“What Is the CrossFit Open, and Why Should I Sign Up?”

January 9, 2024

Nicole Christensen, CF-L4, Owner of CrossFit Roots

Independent of fitness level, the Open brings us together to pursue something that would not hold the same meaning or possibilities if we were just working out on our own. 

Whether you consider yourself a CrossFit newbie, competitor, enthusiast, fan, or community supporter, the CrossFit Open is for you

That’s because the Open takes on a special and unique meaning for each person who signs up. For some, the Open brings to life the why behind our daily commitment to CrossFit. Many of us came to CrossFit because we wanted more for our health and fitness, and the Open provides us with a way to stay accountable to this effort. For others, it’s a way to connect and celebrate with other CrossFit athletes within their affiliate and in other cities around the world.

While the workouts get a good effort out of everyone, for many, the motivation to participate comes from the camaraderie and support that wafts through affiliates and the worldwide community during this time of year. The shared suffering reminds us we are part of something much bigger than our individual efforts: We are part of a community that believes in the truth that CrossFit makes us — and the world — better. 

2021 CrossFit Open

For some, the Open serves as an outlet to pursue various competitive aspirations. Whether you found your athletic calling because of CrossFit or yearn for the days before you hung up your uniform, the Open fills a competitive void for many. And for a small few within the CrossFit community, the CrossFit Open serves as the first stage of qualification for the CrossFit Games, the highest level of competition in the Sport of Fitness (we’re talking .10% of Open participants or 1/10th of a percent). 

Perhaps that’s the beauty of the Open — independent of fitness level, the Open brings us together to pursue something that would not hold the same meaning or possibilities if we were just working out on our own. 

And one thing is certain: The Open is something you don’t want to miss. Don’t believe us? Let us walk you through the ins and outs of this three-week competition while addressing some common questions so you can decide for yourself. Let’s go!

2021 Open

What Is the CrossFit Open?

The Open debuted in 2011, and at the time, the concept of holding an online worldwide competition was, well, insane. The idea: Athletes from around the world would each complete the workouts from the comfort of their own city or town and submit their scores on the CrossFit Games website. The Open would bring to life the concept of the Hopper model for testing one's fitness — and it worked. Each year, the Open has gained more and more traction around the world as the CrossFit community has grown. What’s more is that the Open has been a way to track the collective progress of the community. From first pull-ups and muscle-ups to an increase in max loadings, the Open has shown that the community is getting fitter together. 

The design of the Open and its place within the CrossFit Games season was very intentional. The ultimate purpose of the CrossFit Games is to find and crown the Fittest on Earth. To do that, the Open casts a wide net and attracts a large number of people from around the world to participate on a level playing field at the start of competition.

Structurally, the Open is a series of workouts spaced across three weeks. Individuals can do the workouts from anywhere: their affiliates, at home, in a park, or even on a beach — although you might find yourself eating sand if the workouts call for burpees!

2021 CrossFit Open At-Home Option

The Open follows the same cadence each week. The workout is released on the CrossFit Games website on Thursdays at 12 p.m. (noon) Pacific Time, and you have until Monday at 5 p.m. PT to do the workout and submit your score online. At the end of each week, you can see where you stack up against the world, in your age group, and within your division by viewing the worldwide CrossFit Games Leaderboard

Here are some of the divisions you will be placed in based on age and gender:

  • Individual - All athletes aged 18-34 will be placed in the individual division. 

  • Age Groups - There are nine age group divisions for teenage athletes aged 14-17 as well as masters athletes ages 35+.

Once you are placed in a division, you will have the opportunity to choose a variation of the workout based on your fitness level:

  • RX'd - Do the workouts as written. This is the most challenging option, yet many individuals have moved from scaled to Rx’d as they progress from year to year.

  • Scaled - Not quite ready to tackle the workouts as written? No problem. The scaled division offers classic scaling options for many of CrossFit’s common gymnastics movements and includes lighter loading.  

  • Foundations - Just started CrossFit or maybe this is your first Open? The foundations workouts are a great place to start. 

Adaptive Divisions:

The adaptive divisions offer equally challenging workouts modified for athletes with a significant, permanent impairment. These divisions have been expanded to include 15 divisions. The Adaptive Open will be run by WheelWOD. Learn more

There will be a scaled version of the Adaptive Open workouts. 


2021 Open

Who Is the CrossFit Open For?

The Open is for everyone, and it serves athletes in a variety of ways. For most, the CrossFit Games season is complete after three weeks of the Open and is a standalone yearly endeavor. For others, the Open serves as the first qualifying round for additional competition.

Here is how the Open feeds into later stages of the CrossFit Games season: 

  1. The Open - Hundreds of thousands of people compete in the Open every year! Anyone can and everyone should participate! 

  2. Quarterfinals - If you finish in the top of your division, you make it to the Quarterfinals! The Quarterfinals are also held as a worldwide virtual competition you can complete from your home or affiliate. 

  3. Semifinals - The top teams and individuals from the Quarterfinals go on to compete in person in Semifinal events around the globe. Age group and adaptive athletes compete in an online Semifinal.

  4. CrossFit Games - The top finishers from the Semifinals move on to compete at the CrossFit Games where the Fittest on Earth are crowned.

2021 NOBULL CrossFit Games

Why Should I Do This If I’m Not Going to the Games?

First pull-ups, cheering, memories — that’s all well and good, but still: “I’m not a competitive athlete,” you might say, “so why would I do this?”

We hear you, and we’re here to tell you that we hear that a lot. But that’s like not signing up for a marathon because you won’t finish in the top five or qualify for the Olympics. There are many benefits to completing the event independent of where you finish. 

If you’re not in it to win it, the Open is a way to check in on your fitness, hold you accountable to moving forward and staying motivated for the upcoming year, accomplish personal goals, and celebrate with the community. 

2021 CrossFit Open

Can I Really Do This?

We’ve run the CrossFit Open at my affiliate, CrossFit Roots, every year since its inception, and I hear that question a lot. Mostly it’s because athletes don’t give themselves enough credit, or they don’t truly understand what the Open is all about. Here’s what we tell our athletes:  

“I’m not fit enough” or “I’m not as fit as I was last year.” 

You don’t have to be at a particular fitness level to participate in the Open. All you need is a willingness to try, and the excitement and camaraderie of the Open will take care of the rest. Ever heard the phrase, “The best way to start is to start”? Rather than waiting to be “fit enough,” jump in and start, as the experience will catapult your efforts for the next year. Each year we see thousands of people, motivated by their experience in the Open, increase their weekly attendance at their gym, commit to a pull-up program, or work to get their first muscle-up. As a result, they get fitter, and by the time the next year’s Open rolls around, they can do even more. But it all starts with that first Open experience. It’s impossible to benefit from that catalyst if you’re standing on the sidelines. 

And, if you’re concerned that you’re not as fit as you were the previous year, don’t be! The Open is a great gut check to help drive you to change that — or in some cases, shows us that you are in fact just as fit, if not fitter, than you were the year before. 

“What are the workouts like? I just don’t think the Open is for me.”

The workouts programmed during the Open are no different than those you perform at your affiliate each day. Attending class, practicing the movements of CrossFit, and working to move well each day mean you’re well-equipped and ready to take on the Open!

2021 CrossFit Open

“I don’t want everyone to see my scores.”

Sharing our scores is part of the CrossFit culture and why we write them on the whiteboard each day in class. It provides us with an additional layer of accountability and shared commitment to the Workout of the Day. And yeah — it helps make sure that cheating, rep shaving, and false score reporting are rooted out of our community. The Open is just another expression of this. It helps us to be accountable not only to ourselves but to our community. 

“Why pay the registration fee?”

There are many people who like to play the game from the sidelines, but that’s just not our style here at CrossFit. Not signing up for the Open is like having an abort button on hand in case things get uncomfortable — and believe us, they will get uncomfortable. Or like running a 5K alongside an organized race, but never paying the registration fee. Paying to play creates an additional layer of commitment.

Plus, officially signing up for the competition gives you a goal! No matter how much we love training, the daily grind of it can get monotonous and feel aimless if we don’t have a goal. Fully committing to the Open gives you something concrete to train for and a tremendous sense of satisfaction when you’re done.

If you want to play, if you’re a fan of the sport, if you want to support the worldwide CrossFit community — then ante up and let’s go!

“OK, how do I sign up?” 

Registration for the 2024 Open is now closed.


Sign up to receive email alerts — including Open registration information — about the CrossFit Games season by choosing "CrossFit Games" here, and bookmark the CrossFit Games Open overview page and check back often for the latest announcements.

We’re looking forward to celebrating your achievements with you this year in the Open. See you on the leaderboard!