The Open brings about movements, rep schemes, and combinations that can motivate (or terrify) every athlete. All part of the fun, right?
Whether you’re a veteran competitor in the sport of CrossFit, or you are new and headed into your first CrossFit Open, you are likely striving to put your best foot forward during this test of fitness! And we are here to help you with just that.
While we really prepare for the Open year-round, there are a few late-stage focus areas that can have a profound impact on your performance when used around the Open. And it’s not adding extra workouts or learning “tricks” for certain movements we know will be tested (hello, Toes to bar, double-unders, and burpees!).
Here are the key ways to unlock your best CrossFit Open performance.
Your first key performance enhancer is sleep. Often neglected and overlooked, adequate sleep is the easiest way to improve your performance.
We recommend trying to dial in a 7-9 hour sleep window on the days surrounding your Open workout attempt. This will give your body adequate recovery throughout the week, as well as time to recover from whatever head programmer Mr. Bozeman has up his sleeves.
If you’re curious about how sleep affects EVERYTHING, check out this post with tons of resources on how sleep can be a game changer!
2. Warming Up and Cooling Down
Our second key performance enhancer is priming and cooling our bodies before and after the workout. It’s all too common in the excitement of Open Workouts makes us overlook some very basic principles to prepare ourselves.
Warming up for the workout needs to include:
- A general warm-up to increase your heart rate and prepare your body for physical activity. The goal is to get a little sweaty and warm up muscles before we move into our specific warm-up.
- A specific warm-up that uses movement patterns, weights, and cardiorespiratory stimuli to prepare the body for what it will be doing.
When the workout is over it’s time for an intentional cooldown!
If you’re looking to maximize your performance across all three weeks, your cooldown should start as soon as possible after you finish the workout. The goal of cooldown is to bring all your systems down (heart rate, breathing rate, movement speed) into recovery ranges. This might take a few minutes depending on the amount of work you performed but here are some simple strategies:
- Short, sprint-type workouts and max-effort lifts take longer to warm up for and longer to recover from. Long, slow, and controlled biking or walking as long as it takes to bring your heart rate down can be ideal.
- Medium-length workouts with high repetitions focused on specific muscle groups mean we’ll want to focus on stretching opposing muscle groups. If you perform 100 wall balls in a workout, make sure to stretch your posterior hip, and don’t neglect the shoulders either.
- Longer workouts mean shorter warm-ups and recovery sessions. This is where we want to hit our more traditional stretching. Take your time with long static holds of 60-90 seconds, while focusing on your breathing and feeling your body unwind and relax.
3. Fuel the Right Way
Performance enhancer three – eating and drinking your way to success. Eating for performance is a BIG discussion, but what is easily within reach is getting the right types of food surrounding your workout. Here is a formula to follow:
- DO Hydrate. Water, water, and more water. Dehydration, even if it’s modest, can have a profound effect on your performance and recovery. Our recommendation is to drink ½ your body weight in ounces of water each day. If you are hitting a hard workout it’s not a bad thing to get a bit more in! Remember if you’re thirsty, that’s already an indication that you’re dehydrated.
- DO eat fast-absorbing carbohydrates and protein. Simple carbohydrates and easily digestible proteins will be easy for your digestive system to manage. They will also help to get the appropriate macronutrients into your system quickly as your body begins its recovery process. Our goal is to replace the muscle glycogen lost and stop the break catabolic muscle breakdown after the workout.
- DON’T eat fiber and fats. Following a training session, they are likely to put added stress on your digestive system. We want to avoid them around workouts as they also slow the absorption of the simple carb and protein sources you need.
4. Have a Plan
These workouts are designed to be the starting point for finding and testing the “Fittest on Earth” in the Sport of CrossFit. Limits will be tested, but that doesn’t mean you have to risk serious injury or mental frustration. The final key to having a great Open performance is to have a plan.
While the goal is to push and challenge yourself in these workouts, it’s also important to know your limitations as an athlete. Take a look at a few strategies we recommend to help navigate your approach to Open Workouts:
- Know your numbers. If a barbell workout comes up that calls for 20 repetitions of 135# Power Snatches, and your BEST lifetime snatch is 155#, it’s safe to say trying touch-and-go reps shouldn’t be your strategy. Instead, approaching the lift with the goal to hit as many singles as possible is definitely possible. If the weight still doesn’t feel approachable safely, consider the scaled version of the workout. You can pivot to push the intensity of the workout and look forward to retesting it with the Rx weight later down the road.
- Consider the WHOLE workout, not one piece. We often hear “I went out too hot” in competition workouts. How do we prevent that? Take a look at the whole body of work and think about the level of cumulative fatigue. If the workout has 20 burpee box jump-overs for one set could be a sprint… but 20 reps every round in a 15-minute AMRAP means PACED and CONTROLLED repetitions. If you’re able to watch the CrossFit Open WOD announcements, pay attention to how elite athletes approach the workout. It helps paint a great picture.
The CrossFit Games Open is a time for testing our fitness growth and having a blast with the CrossFit community at large. Achieving a successful Open requires not only the work you’ve put in throughout the year but smart strategies around each workout using these easy “performance enhancer” habits.
Above all, no matter where you are in your CrossFit journey, we want everyone to have a great experience participating in the biggest fitness community event on the planet! We are happy to help you target and further refine any of these areas and more. Email [email protected] and let’s start a conversation.