The Price of Admission

The Price of Admission
By Colin Farrell

Dave Castro, the Director of the CrossFit Games and Co-Director of Training at CrossFit HQ, once remarked that when he puts together the workouts for the Open, he already has in mind what the workouts will be at Regionals and the Games. His objective is to create a massive, well-rounded, multi-stage test; a test that will weed out anything but the most fit and tell an incredible story. Love him or hate him, Castro does an excellent job at achieving the objective.

Like all great literature, the story of the CrossFit Games — from the Open, through Regionals, and on to Madison — puts on display a few common themes that can be seen throughout each stage.  One theme, in particular, stuck out if you knew to look for it: what is the price of admission? How much does it cost to play?

Open Workout 17.3 was a couplet of chest-to-bar pull-ups and increasingly heavier snatches. The opening barbell weighed in at 95-lbs for the men, and 65-lbs for the women. For most “Rx” athletes, this was a very manageable weight. The final barbell was a whopping 265-lbs for the men, and 185-lbs for the women.

In 2016, Event 1 of Regionals was a snatch ladder with ascending weights and descending reps. The final barbell needed to be snatch for a double at 265-lbs for male athletes and 175-lbs for female athletes.

In 2017, the 5th event at the CrossFit Games, held on Friday of that week in Madison, Wisconsin, was a 1-repetition max snatch. The male winner of that event, Garret Fisher, pulled 305-lbs. Mat Fraser took 5th in that event with a 291-lb snatch. On the women’s side, Kara Saunders successfully lifted 203-lbs for an event win. Tim-Claire Toomey, the overall champion in 2017, locked out a 202-lb lift.

If we do some diving into the leaderboard, we can find some trends of athletes that did well overall, as compared to their performance in the three aforementioned snatch events, and we can come up with some pretty hard and fast assumptions about how much it costs to play:

  • If you want to do well in the Open, and make it to Regionals, the price of admission is a 245-lb snatch for men, and a 175-lb snatch for women.
  • If you want to do well in Regionals and make it to the Games, the price of admission is a 265-lb snatch for men, and a 175-lb snatch double for women.
  • If you want to do well at the Games and make it onto the podium, the price of admission is a 285-lb snatch for men, and a 195-lb snatch for women.

That is how much it costs to play.

Unless you are training to make it to Regionals or the Games, the above information is little more than an academic conversation and/or a fun look at some pretty cool statistics.  The overwhelming, vast majority of us are playing an entirely different game, so the price of admission is going to be different.

The game the rest of us are playing is the one in which we simply hope to live the healthiest, strongest, and most productive life we can for a really, really long time. While it would be nice to be as fit as Mat Fraser or Tia Toomey, most of us need to aim to be more like Jacinto Bonilla.

Depending upon who you are as an athlete, your body type, your goals, your lifestyle, and a few other factors, the price may change a little bit, so an element of self-assessment is most certainly involved.

In order for me to be healthy, and live a long and productive life, I need to be able to …

  • Snatch or Clean-and-Jerk X-amount of pounds
  • Complete “Fran” in X-amount of time
  • Complete X-amount of pull-ups/ring dips unbroken
  • Complete X-number of rounds in “Cindy”
  • Et al.

These should not be confused with your weekly, monthly, or yearly goals. For purposes of continuity, we shall continue to use the snatch as an example.

One of Sarah’s goals in 2018 is to increase her 1-rep max snatch from 95-lbs to 105-lbs. Sarah weighs in at 135-lbs, is 5’5”, and has been CrossFitting for two years. She played volleyball for a good portion of her life, including at the club level in college. She’s athletic.

Sarah’s goal for 2018 is the 105-lb lift. However, the price of admission, what she needs to be able to pull from ground to overhead to ensure a long and healthy life, is probably a lot less. If Sarah never snatches a single pound over 95, can she still live have an amazing life? Absolutely! This is not to say that the pursuit of a 105-lb PR is a waste of time, it’s not at all. And, the stronger she is in her youth the more likely she will be able to continuing paying the price of admission well into her years as a sextigenarian, septuagenarian, and beyond.

Calculating the price of admission can help us set our priorities when it comes to doing things like setting goals, scaling workouts, or coming early/staying late to put in some extra work.

Sarah, though quite strong, struggles with gymnastics movements and longer, more endurance-based metcons. While she can afford the price of admission in terms of strength, she comes up short in the gymnastics department. So, when she stays late or comes early, she should be working on gymnastics. Maybe between heavy strength sets she’ll sneak in a few pull-ups or ring dips. She’s not just working harder, she’s working smarter.

This should not and, more than likely will not, detract from her short-term goal of lifting more weight. In this case, working on gymnastics skills does two important things for Sarah (and for all athletes):

  1. Favorably affects an athlete’s strength-to-bodyweight ratio
  2. Strengthens and stabilizes the shoulder girdle

Both items 1 and 2 will serve the purpose of helping the athlete build up to a bigger snatch.

We know what the price of admission is to make it to the Regionals and the Games, but what is the price of admission to live a long, healthy, strong, and productive life? Here are some mildly unscientific benchmarks for a couple of movements for athletes in their mid-20s to mid-30s:

Snatch

  • Male athletes: 125-lbs
    • For each decade beyond 30 years old, subtract 15-lbs
    • This means an athlete in his 70s should be able to snatch 65-lbs
  • Female athletes: 80-lbs
    • For each decade beyond 30 years old, subtract 10-lbs
    • This means an athlete in her 70s should be able to snatch 35-lbs

Deadlift

  • Male athletes: 275-lbs
    • For each decade beyond 30 years old, subtract 35-lbs
    • This means an athlete in his 70s should be able to deadlift 135-lbs
  • Female athletes: 185-lbs
    • For each decade beyond 30 years old, subtract 25-lbs
    • This means an athlete in her 70s should be able to deadlift 85-lbs

Pull-ups

  • Male athletes: 15 unbroken reps
    • For each decade beyond 30 years old, subtract 2 reps
    • This means an athlete in his 70s should be able to complete 7 unbroken reps
  • Female athletes: 11 unbroken reps
    • For each decade beyond 30 years old, subtract 2 reps
    • This means an athlete in her 70s should be able to complete 3 unbroken reps

400m Run

  • Male athletes: 1:15
    • For each decade beyond 30 years old, add ~:20
    • This means an athlete in his 70s should be able to complete a 400 in ~2:35
  • Female athletes: 1:30
    • For each decade beyond 30 years old, add ~:23
    • This means an athlete in her 70s should be able to complete a 400 in ~3:00

The numbers above for snatch, deadlift, pull-ups, and 400m run are great goals for yourself to set if they are still out of your reach; this is especially true of new CrossFitters who may not be sure where to even set the initial benchmarks.  If all of the above can be completed with ease, continue improving upon them and establish the price of admission for some other factors.

The goal when athletes enter the gym on a daily basis is to increase work capacity across broad time and modal domains. The goal for athletes across a lifetime is to increase work capacity across broad time, modal, and age domains.

Make sure you can afford the price of admission.

Reference: “Chasing Excellence” Podcast, Ben Bergeron

What Is The Spirit of the Open?

“What Is The Spirit of the Open?”
By Coach LJ

The last five weeks have gone by in a blur, haven’t they? Well, not really a blur, but more like a nightmare where you’re stuck in clown car full of burpees, thrusters, deadlifts and drinking. All the drinking. This never-ending nightmare of your feet not reaching the standard on the handstand push-ups and maybe never getting to that muscle-up are finally over.

But after you’ve gotten a few massages, resumed your “Paleo” diet and swore off drinking for a week, you’re going to have a mountain of data to pour through. The great thing about the Open is that you get to have a couple of “A-HA” moments. For everyone, and I mean everyone (the best of the best AND all of us mere mortals), there was a workout that happened in the last five weeks that exposed one or two weaknesses. That is a good thing.

You have two options moving forward. The first one, tied to your ego, is complaining about all the reasons why the workout sucked, Dave Castro is awful and those standards and judges were just UNFAIR. In my humble opinion, that’s a terrible option.

But, then there’s the second option that is tied to the desire to be the best version of yourself. You’re going to want to look at where you ended up and learn from it. You now have nearly 365 opportunities to mitigate your weaknesses until the moment you hear Dave Castro’s annoying voice say, “19 point 1…is….”

If you found yourself struggling to reach the standard on the HSPU, now is the time to spend working on your shoulder mobility and stability. If your low-back got fried on the deadlifts, perhaps you were not getting your hamstrings fired up and your form needs a few tweaks. If muscle-ups proved to be a challenge, if you didn’t feel like your row was efficient, or maybe you have a tough time cycling thrusters, etc: these are all good opportunities.

Again we can use this time to reinforce our confirmation bias: that other people simply being more fit than us is out of our control. Or, we can create our own destiny. That’s your choice.

Don’t get me wrong, there is a difference between the sport of CrossFit and CrossFit as a fitness methodology. Most of us don’t have any higher aspirations than being in shape, looking good naked and being able to function properly in case of a zombie apocalypse and/or war with North Korea. Most of us did well in the first two workouts, but when it came time for the higher skill workouts in the final three, it weeded out those who are generally fit and those who are CrossFit-fit. There’s nothing wrong with that and the open is designed ultimately to find the Fittest on Earth.

However, Colin, Gretchen and I are amazed at the level of seriousness and intensity many of you have chosen to use in approaching these workouts and all the time you spent re-doing or trying to hack them. Yet, oftentimes, out of sight can be out of mind. So, on behalf of us coaches, we just wanted to let you know, we are here for you. Book some time with us, we’ll help get you that muscle-up, double under or hack that shoulder mobility. Simply come talk to us, share with us what you learned and what you want to work on and we can help you create a plan.

It’s not about becoming a Games Athlete for most of us, it’s about finding reasons to continue to improve. That’s why we do our jobs, to help you be the best you can be. We’re proud of all the effort you put in to make this Open season one of the best at PCF as it has been a season filled with memories, margaritas and mobility. Let’s keep the spirit of the Open going all year round.

18.5 Strategy + Tips

18.5 Strategy + Tips
By Colin Farrell

The workout…

AMRAP in 7 Minutes
3-6-9-12-15-18…
Thruster (100/65)
C2B Pull-up

We almost escaped the 2018 Open without having to do a single thruster. Almost.

Open Workout 18.5 is a repeat from both 2011 (11.6) and 2012 (12.5) and is, in fact, a pretty fun workout. Most athletes not going to the Games or Regionals will hover in the rounds of 12 to 18, which means you’re never on one set for very long. We have a total-body-but-lower-half-dominated barbell movement, the thruster, coupled with a upper-body-dominated pulling movement, the pull-up. And, as we have seen in CrossFit time and again, this combination is highly potent. This workout is crazy short, so time to leave it all on the line.

Things to keep in mind…

Any workout with an ascending rep scheme like this, even workouts as short as 7 minutes, there is a trap. Do not go HAM in the rounds of 3, 6, or 9. These two movements, as mentioned above, are highly potent when coupled together. Whether you’re doing all of these sets unbroken, or maybe breaking them up as I did in the round of 9, please do a little mental check with yourself as you approach the barbell for 9 thruster repetitions. Your heart rate should still be relatively low and you should be able to breath easily with your mouth closed. If your heart is racing and your sucking wind, slow down. Things start to get serious in the round of 12, so you need to keep things in check through the round of 9.

If you are not proficient at C2B pull-ups (yet), trying widening your grip a little bit and mixing it–one palm facing in, the other palm facing out. That will make it easier to both get the necessary height as well as close the gap between chest and bar.  If you are butterflying your pull-ups, make sure you are hanging on to chunks of 3+. If you are down to 3 or less, it may be better to switch to a classic gymnastics kip.

As for your thruster, play around while warming up with a wider stance and a wider grip. Make sure it is still comfortable, but widening up will reduce the range a motion a bit. To keep your pace in check, rest for a half second at the top of your thruster. Once locked out overhead, your airways are open and it’s not horrendous to hang out up there. If you try to catch your breath when the bar is in the front rack, your chest cavity will be collapsed do to shoulder position and a 100-lb/65-lb sitting directly over your lungs.  

If you never tried it before, I wouldn’t necessarily recommend any “game-day experiments” but using a suicide grip on your thruster will help quite a bit. This means having your thumb behind the barbell with the other four digits. This should make it easier to keep your elbows up through the squat and should make the transition to the overhead press smoother.


What I would have done differently…

Stayed mentally tougher. It’s only 7 minutes, I came off the pull-up bar one too many times in my final round of pull-ups and rested when I shouldn’t have on my last set of thrusters.

Ever since having kids I’ve gone soft. I can’t even watch “Scarface” anymore.

Good luck everyone!

 

18.4 Strategy + Tips

 

 

18.4 Strategy + Tips
By Colin Farrell

The workout…

For Time:
21-15-9
Deadlift (225/155)
Handstand Push-up; then
21-15-9
Deadlift (315/205)
50’ Handstand Walk after each set of Deadlift

Things to keep in mind…

Before we talk strategies we must first ask ourselves the question, “Can I do a handstand push-up?”

If the answer is “no”, and for many of us that is the answer, it is a race to see who can complete 21 deadlifts as fast as possible. There is a tie break time at the end of every set of deadlifts. For thousands of people their score will be 21 reps; and who comes in first and who comes in last of those many thousands will be decided by their tie-break time.

So, if you cannot complete a handstand push-up, your goal is to rip through the deadlifts as fast as humanly possible. This should be done regardless of fatigue or the red line that we usually try to stay away from early on in a workout.

If you have handstand push-ups, the next question to answer is, “Am I capable of deadlifting that second barbell?” If the answer to that is “no” you will again find yourself in the same boat as many thousands of people around the world. You are now in the position of racing to finish first set of nine deadlifts as fast as you can as that will be the tie break time for anyone that gets stuck at 45 total reps, which . . . again . . . will be many thousands of people.

If you can deadlift 315-/205-lbs, and if you have handstand push-ups, some more strategy will come into play. If you’re hoping to do well you must go unbroken on the set of nine and the set of 15 on the deadlifts, and–at most–most break up the set of 21 barbell lifts into two sets but (preferably) keep that set unbroken as well. The real challenge comes in managing fatigue on the handstand push-ups. Long before your shoulders burn out it is imperative that you come down off the wall and give them a quick rest. It is far better to do smaller chunks of five and seven and maybe even 10 reps at a time with quick rest periods in between. You want to be in control of when the rest periods are happening, as opposed to resting because you failed a rep. Like muscle ups, failed handstand push-up reps are extremely taxing in terms of energy and time. It is far better to break up the handstand push-ups into sets of 7 or sets of 5 than it is to chew through biggers chunks early on but end up knocking out singles by the last round.

When completing handstand push-ups, as soon as your head clears the floor, punch it through the window. At Potomac, I suggest people keep their eye on the wallball targets on the rig adjacent to them. This flattens out your back, pulls your hips off the wall, and makes it easier to achieve lockout and show control at the top of the rep (as opposed to falling off the wall once locked out, which is a no-rep).

For most athletes, finishing Diane and under the 9 minutes is a serious accomplishment. And if you can finish that with some time to get after that second [heavier] barbell, sets of one and two at a time are going to be the likely name of the game when pulling 315/205 off the floor. The pros during the Open announcement were doing sets of 3 and 4 with quick rest periods in between sets. For us mere mortals sets of one and two are a little bit more realistic. If you can squeeze out sets of 3 and 4, by all means do it.

The last question athletes have to ask themselves at this point is, “Can I walk on my hands?” If the answer is “no”, the race is now to finish your set of 21 deadlifts at that heavier barbell. If the answer is yes, if your shoulders allow, try to do all 25-foot increments unbroken as best as possible. Focus on keeping your butt squeezed and remembering to breathe while you are inverted. If you keep your butt squeezed nice and tight your feet will stay just forward of your shoulders and hips, keeping you moving in the right direction but still allowing you to catch a few breaths.

As far as equipment goes, lifters will not help you in this workout, do not wear them. If the choice is between lifters and a pair of spongy, high-heeled running shoes, sure strap on the weightlifting shoe. But if you have a pair of Nanos, Metcons, Chuck Taylors, or NOBULLs, wear them. If you have lifting belt I would highly recommend it for the deadlifts.

What I would have done differently…

I would have not done a workout with 50 strict ring dips 2 days before 18.4.

Good luck everyone!

 

18.2 and 18.2a Strategy + Tips

 

18.2 and 18.2a Strategy + Tips
By Colin Farrell

The workout…
12 Minutes to Complete
1-2-3-4-5-6-7-8-9-10
Dumbbell Front Squat (50/35)
Bar-Facing Burpee
Then, with Remaining Time
Establish 1RM Clean
This was, believe it or not, a really fun workout. Regardless of the type of athlete you are, there is something in this workout to look forward to and be positive above. If you’re a lighter weight gymnast, the burpees should be a breeze. If you are a strong engine kind of guy or gal, the first portion of this workout should be squarely in your wheelhouse. If you love slinging heavy barbells, you should make quick work of those dumbbells and enjoy 18.2a
Things to keep in mind…
How you pace 18.2 will entirely depend upon what type of athlete you are, however, some universal rules that will help:
  • Athletes in workouts like this (ascending rep schemes) are often very tempted to race through the rounds of 1 through 5 with very quick transitions between. Rather than race through those and slow down precipitously towards rounds 7 and 8, be methodical from the get-go. I would suggest a nice, even pacing early on and start hitting the gas pedal closer to round 8.
  • If you have them wear lifters; this is especially true if you have the lifters from Reebok or Inov8 that have a flexible forefoot, making the burpees a little more comfortable. This will help you keep your chest up and heels down… thus taking a little bit of stress off the quads and shifting it to the backside/posterior chain, as well as making it easier to breath and keep your elbows up.
  • Breath and focus. Don’t forget, for Rx athletes, you must have both feet go back and return simultaneously. It’s easy to go to sleep inside during burpees and not think. That can lead to silly mistakes and no-reps, costing you time and energy. While doing your front squats, concentrate on your breathing, ignore the burn in the quads and just stay moving.
  • Go unbroken on all the sets of front squats.
  • Your pace on the burpees should be just on the wrong side of the comfort|discomfort line, but you should not be dying either.
Warm up your clean ahead of time to your opening weight for 18.2a. This first lift you should be very confident you can hit. Do a little self assessment and answer the following questions for yourself, “What if shit goes south and it takes me 11:15 to finish the squats and burpees? Knowing how fatigued I probably will be, what weight do I know can I hit in less than 45 seconds?” That number is your opening lift. If you plan to power clean, warm it up as a power clean. If you plan to squat clean, warm it up as a squat clean. Do smaller jumps, more frequently. So, instead of hitting 185-lbs and rest for well over a minute then jumping to 225-lbs; it is better in this scenario to hit a new lift every 30 seconds or so and only make 5- or 10-lb jumps.
What I would have done differently…
I finished 18.2 in 9:28 (I think) and hit a 215-lb clean on 18.2a. Overall, I am actually pretty happy with this, as unimpressive as that may be. I took it a little easy on the burpees and squats so I could save some energy for the barbell. A few weeks back I had a really disappointing showing with my clean-and-jerk at a lifting meet, so I used this workout as redemption. I could have pushed a little harder on squats and burpees.
Before you do the workout, do some front squats and burpees ahead of time. Do a set of 15 of each at a decent, but methodical pace. See how long it takes you. There are 55 reps of each in this workout. Based on how fast you completed 15, start reverse-engineering a game plan. For example: If you do 15 of each in about 2:00, you should be at the round of 3 by X:XX, the round of 6 by Y:YY, and you should 9 by Z:ZZ. Write this game plan out on a whiteboard and stick to it, even if it hurts a little bit.
Good luck everyone!

Scoring the 2018 PCF Intramural Open

 

The PCF Intramural Open is comprised of 8 separate events: the five Open workouts + three non-fitness events.  Here is how each is scored and how overall winners will be determined.

The five Open workouts (18.1, 18.2, 18.3, 18.4, and 18.5) will all be scored as follows:

At the conclusion of each week of The Open, the top two male scores and top two female scores from each team will be pulled, recorded, and compared. With 6 teams that means we will have a spread of 12 men and 12 women.  The top male score will get 1 point, the lowest male score will get 12 points. The same goes for women. Your team’s score on any given workout is the combined total of two male athletes and two female athletes place standing. For example:

On 18.1, Team Potomac Liberty’s top 4 athletes (best 2 men and best 2 women) place among those top athletes as follows:

Female Athlete 1: 7th place (7 points)
Female Athlete 2: 1st Place (1 point)
Male athlete 1: 3rd place (3 points)
Male Athlete 2: 10th place (10 points)
Total points: 21 points

Each of the 6 teams will have a point value, lowest number of points wins (like golf!)

Event 6 is quite a bit simpler:

Whichever team got the most new athletes to sign up for the Open between the night of the Draft and 8PM on February 26th, won.  First place team got 1 point, last place team got 6 points.  As mentioned above, lowest score wins.

Event 7, Spirit of the Open Award:

After Week 3 of the Open, each captain will submit a name of an athlete from their team who think most embodies the Spirit of the Open.  Between the end of Week 3 and the start of Week 4, all participating athletes from Potomac and Patriot will vote (yay Democracy!) for the athlete they think best characterizes a positive attitude, a hard work ethic, is outgoing, encouraging, friendly, leaves their ego at the door, and has the most integrity. The person with the most votes from Potomac and the person with the most votes from Patriot will each win the Spirit of the Open Award. Their teams will tie for first in that event, earning 1 point for their team. All other teams will take 6 points.

Event 8, Community Engagement:

Like event 6, it’s rather straight forward. The team with the most points racked up by the end of week 5 will take first place, earning 1 point for their team. The team with the least points accumulated will take home 6 points.

The Final Standing

Each team will have a point/score for each of the 8 Events (1 being the best, 6 being the worst). We will total up those 8 numbers to come up with a final score, the team with the best (lowest) score will win the 2018 Intramural Open.

Prizes…

Prizes will be awarded to the following athletes:

Patriot First Place Male and Female, as determined by their performance in the 5 Open Workouts
Potomac First Place Male and Female, as determined by their performance in the 5 Open Workouts
Spirit of the Open Award (Event 7) Winner from Patriot
Spirit of the Open Award (Event 7) Winner from Patriot
Weekly Spirit of the Open Award

Note: All coaches, save Colin, Gretchen, and LJ, are eligible for each of the aforementioned prizes. Captains and athletes, do not hesitate to nominate your favorite PCF coach for a Spirit of the Open Awards!

Click here to see the standings. This Spreadsheet will be updated weekly.

You’re Probably a Human Specimen

By Colin Farrell

I was recently listening to the CrossFit Podcast episode with Chris Spealler, and something really struck a chord with me, especially as we continue our way through the 2018 CrossFit Games Open.

As many of you will surely not forget anytime soon, workout 18.1 was a beautiful triplet of toe-to-bar, dumbbell hang clean-and-jerk, and rowing for calories. I did okay with it. Or, well, I thought I did alright. Then I started to see some of the other scores roll in. Guys I thought I was as fit as or fitter than were absolutely crushing me. And then some athletes redid the workout, and it seemed to only get worse for me.

Despite my commitment to “one and done,” I sincerely contemplated doing it again, and for all the wrong reasons.

It is really, really easy to get caught up in the competition, stress out, monitor the leaderboard, and lose sight of why you started CrossFit in the first place. Until last Open season, I had become really burned out on The Open for that exact reason. As I was validating scores, I became more and more convinced that my fitness was in a really, really bad place. I had to snap out of it.

I did not re-do 18.1.

When listening to the aforementioned podcast, and I fail to remember in what context it was mentioned, Spealler said to one of the hosts as he was lamenting what he thought was a lack of fitness, “You know, comparatively speaking, you’re probably a human specimen.”

I do not want athletes at PCF to get into the habit of gauging their success or failure in terms of their accomplishments relative to others, but let’s at least put things in perspective.

It is really easy for me to think of myself as a slouch if I try to compare myself to Coach Gretchen, or her husband, or — really — a bunch of athletes and coaches at Patriot and Potomac CrossFit. If I start looking at other perennial Regionals and Games athletes, all of a sudden I look like a washed up, balding bum. But I know very few people who started CrossFit, or stick with CrossFit, based on their performance during The Open. That isn’t why we do this, that’s not why this is so much fun. Most of us are still engaged in constantly varied, high intensity, functional movement because it makes us healthier than we were and we enjoy the people around us at the gym.

Compared to the average person, especially compared to the average American, you are all probably human specimens. If you eat relatively well — meat and veggies, nuts and seeds, some fruit, little starch, and no sugar — and do CrossFit two-to-four times each week for a year you will probably be among the fittest human beings on earth. I don’t mean the fittest 0.001% (the Regionals and Games athletes), but I’d wager you’d be in the top 5-10% fittest and healthiest people on the planet. Again, I don’t want us to get into the habit of comparing ourselves to others in order to decide on whether or not we are fit, healthy, or successful. But, if you have to do it, compare yourself to the world at large.

You have all made a commitment to your health, a serious investment, and that needs to be celebrated. I’ve been really hung up on, in a good way, the following quotation from Coach Glassman:

    “We have a really elegant solution to the world’s most vexing problem, and we’ve disguised it as sport.”

Nutrition and exercise, the more we learn, seem to be the cure for (or a way to mitigate the effects of) a massive number of the world’s health problems, including everything from Type II Diabetes to Alzheimer’s. You have all committed yourself to a lifetime of really good and healthy living. You could come in dead last in every Open workout, and many of us will not do a single one of them as Rx’d. This is not a fact to get stressed out about or upset about. Do not let what you would consider a disappointing score on one event of the Open to ruin your experience in the coming weeks.

Focus on the positive, know that when you walk into the grocery store, walk into your office, or head over to the playground with your kids, that — compared to everyone around — you’re a goddamn human specimen.

18.1 Strategy + Tips

 

 

18.1 Strategy + Tips
By Colin Farrell

The workout…

AMRAP in 20 Minutes
8 Toe-to-Bar
10 One-Arm Dumbbell Hang Clean-and-Jerk, 5/side (50/35)
14/12 Calorie Row

It’s a long workout, but it goes by quickly. With rep schemes as small as 8-10-12/14, athletes will never be stuck on any one movement for too terribly long, comparatively speaking, and before you know it you’ll look at the clock and see there is only a few minutes to go. This workout was fun, and the new movement – the hang dumbbell clean – I think is a great introduction to the cannon of movements available for use during The Open. Now, how to tackle this.

This workout should a little something for everyone: larger and more powerful athletes should do well with the row and the hang power clean-and-jerks. Smaller, more gymnasty athletes should enjoy the manageable sets of toe-to-bar. The key is to play to your strengths and do damage control on the movements not suited to you as a particular athlete.

Things to keep in mind…

Know your limits on the toe-to-bar and keep your ego in check. With smaller sets, it’d be great to go unbroken if possible, but if toe-to-bar are something you’re not super proficient at break the 8 reps into 5s and 3s or two sets of 4s. You may hate to start the 2018 Open Season with a small set of 4 reps, then coming off the bar but if they are not something you’re proficient with, break them up from the get-go so you’re not down to singles and doubles by minute 15.

You are going unbroken on the dumbbell movements. Stronger athletes may be able to switch hands without putting the dumbbell down and complete all 10. Smaller athletes, put the dumbbell down after you are done on side, take a quick breath, and get right back on to the other side. Don’t forget to breath while completing these reps and be sure to press the weight directly over the center of your body… otherwise there are two negative outcomes: (1) it is a no-rep unless the dumbbell is directly over your shoulder and frontal plane and (2) it will fatigue your shoulders unnecessarily, making the toe-to-bar more difficult.

Lastly, with regards to the dumbbell work: use the hook grip through the hang clean portion of the movement. If you lose the hook grip after the dumbbell has met the shoulder, that’s fine. Just be sure to re-grip on the way back down.

The rowing intervals are short, really short. Even for a guy of my stature I was never on it for more than 45 seconds or so, and for one or two rounds was done in about 36 seconds. Given the low rep scheme, athletes can push hard on the row, skyrocket their heart rate, and end up only saving 4-10 seconds at the most. And, if your heart rate is that high, that time will be lost later in the workout. Your rowing pace should be just shy of “comfortable.” For larger, more powerful male athletes that means a ~1200 cal/hr pace. For stronger female athletes, probably somewhere in the department of 850-900 cal/hr. I made the mistake of pushing a little farther into the “uncomfortable” side and paid the price.

I would suggest, if you can, completing one or two rounds of this workout about 10 minutes before the official call of “3, 2, 1… Go!” to get a sense for how fast or slow you can go, and what it feels like to row at a comfortable pace. Set a goal to stay on that track with, and stick to it.

What I would have done differently…

I completed 8 full rounds plus 6 toe-to-bar.

I went too hard on the row and too slow on the toe-to-bar.  I’m 5’8” and only weigh about ~145# (I come from a long line of ectomorphs) and my calories/hour pace sat around 1350 for most of the workout. That was entirely too high and any time I saved going harder on the row was lost in more time catching my breath between movements or resting between sets.  For three or four sets in the middle of the workout I broke the toe-to-bar into sets of 5 and 3, and regretted it. I should have gone unbroken on those the whole time. For a guy with my particular skill set, I should have invested more of my efforts there and less on the rower.

Good luck everyone!

 

Maximizing Your Open: The Week Of

 

Maximizing your Open: The Week Of

By: Colin Farrell

The Open is just about upon us, ladies and gentlemen.  As a coach, a CrossFitter, and [sometimes] competitive athlete, it is one of my favorite times of the year.  We have a chance to test ourselves against our friends, other members here at PCF, against the whole world, and most importantly… we get to test ourselves against our former selves. This is where people get their first muscle-up, string double-unders together, or somehow break a squat clean PR in the middle of some heinous and awful workout.  

So, now that you have signed up for the Open and joined a team, here’s a pretty decent way to maximize your power output once you hear the call of “3, 2, 1…Go!”

At Potomac CrossFit we complete the Open Workouts on Saturdays, so we are working on that knowledge. For Patriot CrossFit athletes, back all of this up by a day, as the Open workouts will be programmed for Fridays:

Sunday: Go nuts, you’ve got plenty of time for recovery, but whatever you do don’t tear your hands. That is one thing you can’t always come back from within a calendar week.

Monday: Keep the strength and skill work relatively light/lower percentages and intensities (70% or less) and lower reps (8-15 working repetitions) and keep mechanics in mind more than intensity.  You cannot get stronger with one squat session the week the Open starts. Just worry about solid movement patterns and hitting full range of motion.

Tuesday & Wednesday: Treat the days’ strength or skill work similar to how you did the back on Monday.  If you are an Rx athlete, think about dropping to Level II for the MetCon. If you are a Level II athlete, knock it back to Level I.  Go hard, but just with less complex movements, shorter running and rowing distances, and lighter loads.

Thursday & Friday: Some athletes love a full day of rest before a big event (like an Open workout) others need the day before to still move around so as to not get too sore or sluggish. However, a rest day on Thursday or Friday is probably necessary if you’ve been working out for 3 or more days in a row. Based on what type of athlete you are, pick one and take it easy.  Whichever day (Thursday or Friday) is your “on” day, think of it as “just stay moving.” Intensity should be dialed back, worry about working your hips, ankles, and shoulders to full range of motion, do a little bit of pulling, a little bit of pressing, a little bit of squatting, and make your midline work a little bit.  Take the workout of the day and turn it into an EMOM to dial back the velocity/loading, force rest periods into the workout. These session should keep you fresh and moving, not send you home in need of an epsom salt bath.

Saturday: Game day! Everyone is different here (do I eat beforehand, do I not eat, etc.) Do some foam rolling the night before, wake up and do a little mobility work, arrive early to the gym to really get warmed up (time is usually very limited on Saturdays during the Open).

Good luck everyone! Now it’s time to prove your fitness. Have fun!

 

Get to Know Your Captains – Vilija Teel

 

 

Vilija Teel  | Captain, Team Patriot Service

What is something most PCF’ers don’t know about you? A secret talent? An embarrassing story?
I sing Lithuanian folklore.

How/when did you get started with CrossFit? What has made you stick around?
December 2013 in Seoul, South Korea. The variability and high intensity of the workouts.

What has your past experience with The Open been like?
Absolutely positive experience. Love being able to see the rankings and see how I compare worldwide.

What are you looking forward to most about this year’s Open/Intramural Open?
The social interaction and mixing of athletes between both gyms.

For people that have never done the Open before and are maybe on the fence, what would you tell them?
Just do it! I signed up for the 2014 Open, just two months into Crossfit and it was an amazing and empowering experience!

Give us some cold, hard numbers: What is your Fran/Helen/Grace time? 1RM Deadlift? Olympic total? 2K time? Pick some common CrossFit Benchmarks and let us know where you are!
Helen: 9:19
Deadlift: 300LB
Back Squat: 200LB

What is your favorite CrossFit movement? What is your least favorite?
Favorite: Power clean
Least Favorite: Any kind of snatch

Bitnami