The 2015 CrossFit Open has come to an end and with it a milestone for me as well. For the last 6 months, I have been training hard to ensure a quality performance during the Open. I set out with one goal: not to get caught up on any movement. So how did I do?
A Look Back
I have been training in CrossFit for over two years now. Over that time, I have come a long way with my fitness. Just over a year ago, I made the transition from scaled competitions to RX competitions. Typically, weight-based movements were not an issue for me though keeping up with the RX competitors for one-rep max lifts was impossible. For me, two limitations impacting my RX performance were:
- Endurance (e.g. MetCons): A combination of cardio, pacing and ability to keep muscle groups (e.g. core) engaged
- Advanced movements (e.g. T2B and HSPU): A combination of flexibility, mobility and most importantly technique
For the six months leading up to the 2015 CrossFit Open I have been focusing on my weaknesses. I trained three times a week with mostly MetCon workouts. Most of my strength work came in areas that would improve upon my advanced movements. For back to back weeks, I worked on the same movement over and over and over again in an attempt to improve technique. Coming into the Open, I knew I was much more prepared than I was in 2014.
My Goal and My Concerns
I set but one goal for myself in regards to the Open: to not get caught up on any movement. I knew coming into the Open that I still had a lot of room for improvements in many areas of my fitness. I also knew what the previous workouts were for the previous Open workouts so I had an idea what to expect in 2015. Based on this knowledge, I came into the Open with the following concerns:
- Ability to do C2B
- Ability to do T2B
- Ability to do MU
I had worked a lot on my T2B as well as the kip, required for all three movements listed above, but I still struggled through the workouts. In one of the 2014 workouts 50 T2Bs had to be completed and I made it through less than 5. I was determined to beat that number in 2015. Of all my concerns, the MU was the only movement I did not incorporate into my workouts — though I did work extensively on ring dips and pull ups. While I knew MUs would be a challenge, I thought when they came up I would be able to get through at least a few.
15 T2B to start the workout… I am not going to lie, I was not pleased when this workout was announced. I expected T2B in some workout and likely a good number of them, but the first part of the movement? At least there was a C&J at the end where I could grab some points if my T2B fell apart. Looking at all the movements though, they required a lot of gripping so I had no idea how my C&J would go after 9 minutes. I arrived to the workout with a goal of 120 reps in mind for 15.1 and at least 215# on 15.1a.
3, 2, 1, GO! Up on the pull-up bar I went. I went in thinking sets of 5, but my kip was better than expected and I easily made it to 8. I could have kept going, but I did not want to reach the point of failure and struggle on my next set. I got down for exactly four seconds and thought to myself, “I already beat my record from last year!!!” Up I went again and was able to complete the remaining 7 reps. My kip remained strong and I was feeling good. I got down and hammered out the deadlifts and snatches with ease. I was tied for first in my heat through the first round!
I went on to complete 123 reps, that is 63 T2Bs!!! It was the T2B that limited my total score, but I exceeded my 2014 performance and I exceeded my personally set goal of 120 reps. Next up was the C&J. My PR was 225# and I was aiming to hit 90% of that. I was feeling good so I started at 195# — no problem. I went up to 215# — no problem. I decided to go for broke and put on 235# — no problem! At this point I realized I had torn a callus on my left hand. Determined to get one more shot at it, I put on 245#, during the lift the pain of my torn callus set in and I dropped the bar.
15.1 was over. I walked away with two torn calluses and two blood blisters, but a third place finish on 15.1 and a first place finish in 15.1a for my box. I could not have been happier!
A repeat of 14.2 and a workout with C2B. I remember 14.2 from last year and how I had to do strict C2B as I could not kip. Unfortunately, I did not record my time, but I know I made it to the second round. I knew I could do the overhead squats so the only potential issue was C2B. I set a goal to make it through round 2.
3, 2, 1, GO! I snatched the 95# bar and hit my first overhead squat. I stood up to feel myself unbalanced. I went for the second one and on my way up I lost my balance and was forced to drop the bar. “Really?!” I thought to myself. I picked the bar back up and completed two more reps before dropping the bar again. What was going on? I went into this workout being so confident of my overhead squat. I even practiced them with ease the day before, but on the day of the competition something was failing me. The multiple failed attempts took a lot out of my motivation.
I completed the set of ten and jumped up for C2B. I did not know what to expect, but found myself doing sets of two. At least I could get two, take a quick break and then get two more. Back to overhead squats I went where I struggled again, but powered through. Another set of 10 C2B. I made it through round 1 with thirty seconds to go. Man was I winded…
I entered round two determined to do better with the overhead squats and I did though to my surprise I was fatigued toward the end of the set, this was harder than I expected. Back on the pull up bar, I was down to sets of 1 for C2B. I was half way through the round with only half the time left, I was not going to make it… I picked up the barbell and completed 10 of the 12 overhead squats. My arms and shoulders were done and down came the bar. I picked it back up quickly and completed the last two reps. Now on to C2B. One at a time with a long rest I went. I made it to 6 before the time ran out. I was done.
I know I made it further than I did in 2014, but I did not hit my goal of completing two rounds. This was not my week, but I was determined to do better next week.
I knew MUs were coming, but first in a workout?! This was getting ridiculous. I had never attempted a MU in my life. I knew my shoulder strength had increased drastically through my training, but MUs require a lot of technique and I had not been practicing. I set a goal to hit a single MU.
I came in an hour early so I could try/practice MUs. “How hard could they be?” I thought. Now that I had a kip and some strength I figured it would only be a matter of time for me to get the hang of out. I went for my first one — not even close. I was able to get the rings to my chest, but there was no way I could lean my body over the rings so I could complete the ring dip. This was going to be difficult. I practiced the entire hour before the workout and I could not get a single MU. I made the decision to replace MUs with ring dips so I could get a workout. It looked like I was going to take a 0 for this workout.
3, 2, 1, GO! 7 ring dips were a piece a cake. On to the wall balls where I knew I could hit 50 unbroken, but I decided to break them up early given the length of the workout. I went 25, 15, 10. Next up was DUs. I struggled a bit through them, but made it to 100. Now to repeat. I went on to complete 388 reps — that is 21 ring dips, 150 wall balls (the equivalent of Karen) and 217 DUs. Not a bad score; too bad it did not count.
I came back in on Monday to try to get a single MU. I practiced for almost two hours and while I was finally starting to get the lean over on the rings, I could not hold it and complete the MU. I ended up with a 0 for 15.3 and my goal of having no movement catch me was missed. “Next week I will do better.” I told myself.
HSPUs?! In the Open?! And to start the movement?! And standards that require a close stance with the hands?! While I knew before the Open I did not really have HSPUs, I was not concerned because they had never been required in the Open. Now, a ton of them were required and you had to start with them. While most people were complaining about the weight of the clean, I was complaining about the HSPUs. I set a goal to complete two rounds.
3, 2, 1, GO! Up, 1, 2, 3 HSPUs no problem. “Wow, that was easy!” I said to myself. I hit the cleans with ease. 1, 2, 3 HSPU and I got down. Back up, 4, 5, 6. I made it through 9 HSPUs!!! I hit the cleans with ease. 1, 2 down on the HSPU. 3, down on the HSPU. 4, down on the HSPU. No rep. Ouch, this was getting harder in a hurry. I took a rest, gained my composure and hit another HSPU. I could not have been much more than 4 minutes in. I ended up spending the rest of the time on the wall and only hitting one more HSPU for a total of 21 reps.
I had completed my first HSPU in competition, I hit a total of 15 HSPUs and I made it through two rounds. I was more than happy with my performance especially given the last two workouts. Next up I figured there would be thrusters, burpees and box jumps, I was not thrilled.
“NO BURPEES!!!” I thought to myself when the announcement was made. Rowing?!? Thrusters?!? 95#!!! FINALLY, a workout in my wheelhouse. I had joined a friendly challenge for the month of March to row 50 KM and I had already completed the challenge by the time of the announcement. Rowing and lightweight thrusters are two things I enjoy and can usually do well. While there was a lot of reps and the workout was for time, I was really excited. I set a goal of finishing in 10-12 minutes.
3, 2, 1 GO! I hit the rower hard to get the flywheel going and then slowed down to around 24 strokes a minute. I was planning to row around 1250 calories an hour for the round of 27, but found myself closer to 1450. I was able to control my breathing and my pace. I was the first one in my heat off the rower. Next up were 27 thrusters. The last minute goal was three sets of 9. I hit 9 and dropped the bar feeling good. I repeated two more times and headed back to the rower. My heart rate was up and my breathing was getting heavy, but I felt good. I knew the round of 21 would decide my fate.
For the round of 21 my rowing slowed to about 1360 calories an hour and I used the opportunity to catch my breath knowing that I had three sets of 7 thrusters coming up. Getting off the rower I felt more relaxed. I was calm, I was collected, I had my breathing under control, I was in the zone. Three sets of 7 were finished with ease.
Coming into the last two rounds I planned to sprint as much as possible. I had hoped that if I paced correctly, I would still have plenty in the tank. Hitting 15 calories was easy and while I do not remember my pace, I knew I was pushing harder than the first two rounds. I mentioned I was in the zone earlier, but I was really in the zone at this point. The goal was 8/7 on the thrusters and I honestly do not remember if that is what I did. Now it was make or break time, 9 calories and 9 thrusters and I was done.
I hit the rower and went all out. I knew this would wind me for the thrusters, but I did not care. I hoped I could hit the last set of thrusters on broken. I made it to 6 and the bar literally fell out of my arms. I took one last breath and completed the remaining 3. I was done. The clock read 8:28. I crushed this workout.
Given the announcement of a scaled division for the 2015 Opens, I expected the RX division workouts to be harder. I did not expect to find advanced movements starting 3 of the 5 workouts! I also did not expect to find HSPUs in the Open. In previous years, the workouts had been MetCon focused with less focus on technique. The 2015 Open was mostly about technique.
Looking back on the experience, I could not be happier. I hit most of the goals I set for myself, I clearly surpassed my 2014 experience and I overcame many of my previous advanced movement limitations. I did not reach the one goal I set for myself prior to the Open, but you can learn from failure — I know I did! If I could do the last year over again I would not change anything. I worked hard and progressed in many areas. Looking forward, I know I will be able to do 100 T2B next year, I will be able to do 50 C2B next year, I will be able to do 20 MUs next year, I will be able to do 50 HSPUs next year. I am looking forward to the 2016 Open!
© 2015, Steve Flanders. All rights reserved.