Observations on The CrossFit Games Open 2015

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Here follows a list of lessons that we have learned during The Open this year.  These aren't the only things that we've learned, and we can add to this list as time goes by.

But, for the time being let's get started with what The Open has taught us...

  1. 15.1a was a max effort clean and jerk performed immediately after a 9 minute AMRAP of toes to bar, deadlifts and power snatches.  In theory, no-one should've gone close to their PB let alone set a PB after 9 minutes of high intensity work.  In reality we had over 20 people set PBs on their clean and jerk immediately after going hell for leather for 9 minutes.  Physiology suggests that people should've been tired and lacked the central nervous system and muscular freshness to put up big weights, but the science lab of the gym floor proved otherwise.  Again.  SCCF also had their highest placing on 15.1a - showing again that as a gym perhaps we have better strength levels than endurance levels (more on that later....)
  2. 15.2 threw down the gauntlet for people who competed in 2014 to prove that they had improved in 12 months of training, and provided a challenge for all those working towards their first chest to bar pull up or overhead squat.  Without the fire of competition I expect that we'd still roughly know who could do the movements and who was working towards them.  15.2 pushed people on and now we have a whole raft of people who have written "1 C2B pull up" on the PB board.  For those who tested last year and repeated this year, the validation of the program is obvious.  Special shout outs to Sam Leachman who improved by 52 reps, and to everyone who went beyond what they thought possible.
  3. When 15.3 was released my initial reaction was of disappointment for all the people who in 2014 had to earn their way to get onto the muscle ups in 14.4 but who had now to face muscle ups as soon as the 3,2,1 GO happened.  This was without considering the fire that was lit under people to spend 4 days solidly aiming for their first muscle up.  At SCCF we got 6 first time members of the Muscle Up Club out of 15.3 and a bigger group who were so desperately close that with a few more weeks of dedicated practice will undoubtedly be ringing the PB bell and showing everyone they know the video of their first muscle up!
  4. 15.4 continued the theme of pushing the boundaries of the pool of movements that has been tested in Open history with the addition of handstand press ups.  Not only did the new movement show up and challenge people to produce force whilst inverted, the standard of having your heels cross a designated personalised line came with it.  The standard looked tough - Josh Bridges struggled during the announcement show.  But deeper analysis showed that whilst it removed the advantage long held by short people during HSPU of sending their arms out super wide so their range of motion came right down, it didn't make it impossible and in fact promoted more virtuousity in the handstand than ever before.  A level playing field was created, and as long as you'd spent time working on your handstand position then it wasn't impossible to hit and provided a metric for performance (much like standing up on top of a box jump instead of bouncing off the top and showing hip extension in the air!).  As well as all that the line on the wall has increased the day to day training aims of everyone in gyms around the world - Castro followed up 15.3's muscle up madness with another gymnastic masterstroke!
  5. There were grumblings heard around social media about there not being a test of straight up engine / work capacity / ability to suffer during the Open.  All those people were shut up when 15.5 was announced and people were tasked with a naughty couplet of thrusters and rowing.  Oh, and the addition of the round of 27 to our beloved 21-15-9 structure.  Who knew how much worse those extra 6 reps in the first set could make the whole thing?!  Sam Briggs, in customary fashion, slayed the announcement show and then turned it over to us to follow in her footsteps.  The Sunday after the 15.5 announcement was the quietest Open Gym session at SCCF for many months - usually people come to catch up a missed workout or do the #WoW (Workout of the Week), but since 15.5 was the WoW then the place was a ghost town.  The ramifications of that will be felt for many months as more 'engine' based WODs will find their way into day to day programming to stop people cherry picking to avoid a workout they anticipate is going to put them in the hurt locker.

So, if there are any take home points from this that you need to keep with you over the next year before The CrossFit Games Open 2016, they are these - trust the program will deliver results if you stick with it, attack your weaknesses until they are no longer weaknesses, use your time to work towards skills that you would like to learn sensibly and over a long period of time and be prepared to go into the hurt locker / pain cave every now and then!

See you in the gym!