2017 Open CrossFit and competitiveness

This seasons Open was my best ever in 4 years of competing in the CrossFit open and doing CrossFit. I actually managed to place 18th in the scaled division for my country and age group. So for me, its something i’m very proud of, especially since i was injured with a severe back injury for coming on 2 years and my back has never been the same since.

So CrossFitters might scoff at my score after all its scaled division, but i’m not blessed with a childhood of sports or the genetics of a spartan, I’m not lucky enough to live and work at a gym, where training is what i do 6 hours a day, I’m not rich enough to not have to work a 9-to-5, or rather a 9-to-9 6-days a week. For me, getting a hour 3 times a week to CrossFit is a luxury and an escape that I have to fight for between meetings, deadlines, managing teams and projects, spending time with the other half (who sadly doesn’t possess the same passion for CrossFit), I have to hustle to find those 3 hours outside of family and friend obligations, outside of house chores, food shopping and commuting.

Being competitive is part of sports, but don’t take away from the achievements, no matter how small, 18th in Scaled in a small country might not seem much next to the title of ‘fittest in the world’, but its mine, i’m proud of it and that shouldn’t be any less deserving of respect or considered any less of an achievement.

Thats really the crux of this post, every year we join the open, and every year i meet people who scoff or look down on others for scaling or for not placing high enough. The reality is we are all on our own journeys, there will always be someone ahead and there will always be someone behind. it does no good looking down on those behind, not only do you not know their story or journey, but it does nothing to help you progress. Celebrate successes, no matter how small, afterall, one step forwards, one rep more is all it takes to make progress.

CrossFit Games 2017 Open Workout 17.3

Prior to 8:00, complete:
3 rounds of:
6 chest-to-bar pull-ups
6 squat snatches, 95 lb.
Then, 3 rounds of:
7 chest-to-bar pull-ups
5 squat snatches, 135 lb.
*Prior to 12:00, complete 3 rounds of:
8 chest-to-bar pull-ups
4 squat snatches, 185 lb.
*Prior to 16:00, complete 3 rounds of:
9 chest-to-bar pull-ups
3 squat snatches, 225 lb.
*Prior to 20:00, complete 3 rounds of:
10 chest-to-bar pull-ups
2 squat snatches, 245 lb.
Prior to 24:00, complete 3 rounds of:
11 chest-to-bar pull-ups
1 squat snatch 265 lb.

*If all reps are completed, time cap extends by 4 minutes.

Kettlebells, use them

Kettlebells rock, literally they are the single most awesome tool for Crossfit ever. They are a russian creation, used to perform ballistic exercises that combine cardiovascular, strength and flexibility training.  Taking the shape of a large steel ball with a handle at one end. Generally a 16kg 1 pood kettlebell is the Rx’d weight for men, but don’t let that light weight fool you. Kettlebells sit at the crossroads between strength and endurance, a 10 minute AMRAP of kettlebell swings with a 16kg kettlebell is enough to challenge any serious athelete, and it’s this endurance-strength that makes kettlebells so effective, and when you add is some of the skill involved kettlebells become an even more potent Crossfit tool.

the handle of the kettlebell can also add to the complexity by taking traditional kettlebell movements and adding a level of difficultly in the bottoms up position, think a 16kg shoulder press is too easy, try it in the bottoms up position, thing 16kg should press is too hard, use both hands on a single kettlebell, as you can see whilst its limited, there is scalability built into kettlebell training.

next, kettlebell movements like the swing, snatch and clean are not only explosive, but also engage with the posterior chain significantly and help develop that hip-hinge movement thats so important in crossfit,  with volume, load and speed, this can help develop strong position whilst the athlete operates in a fatigued state.

finally, kettlebell juggling, adding in hand releases, switches and direction changes, not only makes kettlebells more fun, but adds an element of timing, coordination and skill, as you can see this all contributes to supporting the development of the 10 general physical skills of crossfit

Training Crossfit out of a Globo-Gym

Most Crossfitters tend to prefer training in group classes out of Crossfit boxes. The sense of community and the variety of equipment generally means the purposefully designed space of a Crossfit Box is idea for Crossfit. But, if you’re like me, and generally don’t like the group class setting and would rather train close to home, say at the globogym down the road instead of the Crossfit gym 30minutes away, then Crossfit training takes a little more thinking.

To do Crossfit out of a globogym, you actually need to be really planned about the type of WODs you’re going to do, not only is space an premium but so is equipment. If you’re like me and generally drive as desk job as well, then you’ll only really be able to train during the peak times before or after work.

Luckly for you, i’ve spend over 5 years training Crossfit out of a globogym and have mastered doing Crossfit at a globogym down to a fine art. so without further adieu and in no particular order here are a list of things to help if you’re planning on doing gobogym crossfit, now, this assumes you’re just a regular Crossfitter, not some athlete looking to get to the games, at the end of the day, a Crossfit box is way more suitable for the sport of fitness than a globogym.

  • Bring headphones, a sound track and a timer – nothing worse than hearing the skinny nobby-looking bro benching 65lb holler at the top of his lungs. Timer should be obvious.
  • If you have the flexiblity, i’d personally suggest a Friday, Saturday, Sunday, Monday, Wednesday, training spit. I skip tuesdays as i find after 3 days of continuous training its too much and i need to recover. Friday, Saturday, Sunday are generally quite, because other people have a life. Monday is a tough day as thats when everyone is at the gym so equipment on that day is a bit of a hassle. Wednesdays are usually manageable.
  • split your training by the day, if you take my Friday, Saturday, Sunday, Monday, Wednesday, training spit, thenFriday, Saturday, Sunday, i focus on barbell and ‘complex’ WODs, Monday,Wednesday  i either do cardio or kettlebell work complimented by bodyweight movements. I also do mobility on all days.
  • its almost impossible to link any body or weighted movements with a treadmill or rower. so get used to bodyweight/weightlifting splits.
  • if you want to link running (on a treadmill) or rowing to a WOD you’ve basically got to book-end it.
  • WODs with pull ups are difficult either there’s a lack of a pull up bar or some idiot will be hogging it for some random exercise.
  • if you’re using a barbell, try not to change weights or leave it unused for too long, complex-style WODs like the DT are generally good as you’ve got multiple movements linked that don’t need too much running around the gym and can be done without bothering others.
  • lunges, and dumbbell movements are great not only will them help develop unilateral strength and stability but with the limited equipment and space of a globogym they can make a WOD quite spicy
  • cleans and snatches will make you look like a serious bad-ass in the globogym and get you mad credibility with gym bros.
  • bring your own resistance bands and other equipment, my globogym doesn’t have kettlebells so i drag my own 16kg bell from home to use on  mondays and wednedays. its  hassle but it beats waiting for some bros to stop curling in the squat rack.
  • Kettlebells are the single most versatile piece of equipment money can buy you can do a ton of stuff just with a single 16kg kettlebell.
  • its pretty much impossible to follow Crossfit.com’s or any conventional Crossfit programming in a globogym, but you can work to some general pattern, for me this consists of Friday – GW, squats and generally a shorter WOD, Saturday – GW, oly lifting and a AMRAP around 20min, Sunday – GW, deadlifts/shoulder press, and a chipper of around 20min-40min, Monday/ Wednesday – W/M, either focus on kettlebell work or cardio, with a kettle bell WOD around 15min long.

below are some examples of the WODs i’ve been doing at my globogym, bear in mind, i’m not programming for any purpose here other than to get a sweat one and just maintain myself, this isn’t what i recommend, just what i do. most WODS are preceded by some level of weight strength conditioning, typically squat, shoulder press, bench press or deadlift, either for volume or for weight.

  • 1-2-3-4-5-6-7-8-9-10 thrusters, bar facing burpees
  • 12min AMRAP, 10 DB snatch, 20 lunge, 10 push up
  • for time, 30 deadlift, 30 hang power clean, 30 lunge, 30 shoulder press, 30 squat, 30 push up, 1km run
  • 10mim AMRAP 15 double kb snatch, 30 lunge
  • 8 rounds – 9 deadlift, 6 hang power clean, 3 front squat, 1 thruster

Posterior Chain Engagement

Posterior Chain Engagement is a critical part of Crossfit; it focuses on the engagement of the group of muscles, tendons, and ligaments on the posterior (back) of the body, including the hamstrings (biceps femoris, semitendinosus, semimembranosus), gluteal muscles (“glutes”), and spinal erectors.  the Posterior Chain is ultimately the powerhouse of the human body with the gluteal muscles being the engine.

You’ll notice that the 9 foundational movements require Posterior Chain Engagement either as a source of power generation or for stability and injury protection. Thus Posterior Chain Engagement enables core to extremity, functional movements. Its therefore the goal of a good coach to ensure that the athlete can maintain and develop this Posterior Chain Engagement regardless of  work capacity though the use of threshold training.

Posterior Chain Engagement is ultimately developed though functional movements such as the deadlift, and pull ups, but assistance movements should also be used to help strengthen and ensure that there’s sufficent stability around affected joints.