It's Not Too Late to Prepare for the CrossFit Games Open
CrossFit, Masters Athletes
The CrossFit Games Open is less than eight weeks away. On or shortly after February 26, you will be diving headfirst into the suck that is 15.1, whatever that may be. Are you ready?
If not, it’s not too late. While there may not be enough time to build your aerobic base to make it through those workouts as a highly efficient, well-oiled machine (if you’re not already), there are a few things you can do beginning today to give you the best possible shot at optimizing your performance and score.
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Assumptions About Your Fitness
Lets start with a couple of assumptions. In eight weeks, you can get a little stronger and you can get a little more aerobically fit. But if you haven’t already begun significant work toward an “Open-ready” state, the odds of major transformations are low. Building a solid aerobic base to attack Open WODS with efficiency takes three or four months of focused training, including plenty of interval work, Z1 work to build capillary density, lactic threshold training, and strength work.
That said, if you aren’t where you need to be, there is hope. Here is what you can do to prepare.
Eat to Perform
Start eating right immediately. This is the single best thing you can do. Eating to perform is such a valuable concept when you realize the right food is fuel and the wrong foods are land mines. Cut out the sugar. Cut out the alcohol. Ease up on the fruit as a source of carb fuel and instead embrace white rice, oats, potatoes, and quinoa.
"Eating to perform is such a valuable concept when you realize the right food is fuel and the wrong foods are land mines."
The timing of your nutrients is as important as the nutrients themselves. Eating the right kind of carbs in the right amounts at the right time will provide your body with the necessary glycogen stores to fuel you through a workout.
Disclaimer: strict paleo is not a performance-based fueling program. Paleo, while great for aesthetics and gut health, does not provide you with the right kind of starchy carbs to fuel you (rice, oats, potatoes). Don’t take my word for it, though. Consult your coach and then any number of websites (including this one) that provide ample research opportunities into eating to perform.
Address Holes in Your Skills Game
If you have any holes in your game, now is the time to address them - aggressively. You know double unders are coming. You know pull ups, chest-to-bar pull ups, and toes-to-bar are coming. It’s not too late to work out the kinks in your skill set.
You can develop a plan, as I explained here. For good measure, get in the habit of filming a number of your reps to make sure everything is solid. Sometimes, for example, you think you’re much lower on wall balls than you really are. Make it a point to avoid any no-rep.
REMEMBER: There hasn’t been a CrossFit Open yet that did not include double unders, toes-to-bar, wall balls, some sort of pull up, and muscle ups. Do not put these off if they trip you up (literally).
Utilize Strategy and Organization
Performing well on any given Open workout is not about having the engine to go 100% from the “3, 2, 1, go” until you drop onto the floor in a pile. It’s about understanding fuel management, muscle management, and equipment organization.
You must have a strategy for each workout. Knowing how to break up reps based on your ability is crucial. Think of your body as a battery that automatically recharges itself every time you step back and take a rest. How much longer will it take your battery to recharge if you drain it down to 50% than if you only drain is down to 85%?
Take Open workout 13.3, which was 150 wall balls, 90 double unders, and 20 muscle ups, with a twelve-minute time cap. Some people will attack this workout with as many wallballs as they reasonably can before taking a break. No strategy, just playing by feel. They may drop the ball thirty reps in and be so depleted they need to rest for thirty seconds before picking up the ball again. The problem is, they’ve already begun to get lactic, only thirty reps in and from this point on they will drop the ball every five reps.
"Think of your body as a battery that automatically recharges itself every time you step back and take a rest. How much longer will it take your battery to recharge if you drain it down to 50% than if you only drain is down to 85%? "
On the other hand, imagine dropping the ball every ten reps, whether you feel fatigued or not. Drop it, take two breaths, pick it up again, and go. In this scenario, you will be chugging along at a submaximal level with much more battery power than if you drain it all the way in a heroic attempt to knock out an early huge set. Trust me, I have learned this lesson a hundred times over. Strategy. It works.
When it comes to equipment organization, make sure your barbell, rope, balls, and anything else needed are all in close proximity to each other. If you need to walk ten feet from your wall balls to your rope, and then fifteen feet to your rings, you’re losing critical seconds. You should be able to drop the bar, turn around and start your next movement. It seems obvious, but many people don’t practice this organizational advantage.
"If you need to walk ten feet from your wall balls to your rope, and then fifteen feet to your rings, you’re losing critical seconds."
Pro Tip: Use competition plates instead of bumpers so the bar doesn’t bounce away from you. The more you chase the bar, the more time ticks away. In a game with hundreds of thousands of players, ten seconds can mean fifty spots on the leaderboard.
It's Not Too Late
It’s not too late - the CrossFit Games Open is a fantastic online competition that allows you to see how you stack up against your peers, or maybe even secure a berth to the regional level or the Games. There is no reason the Open has to destroy you and no reason you can’t give yourself every possible advantage - starting right now. Good luck!
Photos courtesy of Jorge Huerta Photography.