Cerebral Sunday – Open Recap: What Does It All Mean?

 In WODs

Before we get into all the meaty stuff, I just wanted to say how proud I am of all of you.  The way you moved, supported each other, and gave it your all was simply amazing.  It is an honor for all of us coaches to say we coach you at Reebok CrossFit Bare Cove.  Also, a special shout out to Kaylee and her awesome work on the recap video!

It’s hard to believe the 2014 Open season is behind us!  By now the tears and sweat have dried and the aches and pains subsided.  We now find ourselves at the beginning of a new season – a blank slate.  We have an entire year to work on our goats and perfect our strengths.  So what do we do now?  Where do we start?  Well…it all begins with a little introspection – what can we take away as individuals and as a box from our experience?  What did we learn and how will that impact our training?

As a competitive athlete, I of course loved the individual aspect of seeing where I stood among the men in the largest region in the world.  Every week I analyzed the leaderboard and looked up friends and fellow head coaches to see how my fitness level compared.  It was a thrilling experience, but what really intrigued me was to see how our box performed.  How did we compare to last year?  What were our sticking points and our strengths? Did we meet the goals of the past year?  What do I as a head coach need to do with our programming to improve our fitness over the next year?  Well, here is what I came up with.

Where are we as a box?

At the end of the 2013 Open season, we had been around for about 6 months and considering that fact we did pretty darn well (198 in the region).  Also, the takeaways weren’t terribly surprising – we needed to work on things that pretty much every other person needs to work on in their first year: better/more efficient movement, strength, and overall work capacity.  I responded in kind by biasing our programming into phases – of course it always touched on all three but in the first phase we made better movement the priority.  Once our movement improved we were then prepared to lift heavy things safely so we focused on strength.  The final stage was to use our improved movement and new found strength to reach new intensity heights for our metabolic conditioning.  When all was said and done, we improved our placement by 50 spots…25%.  Realistically there were more teams this year so it was a bigger improvement than that.  So that begs the question – what can we take away this year?

  1. We have one heck of a community!  I’m at a loss for words for describing the power of our community.  The way that everyone came together and supported each other was simply amazing.  Chris, Sharon, myself, and the coaching staff can certainly set the direction for what our community is about but whether or not it goes there is up to you.  You should give yourself a huge pat on the back for where we are now!
  2. We know how to move but need to enable our bodies to move better.  We have drilled the fundamentals over and over and all of you have taken those to heart.  Now we are simply limited by our physical ability to get in the proper positions – i.e. MOBILITY.  We were clearly weak when it came to overhead squats.  I intentionally avoided those for a long time because we were still perfecting the basic squat and most of us lacked mobility to do so safely.  Now our squat form has evolved so we must also push the importance of mobility.  As soon as we can get ourselves in better and safer positions, our fitness will increase exponentially!
  3. Our strength is better but still a gap.  We are so much stronger than last year!  That said, it’s still something we need to evolve and it simply takes a while.  Increasing our strength will allow more of us to get muscle ups, chest to bars, link toes to bar, and lift mid weights much quicker.  
  4. To take the next step we must now master the details. Many of us have really developed our skilled movements but are missing that final polish.  For example, many can do a few toes to bar but lack the final polish to link 10 or more together.  As soon as we can develop these last details, our work capacity will increase immensely.
  5. Our work capacity and mental toughness is a strength.  The last WOD was a huge test of mental toughness and work capacity.  It happened to be our highest finish (100).  We’ve done a lot of work on this over the past year so feel good about where you stand!

Regardless if your goal is to be the best competitive CrossFitter you can be or simply improve your fitness, your needs vary only by degree and not kind.  All of us need to work on our mobility, strength, and details of movement – the difference is those that want to compete need to be able to move better, lift heavier, and move longer than the rest.  So with that in mind those three priorities will be our main focus in the coming year.

How do you interpret your individual results?

Interpreting your results can easily turn into a case of “analysis paralysis”, so keep it general and simple.  For those of you that completed the open last year, take a look at the year before.  Keep in mind several thousand more people competed this year.  If your ranking went up – awesome!  If it didn’t, figure out if it was just one WOD or multiple that cause the decline.  From there, do the analysis that the first timers will use.

If this was your first time doing the open – you rock!  Way to have the courage to participate and establish a baseline for next year.  Sure your overall standings are interesting but it’s more telling to dig into your relative performance on each WOD.  

  • WOD 14.1 was all about testing consistency of double unders and ability to rep a complex movement (the snatch) efficiently.  If you didn’t go unbroken on nearly all double under sets, you need to work on double unders.  If the snatches broke down early, there are inefficiencies in form and/or strength gaps.  
  • 14.2 tested mobility, strength, and ability to do high skill work under duress.  If overhead squats were an issue it was either a mobility issue and/or a strength problem.  If C2Bs didn’t happen at all then we need to work your pull strength.  If you have C2Bs but can’t link them or they broke down, then you need to work your efficiency under duress.  For some of you that may mean figuring out how to do butterfly, for others you simply need to work high rep after pre-exhausting yourself.
  • 14.3 focused on strength and endurance of posterior chain along with efficiency of box jumps.  We already do a ton of posterior chain work, so work on your strength and call it a day.  If box jumps were slow, develop your rebounding technique.
  • 14.4 was straight up skilled work capacity.  No one movement or rep range here should be terribly taxing, but combining all of them took a toll on even the best athletes.  If you got stuck on a movement because you struggle linking reps together (T2B, wall balls, cleans, etc) then ask yourself why it was tough.  It will either be strength, efficiency, or work capacity.  If things fell apart that usually link – you have yourself a work capacity issue.
  • Last but not least, 14.5 was a low skill test of conditioning and mental fortitude.  There was a lot to be learned about pacing and your mental strength.  If you tired early because you went out hot, you have a pacing issue.  If you just plane old got tired, let’s work the conditioning.  If you slowed down because it hurt a little – start pushing yourself more in daily WODs to work on that mental piece.

Setting Goals

In order for us to each push our fitness to the next level, it’s imperative that we have goals for ourselves.  Based on your introspection, identify 3 things for yourself to work on in the coming year.  Then break them down into smaller goals and identify what you need to do to reach them.  We will talk more about this in the coming weeks but be thinking!

Once again, we are proud of all of you!  Let the training begin!!



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