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CrossFit® / mars 2019
Austin Malleolo, CrossFit Gym Owner & CrossFit Games Athlete

4 Pro-Tips For Growing From Your Open Performances—And Getting Even Better By October

The Open may be over, but don’t think your workouts are wrapping up.

Congrats! You made it through another year of the CrossFit Open!

If your last five weeks were anything like mine, then they were both challenging and reinvigorating. That’s exactly how the Open is intended to be. 

Typically, this is the time when many CrossFitters take a sigh of relief, knowing they won’t undergo another Open for a full year. But this year, as a result of changes in the CrossFit Games season, things are a little different. The Open is moving to October which means we only have seven months before we’re back at it with more Open workouts and another five weeks of challenges. I, for one, am pretty pumped up about this. I love the Open. I love the energy it brings to my gyms. I love seeing athletes kick it up into that second gear. We get double the chances to do that in 2019, so bring it on! 

Seven months also provides a good amount of time to make progress and get even more fit, and coming out of the Open, that should be every CrossFitter’s focus. 

The Open gives every athlete new data on their level of fitness. Rather than just knowing this data exists, I want you to analyze it. I want you to make it actionable. I want you to use it as a starting point for setting new goals. The Open shouldn’t end and immediately become a thing of the past. It should end and immediately help us focus on the future with more clarity. 

Not sure how to start this? I got you! Here are my tips on how to properly analyze your Open performance and get fitter as a result of it.

1. Stop Thinking You Get An "Offseason" After The Open

The Open is five workouts. Even if you repeated every workout, that’s 10 workouts over five weeks. If you’re a member of a CrossFit gym, chances are you’re attending classes at that gym at least three times a week year-round, so in the grand scheme of things, these five or 10 workouts aren’t anything too out of the ordinary for you. That’s why I have never understood people who talk about taking an offseason after the Open ends. What is an offseason for people who aren’t professional athletes? What I always tell my members is that you should look at your offseason as the week you go on vacation with your family or the week you’re traveling for work. 

The Open was never intended to create a break in our training; it was created to test our fitness level at a gym point in time and bring us closer as a global CrossFit community. The best way to get better at CrossFit is to do CrossFit—to attend class. Keep doing that! Be proud of your accomplishments in the Open and come back down emotionally, but don’t take a de-load period or stop showing up for three weeks. 

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2. Look Beyond The Movements When Identifying Where You Struggled

Now that the Open is over, it’s time to have an honest self-assessment of your current fitness level. Make no excuses during this. Look at your performances in the five workouts and identify where you struggled. What I like to remind my athletes is to look beyond the movements when having this self-assessment. High skill movements, like muscle-ups and double unders, are movements you may be bad at and need to work up to. In workouts where those were programmed, sure, the movement may be what tripped you up. But oftentimes, we forget there are many factors beyond movements that could also have led to a disappointing performance.

Take 19.1. No one is that bad at rowing or wall balls, but if we didn’t do well in that workout, we automatically assume it was one of the two movements that caused us the issue. Maybe what actually caused you difficulty was the 15 minute time domain. Maybe it was the pacing. Maybe it was that you didn’t transition quickly between movements. This is your opportunity to realize that perhaps you struggle when there’s a longer time domain so you need to build endurance, or perhaps you’re the opposite and struggle with shorter time domain workouts because you lack speed. Remember to think about these factors, not just about the movements, when setting goals.  

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3. Make Sure Your Goals Are Realistic

A lot of us are delusional about our abilities. I’ve been there myself at times. What I can tell you, though, is that the only way you will improve is if you are realistic and keep your goals realistic. You need to accept where you are relative to your goals. 

If you’re the person who has the goal of getting a muscle-up, look at the things you need to be able to do before you can get a muscle-up with correct technique. Can you do strict pull-ups? Can you do chest-to-bar pull-ups? Do you do strict dips? All of these are steps that need to be achieved in the process of achieving your first muscle-up, so if you can’t do one of them, maybe a muscle-up is not the most realistic goal right now. It’s great to have that as a long-term, aspirational goal, but set strict pull-ups and strict dips as short-term, interim goals.

The right path is longer and a little more painstaking. Strict dips aren’t sexy like a muscle-up may seem. But being realistic with your goals will help your overall fitness go up, and thus, your overall performance in the Open will go up. You may not have that muscle-up come October’s Open but if strict dips are on the menu, then at least you’ll have one more skill than you did this past Open. It’s about taking baby steps. 

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4. Actually Set A Plan

So you’ve set a realistic goal—now what? A goal without a plan is just a dream. A plan outlines the actions you need to take in order to achieve a specific goal. Unfortunately, many people neglect to actually make a concrete plan after they’ve set a goal. 

If you’re not sure where to get that plan or where to start, my recommendation is to sit down with your coach and ask him or her for help. Remember, it’s your coach’s job to help you. Depending on what your goal is, your coach may give you accessory work for your weaknesses. Accessory work is peppering your regular workout of the day with a few additional exercises. It is never intended to take the place of the class WOD (I’m going to keep enforcing tip 1).

It’s not always about giving an athlete more to do, though. Coaches need to coach, not just program. That’s so important. The plan you agree to may entail your coach spending extra time with you to examine your movement technique and spot bad habits.

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Treat yourself to a CrossFit Open t-shirt or tank top for a job well done this year, or shop the Reebok CrossFit Nano 8.

CrossFit® / mars 2019
Austin Malleolo, CrossFit Gym Owner & CrossFit Games Athlete