"The Crossfit Open"
Hyoung Sung Kim
The Open is exactly a month away from today, and I thought I'd share some of my experiences with Crossfit and my first Open in general, if only to illustrate what it is and what it might mean for you, Whether you're wondering "what is the Open," "why should I do it," "it's not for me," "I can't do it," "I don't have time," "I'm too new to Crossfit." [these are all versions of thoughts I've had before]
tl;dr: classic really generic run-of-the-mill boring "it's the journey not the destination" story
The Open is a five-week long competition, in which an unknown workout is announced Thursday evening, which must be completed by Monday evening. Typically here at Amity, we've been doing them as a gym together on Saturday mornings, with a friendly in-house-gym competition to raise the stakes a bit.
I think of doing the Open like going to the dentist: in both cases, you should always get a yearly checkup, and even if it hurts, it'll be good for you, because you'll probably find out things you need to do that you either didn't know you needed to do, or things that you didn't want to do and have been putting them off for a while. It's a form of checking in with yourself.
In general, the Open is a test of work capacity of a wide range of skills and movements, many of which we do during our Daily Workouts. [There is also a scaled version of the Open, of which the movement demands are different.] In the past, the following seven movements have always appeared in every Open: double unders, toes-to-bars, muscle-ups (bar or ring), wall balls, chest-to-bar-pull-ups, snatches and thrusters (see https://wodprep.com/blog/7-movements-master-crossfit-open/). If you've been coming regularly, check the list of movements on the website and I think you'll be surprised how many you at least recognize and at least have a sense of how to do. And if you're the kind of person who's gravitated to Crossfit (as well as the kind of person who's had the patience to read this far), chances are part of you at some level enjoys the frustration of not being able to do things, and the challenge that that frustration brings with it. It's never nice to be confronted with a limitation, but that's what then makes overcoming it all the more satisfying. The Open I think can be a space for those kinds of feelings.
Now, if you're reading this and have been wondering about whether to do this "Open thing" or not, and have convinced yourself that the Open is only for super fit people like that weird Wolverine-with-headphones looking guy going hard on the assault bike by himself in the corner (he has a name - Jacob), that's totally not the case - here's my story of my first Open.
I first joined Amity as well as first time doing Crossfit in October 2015, I'd joined because I was tired of working out alone without a clue as to what I was doing, and even bicep curls were not doing it for me anymore. Back then, I had some pulling power, I ran the Dish three times a week, I really loved deadlifting. But I hated squatting; convinced myself I just wasn't built for squatting (I think my max front squat and max back squat was like ~145 and ~195 respectively. And that's pounds, btw, not kilos); I had vaguely heard of the torture machine that was called the rower, a wall ball hit me in the face once a week; trying to do double unders left me with whiplash on my forerams; etc.
Fast forward four months of going three times a week, did my first Open pretty soon after that in Feb 2016. Here's how the workouts went:
16.1 was an AMRAP 20 of overhead walking lunges at 95# bar facing burpees, and chest to bar pull ups. What is an overhead walking lunge even? I think I ended up with about four to five rounds. I spent most of my time was spent trying to figure out how to get the weight over and hold it over my head. At one point my foot was an inch short of a 5ft marker before I dropped the bar. The member who was judging me looked at me sadly. No rep.
16.2 was an ascending clean ladder of toes to bar/double unders/cleans, starting at 15 reps of 135# cleans. My judge was one of coaches at the previous gym Sarah, and I think she kindly overlooked the fact that my so-called "cleans" were basically power cleans and then a reluctant, difficult mashed potato front squat (see max front squat # above). I finished with maybe 12-13 reps before time was up. (to give perspective: the ladder went 135#, then 185# x 13, 225# x 11, 275# x 9, 315# x 7).
16.3 was an AMRAP 7 of 10 power snaches/3 bar muscle ups. I probably did 10 "snatches" (read: muscle snatches), and then spent about 5 minutes banging my head against the wall trying to get my first bar muscle up, which I eventually did. For my second, I hung on the bar trying to get over it for about thirty seconds, to the point where I remember Joe (Reed) said he'd lost count of the reps he was doing because he was distracted by everyone willing me over the bar. I ended up with 3 muscle ups, and my hands were bleeding for days. I remember Tim ("T-brah") learning how to do a bar muscle ups that day, and then flying through four five rounds of the workout; some say he is still flying.
16.4 was a 13 minute AMRAP of 55 deadlifts, 55 wall balls, 55cal row, 55 handstand push ups (Joe was my judge that day, if I remember correctly). I remember taking forever to do the wall balls: I think I did sets of 5 or 6, my core so tired/weak/collapsing so hard every time the ball came down it hit my face and I bowled forward over trying to catch the ball and my breath at the same time. After I finished the row at around the 12:50 mark, a member told me to run for the wall and try a handstand push up; I ran, I put my feet up, and then promptly toppled sideways. Time.
16.5 was 21-18-15-12-9-6-3 reps of thrusters at 95# and burpees. I honestly wanted to quit by the 12-rep count, and finished it around 19:40 I believe. Fortunately, I don't think we'll ever see this again (you never know), because it was a repeat of 14.5.
If you plug all these scores into Beyondthewhiteboard, all of them put me in the 20-25th percentile of BTWB users.
The Open gave me goals for training: be able to hold a weight over my head; do an actual clean; do a muscle up; do a HSPU; be able to do a thruster in a way that gets the weight above my head and my core doesn't collapse. Things take time: it took me a year of off-and-on attempts to finally get a ring muscle up; I worked a lot on my shoulder stability; I rowed a lot. Hey, my cleans barely feel right some days; last Friday I did bar muscle ups with Patrick (Chase), a very gymnasty looking fella you might see doing handstand walks in the corner, and almost two years on I'm *still* working on them. I am still in my own way working on these movements every week, and the Open can be a chance for you to express them in a semi-competitive setting.
We can train for a lot of reasons - and for someone like me I think having some 'external' competitive goal can structure your training, and give you reason to come in and get better, e.g., just being able to do movements and things I couldn't do before. It has been fun to watch myself change from 'not being able to do X at all' to 'being able to do X' to finally 'being able to do X in a fatigued setting.'
Now, two years on with some amount of training behind me of course I hope to do much better than this; I'd be disappointed if I don't. But that might not happen - the testing is so varied, who knows. But looking back it's also been rewarding to see how wanting to be better changed my attitude towards all the other other extraneous stuff: I was taking my food, sleep, substance (ab)use seriously. Turns out you can't do an AMRAP 20 when you are super hungover from the night before. Well, maybe when I was younger. And slowly but surely, with changes like this I lost certain friends, I made new ones, I slept more, I ate much better, and then - in the words of some famous philosopher (how can I resist) - I think I became who i was meant to be after all.
(A) Front Squat – 4 x 5
· Run 400m
· 21 kettlebell swings
· 12 pull - ups
(C1) V – ups – 3 x 15
(C2) Russian twists – 3 x 20
(A) Snatch – 12 x 2(1 + 1) OTM
(B) AMRAP 10
· 8 box jumps
· 10 DB snatch
· 12 push - ups
(C1) SLDL – 3 x 8
(C2) ab wheel – 3 x 8 – 12
(D) stretch pecs
(A1) Power Jerk – 4 x 5
(A2) Strict pull – up – 4 x 3 - 5
(B) AMRAP in 20 minutes
· run 200m
· 15/10 cals AB
· 10 NPUB
· Row 15/10 cals
· 30s Front leaning reast
(C) knee in corner stretch – 60s each
(A) Clean & Jerk – 8 x OTM, then 12 minutes to establish a heavy single
(B) AMRAP 4 x 3, rest 1 minute
· 6 clean
· 8 toes to bar
· 10 burpees
(C) side plank – 3 x 35s each
(A) Deadlift – 85% x 3 x 4
(B) 4 rounds
· 10 deadlift, no more than 50%
· 15 wall ball
· 20 ABMAT sit- ups
(C) Weighted plank – 3 x 55s
(A) Handstand/HSPU practice
· 40 burpees
· run 800m
· 30 burpees
· run 400m
· 20 burpees
· run 20m
(C) KB side bend – 3 x 15 each