What to Focus on for a Successful Open

The Open is fast approaching. We are nine weeks away from the announcement of the first workout. This is also about that time when we may start to panic: am I ready? Did I spend enough time working on this skill or that lift? Am I strong enough? What do I need to be able to do to feel successful in the Open?

Good news: we have some answers for you. Not all, because, contrary to popular belief, we don’t know everything. But we do have some pretty good insight and analysis on what you can expect to see in the Open. You will also see some past Open workouts in our regular class programming beginning in January (recall from our last post that we will run an Open workout every Friday during all classes until the Open begins).

Here’s the deal. We’ve done the dirty work for you. We’ve gone back over every Open workout that has ever come out - it began in 2011 – and tried to take some of the guesswork out of what you should focus on. This is pretty nerdy, we’re not going to lie, but we know some of you can really benefit from this information and others may just find it interesting. In our analysis we’ve found some interesting trends.


With the exception of 2011, there are 5 workouts, one released each week. These workouts are varied (wouldn’t be CrossFit if they didn’t) but there are some similarities:

  1. Every year since the 2011, there has been ONE retested workout from a previous year. It almost guarantees that we will see one of 2016’s workouts again this year (let’s cross our fingers and toes it’s not 16.5…which would be a double retest since it was also 14.5).
  2. There have ALWAYS been wallballs and thrusters in the Open. Sorrynotsorry! We know they’re not a fan favorite but now you know why we do them so much.
  3. In the RX’d division, there have always been chest-to-bar (C2B) pull-ups and toes-to-bar (TTB). ZERO exceptions. They opt for C2B because it’s an easier standard to set for judging purposes.
    1. In scaled division, which was introduced in 2015, we still see C2B however athletes are permitted jumping C2B (with specific standards). TTB becoming hanging knee raises.
  4. Also in the RX’d division, there have always been muscle ups. There were ring muscle ups up until last year when bar muscle ups were introduced.
  5. You can expect all the regular barbell movements: snatching, cleaning or clean and jerk, shoulder-to-overhead (S2OH), overhead squats (OHS), thrusters, and deadlifts. Weights for these movements vary widely, something we’ll discuss a little later in this post.
  6. Double unders have always appeared in one way or another. The smallest sets we’ve seen are 30 and the largest are 100.
    1. Fun fact: Until 2015, double unders were always paired in some way with muscle ups and wallballs. Apparently a worthwhile combination…

Now for some quick statistics:

  1. The average time for the workouts is roughly 11.5 minutes. The range is 5-20 minutes.
    1. This number has been skewed the past three years, since the “buy yourself more time” workouts have been introduced (i.e. if you complete a set amount of work under a given amount of time, you get more time to complete more work. Lucky you).
  2. The average weight that athletes have to move has increased over the years. Last year, on average and over a variety of movements (consider the discrepancy in weight between a deadlift and a power snatch), men had to move 207 pounds and women 137 pounds. This is quite the jump from 2011, when the average weight moved for men was 127 and women was 87. Good work people, we’ve gotten stronger.
  3. The range of weight is wide. You can always expect a workout with a 95/65 prescription and even a 75/55 prescription. However, barbells have gotten as heavy as a 365 pound deadlift and a 315 pound squat clean (both for reps!) for men and a 225 pound deadlift and 205 pound squat clean for women.
  4. The rep range is also quite wide. Not counting the 1RM clean and jerk from 2015, the lowest set we see is 3 ranging all the way to the 150 wallballs from the muscle up workout from 2012 and 2013. However, the average set is 15-20 reps.

Finally, some unique things about the Open workout history:

  1. There has only ever been one “1RM event” in the Open – 15.1b had athletes establish a 1RM clean and jerk following a 9 minute AMRAP. Maybe we see this again?
  2. Box jumps had been a favorite until last year, when they were written out of the program. Expect to see those return in 2017.
  3. Handstand push-ups (HSPUs) were first introduced in 2015 and we saw them again in 2016. We expect they’ll be back.
  4. Rowing was first introduced in 2014 to join the double unders as a monostructural component.
    1. Side note: We will likely never see running or biking in the Open. They have to make the workouts doable for athletes around the world at different times of year and for those who perhaps don’t even belong to an affiliate. Rowing ergs are easy to find. Assault bikes, not so much…yet.
  5. Burpees are always either to a target six inches above your standing reach or over the bar. This guards against sub-par adherence to movement standards.
  6. A new movement has been introduced each year since 2014. What might we see this year
    1. 2014 – rowing
    2. 2015 – HSPUs
    3. 2016 – bar muscle ups and overhead walking lunges
  7. We have never seen these movements in the Open:
    1. Rope climbs
    2. D-balls
    3. Pistol squats
    4. Sumo deadlift high pulls
    5. Strict movements of any kind (unless you count the push-ups of 2011)
    6. Handstand walking
    7. Front squats (in isolation)
    8. DB or KB movements (snatching, pressing, thrusters, etc.)

The likelihood of any of those movements being introduced varies. Odds for a sumo deadlift high pull are much, much higher than a rope climb.

However, it’s not so much the unknown that we should take away from this post. It’s the known, it’s the “what I can work on now to best prepare myself for February” and here’s our bottom line:

  1. RX’d athletes will need to have C2B pull-ups, TTB and muscle ups in some capacity. Scaled or Masters athletes may still need these in some form or at least pull-ups and hanging knee raises.
  2. Focus on light to moderate weight, higher volume (12-25 rep range) barbell movements, box jumps, wallballs and burpees.
  3. Continue to focus on technique in the weightlifting movements. It will get you further in the Open than having a huge 1-rep max lift. Repeatability and consistency is key.
  4. Dig in on those workouts that are in that 8-14 minute range. This is going to be the sweet spot during the Open.
  5. Don’t be afraid to ask your coaches questions on what else you can be doing to prepare!

Hopefully, this helped shine some light on what can find us some success in the Open. Next week, we will discuss how to use this information to develop your strategy for the Open. How do you choose which division to participate in? What are the standards for movement? What kind of expectations should you set? All this and more next Tuesday!

-Coach Caitlin