Written By: Mario Ashley, MBA, Owner Naples Strength & Conditioning
The Open is an exciting time for CrossFitters. It’s projected that over 500,000 individuals will register for the CrossFit Open. For the top .001% of the CrossFit community, the Open is part of the process of getting back the Games. For the other ~99.9% of us, the Open is more of an experience that to get to share with friends and family. Over the years I have found some common themes that make the newbies to the CrossFit Open much harder than it should be.
If you want to compete at your best this in the Open follow these 5 Steps:
GET HOT & SWEATY BEFORE YOU GET HOT & SWEATY
The Open is great because you will do the workouts the same day and time of the week. Especially if your gym offers its own in-house Open competition. At the CrossFit Games, athletes don’t get that luxury. Strength and endurance capacity tend to be higher mid-to-late afternoon, while the likelihood of injuries is also decreased.
Later in the day, results correlate to improved performance and increased power. At this time of day, muscles are more flexible because your body is more warmed from the natural rhythm of the workday. Your reaction time is likely to be quicker, while heart rate and blood pressure are low. Biologically, protein synthesis peaks at this time of day, as well. Now, this doesn’t mean that you can’t peak in the morning for the CrossFit Open. Go for it, but be sure to take twice as much prep work than a late afternoon session. You know your body best.
FIRST TIME COMPETITOR ROOKIE MISTAKE
Do not consume a pre-workout or eat something you don’t normally eat in training. This isn’t a time to try something new. Taking a pre-workout before a competition is a huge mistake! A pre-elevated heart-rate prior to competition, due to consumption of a pre-workout stimulant, will increase the propensity of raising your heart-rate even greater during high-intensity competition. Heart rate is already prematurely elevated due to competition jitters.
Scientists have gathered thousands of resting heart rate data for years are able to directly identify a 1-or-2 BPM (beats per minute) elevation to a reduced work capacity compared to those who didn’t take performance supplements.On the other hand, if you are an avid coffee drinker a cup of coffee prior to competition can help reduce the time of fatigue. Rule of thumb: 1-2 cups at least 1-2 hours prior to competition depending on your sensitivity to caffeine. One research study was able to prove that caffeine consumption 40 minutes before exercise enhanced exercise performance by delaying the total time to fatigue compared to the placebo group. Now if you don’t drink coffee on the regular now isn’t the time to do so.
The same goes for food. Experimenting with a new food or going to a restaurant the day before the competition will likely negatively affect your performance. The safest thing you can do is cook your food the days leading to competition. This will reduce the risk of getting an upset stomach or constipation. I made the rookie mistake of having the hotels eggs the morning before my first CrossFit competition in Jacksonville. After my first workout, I ended up throwing it all up!
MODEL THE BEST OF THE BEST
Watch your favorite CrossFit Games athlete compete and take notes before attempting the workout yourself. There isn’t a top 10 CF Games athlete who doesn’t strategize the Open workouts without offering suggestions and tips. Social media is amazing in that respect. Mimic the best athletes and you’ll be golden. Even Michael Jordan studied film.
Likewise, watching the Open event live on Thursday night is an exciting experience as an Open competitor. You get to watch the best of the best compete side-by-side without knowing the workout until minutes before competing. Many times the strategy the athletes use isn’t the most recommended simply because they don’t get as much time to strategize the workouts. It’s very common for them to repeat the workout a few days later.
In every workout you will need to consider:
- What is your capacity at the skills in the workout?
- What muscle groups are going to be taxed the most in the workout?
- Make a game plan for how you are going to perform the workout.
- Have a projected score you think you can achieve based on #1-3.
SLEEP IS THE BEST RECOVERY TOOL THE BODY GAVE US
When was the last time you didn’t set an alarm? I did it last week and ended up sleeping 10 hours! That was my body saying you need sleep. I woke up feeling like a million bucks! That day my training session was the best it has been in a very long time. Several new studies give additional insight into how modification of sleep affects our performance and changes our normal physiology.
For example, in one study, scientists recruited several basketball players and extended the duration of their nocturnal sleep by approximately two hours over a period of 5-7 weeks. Instead of their habitual for 6 to 9 hours, the athletes were sleeping for at least 10 hours every night. You can never get enough sleep. Start tonight!
TWO ARE ALWAYS BETTER THAN ONE
Have an accountability partner that is also competing in the Open. You will always score higher when you are competing against someone else. It’s like Greg Glassman, founder of CrossFit once said, “we’ve learned that harnessing the natural camaraderie, competition, and fun of sport or game yields an intensity that cannot be matched by other means.”
To me, this was the ingenuousness of creating the CrossFit method in a group setting compared to one-on-one personal training sessions. By creating workouts in a competitive setting, running a clock, precisely defining the rules and standards for all exercises, and by keeping score, we not only motivate people to work harder than they’ve ever worked we can also quantify fitness like never before. U.S. Marines Lieutenant, Jeff Cooper, a Stanford graduate once stated that “the fear of sporting failure is worse than the fear of death.” It is our observation that men will die for points.
Although we won’t die competition in the Open, expect to compete at a level you’ve never have before. Have fun with it!
If you enjoyed these hacks share with your friends and family. They will thank you. And for God’s sake don’t go copying and pasting this stuff. That’s lazy bro.