Preparing for the CrossFit Open

crossfit open preparation

Since its inception in 2007, the Open has marked the beginning of the CrossFit season which leads to its finale, the celebration of the CrossFit Games.

Every Friday for three weeks, CrossFit HQ announces a WOD to be completed by any practicing CrossFit athlete who signs up, wishing to participate.

Scores are submitted online, and the leaderboard is updated allowing athletes to see how they stack up globally, or by basis of their age, region, gender, or box.

For many boxes and their athletes, the Open is the biggest event of the year: A culmination of a years’ worth of grinding out workouts, following through with progressions, and fine-tuning their abilities.

So, who’s ready to prove their fitness?

how to prepare for the crossfit open

A Brief History Lesson

In the beginning, the Open consisted of a weekly announcement over 5 weeks.

There weren’t any categories like Rx, scaled, adaptive, teens, or masters.

The announced WOD was the WOD and if it contained an exercise that you didn’t have yet, you probably spent the better part of the week frantically practicing it so that you would be able to put up a score.

It was a simpler time, but now things are considerably different.

You can read up a bit more about the current open format here.

Now, the open workouts are adapted for athletes of different age groups, with different needs or for those who train at home.

The open has never been more accessible which, aside from the fact that literally everyone in the CrossFit world is training for the same purpose, is reason enough to sign up.

Mental Checklist

Whether or not this is your first time at the rodeo, there are a few things that you should keep in mind during this very frenetic time:

Before anyone else, you’re competing against yourself.

For those of us that aren’t contenders for the next phase of competition, the open serves as a test of fitness but also as a measure of progress year to year.

Think of it as an annual checkup. 

History tends to repeat itself.

As previous years demonstrate, at least one of the open workouts is a repeat, if not a take on an old favorite.

Also be aware of reoccurring trends: for the most part, open workouts tend to be some form of couplet or triplet between 7 and 20 minutes consisting of exercises that are reasonably simple to judge and validate.

Do your homework and know your previous open workouts, so you'll be able to prepare for what's coming.

Fran is our Queen.

Even after so many years and so many open WODs, HQ still manages to catch us off guard.

While it can be fun trying to decipher the clues and speculating what movements will show up in the next announcement, one thing has managed to stay consistent after all this time, and her name is Fran.

In previous years, the last workout has always paid homage to what might be CrossFit’s best-known benchmark.

Even though Castro may throw us a curveball, you can pretty much count on a hellish combination of thrusters, pull ups, and maybe even burpees.

So how do you prepare to make sure to have your best Open experience? Here’s your timeline:

3 Months out

Create good habits

Habit-forming is something that can be useful for automatizing positive behaviors but takes time to get right.

Reserve a part of your daily or weekly routine for taking small but conscious actions that will contribute to seeing long term improvements in your training.

Cooling down properly after WODs, improving your shoulder mobility, or incorporating active recovery days are just a few examples.

Stay consistent with these habits and by the time the open rolls around, you’ll be glad you did.

Upgrade your programming

If you’re not 100% sold on your current training plan, this is your wake-up call.

Staring a new program is something that should be done in advance, being that you’ll need time to familiarize yourself with the exercises and the format.

Keep in mind that starting a new workout program isn’t going to turn you into Tia-Clair Toomey overnight.

In order to see major progress in your overall training, you’ll need a commitment longer than three months, however seeing that many online programs orient their training specifically to prepare their athletes for the open, joining around this time usually coincides with the start of a new training cycle.

Work on your Weaknesses

You’ve had all year, but now is the time to get serious!

Make sure that you're up to scratch on all of the movements that typically show up in open workouts.

If something's lacking, look up tutorials, progressions, and accessory pieces to include in your training.

Don't expect that you’re just going to get muscle ups, handstand walk, and double-unders if you attempt them enough times.

You have to put in the practice necessary to get you closer to mastery.

Maybe you still won’t get them by the time the first Open scores are due, but you’ll be a better athlete for trying.

6-8 Weeks out

Fine tuning

The big, progressive habits that we've had to adopt to see long-term changes are still in the works but if you haven’t seen the improvements you need, it’s time to double down.

In the open, the most important thing is putting up a good score which means that every second counts.

Your training focus should now be to improve your aerobic capacity and your ability to take shorter rests in your WODs.

This is also where you’ll want to be more aware of moving with more efficiency in your exercises and transitions.

Moderate sets of barbell cycling, wallballs, box jumps, and gymnastics should feel fluid and effortless…

OK, well at least manageable.

Just do it

Sign up. Make sure but you are officially registered on the Games website.

Don't be the guy that waits until the last minute and then forgets until after the deadline.

Besides, going through the act of signing up reinforces in your mind your commitment to the cause and holds you accountable to completing and submitting scores for all three workouts.

Get comfortable with being uncomfortable

If you want to know your limits of your intensity, you’ll have to test them and now is as good of a time as any.

Being able to go all out in your open workouts is a skill that needs practice.

It's not necessary to practice every day, but knowing where you can “recover” and where you have to push is a crucial management skill that will help you to strategize WODs, especially those with a shorter time domain.

So go on, take a tour of the pain cave (taking extra care to recover properly afterwards of course!). 

crossfit open prep

The week before and the week of

Live your best life

At this point, there's very little that can be done in the way of training that will heavily impact your performance on the open WODs.

Focus on getting enough sleep, eating enough high-quality foods, staying hydrated, and staying mobile.

These behaviors should be maintained throughout the Open and not just the day before you complete the workout.

Being that the Open is a measure of your fitness, you want to be at 100%.

Lift the Community

Competing as an athlete is only part of the fun.

You can support your community by brushing up on movement standards and acting as Judge.

Go the extra mile and make it official by signing up for the judging course. And don't forget that CrossFit is also a spectator sport.

Cheer for others, watch the live announcements, and creep the leaderboards to keep tabs on your favorite athletes.

The workouts can get really intense but remember to have fun, go hard, and play into all the hype.

Don't forget that for us crossfitters, it's the most wonderful time of the year.

The week after

Perhaps the most overlooked part of participating in the open is reflection.

If you want to grow, you have to learn from the past.

Think about what you accomplished, what didn't go your way, and what you can do to make sure next year turns out better.

It also helps to get different points of view from your coaches and other athletes about their own performances, or maybe even how they've seen your Open experience play out.

crossfit open training


The Open is a rite of passage for all CrossFit athletes.

It's the one time of year when the whole community can participate together in a series of WODs that test our boundaries, and unifies the population.

By planning in advance and putting the work in, you’ll be able to get the most out of the Open.

Have fun, prove your fitness, but also learn from your mistakes. And if not, there's always next year.