Categorized as: CrossFit Open

Five Nutrition Tricks from Elite Sport for the CrossFit Open

Here are 5 tips from the world of elite sport that improve performance and recovery to help you through the Open season and beyond.

1) Carb up, but not excessively

CrossFit workouts are several minutes or more of high power output, meaning they chew through your body’s carbohydrate stores.

Maximising the body muscle glycogen stores via ‘carb-loading’ has been used for years in other carb dependant sports, but consuming too much carbohydrate can lead to bloating and excess weight.

Athletes load carbs with their specific event in mind; don’t make the all too common mistake of using a template designed around a marathon for a WOD lasting ten or twenty minutes.

What to do: On the three non training (or recovery) days leading up to the WOD add in one more serving of starchy carbs per day.


2) Go easy on caffeine

Caffeine is an amazing tool for improving physical performance, but it has its downsides.

Caffeine exerts effects on many different tissues and organs. It improves muscular and nervous system performance, but it also jacks up heart rate and blood pressure. When you’re hammering through a WOD then your heart rate will be sky high and exacerbating this isn’t useful.

The second issue is that regular consumption of caffeine causes the body to adapt. This ‘caffeine tolerance’ means you don’t get the same benefits without increasing the dose, which in turn increases the adaptation further. As the intake creeps up you experience less benefits and more drawbacks like gastric ‘disturbance’, jitters, galloping heart, anxiety and dizziness.

What to do:

  • Minimise the dose: Older studies on caffeine used doses around 9mg per kilo of body weights, more recent ones show that lower doses are effective around 3 to 5 mg/kg. (1)

That works out at around

80kg person 240 to 400mg or about two to three cups of coffee, or one ‘Grande’ Starbucks

60kg person 180 to 300mg or about one to two cups of coffee, or one ‘Tall’ Starbucks

  • Use it in a best bang for buck manner: Athletes are encouraged to reserve caffeine for when it will be most useful, in other words before training and competition only.


3) Hydrate …

For the athlete hydration starts at least five hours out from competition. Being properly hydrated for performance means two things: getting the water into the body and then keeping it there, and electrolytes can help you with both of these.

It’s well understood that electrolytes – salts like sodium and potassium salts – help speed hydration during competition, what less people realise is that they can maximise hydration before the work starts, and keep you hydrated for longer by minimising loss through urine.


4) … But don’t over hydrate.

This seems counter intuitive, we all know hydration is vital for performance, but overhydration can be bad for health and mean carrying useless extra weight. In a WOD lasting typically between ten minutes to a half hour most don’t need a lot of extra hydration. Add to this that the environment at CFL is going to be cool with still air and the rate of fluid loss slow then the need is even less critical.

What to do:
Consume 500ml water in the two hours preceding the WOD in conjunction with one serving of a product like SaltStick chews (

If at any time you do need to stop and have a dry mouth using a trick of mouth washing with a sweet drink has been shown to improve performance in a number of different disciplines. (2, 3)


5) Post Match Breakfast

Whilst most of us diligently consume a post training recovery meal, and maybe even a recovery shake as well, few think about the bigger picture of the ‘post workout window’. Athletes are encouraged to beef up their breakfast the day after competition as this is another opportunity to fully reset muscle glycogen levels at a time when the body may be most receptive to it, meaning you can safeguard against stores slowly running down, and get back to normal training sooner.

What to do: Think of this meal in terms of ‘post workout’. Add more in the way of starchy carbs. A rule of thumb is 50% or more carbohydrate for longer tougher sessions, and less for lower workout sessions like technical days


Last but not least: Test the things out BEFORE the event

No list like this would be complete without the following words: no matter what sport you play or what tips and tricks you’re looking at, the day of competition (i.e an Open workout) is the wrong time to be testing new strategies out.

These techniques like the ones above should be tested in more routine sessions to gauge how you respond to them.



Drew Price BSc MSc 

Registered Nutritionist / Author of The DODO Diet 




1) Goldstein, Erica R., et al. “International society of sports nutrition position stand: caffeine and performance.” Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition 7.1 (2010): 5.

2) Jeukendrup, Asker E. “Oral carbohydrate rinse: placebo or beneficial?.” Current sports medicine reports 12.4 (2013): 222-227.

3) Sinclair, Jonathan, et al. “The effect of different durations of carbohydrate mouth rinse on cycling performance.” European Journal of Sport Science 14.3 (2014): 259-264.>>

Beck, Kathryn L., et al. “Role of nutrition in performance enhancement and postexercise recovery.” Open access journal of sports medicine 6 (2015): 259.

Selecting and Effectively Using Hydration for Fitness ACSM

Why you should sign up for The Open

In the past couple of weeks I’ve been trying to encourage my athletes to sign up for The CrossFit Open. The overwhelming response received has been negative. Let’s be honest here, none of us like to lose. Paying money to have your fitness (or lack thereof) revealed to the world doesn’t sound like a great idea unless you’re Rich Froning or Sara Sigmundsdottir. Nonetheless, your fears are unfounded and here’s an answer to every excuse I’ve heard to date:

IMG_7701“I’ve just started CrossFit, I’ll do it next year.”

“Observable, Measurable, and Repeatable,” you’ve probably heard this phrase a bunch of times from your coach or seen it in HQ literature. This lies at the very heart of the ethos of CrossFit, and it especially becomes relevant during the Open. Essentially, an Open WOD is no different from the workout you do everyday at the gym. The difference lies in the information and ranking surrounding the WOD. You will have hundreds of thousands of athletes’ workout data that you will be able to compare yourself against. This is an incredible tool that you can use to mark your progress. This should be exciting for any beginner, especially because the first year you do CrossFit you’ll see some incredible gains. Imagine repeating 17.1 in six month’s time and seeing that you not only can do it RX but now lie midway in the global leaderboard! Assuming that your goal for starting CrossFit was to become a fitter, stronger, sexier version of yourself, why would you shy away from an event that will give you concrete proof of your undeniable progress in achieving that goal?


“I can’t do muscle-ups.”

I’ll let you in on a little secret. I’ve been doing CrossFit for literally ages, and I only got muscle-ups in the past year. Sure, it puts a damper on your overall score–but so what? Since I got muscle-ups, my life hasn’t changed whatsoever. Girls are still repelled by my chat, and I’ve been told from reliable sources that I’ve lost followers on Instagram due to my CrossFit incessant posts. Getting a muscle up is not everything you think it’s going to be. Beware of the poison chalice.


“It’s too expensive.”

Really? You spend over a hundred pounds monthly on your gym membership. You have several pairs of Nanos, Metcons, lifters, wrist wraps, knee sleeves, and enough rogue t-shirts to clothe an African village. You’ve dabbled with Progenex (don’t worry I won’t tell your mum). The open is like any other CrossFit-related expense, and it costs the equivalent of a drop-in at any box in the world. You don’t want to fund Castro and his glock habit? That’s noble of you, but then again, you would also have to stop buying all the other Crossfit paraphernalia. Ask yourselves: is a life without CrossFit accessories a life worth living?


“I have an injury to my __________.”Nic Denby

If you’re training everyday with an injury, scaling and adapting workouts around it, I see no reason why you can’t do the Open. I had three hip surgeries and worked out in the Open 3 months after my last surgery. I scaled everything to my ability at the time, but I still showed up. There will be people competing who have real disabilities and would scoff at your excuse. You should never put yourself in harms way for the sake of a workout, and I’m certainly not advocating that. However, there’s a difference between a niggle and an actual injury. If you’re suffering from a broken heart, remember there will be pizza, and pizza is love.


“I won’t be here every weekend.”

If competing every weekend is the be all and end all for you, there are tens of thousands of boxes around the world where you can complete the Open WOD. If you want to travel somewhere and not CrossFit, that’s fine too. For the majority of us, CrossFit is just a fun hobby so missing a workout or two shouldn’t affect your decision to sign up. I don’t think I’ve participated in the full five weeks any year due to work or travel commitments. We might disappoint our Lord and savior Greg Glassman and his prophet Dave Castro, but that’s the risk we have to take.


IMG_7704Whatever your concerns about signing up for The Open, you ultimately need to ask yourself, “What is the downside?” The downside is that you need to take a risk by exposing yourself to the World. However, nothing great was achieved without taking risk. You may surprise yourself with a higher than expected position on the leaderboard or you may realise this is the kick up the bum needed to train more. Maybe the benefit is not physical but social and you end up making a bunch of new friends. No matter what way you look at it, The Open can only be considered a positive experience.



Rowing Seminar (Open prep)


The Open is fast approaching and there’s a few movements we can guarantee will feature: thrusters, pull-ups, burpees (eurgh) and, of course, rowing. Last year it was rowing, deadlifts, wall-balls and HSPUs in week 3. The year before it was rowing and thrusters in week 5. We don’t know when, and we don’t know with what combination of movements, but it will happen.


With only 5 rowers we don’t get to practice our rowing technique as much as we would like, so in the run-up to the Open our resident rowing expert, Tim Harley, is going to run two seminars specifically to prepare you for the challenge of the Open.IMG_6768

Tim has been rowing since he was 15 and after falling in love with the sport, went on to row and captain various state crews back in Australia. He’s also competed at Youth Olympics and Henley Royal Regatta and has 5 years of elite experience at University, State and National levels. So, safe to say he knows a thing or two about rowing. Take a look at all the pictures here; they’re not stock photos, these are all pictures of Tim in action.

The sessions will run on the following days in 9 Malcolm Place:

  • Friday 17th February – 17:30
  • Sunday 19th February – 9:30

The sessions will be limited to 10 people (2 per rower), and will contain a warm up, plenty of rowing technique, as well as tips, tricks and strategy before you put them into practice in an Open-style workout. Each session will have a different workout, so feel free to book in to both if you want the extra practice.

Even if you don’t plan on entering the Open, these sessions will be invaluable for improving your rowing technique and performance, and a rare opportunity to learn from an expert in the sport.