As the CrossFit Open enters its sixth year, what it takes to win, or even compete, has become more challenging than ever. The leaderboard flip-flops as newcomers submit their scores to screenshot themselves as the best in the world. Right before the big names put everyone in their places.
The Open is called the Open because anybody who’s registered can compete. Registration costs around £15 and everyone from your buddies at the box, to Camille Leblanc-Bazinet have to register to submit official scores.
The gymnasts vie for the top spots with the meatheads, each group complaining that there’s too much of this, or not enough of that. After a couple of weeks – the Open runs for five weeks – the top 10 has steadied itself, and by the final week, all eyes are on first and second place, and on who’s making the cut down in 40th.
In 2015, the men’s Open belonged to Mat Fraser, the pre-Games favourite to win, who would eventually lose out to current champion and Games veteran Ben Smith. Four-time champion Rich Froning finished second in the 2015 Open, and did not compete as an individual. For the women, former champion Annie Thorisdottir proved she still has what it takes to win, even if she did have an unfortunate Games.
Workout number one of 2015 flipped conventional programming on its head, putting a strength piece immediately after a cardio piece. It’s not the way most people train, and it took everyone by surprise.
9 minutes: As many rounds as possible
10 deadlift (52kg/35kg)
5 snatch (52kg/35kg)
6 minutes to establish one rep-max clean and jerk
We’ve come to expect the weird and wonderful from CrossFit Games Director Dave Castro, but don’t be surprised if 2016 is completely conventional in form, because either way, it’s going to be hell.
What is the CrossFit Open?
If 2016 is your introduction to CrossFit and the Open, there are a few things you should know. There are three stages to the annual CrossFit competition season:
- The Open (February-March)
- Regionals (May)
- The CrossFit Games (July)
The Open is called the Open because anybody who’s registered can compete. Registration costs around £15 and everyone from your buddies at the box, to Camille Leblanc-Bazinet have to register to submit official scores. There’s also a scaled division with easier – but still challenging – workouts.
One workout per week for five weeks, is released on a Thursday. Athletes have until the Monday to submit their scores. You can submit as many scores as you like during that period.
The cut-off may change for 2016, but at the end of the five weeks, the top 40 from each region will go to Regionals. From there, a handful will travel to California, to compete for the title of Fittest On The Planet.
Recapping the 2015 Open
The 2015 Open was a display of pure CrossFit. Ring muscle-ups, snatching, handstand push-ups and a terrifying rowing and thruster couplet had the best of the best rolling on the floor in agony.
New standards were introduced for the handstand push-up, which instructed competitors to finish with both heels above a line, measured on the wall according to their height. The appearance of ring muscle-ups sliced the field in half, as those who couldn’t manage faded away.
In week five, a disgusting couplet of thrusters and rowing, had the population writhing in pain, lungs exploding and quads on fire.
Thrusters (reps, 42.5kg/30kg)
What to Expect in 2016
If you weren’t a well-rounded, strong, fast and durable athlete in 2015, you were not going to do well. Every year the Open gets more challenging, and what to expect is really anyone’s guess.
Here are a few of our guesses for this year’s most challenging workouts:
- A long chipper, running into the 20-30 minute range (a chipper is a sequence of movements, usually high reps, done once through for time).
- A barbell complex with points awarded for most weight (a complex is a sequence of movements in which the bar doesn’t touch the floor).
- Something with handstand walks.
- A Hero workout (Hero workouts are notoriously tough workouts designed in honour of deceased servicemen and women).
How to Get CrossFit Open-ready
First things first, you’ll need to check that your gym is set-up to accommodate the Open workouts. Most CrossFit Boxes will be focused on the Open once it starts, with time set aside specifically for qualifying workouts.
Next, you’ll need to register. Once you’re registered, keep an eye on the Games website for weekly announcements. Whether you do the workout once, or several times is up to you. Just make sure your final score is in by 17:00 GMT on the Monday.
You’ll need to have your score judged by someone (ideally a CrossFit-certified coach) for your submission to be legitimate.
If you’re planning on making the most of it, we suggest getting yourself some decent kit, as well. We recommend at least:
- JAW wraps (for protecting your hands)
- SGF Speedrope (for quick and efficient double-unders)
- Rocktape (for addressing muscle pain and protecting fingers and thumbs)
- Inov-8 Lifters (for any heavy barbell work)