CrossFit Open 2018: Best Programmed Ever

Mike Tromello


Agoura Hills, California, United States

CrossFit, Children's Fitness, Olympic Weightlifting


This year’s CrossFit Open kicked off on February 22 with WOD 18.1 and ended with final score submissions for with WOD 18.5 last week. As each Open WOD was announced, I offered you the same briefing I gave the athletes at my gym, Precision CrossFit. My aim was to give you immediate feedback that would arm you with valuable strategies and tips to help you make the most of your efforts and score your best possible performance in each WOD.


Today, I'm going to give you a recap of the 2018 Open, share what I've learned, and provide you with some takeaways that might give you an edge in your training and performance going forward.



Recap and Takeaways

First, let me say outright that, in my opinion, this was the best programmed Open ever. This year's Open tested every energy system, skills at all levels, max strength, and recovery. In some cases, this was the clearest and most pristine testing of a system ever. In particular, the testing of recovery and strength in 18.2 was extraordinarily well done.



The first big takeaway is simply a confirmation that, once again, HQ's programming of the Open stayed true to established rep counts, including:

  • 100+ Toes-to-Bar
  • 36 or more Muscle Ups
  • 45+ Handstand Push Ups
  • 60-85 C2B Pull Ups

Yes, there were fewer HSPU in this Open. But, there was a new HSPU standard, and you still needed the capacity for 60-85 to be able to perform to that new standard with a good time. The one real new rep count change was actually in double unders. Going forward, we can expect to see in excess of 600 DUs in WODs, and your training should reflect that new reality.



Dumbbells continued their increasing prominence this year as well. We saw new movements in the dumbbell clean-and-jerk and front squat. You should become proficient not only with these movements but with their natural correlate – Thrusters. I'm confident that you can expect dumbbell thrusters in a future Open WOD. Dumbbells are here to stay, and you should expect to see more of them, and in a greater variety of movements and movement pairings.


Also be sure to become very skilled at handstand walks, which are sure to reappear in future WODs. Specifically, you need to be able to perform consistent handstand walks even after suffering through a variety of capacity-draining, neurologically-taxing, and strength-demanding movements. This year, for those of you who tend to "scorpion" when you handstand walk, you may have found that, after the deadlifts lit up your back, you had a tough time pushing through the handstand walks.


Last, let me address those of you who felt that rowing made the first WOD a "big man's" WOD. That's nonsense. It's rowing. It's going to be in every Open. You simply need to be prepared for it. Many athletes at my gym skip rowing WODs, no matter how clever I am in trying to trick, threaten, and cajole them into doing it. Granted, it's not sexy, but rowing is an indisputable mainstay of the CrossFit program and a necessary capacity to have. What's more, it's probably the best way to work and understand your heart rate zones and get familiar with your individual redline.


2019 Training Tips

Based on what we saw this year, there are four things you should pay particular attention to in preparing for 2019.

  1. First, work the new standards. There's little chance they will go away.
  2. Next, dedicate yourself to rowing proficiency. Increased row capacity and getting comfortable with being uncomfortable on the rower can boost your ranking significantly.
  3. You should also stay true to the established reps counts, as I've described above.
  4. Last, your overall goal for the coming year is to get stronger, but not slower.


Yes, You Should Do The Open Every Year

In closing, let me recap why you should do the Open each year, regardless your fitness level or chances of moving on in the competition. As I have always said, aiming for success in the Open is not just for top-tier athletes. It’s also a tremendous opportunity to build benchmarks and goals into your year-round training. Even if you never go on to high-level competition, completing the Open WODs each year gives you performance data you can use to chart your progress and evaluate your programming going forward.


What's more, the message, as demonstrated in the programming of the WODs, is clear: the CrossFit Open is for everyone. It's a chance to not only benchmark your performance but to share in something uniquely challenging with your friends and your own box's community. It's an annual event and a tradition that you should embrace and enjoy.


Last, for reference, here are all my tips for the 2018 CrossFit Open WODs:

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