Getting Your Success in 2019 Means Starting Today

CrossFit’s Open and online qualifiers continue to demand greater all-round ability and challenge athletes at all levels to aim higher.

Photo of Coach Tromello with CrossFit Games Bound Team Torrance Training Labs at West Regional 2018

Photo of Coach Tromello with CrossFit Games Bound Team Torrance Training Labs at West Regional 2018

Watching the CrossFit Regionals you might be sitting at home wondering, “Hey, I didn’t get there or I really want to make it to that level next year, I want to do better on the Open.” If you want to do better next year then it’s time to get started now. Being better at the Open means different things to different people.

For example, I worked with obstacle course racing (OCR) champion Hunter McIntire. Sure, he was trying to go to the Regionals but he also uses the Open as a gauge to see where he stands in terms of his fitness—and then he still goes and wins a bunch of OCR races. He can be a champion athlete in one sport, and still possibly be a champion athlete in CrossFit. Another trainee I work with just wants to do the Open just to see if she’s better than last year—her goal may just be to do her first pull up. For most of us, it’s complete opposite sides of the same spectrum.

Ultimately, what’s cool about the Open is that it does measure overall fitness. If you can’t do the workouts as recommended, you can do the scaled division to measure yourself against people like yourself around the world. If you’re going to be doing any personal training or any type of fitness work, you should be able to do basic functional fitness challenges—it’s picking up something off the ground and putting it up on the counter. Or maybe it’s doing farmer’s carries with your groceries in the door. What I’m trying to emphasize is that the Open is a great fitness benchmark and something that you can set as a goal for year round motivation.

Not Doing Things You Normally Do

The workout of the day at my gym recently was a 25 minute AMRAP:

40x Burpees
100x Double Unders
800m Run

A guy doing it comes up to me and says he can go to a 24 Hour Fitness and walk in the door, put on his headphones, do bench presses and all that usual stuff. He tells me he comes to do CrossFit with me because I am going to make him do things he would never ever do on his own.

If you’re going to go to a CrossFit gym that has well-rounded programming, you’re going to do things that you wouldn’t normally do. There are people who can make it through to Regionals but right next to them are people who are just pushing themselves out of their comfort zone and trying to better themselves.

Training Is Year Round

Now is the time to start training for next year’s Open. For my gym, I have everyone on 48 weeks of 12-week cycles, already getting ready for next year. And next year’s Open will be very different than what we have come to expect

I have been looking at the programming of events this year and I think there are a lot of challenges waiting for athletes next year, challenges that require preparation over the course of the coming year because you won’t be able to just gut your way through those future workouts.

You have to build skills that are new to you and you are going to have to be stronger than this year demanded and have more endurance. Expect the unexpected but be prepared for the inevitable.

It’s All in the Hands

Gymnastics-like movement is going to become more of a factor in future Opens. The organizers definitely want to see you be proficient on your hands, so start working on handstand walks now. Being able to do those 25-foot increments, or at least 5-foot increments, is important.

Rope climbs were introduced in the online qualifiers this year so, you’re probably going to have to go climbing in next year’s Open. Rope climb efficiency, especially being able to get down that rope fast, is something you are going to have to work on. I’m going to start teaching my gym how to do a handstand walk with various progressions over the next 12 to 36 weeks.

Strength Routines Are Key

Strength has become a component, however, it hasn’t become a component where it’s going to make or break you. If they come out with a max lift, again, you need to be strong enough to do well enough in the lift segment. My gym is weak in the upper thoracic area, so I’m going to spend more time building up their max lifts in that area

From there, I’m also going to start building more of my trainees’ core stability because I suspect that there is going to be a lot more overhead work in general this next year. I am going to also program for shoulder endurance and that means that I’m going to start having my athletes do overhead squats and variations.

We saw in this year’s Open that a competitive enough lift was right around 320 pounds for the men and for the women it was about 215 to 220 pounds. These aren’t trivial numbers. Your max lifts should be solid and at levels that can safely keep you in these ranges for competition.

And remember that all of your lifting is done under fatigue. In Open WOD 18.3 and in the online qualifiers, double unders and wall balls were on the menu followed by those overhead squats. So, it’s literally a line in the sand—you have to be strong under stress and fatigue situations.

Jump Rope and Jump Rope Often

From what I can see, you now will be asked to do somewhere between 400 and 800 double unders in a workout. That means that I have to increase my athletes’ capacity for doing double unders—and if my athletes are doing it then, you should be, too.

CrossFit does an amazing job of evolving every single year and if you’re not evolving with it, you’re going to fall behind. When they introduced handstand walks over obstacles, the organizers took it to another level and that means that they want to make sure that you do, too.

Create Energy Efficiency & Fix Glitches

You need to be working your energy systems efficiently. So many CrossFitters are just staying in that 10 to 15 minute WOD range and they’re not expanding their overall fitness. They’re not going out there and running, swimming, biking, and doing triathlons and playing sports. They’re just doing 15 minute CrossFit workouts because they’re fun. Well, sometimes the stuff you need to do isn’t fun.

Fix the small things. Fix any technical glitches in your handstand push ups, your handstand walk, and make sure you can get down the rope climb with a speed descent. You should see next year’s Open as a challenge to your training program. If you failed to meet your goals this year, you’re going to be outside looking in again next year if you don’t take things to another level.

Now is the time to set your mindset and prepare. With five training cycles left until next year’s Open, you may think you have a lot of time, but in reality you’re going to be working across a range of movements while increasing your strength and endurance. It’s not really that much time at all.