April 12, 2017
Open Workout 17.6
By Mike Warkentin
How to be fitter in 2018.
How to be fitter in 2018.

Sorry—Dave Castro won’t be offering any cryptic hints about Workout 17.6.

But you should know it’s already started.

As of right now, you have about 11 months to eliminate your weaknesses, and the days are already trickling away.

A year seems like a long time, but it really isn’t. Before you know it, suntans will fade, the holidays will pass and January will be upon us, with the 2018 Open looming large.

Some of us will be ready for the challenge, but others will squander the next months cherry-picking workouts, avoiding their weaknesses and generally leaving the wrench in the toolbox, only to panic when Castro makes his next Open announcement.

If you want to improve on this year’s scores and increase your overall fitness, put on your work gloves today. Not in 2018.

Here’s the plan:

Step 1: Lose the Ego and Be Patient

Fitness owes you nothing right now. If you fell short of goals in 2017, you do not “deserve” to compete at the Games, make it to Regionals, hold a spot on Page 1 of the Leaderboard or finish even 1 rep ahead of your arch-frenemy at the box. You already have everything you’ve earned, so now it’s time to invest—and investing requires patience.

Starting now, you can get a little better every day, and 300 days on that path will lead you to improved results in the 2018 Open no matter what level you’re currently at.

To improve every day, you’ll likely need to weather some frustrating workouts, take a few steps back to jump forward, and rid yourself of some pigheaded old habits. So do it. Take a deep breath, stow your bullshit, chalk your hands and move on to Step 2.

Step 2: Connect With Your Coach

Make an appointment to talk with your CrossFit coach about your goals. He or she is an expert who is invested in your health, wellness and overall fitness. You are about to climb Mount Thruster, and your coach is your Sherpa. He or she will help you make a realistic plan for improving your fitness.

Step 3: Go to Classes and Work on Weaknesses

Make a note of any movements you avoid because you don’t like them or can’t do them. Now commit to attending classes in which these movements show up. If you hate running, you need to run. If you’d rather lift, show up on pull-up day. You get the idea. Your cherry-picking days are over. Castro and life do not care what you don’t like.

For example, if you have a deadlift PR of 450 lb. but struggled to get through 55 deadlifts at 225, you need to be lacing up your Nanos on conditioning day. If you’re good at chest-to-bar pull-ups but found yourself on the wrong side of the 8-minute cut-off in 17.3, you likely need show up when it’s time to move light or medium-heavy barbells quickly.

For movements you can’t do—usually handstand push-ups, ring and bar muscle-ups and double-unders—book a few one-on-one sessions with a coach who will provide you with drills and progressions. Then practice these progressions regularly at appropriate times. That means you need to stick to your coach’s plan—don’t be the driven but misguided person who ignores all advice and tears his or her hands attempting wild bar muscle-ups at the end of every single class.

It should be said again: Stick to the plan.

Step 4: Eat Better

This is not optional. If you want to get fitter, you need to eat nutritious food. You can put a very fine point on the pencil if you desire, but here’s the crayon version: Eat more vegetables and less sugar, and stop drinking so much.

If you really want to improve, dial in your diet with precision. Weigh and measure. Do a lot of research. Experiment, log your results and use the data to make adjustments. The CrossFit Journal has lots of resources in its Nutrition section. Start there, then expand your search and consult with a coach who can help you with your diet.

Step 5: Go Further

Castro might keep his cards close to his vest when it comes to programming, but it’s obvious the Sport of Fitness is evolving as athletes become fitter and demand new challenges.

Handstand push-ups first showed up at the Games, then at Regionals, then in the Open. Now Regionals and the Games feature strict and deficit handstand push-ups. Seek and ye shall find, Robert Langdon.

If you’re solid on all movements generally seen in the Open, avoid complacency. Try thrusters with 105 or 75 lb., practice triple-unders, work on handstand walks. Maybe hit that pegboard. Or—gunshot in the air!—pull those dumbbells off the rack from time to time. Plan ahead so you aren’t left behind.

Step 6: Don’t Be Weird

You’ll note that all five steps above are essentially common sense. They involve working with a fantastic coach at a great gym and training regularly in the company of friends who will support and push you. If you also eat meat and vegetables, nuts and seeds, some fruit, little starch and no sugar, you’re going to do just fine in 2018. Guaranteed.

Not being weird also involves a dose of realism. Most of us will never compete at Regionals or the Games—but we can become fitter and healthier and happier each year. Accept that. In fact, celebrate it.

Being realistic means you don’t need to do extra workouts in the corner by yourself, you don’t need “elite” special programming, and you don’t need strange supplements and foolish accessories. You also don’t need double days or an Instagram obsession with the workouts Games athletes are doing. You don’t have to sleep in compression gear or haul around a bag full of stupid “mobility” tools.

In fact, write this down somewhere prominent lest you be tempted to get weird in the next months:

Eat well, train regularly, listen to your coach, smile often and kick ass in 2018.