow the link below. Just kidding!!! This article is not long enough nor would you want to have the attention to read all about that but I will give you a synopsis that can help.

  • Find your skills you are weak at.
    • Work those skills by themselves.
      • If you are not good at muscle ups (we know they will be in the open) then to get better at them you should not attempt them in a workout with double unders and running, for example. If you do that you will just be spinning your wheels.
        • You SHOULD do 1-2 a minute for 5-10 minutes, focusing on technique.
    • This goes for all skills you struggle with. Do not attempt to work on them when you are tired, you will never get better that way.
  • Build your capacity for the 8-12 minutes time domain.
    • Create workouts that you can move at a moderate to hard pace for a continuous 8-12 minutes.
    • Create workouts with something lower skilled mixed with another low skill or possibly even a higher skill you are good at.
      • Example:
        • 12 Min AMRAP: 20 Cal Row, 10 Burpees Over The Rower, 5 Thrusters
        • This is a common time domain and has common movements often paired together in some way. With the rowing and burpees (low skill) you can push the pace there and the thrusters (medium skill) at a low number you can work on capacity and unbroken sets.
  • Build your capacity for high skill movements.
    • Be consistent with the top bullet point (work on skills by themselves). You can do that to build out your capacity of high skill movements, like the snatch or gymnastics.
      • Example for building capacity for a high skill movement:
        • Perform a Max Effort Set of Muscle Ups (or any high skill gymnastics movement) and after a short rest (1-2 minutes) perform 30-40% of Max Effort Set for an EMOM of 10 minutes must be unbroken.
    • Build capacity under fatigue by mixing a high skill movement and a low skill movement (running).
      • Example of mixed modality capacity driven training:
        • In a 4 Minute Window: Perform a 400m Run directly into Max Effort Set of Muscle Ups. Rest the remaining time in the window. Repeat 3-5 rounds. Build capacity under fatigue by mixing a high skill movement and a low skill movement (running).

If you are unsure if you should sign up in the Open, the answer is you should. Whether you qualify for the CrossFit™ Games or scale every workout it is a good opportunity to have a little competition in your life even if it is just with yourself!

Stay tuned with me on my Facebook or Instagram page. I will be posting some warm-up advice and workout strategy for each Open workout right after each is released on Thursdays!

Please comment below or get in touch with me if you have any questions!

Good luck in the Open! I hope you enjoy it. It is a time for competition with your friends and great comradery with your gym and community!

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