With The Open a little under three weeks away, I have been receiving many questions on how best to approach it. Upping your training will increase your fitness levels and is an easy way to squeeze out an extra 10% performance, but what is the best way to improve your Open result in such a short space of time?
The biggest difference between CrossFit and other training methodologies is the need for skill acquisition. Being able to perform a snatch while under fatigue is incredibly difficult, which is why CrossFit is equally rewarding and frustrating. If you look at the past few years of The Open, there are certain movements that consistently appear:
- Handstand Push-Ups
- Chest to bar Pull-Ups
- Toes To Bar
The difference between having one of these movements and not can be tens of thousands of places. Remember, one rep RX is worth more than a million Scaled, so just being able to go RX will place you much higher in the standings. Focusing on any of the above movements if you don’t have them will be a much better use of your time and energy than just focusing on your metabolic conditioning. I have listed these movements in no particular order.
The bane of many CrossFitters, double-unders are a skill that can be incredibly frustrating. Requiring inhuman coordination and nimbleness of the wrists, there is no easy way of developing them. However, developing this skill in a three week timeframe is achievable; it will just require lots of practice. The best advice I can give is practice EVERYDAY until The Open. Attempting double-unders in class WODs rather than falling back to singles will also help immensely. I have seen some people attend the gym for several years, always scale to singles, and unsurprisingly still only do singles. You might have to “sacrifice” some WODs and just dedicate a bit of time to developing that coordination!
The handstand push-up requires strength, balance, and the fearlessness to fling yourself up and down while inverted. For athletes looking to improve their HSPUs there are two aspects of the movement that need to be developed: strength and coordination/balance. The strength component is conceptually easy to fix but takes time and dedication. It’s a matter of spending the time training and developing the strength. This can be done in our CrossFit and CrossFit Gymnastics classes but also during Open Gym or even at home! For the coordination and balance aspect of the movement, you also need to practice. You need time upside down and getting your central nervous system used to finding that balance. The kipping handstand push-up is especially challenging, as your centre of gravity changes when you bring your knees down to your chest. If you have the strength to do a strict handstand push-up, spending a bit of time these next weeks developing your kipping technique will help immensely and propel you up that leaderboard.
The Open last year demanded that athletes perform squat snatches at the relatively heavy weight of 60 kgs for men and 43 kgs for women. Not only technically demanding and heavy, this movement requires a high degree of flexibility of the shoulders, hips and ankles to reach the required depth comfortably. There is no quick fix for any aspect of this lift as strength, technical ability, and flexibility all take time to develop. While the technical aspect can take years to finesse and to perfect, our coaches at CFL can usually get someone to lift with relative competence in a few sessions depending on athleticism and background. However, there are no easy fixes for a lack of strength and flexibility, so we would encourage you to continue developing these as a longer term goal.
Chest to bar pull-ups
The Open rarely sees a regular pull-up, only the more demanding chest to bar version. Our programming has and will continue to focus on the chest to bar version on the run up to The Open, so you will get practice if you attend regularly. Again there is no quick fix here (this is a running theme!) but you can improve your kip efficiency, which will help reduce the demands of the movement. We have also been focusing on the butterfly and chest to bar butterfly pull-up in our CrossFit Gymnastics classes, which is less demanding metabolically and strength wise but more demanding technically. Practising and perfecting this movement regularly before “gameday” will mean you’ll shoot up that leaderboard.
There are many people in the gym who have the strength and the ability to get a muscle-up but haven’t realised it or even tried it yet. As of this week, you will have had the opportunity to be coached through progressions in both the bar and ring versions. This will continue twice a week in our CrossFit Gymnastics classes through The Open. Even getting one rep in a WOD will mean tens of thousands of places on the leaderboard and is worth developing if you have strict pull-ups and ring dips. It also looks awesome and is a badge of honour for many CrossFitters. Personal Training is also a fantastic way to accelerate the process of achieving this movement, especially if you feel you’ve been “close” for a long time.
At CrossFit London we offer an array of classes, options and personal training. Our coaches are on hand to help you achieve your Open goals. With The Open only three weeks away, we can’t perform miracles, but we can help you make the improvements needed to be the most efficient and top performing athlete you can be.