Categorized as: CrossFit Open

The 2018 CrossFit Open at CrossFit London

You can’t have helped but notice that the 2018 CrossFit Open is just around the corner. Here’s what you need to know about the 2018 Open at CrossFit London.


The CrossFit Open runs for 5 weeks from Feb 22nd to Mar 26th. The WODs are released very early on Friday mornings and you have the weekend to complete them.

As previous years, Friday evenings will play host to the main event Open WODs. There are two slots to book into, an early and a late, but as per usual timings are at the mercy of Dave Castro and whatever he programmes. Don’t worry, we can be flexible if you need to arrive early or leave late.

Can’t do Friday? Not to worry, this year, we will have coached Open Gym slots throughout the weekend, which will be able to book into any of those to complete the workouts (or just use as you normally would if you don’t want to do the Open). At CFL, the Open Gym slots are all in 10 MP so lines on the floor won’t be an issue. The coach on duty will see to it that everyone is properly judged.

As there is no Open Gym slot on Friday morning (and we know a lot of you like to get it done out of the way and away from the big Friday night crowd), Kyle’s Fri 7:30am WOD class in 10 MP will be the only other Open WOD class on the schedule.

If you can’t make Friday nights or the Open Gym slots, the coaches will be available to book for special 1-2-1 PT sessions for £20 per workout. They will take you through your own mobilisation, warm-up, strategy, and coach you through the workout as they judge at a time which is convenient to you.

(NB: Friday’s Heavy Metal Club has been moved to Wednesdays at 19:30, so you can continue to follow the HMC programming and do the Open)

Final Friday and Social

As ever, the final Friday on 23rd March will finish with a social, awards and probably beer-pong, This year’s (totally optional) theme is ‘Drag Queens’ – or ‘Cross-dressing-Fit’.

We’re currently looking for a venue to move onto afterwards. More on this later.


Last year, you were sorted into teams. This year, your coaches will head up their own Tribes (sorted at random when you sign up).

If you sign up for CrossFit London, Mike, Joe, Kyle and Carolyn will lead teams (team names at coach discretion). To be part of a team you will need to be signed up for the Open on the Games Website, but you do not need to be signed up on the Games website to participate (you just need to book into the workouts).

Or if you sign up for SE11, Nick, Juan and Tim will lead teams.

Prepping for the Open

Between now and the 23rd February keep an eye on the blog and the Facebook group for news, updates, tips, and special events.

Email if you have any concerns or questions.

Skills for The Open

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
  • Double-Unders
  • Muscle-Ups
  • Snatch
  • 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!

Handstand Push-Ups

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 Snatch

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.

The Muscle-Up

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.

Programming reflections

Developing our programming at CrossFit London is about merging the best of consistency with the benefits of variation; all topped off with obvious short and long term objectives.

It’s also about creating establish structures that deliver training gains.

Currently, we have a 3-day structure

Day 1) is titled All Elements and features the full squat version of the clean or the snatch. In the workout any elements can appear. As a regular skill we include some kipping practice

Day 2) is No Shoulder day where we alternate between the front squat and the Bulgarian split, and the back squat cycling with the deadlift plus the 1 legged Romanian deadlift.  The workout is limited to moves that do not include the shoulder. A shoulder rest day our skill focuses on the double under and the pistol.

Day 3) is No Squat day, currently upper-body orientated. We work through weighted pull ups/dips and cycle through the press, push press push jerk. The workout will not include a squat element- it needs a rest. Our regular skill is handstand based. It can be a 45 degree wall walk hold as your first step in getting upside down, to your first handstand push up, to handstand walking.

If you are following this programme, Day 4 is a rest day. However, as a gym with a big community, Day 4 is entitled Off Programme day.  We still schedule a great WOD, skill and strength for those who want to work 5 days straight through,  or it’s the only day they can make.

We are currently testing July’s  draft programme (about 2 weeks ahead of where you are) and are deep in designing the August/September programme. Interestingly, the 2 targets nudging our thought processes are Cindy and Isabelle. This has thrown up 2 issues

Issue 1 . Push-up homework

To achieve 20 rounds of Cindy, you need 200 push ups. It’s that simple and stark. We will prepare you by having push ups scattered throughout our preparatory workouts, but the reality is that you probably need more push-ups that we can ethically put in our sessions.

By ethically, I mean we cannot drag you, our beloved members, across London- often in rush hour- to charge you to do push-ups that you can do at home. Our dips, presses etc support this work. We set them, as in our mind you go to the gym to play with stuff you cannot reasonably have at home.

I have a plea. Over the next few week, please do push-ups at home. I’m hoping this week do 75 push-ups a day, the week after 100, 150, then 200. I need you to own 200.

This can be done as a hardcore task: three sets of 66! But it’s better to think about creating an easy habit. Five before you get in the bath, five in the  Starbucks queue, 10 while waiting for the bus, five before you brush your teeth. Why not post a clip of you  pushing up 9n public on the facebook group. Its now a thing.

When you come to do Cindy, I need you to know, know you can do 200 push ups.

Issue 2 Power snatch/power clean on day 3 WOD

The next issue is the power snatch versus squat snatch. I want to create 2  distinct pathways for these moves.  I want us to consistently pursue the squat snatch as a  thing of beauty, but develop the power/split snatching as the go- to workout move.

Day 1 will alternate (as it has done) between the squat snatch and squat clean. The focus will be on enough reps to develop the best form possible within the  20-30ish minutes allocated. For most, this is enough time to make substantial improvements (self-training and our Olympic lifting classes accommodate those who need more). Sometimes this will be delivered instructionally, other times as reflective individual feedback while you practice.  Often I suspect you’ll be sharing a bar and feeding back to fellow members as you watch them move. Peer coaching, under coaching supervision, can be very very useful as is using your phone’s camera to analyse and check form and spot weird habits in your classmates.

However, in the weeks  leading up to our Isabel test,  on day 3 in the workout, I  will often include a power snatch or a  power clean.

Yesterday we tested Isabel (30 snatches for time) as a day 3 WOD, therefore two days after the squat snatch element on day 1. It worked.  The next experiment will be to have squat cleans on day 1 followed by power clean in the WOD on day 3.  So over the next few months, note the pattern

Day 1  Squat Snatch dedicated session / Day 3 Power snatch in the workout

followed by

Day 1 Squat clean dedicated session / Day 3 power clean in the workout.

Obviously, we will vary the stimulus; different weights, different time domains, dumbbell versions.