The CrossFit Open, Explained.

February 16, 2016

Avery Wittkamp, Head Coach at CrossFit NYC

Avery Wittkamp, the head coach at CrossFit NYC, addresses your questions about joining the Open. 

While we hit benchmark workouts at our affiliates throughout the year (1-rep-max back squat, 1-rep-max snatch, Fran, Cindy), the CrossFit Games Open is the time to see how we perform compared to other CrossFitters around the world.

What is the CrossFit Open?

The Open is comprised of five workouts over five weeks, and it starts with 16.1. Open workouts are identified by their year and the order in which they appear. The workouts will be released every Thursday during the five weeks of the Open, and you can watch the live announcement of the workout that will be streamed on the CrossFit Games website.

The announcement will take place at a different location each week, and two athletes (or more) will perform the workout live. After the workout is released, any athlete who has registered for the Open will have until 5 p.m. PT on the following Monday to submit their best score online.

What is the purpose of the CrossFit Open?

The Open is the first qualifying stage of the CrossFit Games. Any athlete who wants to compete at the Games must first make it through the Open in their region.

While the purpose of the Open is to find the fittest athletes in each region to move on to the regionals, it’s also an opportunity for any athlete at any level to participate in the competition. It can add meaning and purpose to your training while also bringing your gym’s community closer together. (As a rule of thumb, the Open is the time of year where we see many people achieve important firsts: bodyweight snatch, muscle-ups, toes-to-bars, handstand push-ups, double-unders, etc.)

Most importantly, the Open will also give you some interesting data on your performance in the gym, which can be a guide for setting realistic goals for the following year.

That sounds great, but why sign up? I’m not going to the Games…

Only a very small percentage of athletes will make it to regionals, let alone the Games. While I can understand the sentiment of “Why bother?” I really encourage you to think about participating because you will be part of a very big international event that represents your affiliate. Every affiliate in the world can take part in the Open, which is amazing, and we don’t want you all to miss out on the fun!

Affiliate owners can use their members’ performance data to determine how and why the programming should change for the coming year. For instance, if the majority of the gym can’t do chest-to-bar pull-ups relative to every other gym in the region, then the trainers can work on bringing up that skill in the gym’s population.

It’s much easier to stay motivated during the Open (and with CrossFit) if you are actually committed to tracking your progress.

Yeah, but I don’t know. I’ve done CrossFit for a few years already. What’s the point?

If you’ve been doing CrossFit for a year or more, all it takes is a little competition to really bring out the best in you. It’s easy to lose intensity in your workouts if you are never pushed past what you think you can do.

It can also be a harsh reality check if you’ve been coasting in class this past year or not really sticking to standards for the sake of speed. All those times you wrote Rx’d next to your name on the whiteboard, maybe it wasn’t the case. Perhaps your takeaway will be that you need to count your reps properly, work towards virtuosity in your movements, or at the very least, achieve full range of motion on your reps!

If you have been interested in doing a local competition, then participating in the Open is absolutely your best opportunity to get a taste of what it’s like to be judged and compete in a CrossFit event. While you may not make it to regionals, the excitement of doing the same workout as Games athletes is a really fun element to add to your weekly fitness routine. (I also dare you to not get addicted to Leaderboarding with fellow gym members.)

Finally, consider that the Open is simply a snapshot of your fitness at one point in time. Maybe you are rehabbing an injury, just coming back to the gym after a layoff. The easiest thing is to make an excuse and not participate. The Open can be the catalyst to get you back on track at the gym.

What about me? I’ve only been doing CrossFit for two weeks!

Even if you are a complete beginner (yes, those of you who finished Elements last month), you can participate in the Open. Every Open workout will feature a scaled workout option which at CrossFit NYC will be the Beginner WOD on Friday and Saturday.

Think of this Open as an opportunity to set a performance baseline for CrossFit. I promise you that you will be amazed at your progress if you continue with your CrossFit training and retest the following year.

Data = Training Progress

What’s most useful about participating in the Open is having a complete record of your past performances. From your first Elements class to blog reminders about posting your WOD scores and times, writing down your training results is a huge (if not the biggest) component for seeing consistent progress in the gym.

Besides providing a nice reality check about your overall skill and fitness level, you’ll find that reviewing all the past data is beneficial for goal setting.

For instance, if I want to become better at CrossFit, there are some basic takeaways from my past Open results. Using my own data, I can note my strengths (i.e., 15.5, the thrusters and rowing workout) and my weaknesses (i.e., pull-ups – any year, any workout). I’m still waiting for the 30-minute kettlebell snatch AMRAP – fingers crossed for 2016!

OK, I’m convinced! How do I register?

On the CrossFit Games website, you will see a big red register button. Click it, and you’ll be directed to a login page where you will be prompted to enter your existing CrossFit ID. If you don’t have one, you’ll need to create an account.

You’ll then be prompted to select your division, which is going to be either “Male” or “Female,” your location, and agree to the competition rules and waiver.  

You’ll also be asked to pay a $20 registration fee. This fee goes towards running the competition, and your Open scores will be stored under your profile for years to come.

To complete your registration, make sure you join your affiliate and then also select your affiliate’s team. You must select your team prior to the conclusion of 16.1 on Monday, February 29 at 5 p.m. PT. No changes will be made to team rosters after that date. No exceptions.

There are seven age brackets: two for Teenagers (14-15, 16-17), and five for Masters (40-44, 45-49, 50-54, 55-59, 60+). If you're born within the cut-off dates, you'll be automatically entered into your age bracket.

Masters athletes, in order to advance to the next qualifying stage of the Games—the Masters Qualifier—you'll need to finish among the top 200 people worldwide in your age bracket. If you can finish in the top 20 at the end of the online Masters Qualifier, you'll be invited to the CrossFit Games. 

Teenagers, you'll have a direct shot from the Open to the Games; the top 10 in each age bracket will qualify. Since teenagers complete different Open workouts than adults, any teenage athlete who wants to compete with adults as an Individual competitor or Team competitor must email to change their division before the close of 16.1.

Lastly, don’t worry about signing up for Rx’d or Scaled workouts. Everyone competing in the Open has the option of performing a scaled version of the workout in any given week. If you are a complete beginner, this is great news! It ensures that the experience will be even more inclusive.

Got more questions?

Read the Rulebook.