2017 CrossFit Open Review

So as is tradition, here’s my review of The 2017 Open.

The way I see it, Castro and Glassman spend way more time analysing the sport than we do. They keep an eye on all the analysis sites and understand what movements and combinations will expose weakness, test capabilities and ultimately lead to the fittest revealing themselves. There was a hoopla in 2014 when the handstand walk was in Regionals. Without this event, people cried, Sam Briggs would have made The Games. Yet someone did a review removing each one of the workouts and showing how it would have changed who qualified.

Each event matters. We’re no longer in a sport that a workout can be for the engine guy, or the gymnastics guy, or the strong guy (or girl, or whatever gender you identify as) If there is, they’re ill conceived.

The Open has gotta start with a fresh pair of kicks

The Open has gotta start with a fresh pair of kicks


Prep – Warm Up felt good, felt well mobilised.

Unsure how I would fare on the dumbbell snatches as it was the one move I didn’t practice or predict.

Mentally prepared for the suck and pushed into it early.

Slowed down on burpees, found it hard to regulate breathing and increase pace.

Potentially could have cycled snatches faster but kept them unbroken. No rest between swaps. The aim was to not stop. I felt stomach pain during the 40s and 50s as it felt I was constantly bent over.
This is a known issue of mine and I need to practice breathing while hunched over more. (Burpees, any set up from the floor, etc.)

My placing – 995th – 15:04 (Relatively best workout)

20th place – 11:47
200th place – 13:14


Another workout I was really happy with (until I saw my placing!) In the warm I noticed how heavy the dumbbells felt on the power cleans and lunges, so prepared for that accordingly.

I managed the 25 foot steps in 8 lunges all the way through, as planned, only put them down OR dropped them to hips at each section.

I lost split time by doing 7 power cleans, taking a break, then 1 power clean into my lunges. Really, all the dumbbell work should be done unbroken, which is what I’ll aim for in my August retest.

Toes to Bar in 4s and Bar Muscle Ups in sets of 3, with a set of 4 to finish each round. To improve I think 8s on TTB and 4s on BMU next time. I really felt that sickening feeling while tensing on BMU, showing that while out of breath I struggle with bracing and I haven’t developed BMU to the point of ease. It’s still a strength/endurance movement rather than an aerobic component. (That makes sense in my head.)

I need to be able to perform bodyweight movements under high respiratory duress. I noticed this too in 17.4 while although I’ve put work in my rowing and it felt remarkably better than 16.4, my subsequent handstands weren’t better. Alternate EMOMs of calorie row/bike/double unders/wall balls coupled with toes to bar/chest to bar/bar muscle ups are the plan to build on this.

Intervals are great, but I've got to able to do something after them!

Intervals are great, but I’ve got to able to do something after them!

My placing/score – 1541/131 reps (3rd best workout)

20th place – 199 reps
200th place – 175 reps


Health Colm would have loved this workout. Colm with only one shoulder, well, at least I’d gotten an extra few weeks worth of rest on it.

Brief back story. Colm did MMA when he was younger. Colm got thrown by a Judoka (that’s Judo Player) on his shoulder. Said Judo Player was 100Kg and the combined weight pretty much fucked up Colm’s shoulder joint! Colm had been experiencing shoulder pain and missed snatches for most of 2016, with limited success with physio (but no rest like a pig headed fuckbag). Nationals 2017 my shoulder finally gave up and has since been forced to rest. Colm will stop referring to himself in the third person now.

I do rock a gown though!

I do rock a gown though!

The Wednesday before this workout I’d tested out some 43Kg Overhead Squats and Butterfly Chest to Bars, with ouchie results.

Anyway Rocktope and Diclofenic and get on with it! This was still my favourite workout of The Open. Awesome rep scheme, cool challenge. Finally they’d stopped the nonsense of paused barely break parallel squats, what’s not to like?

I was far too slow on the 61Kg snatches which didn’t leave me enough time for the 83Kg (which I’d three misses as well!) but SERIOUS fun and a great test all the same. I was happy with my pull ups on this one, but they still remain below the curve in terms of my abilities.

The aim for a repeat is definitely to make some 102Kg lifts in this workout.

My place – 1590/94 reps. (2nd worse workout relatively)

20th place – 191 reps
200th place – 130 reps


Ah the mid season slump!

Mistakes were made on this one. I let my nutrition slip after 17.3 and it came home to roost. I didn’t have an extra gear to hit.

Disappointed Colm was disappointed.

Disappointed Colm was disappointed.

Breaking the deadlifts into smaller sets cost me. The cost of a set up and pulling from the floor rather than keeping touch and go. I also had my eye on the HSPU intead of staying present and embracing/enjoying the suck of the deadlifts/wall balls.

My row was both faster and more comfortable than last year.

HSPU I was overly cautious on the standards, and my no reps were all for being too vertical and not making contact with the wall, rather than not clearing the height. I practice bringing my feet back together at the top and should have hit bigger sets. The hand width rule didn’t bother me.

While I’ve worked on my rowing what I need to do, is row hard then do something. I enjoyed every Thursday hitting intervals on the concept 2 but going forward integrating rowing and barbell/gymnastics/anything will lead to future improvements.

My placing – 1828/198 reps (Worst finish relative.)

20th place – 272
200th place – 242


I predicted it!

I don’t know why there was shock to this, or desire to have some separator in the last workout. History tells us the last workout in The Open/Regionals usually comes down to how bad do you want it. Regionals are a slight exception, with rope climbs and heavy cleans potentially causing a stumbling block. But for those looking to progress, it’s down to pace and pain. Pace and pain, I like that expression, I’m going to use it more.

As I’d performed this workout (with 30 double unders) on the Monday, I had a test run. And what I know now is I can’t skip, count, and breathe comfortably. I also knew that a 20/15 split on DUs would help. Having a judge made the double unders about breathing deeper.

Thrusters were fine, I felt sick about 5 DU in and had a little word with myself about not giving in to this and stopping at 10, which I’m happy with. And then of course I’m a little sad. I look forward to it all year, and I’m going to miss not getting up at 1am tonight to watch the live announcement, and then Friday and Saturday going by in a blur.

My placing/rank – 1304/11:38 (2nd Best)

20th place – 7:49
200th place – 9:15

So interestingly the “low skill” or “grunt” workouts I performed the best at, and the HSPU and Snatch workouts I did the worst. I’m not entirely sure what to do with this information, as I tend to bias towards skill development and not just honest, get it done work. Has the decision to work on ALL of CrossFit rather than just high heart rate/keep moving workouts paid off? Or have I mentally separated workouts into “cardio” and “skill” in my head, and adjusted the pace accordingly? It’s something that will guide my training over the next few months, until the August retest of the 2017 Open.

So what are the takeaways from all this? If you’ve read this far, thank you and fair play.

This was my best Cheesecake during The Open, it's from Gourmet Food Parlour in Dun Laoghaire.

This was my best Cheesecake during The Open, it’s from Gourmet Food Parlour in Dun Laoghaire.

Everyone gets past The Open and says “I just need to get fitter and stronger.” For a start, why do we separate CrossFit into those two? There’s ten according to Glassman.

While listening to a Podcast with Jacked Gymnastics, he talked about one of his athletes (Games Level) and how he was working with her to improve her Bar Muscle Ups while out of breath. Mat Fraser worked with his old track and field coach on sprinting after the 2015 Games, and got coaching by Chad Wesley Smith on his deadlift after the 2016 Season. The higher you want to go, the more precise you need to be.

“I just need to get fitter and stronger” is akin to “I just want to tone up.” when we started. It’s pretty vague. So we need to be more specific in our approach and also what criteria are we going to test ourselves by.

– Say “yes” to difficulty and discomfort more. When my heart rate goes up remind myself that it’s where I want to be, not just something to avoid.

Essentially, blow up in workouts more, then deal with it. Heavy breathing does not mean I’m about to die, it just means my body needs to breathe more!

– Following on from the last point, fucking learn to breathe! I’ve become more and more aware of how often I hold my breath in workouts. Some things require that (heavy loads) but most don’t, or not to the point I’m currently doing.

– Lift and perform gymnastics under a seriously elevated heart rate/respiratory rate. Sure, my upper end numbers need to get better (especially on chest to bar pull ups) but I can’t just do these in isolation.

– Move faster. I like pacing. I think there’s great benefit to knowing how to pace correctly and avoid burnt out. I think I’ve let slip the other side of that equation and learn to just increase my cycle rate and decrease my rest/set up time.

– Continue to steal more. Stealing quite a lot from Ben Bergeron (Comp Train), Pat Sherwood (Linchpin), Christopher Sommer (Gymnastic Bodies) and others has definitely improved my game. So why not do more of this?

2018 Starts Now!

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