Open Prep, What You Can Do 3 Weeks Out

February 18, 2021

With the CrossFit Open scheduled to start March 11th we only have about 3 weeks of preparation time left before it kicks off. Obviously all the training you’ve done over the last 6-12 months will mean the most to your performance but I want to give you 3 actionable steps you can take now that will have a dramatic impact on how the Open goes for you this year!

These tips will be about prep for the Open, with the new format the Open will not be the priority for a lot of people like it used to be. If your priority is the quarterfinals the same advice could be applied to that stage!

#1. Build Confidence

Now isn’t the time to be doing tests to see where you’re at or trying to smash your weaknesses with lots of volume and frequency. The “Hay is in the Barn” on the physical improvements you will probably see, but you can use this time to sharpen your skills and build confidence in your movements. Workouts should be designed with just the right amount of challenge for you, so you know when that movement comes up in the Open you know you can smash it.

Athletes should feel more and more motivated as the Open approaches, your mood should be excited (slightly nervous is fine) and happy because you know what you are capable of and you can’t wait to show it. Workouts that crush you or expose a weakness are not going to leave you feeling very excited for that to come up in the Open. Smashing workouts will lead to confidence, which will lead to motivation, which will have a direct effect on your effort in the Open because you perceive your abilities to be high which is what matters most now!

The saying, “Whether you think you can, or whether you think you can’t, you’re right!” It’s true now, feed the part of you that believes you can!

Virtually all great athletes have a deep inner belief in themselves. Building momentum in your confidence now can have a great impact on the way you approach a workout when it comes out in the Open.

#2. Taper

When something is important to you, the natural tendency for most people is to error on the side of doing too much. This could greatly limit your performance. I recently listened to Michael Bisping’s interview on Joe Rogan’s podcast and he talked about the fight where he won the middleweight championship was the only fight of his career where he didn’t go into it overtrained because he took it on such short notice. I think this is something that most athletes can learn from, learning to perfect a deload / tapering phase and make it just right for you can be a huge game changer! If you are working with a coach, their job isn’t just to make sure you have the fitness - it is to get you to express your fitness in a way that maximizes performance. Tapering should cut down on overall volume (roughly 40-60% reduction) and reduce your training frequency by about 20%. CrossFit being a newer sport, the data on how to taper and peak isn’t as established as it is in other sports. And with it being a sport where we don’t know the events until just prior to doing them, it probably never will be perfect. It will be an individualized thing, so make sure however you approach it this time you analyze it and make sure you are learning from it so you can optimize it in the future! The more training hours you put in on average per week, the further out you should start your taper. So if you are training less than 10 hours per week, you may only need to taper a week prior to the start of the Open. If you train 10-15 hours, 10-14 days of tapering may be necessary to get your body feeling fresh! 15+ hours of training per week could mean you need 15-21 days for your tapering phase. The taper will be important for your mental abilities just as much as it is for your physical abilities. The focus needs to be on reducing stress and strain so your cognitive load is reduced. This will allow you for your ability to concentrate and focus to increase, as well as having a positive impact on your confidence and mood. An athlete with less mental fatigue going into a competition will likely have a lower sense of effort during the events than an athlete who is mentally fatigued. Training has a psychological workload that goes along with the physical, and by reducing training volume we can become more mentally fresh and ready psychologically as well as physically! Make sure you prioritize sleeping well, try to reduce or remove stressors (relationship stress, social media, work related stress, etc) because it can drastically change your brain's perceived effort during an event. Which is what controls our work output.

#3. Dial in Your Process

Very few of the Open events are completely novel. You’ve probably done some combination of the movements at somewhat similar intensities in the past. If you keep good notes and analyze your paces and have details on what similar workouts have felt like in the past you can use this information to set goals and strategies for the events. For example if a workout comes out with a lot of chest to bar pull ups and thrusters I know that I have had more success in the past in breaking my chest to bars into sets of 5 from the start than I do going for a bigger set up front. In the workouts you have left before the Open test out strategies by having a process for planning out your workouts. Your process can include more things than just strategies for rep schemes and transition times though, it can also include specifics on how you will warm up for specific events. Base your warmups on event characteristics, and plan out strategies for your workouts that will challenge you but your confidence will build off of. Having a post event plan for how you will review and analyze events so you can learn and improve upon each performance. Your pre-event planning should also include things like pre-workout nutrition (and timing), visualization strategies, warm-ups, etc… Visualization is particularly important because the workouts themselves haven’t been practiced before. Building on similar past experiences using visualization gives you a chance to know what to expect and be prepared for it! Hope these three tips help you to feel like you have a plan for Improving Your Open Performance. If you have any questions specifically about your training and would like to schedule a No Sales Strategy Call here’s the link to my Calendar: