I type this just a couple hours removed from learning the WOD for this week’s CrossFit Games Open competition. Our decision as a box is and has been to run the Open WOD during every Friday class. We will stick with that decision, BUT we will also address the differences between testing and developing fitness across a broad spectrum of fitness levels.
My thoughts on this workout consist of mixed emotions. On one hand, I am excited that the programming has defied expectations and broken through the cliche of years past. Being only week two, NOBODY expected to see chest to bar pull-ups in this WOD. I mean, those are reserved for the final week’s Fran-fest… Right? Not this year!! It’s fun when the mold is broken. Let’s face it, preparing for the unknown and unknowable isn’t quite the same when we KNOW it’s going to be Thrusters and Chest to Bar Pull-ups in the final Open WOD each year.
But with this breath of fresh air, comes the harsh reality that many people simply aren’t able to play along on this WOD. As a test of fitness, the Open attempts to throw a variety of time and modal domains at us and sift through the masses to find those who truly deserve to move on to Regional competitions. In years past, we have seen the first couple weeks’ worth of WODs programmed in a way that allows just about everyone who wants to play along to get a great workout in and leave everything on the floor in the process. As monotonous as it is (and I really don’t EVER want to do it again), the AMRAP 7 minute sof Burpees did one thing perfectly… included EVERYONE in the misery. No matter how fit you are, 7 minutes of burpees is going to suck. Those who are more fit will get more reps so long as they actually try to do so and the less fit will get fewer reps. No matter how many repetitions an athlete is capable of achieving in the 7 minute Burpee AMRAP, one thing is true, EVERYONE plays along and EVERYONE is pushed to their limits.
Now lets’ consider what has happened with this week’s WOD. Overhead squats are challenging. Pull-ups for many people are also challenging. Chest to bar pull-ups for many people are downright impossible. Is this workout a great test of fitness? Absolutely! Does it include everyone who ponied up $20 to participate in the Open? Not by a long shot. This WOD is phenomenal at testing fitness in those who have already achieved a high level of fitness. What about the people who can’t do a chest to bar pull-up? Effectively, this WOD is over in just under a minute for anyone who can’t yet get a chest to bar pull-up. Can’t OHS > 95/65lbs? Your workout is over before I even say 3,2,1 go!
I’m all for pushing people outside of perceived comfort zones and elevating the level of expectations. As a box owner, however, I realize it is not only my job to test the fitness levels of those who are already accomplished CrossFitters, but to also improve fitness levels of all of my clients. This WOD greatly misses the mark in that respect. Before you send me hate mail or try to bash me in your favorite online forum, consider this: A) I will probably score better than you on this workout. B) My score doesn’t mean shit when it comes to programming for the masses. Am I saying the CrossFit Games Open WODs should only be programmed in a way that the majority of people can accomplish the workouts? NO. What I am saying is that my members pay upwards of $200 per month for basically one thing — exercise programming and coaching that will allow them to grow as athletes. Open WOD 14.2 does not allow nor does it affect many of my novice athletes to improve their fitness. In fact, it probably scares them to the point of considering whether this universally scalable methodology is even what it’s cracked up to be.
So, with all this in mind, CrossFit West Sacramento will do the following as we run the CrossFit Games Open WOD 14.2 tomorrow during every WOD class on our 10 hour schedule:
- Set up and run 14.1 as Rx’d for all athletes and record the Rx’d scores for the Open
- If an athlete fails to complete all repetitions under the first, second or third time cap, said athlete will immediately enter a secondary WOD that is designed to improve fitness levels in both the OHS and Chest to Bar pull-up movements. This secondary WOD will be posted in the box tomorrow morning on the whiteboard. If you fail to complete ANY of the first 3 time caps, you will progress into the secondary WOD and continue to develop your fitness for both the OHS and Chest to bar Pull-up movements.
As a training facility, we owe it to our athletes to give them more than just 3 minutes of struggle. We will accomplish this with the secondary WOD in place. I applaud CrossFit HQ for writing a difficult and intriguing WOD. I personally look forward to doing this WOD. I just want to also make sure that all of my athletes are able to feel the same way. The point is working to improve — not just unveiling insufficiency.
How should I approach this WOD?
Regardless of whether you are a seasoned CrossFitter looking to go 4 to 6 rounds deep into this WOD or a novice who won’t likely complete the first round, your preparation for the WOD should remain the same.
- Ankles — Be sure you are able to squat as vertically as possible by spending as much time as necessary mobilizing your ankles. Ideas include barbell trigger point, ultimate ankle stretch, toe up calf stretch, and banded downward dog (which gives the added bonus of lengthening the hamstrings)
- Hips — Achieve full depth in your squat with ease by mobilizing your hips — 5 minute passive squat, OLY Stretch, Pigeon Pose and Low Couch are all good ideas here. Of course, there are many more stretches to consider. Check in with the coach on the floor for additional ideas to target your trouble spots.
- Shoulders — Start off with Rhomboid Trigger point and First Rib downward displacement. Move on to foam rolling your latissimus dorsi muscles of the upper back prior to hitting some static stretches for the long head of the bicep as well as the Lat Dorsi.
- Practice kipping swings OR Butterfly circles, depending on which technique you will use for your Chest to Bar pull-ups.
- Practice moving quickly through the OHS with an empty barbell. Track your knees wide and keep your torso as vertical as possible.
- Focus on active shoulders.
- Go unbroken on the OHS as often as possible. This will save you precious time, which will be much needed during the Chest to Bar pull-ups
- On the pull-ups, break up sets into manageable workloads. If you can only string 3 chest to bar pull-ups efficiently, do that.
- Step up to pull-up bar. Rather than jumping up to the bar each time, set up a low plyo box near your pull-up structure. Be sure you are hanging with elbows fully extended prior to starting your set.
- Dig deeper than you think you should. You will get a rest period once you are finished with your two rounds. Work hard to get to your much deserved rest period.
- Have a warrior’s mindset. Never give in to the discomfort of the workout. Dropping a barbell simply because your shoulders are burning will chew up time you don’t have. Be sure to stay on the bar as long as possible to preserve your time. The pull-ups will take longer than the OHS.
At CrossFit West Sacramento, we embrace the Open because it is our opportunity to get the entire community involved on a global stage. We also know that it is up to our coaches to deliver the fitness programming our members deserve. We gladly support the CrossFit Games Open WODs. This week will be challenging to say the least. Hopefully this week motivates us all to revel in our strengths and kill our weaknesses.