What to expect during The Open...


This is the week that The 2018 CrossFit Games season starts.

For anyone who’s missed what we’ve been posting about this then start your reading here, then use this post to answer any questions you might have, and finally this post will remove your potential excuses that prevent you from competing.

For 47 weeks of the year we subscribe to the notion that constant variance allows for increased fitness levels across a longer period of time, and so mix and match the focus of each day in the week within a larger framework.

For the next 5 weeks, there’ll be a bit more of a structure in terms of which day will focus on what to allow for people to fully demonstrate the capacity that they’ve spent all year developing during Friday Night Lights.


So, what to expect:

Monday - regular CrossFit programming with a blend of intensity and volume with pairs and team workouts featuring as usual.

Tuesday - regular CrossFit programming with a focus on the intensity end of the I/V spectrum.

Wednesday - a chance to take the principles from our popular Balance, Strength and Structure classes and apply them to all the CrossFit classes on the day.  Expect chances to work on positional strength, focus on movement quality and develop new skills without seeing the lactic fairy and ending up flat on your back.

Thursday - we will be working on maximising your cardiac output by moving around but without a lot of eccentric loading to give you chance to keep working on our base fitness level but not feel beaten up going into Friday.

Friday - whatever Dave Castro throws at us!

Saturday - a similar format to Monday with pairs and team workouts that blend intensity and volume but don’t overly tax similar movements or muscles that Friday uses. 


Strength In Depth 2017

In May, we made a decision to try to send a team to Strength in Depth 2017. Strength in Depth is probably the largest Functional Fitness Competition in the UK. Backed by Reebok, teams of 12 face three qualifiers to get to the finals in Bath in November. Each qualifier takes a slightly different format, but 12 members from SCCF kept an eye on the leaderboard through the summer as they worked through three qualifying workouts. The group qualified in 49th of a 60 available spots.

Fast forward to November and on a chilly Saturday morning the SCCF crew arrived at the University of Bath with an agenda. The team knew they were capable of more than 49th, they also knew they had done the work to be able to deliver the required performance, what they didn’t know was the level of competition they were facing.

Event one: Max clean and jerk total plus 5k Row for time. In advance of the competition the team had spent some time running through the events, discussing the best way to take down each event. Event one was the first opportunity for that homework to pay off. Big shifts on the rower from Marcus Davis and Sam O’Connor helped pull the team to 33rd on the row, at the same time Charlee Leachman and Gareth George put up 85kg and 135kg respectively for the heaviest lifts in the first heat. It became apparent that the team were not planning to be in the first heat on day two.


Nerves out the way, and with a pit stop of food and coffee the team began their warm up for event two: 3 laps of a 1.3km course with a 20kg Sandbag, after each lap the team left four athletes at the finish pen leaving just four out on the final 1.3km lap. Ultimately the team knew running was not going to give them the best result, but as in workout 1, some serious strategy work in advance set the team up well. Sam Leachman took charge on the event and worked well with Sian Peters to lift the team across three laps to finish 44th.


Workouts 3 and 4 saw the team split into two teams of 6. Lianne Griffiths showed some prowess in the pool, leading the team to a 29th place finish. The workout consisting of swimming, air squats and climbing in and out of the pool. For a full breakdown on how hard that can be just catch up with Sam L or Rickie Lovell when you next see them in the gym; ask them how Sam OC got on with jumping into a pool.


Simultaneously Gareth Wayt was making friends with the Assault Bike, working in pairs the remainder of team SCCF Red worked through Dumbbell Cleans and Down ups before smashing through 60 calories on the assault bike. The team managed to win the heat and claim 21st on the workout.


Day one ended with heavy, very heavy and ridiculously heavy thrusters, handstand walking and some rope climbs or muscle ups. Mike Holmes, walking more comfortably on his hands than most people do on their feet, taking over from Charlee’s 10 unbroken thrusters at 60kg, scampered up and down a rope and back to the start mat on his hands to take the heat and 21st in the workout to wrap up day one. A leaderboard check after eating virtually all the food available showed the team had pulled themselves out of heat one and into 30th position. They would be taking down day 2 from heat 3.



Arriving on day two, the team faced an unknown event, a 400m obstacle course featuring an 8ft high inverted wall. Fortunately for the team the military experience of Hannah Lewis as well as Sian, Marcus and Sam L more than made up for their distaste for running. Following the change of clothes required after the water obstacle the team notched up a 32nd place finish. Not the perfect start to day two, but by far from the perfect workout. They team went into the next workout with something to prove.


Workout 7: in sub teams of 3, 75 Wall balls, 50 Toes to bar, 200 Double Unders, 50 Overhead Squats. Some magic from Dre Wesley, who pulled out 130 double unders unbroken and Marcus with 75 Wall balls unbroken helped the team to 17th place.


The 17th place in workout 7 left the team on a big high and ready to go for event 8: The snatch ladder. Hannah Lewis moved a bar faster than anyone else that weekend, and the team pulled off their plan perfectly: moving through ever decreasing reps at increasingly heavier loads. Rickie putting in the same consistent performance he did across the weekend to set Mike and Gareth up for snatches at 100kg, the men took 5th place. The girls followed and another seamless team performance took 13th in the workout. The team won the heat and left the platform with nothing else to prove.


Second City CrossFit took a group of members to that competition with something to prove, that they were better than 49th. What they actually did was show that a group of people, working hard for each other and believing in one another is worth more than the sum of its parts. There were no super star athletes on this team- but there was a team, and that is worth more than any individual contribution over the weekend.


SCCF Red: 21st. Strength in Depth 2017.

Observations on The CrossFit Games Open 2015


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!