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“Are you a 1%’er?”
Less than 1% out of roughly 300,000 athletes: this is how many people advanced from the CrossFit Games Open to CrossFit Games Regionals in one form or another. Tough margins, eh? Imagine if you’re trying to get into a NCAA school for football. Out of a million high school players, less than 6.5% will accomplish this goal, and only around 1.5% of those will make it into the NFL (that’s 0.1% of high schoolers). You see, to be the best at anything, you need to be in the top 1% (give or take). How do we prepare to be the best, to be in the top 1%?
Frankly, it depends on a LOT of variables. Let’s start at the most basic variable: Do you want to make it to Regionals, or just have fun in the Open? You see, there is an enormous difference between training to make it to regionals and training for just the Open. I’m about to share with you the consequences of this decision. Gyms all around the world are cranking out their very popular “Open prep” programming. Maybe you want to do the Open for a personal challenge, or to prove you’re the best in your group of co-workers, and you think doing this extra programming might be a great idea. I’m going to give you my opinion on the matter based on my experience in CrossFit. If your goal is anything but making it to Regionals, then these Open-prep programs are an ABSOLUTE WASTE OF TIME! I’ve even seen athletes doing doubles to “get ready” for the Open. Here’s the thing: the Open is only one single workout a week. A single workout that requires absolute maximum effort. If you miss the target, you’re screwed.
The best way to train for the Open, ironically, is to just do CrossFit as prescribed. Constantly varied, functional movements, executed at high intensity. The Open is designed to test your ability to just do CrossFit. Doing a specialized training program to prep for the Open says to me that the affiliate hasn’t done a proper job during the rest of the year making their members proficient enough in CrossFit. They feel like they need to change their programming to make up the deficit. That’s not a good sign from my point of view. I get the appeal of getting gimmicky, participation, and all that jazz. But this is a competition! But I digress.
Now we’ll discuss the nuts and bolts of training for the Open to have a shot at Regionals. First, you need to start a year out. Slowly build your skillset in gymnastics and weightlifting. You need to become incredibly consistent under any level of fatigue. Second, you need to start doing multiple sessions per day, forcing your body to become more capable of recovering between workouts. This is honestly the only good reason for doing two-a-days. At Regionals, you’ll be doing 2-4 workouts a day for 3 days. If you can’t recover between sessions, then you’re done. With a few exceptions, doing multiple sessions a day doesn’t really make you much better at doing a single event (like in the open), but it makes you more capable of consistently executing multiple efforts at the same relative intensities. Not useful for the Open, but very useful for Regionals and the Games.
I specifically recommend a general outline of 4-6 months of strength biased training, movement correction, and skill focus. This will utilize mainly aerobic capacity, V02 max, and single modality training in the morning to keep conditioning and recovery high. Then in the afternoon or evening, grueling lifting sessions with gymnastic EMOMs or dedicated gymnastic skill sessions. After this, we move on to cutting back the strength sessions to equal around 1/3 of total weekly training volume, with 1/3 being aerobic base, and the rest a mix of bringing back metcons into the picture in a larger way and continuing gymnastic development. This will last 2-4 months. Then finally, “Open prep”. We cut back lifting to roughly 20-25% of total training volume, with the rest being all conditioning and skill development. Above all things, we’ll focus on intensity around 8 weeks before the open.
Obviously, this is not an end-all-be-all recipe for all athletes, and I highly suggest an individualized approach to any serious competitor’s training program. For most athletes, their training will end up looking loosely as I described above. In the end, if you’re doing the Open for anything other than winning a spot to Regionals, then the only thing you need to do well is giving 100% effort as often as possible to foundational CrossFit training methods. Nothing more is honestly needed to do well. But if you want to be in the 1%, you should hire a specialized coach with Regional or Games experience, and clear your schedule. It’s gonna be one helluva ride!
FYI Coach Nick Scott has coached over 19 Regional CrossFit Athletes, so we are excited to get him more and more involved with assisting our online community reach their CrossFit and functional fitness goals. You guys can check him out on Instagram: ==> @scottstrengthsystems
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