2014 Open Review

First, congratulations to all of our clients who competed in this year’s CrossFit® Open online competition. Second, congratulations to all of our clients who succeeded in making it through to their individual regional competitions. This is no longer a small achievement. Making it to Regionals now requires year round dedicated training to make it into the top 48. 

Our clients that are going to Regionals:

Canada West
Mitch Barnard
Curt Manning
Michael FitzGerald
DJ Wickham
Chris Vienneau 
David Mullback
Thad Palin
David Mullback
Jolaine Undershute
Sherri Clark
Jessica Tillapaugh
Alexandra Chretien

Central East
Brittany Kopp

Mid Atlantic
Ben Sturgill
Kate Miller

South Central
Randi Whitley

Anthony Haynes

North East
Dan Goldberg
Ryan Hughes

Chelsea Ryan

(I believe this picture of DJ and I was taken during the 2011 Open)

The following is the opinion of Michael FitzGerald. Feel free to leave a comment.
Open 14.1
10 min AMRAP:
30 double unders
15 ground to overhead @ 75lb/55lb
Energy System Tested - aerobic power
Performance Determining Characteristics - local muscular endurance (person specific), speed of repetitions, efficiency of movement and pacing
- I like this event from the standpoint of testing pure work capacity. Both movements SHOULD be solely limited by your willingness to suffer. If that is not the case for you, and technique or load were the limiter, then your score was likely not in the top 100 in your respective region. In order to be a top level performer on this event, I believe those were the requisite limiters. 
- I like the use of these 2 movements for this type of test. It requires that you possess some semblance of skill and movement efficiency in order to display your work capacity (low skill like - AirDyne, Burpees, etc.). Lower skill movements absolutely have their place in fitness testing, but I don't believe they should be the sole determining factor in the Open workouts as you are trying to select the top competitors from each respective category or region in order to move on and compete in the next level of competition (i.e. Regionals or the Masters Top 200 Games Qualifier).
- Open 14.1 was similar to Open 12.1 (7 min of Burpees to 6" OH) and 13.2 (Shoulder to Overhead, Deadlift, Box Jump) in that the ability to sustain speed of repetitions was the main determining factor. What mainly determines this is listed in the characteristics above plus aerobic capacity. 
- This event was yet ANOTHER reason for people to learn that in order to make it through the Open and to the Regionals you require more than simply being strong with the barbell movements. You MUST be able to effectively distribute and clear blood from the active muscle fibers engaged in the activity, no matter the modality and time frame imposed. Without this basic competency, your pursuit of Regionals is futile. This obviously is not the case if the loading in this event was actually a limiting factor for you, then strength accumulation is primary in order for you to improve. 
- The down side of this event is that in order to have a good Individual Men or Women score to keep you in the mix for Regionals (i.e. around 8 rounds of 14.1 or 360 reps) it required you to perform around 120 ground to overhead at your prescribed load. This is where the longevity of the competitor in the sport, as it stands right now, comes into question. Sure, there are likely hundreds of competitors that can do this type of stuff multiple times per week, for months or years on end. With out question, there is a larger number that likely will not be able to do this. I make this assumption based on the clientele I have worked with over the past 6 years (well over 500 different clients). My main question is why this number of repetitions from the same movement pattern is required to adequately test fitness? The online platform does present obvious challenges to fitness testing and likely more challenges than I am aware of as I have no experience doing it on the mass scale CrossFit® HQ is currently doing it with the Open competition.

Top Scores from our clients:
1 - Mitchell Barnard - 406
2 - Daniel Goldberg - 400
3 - Michael FitzGerald - 395
1 - Jolaine Undershute- 436 (40-44 Master's age group)
2 - Randi Whitley - 391
3 - Brittany Kopp - 390

Open 14.2
3 minutes to complete 2 rounds of 10 OHS @ 95lbs/10 Chest to Bar
3 minutes to complete 2 rounds of 12 OHS @ 95lbs/12 Chest to Bar
3 minutes to complete 2 rounds of 14 OHS @ 95lbs/14 Chest to Bar
...continue on until you fail to complete the 2 rounds in the 3 minute time cap.
Energy System Tested - aerobic power for the elite, atp-cp battery for the beginners (i.e. scores under 88 reps)
Performance Determining Characteristics - upper body muscular endurance, speed of repetitions, efficiency of movement and pacing
- This event had the potential to be great. I believe the increase should have came in for the form of increased OHS loading per 3 minute cycle, as opposed to increased repetitions of each movement. This is what they will be testing in Regionals and Games, why not now? The increased reps per 3 min cycle also could have worked better if the increases in #'s were more drastic to prevent such devastatingly high repetitions of each movement (i.e. 1st 3 min do 2 rounds of 10/10, 2nd 3 min do rounds of 15/15, 3rd 3 min do 20/20, etc.) This would prevent the athletes from accumulating as many repetitions. I know this would have a huge effect on the standings as there would be lower overall scores, leading to increased number of ties. This could be partially alleviated by setting a time score for finishing each 2 round portion as a tiebreaker. 
- For each competitive event you partake in, ask yourself this, "is there a better way to determine fitness"? I mean, some people did well over 125-150 chest to bar in that event and some of those same people DID THE EVENT AGAIN (Face | Palm). I would assume some of them re-did the event because they had to, due to lack of standards upon video review or some issue like that. Those that choose to redo it to make themselves feel better or prove something to the world need to get some real coaching. There is nothing smart about doing another 125-150 plus chest to bar within 3-4 days of the first attempt. There is no longevity in a mentality like this. If this person was able to reach 125-150 chest to bar within the workout, they likely scored really well anyway. Why redo it?
- To me, asking the elite competitors to perform that many chest to bar in one event is akin to akin to asking them to perform a 25 km + run at the Games, it just doesn't need to occur to get the result you are looking for. I know they didn't HAVE TO do that many reps, but you know they are going to perform up to their capability.
- Lastly, cudos to those that made it past the round of 16 on that one. I sure as hell didn’t.

Top Scores from our clients:
1 - Daniel Goldberg - 277
2 - Anze Bemko - 266
3 - Matt Shannon - 232 (40-44 Master's age group)
1 - Jolaine Undershute- 254 (40-44 Master's age group)
2 - Brittany Kopp - 239
3 - Chelsea Ryan - 189

Open 14.3
8 minute AMRAP:
10 Deadlift @ 135lbs/95lb
15 Box Jumps, 24" box
15 Deadlift @ 185lbs/135lb
15 Box Jumps, 24" box
20 Deadlift @ 225lbs/155lb
15 Box Jumps, 24" box
25 Deadlift @ 275lbs/185lb
15 Box Jumps, 24" box
30 Deadlift @ 315lbs/205lb
15 Box Jumps, 24" box
35 Deadlift @ 365lbs/225lb
15 Box Jumps, 24" box
Energy System Tested - quite variable, beginner AND elite could be anywhere from ATP-CP Battery OR aerobic power. For me, it was ATP-CP Battery. If the 315lb bar (men) or 205lb bar (women) was the main part of the event for you, then it likely was an event limited by ATP-CP Battery/posterior chain strength and endurance.
Performance Determining Characteristics - bending/stooping strength/stamina, grip strength/stamina and spinal structure similar to this.
- The idea behind this event is what I like. Meaning, in order to move onto the next phase of competition you have to possess both stamina AND strength. That 5th barbell destroyed some dreams of Regionals (315lb for men and 205lb for women). The way the event played out is what I disliked. It is quite obvious to those competing in the event, to those judging the event and any other person with functional eyeballs that this position is not conducive to long term back health. No, you did not have to do your deadlifts like that, that was your choice. You did not have to continue grinding out reps like that, that was your choice. Again, my issue is why even allow your top competitors go through this mess? Anyone that watched the live broadcast with Stacie Tovar witnessed exactly what is wrong with this event.
- Why are you allowed to do step-ups? I know its about work and that's it. But, this is lame. If you cannot manage to jump onto a 20" or 24" box then maybe you should be working on getting stronger, faster and healthier before stepping into competition. The one VERY bright side to allowing step-ups removes the issue with achilles tendon snap city. 
- Largely, the event is/was dependent on how well/easily you moved the 4th, 5th and potentially the 6th barbell. If you disagree with this, please provide an argument against it. Knowing this was the case and that deadlift strength/stamina was the test, why not set it up in a less dangerous environment? In 10 minutes, establish a 5 rep max deadlift OR do some kind of on the minute ladder set-up with increasing loads. How much different would the results be? Quite a bit I imagine, but you would get what you are looking for - stronger individuals.

Top Scores from our clients:
1 - John-Austin Emmons - 156
2 - David Mullback and James FitzGerald (40-44 Master's age group) - 152
3 - Dan Goldberg - 151

1 - Randi Whitley - 158
2 - Kate Miller - 156
3 - Jolaine Undershute - 154

Open 14.4
14 minute AMRAP:
60 cals Rowing on Concept 2 Erg
50 Toe to Bar
40 Wall Balls - 20# to 10ft, 14# to 9 ft
30 Clean - 135lb/95lb
20 Ring Muscle-ups
Energy System Tested - for those making it close to a score of 260 it would be largely an aerobic power test as there would be very minimal rest throughout the entire 14 min time frame. For those making it to the 180-199 mark, it would largely be an ATP-CP Battery tester as there would be a very large amount of resting involved throughout the event. There are exceptions to these statements, but for arguments sake. 
Performance Determining Characteristics - upper body relative strength/stamina
- My favourite Open event of all time, thus far.
- Like Dave Castro alluded to, if (as a male) you cannot finish 1 round of this event, your chance of doing well at Regionals is not very good. I think for women, if you get 10+ reps on the MU's you are capable of doing well at Regionals. Shocker, last years Games champions were the overall winners of the event...coincidence? Nope.
- Regional/Games competition performance is HIGHLY contingent on your upper body relative strength/stamina, even more so for women. 
- I think the wall balls should have been for 50 reps and the toe to bar for 40 reps. 40 reps of wall balls at that load is basically a transition movement between the toe to bar and cleans. 40 toe to bar would have sped up the event a bit more. But, not much of a difference. 
- Who thought they were going to get to the cleans and just bang out a large number of touch n go? I know I did. After the 1st rep, I quickly changed my plans/expectations. Success on this was determined by simply staying close to the bar and not allowing yourself to take useless extended breaks. Breath, set-up, lift, repeat. Simple.
- The 2 movements of this event that had the largest influence on overall performance were the toe to bar and muscle-ups. If either one of these movements made you take really long breaks between sets or kept you to very low reps per set then this is the point where relative upper body strength/stamina (i.e. ATP-CP Battery) became the limiting factor. If you were just "too gassed" to do better on this event, you have a lot of work to do before you will find success in this sport. 
- Again, good to see them put the Muscle-ups in at an appropriate point in the event. Lots of people didn't even make it to that point in the event. Muscle-ups are a great separator movement for Regional competition, ESPECIALLY for women.

Top Scores from our clients:
1 - Dan Goldberg - 226
2 - Anze Benko - 224
3 - Michael FitzGerald - 216

1 - Brittany Kopp - 195
2 - Jolaine Undershute - 192 (40-44 Master's age group)
3 - Chelsea Ryan - 190

Open 14.5
21,18,15,12,9,6,3 for time:
Thruster - 95lb/65lb
Bar Facing Burpees
Energy System Tested - for those getting times at or under the 11-12 min mark it would most likely be an aerobic power based event. As you start getting much faster than this (i.e. under 9 minutes), the more aerobic power based it becomes as there is very little resting. If you are in the category of finishing higher than 20 minutes and have to fraction the thrusters a lot, then it may be more of an anaerobic lactic (i.e. oxygen independent) or ATP-CP battery style event. Hard to know for sure, unless you test/watch people.
Performance Determining Characteristics - upper body pressing stamina, speed of movement, efficiency of movement
- I have performed every Open workout since the beginning (i.e. 2011) and IMO, this was the hardest Open event to date. This definitely reached suck factor 10.
- The idea of AMRAP’s versus “for time” events have major mental differences for me. If I am not “willing” to push myself to finish in the time I am capable of then in the “for time” scenario my performance will suffer. “AMRAP’s” allow me to just keep moving until the time is up. I know the time cap, so I know when the event is over. 
- The combo of burpees and any other form of pushing/pressing movements completely BLOWS up my arms. Think of the Burpee Ring Muscle-up event from the 2013 Regional. The limiting factor on that event for most would simply be the ability to continue performing the dip portion of the ring muscle-up.
- This type of an event is a great example of WHY aerobic power is the most important energy system for success amongst the elite competitors in this sport. ATP-CP/Strength is NOT. If you are unable to work at a high rate, continuously and sustainably, then you WILL NOT SUCCEED. This is not to say that being strong is not important, just that it is 2nd in order of importance. 
- If you watch Briggs, Froning and Bridges on this event you will see a continuous and sustainable performance. Think of it like this, the larger your aerobic capacity OR the great ability for you to supply working musculature with blood/O2 OR the better you can produce ATP via Glucose—>Krebs—>ETT and not have to produce most of the ATP via Glucose—>Lactate then the easier it will be to have great performances on events like these. The reason someone of the same strength, height, weight, limb length, etc. as Josh Bridges would fail when trying to hold the initial 2 minutes work pace of Josh is due to them accumulating a larger amount of oxygen debt than Josh. At 2 minutes in, Josh is sustainable (90-95% effort) and the other person is not sustainable (95-97% effort).

Top Scores from our clients:
1 - Mitch Barnard - 9:44
2 - Dan Goldberg - 10:18
3 - Anze Benko - 10:49

1 - Jolaine Undershute - 9:43
2 - Kate Miller - 11:07
3 - Brittany Kopp - 11:11