Hello ladies and gents, it is that time of the year again. Time to see how much you’ve improved since last year, talk smack to your friends and fellow gym rats, watch the ups and downs on the leaderboard, and for some of you, take that next step to Regionals or even the Games. That’s right, the 2016 CrossFit Open is upon us.
Who knows what the all powerful Dave Castro has in store for 2016. There’s no way to predict what is going to come out of his creatively crazy noggin, so you might as well intelligently prepare every other facet for the best performance in the 2016 CrossFit Open.
Preparation is the key to success. To quote the handsome Abe Lincoln, “If I have six hours to chop down a tree, I will spend four hours sharpening the axe.”
Sharpen your axe and prepare for performance with these top 7 tips for the 2016 CrossFit Open:
1: Don’t Overtrain
The week or so leading up to 16.1 of the CrossFit Open (and during the five weeks of the open) should not be where you aim to gain strength, speed or skill. Those adaptions should have come in the previous 8-10 months.
Your body can only handle so much stress for adaptation. If you are worrying about improving now, you are not going to have enough reserves to perform at maximum potential. Trust in the process and that the training you’ve done is going to get you where you want to be.
This also means that this is not the best time to be focusing on mass gain or getting lean. Muscle gain, fat loss and performance are three different goals and such, should be targeted differently.
If your number one priority is muscle gain or fat loss, no problem, attack that and still do the Open, just know that performance may not be at peak levels when it is not prioritized.
2: Fuel Appropriately
Every workout is essentially a mini soft tissue injury. Your tissue breaks down and your body has to heal and rebuild that tissue. How does it do that? It uses the raw material you give it: food and supplements.
Garbage in, garbage out, as the saying goes. Use the best materials to rebuild the best you.
Whole food sources are the best and first source you should look towards for recovery of tissues. High quality meats, vegetables and starches should be a staple in your nutrition. Add in bone broth and fermented foods for even more support and supplements to fill the gaps.
It is no mistake that when I created BUILD I had my patients with soft tissue injuries in mind — it is packed with collagen and gelatin that support the healing of connective tissues, ligaments, joint surfaces just like bone broth broth does. Even though I obviously think BUILD is amazing, make sure your nutrition is locked in first.
I’ve seen many high end athletes essentially fall apart when on popular nutrition plans that promote low fat, poor quality diets just based on macronutrients. No supplements are going to save you from bad nutrition planning.
If you need any help with your nutrition around the Open or in general, shoot me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org and I will help you to the best of my ability. No questions asked.
3: Active Recovery Trumps Rest
16.2 make you feel like you can’t walk? Believe it or not, moving is probably going to be the best medicine.
Tissue breakdown and intense workouts create metabolites that make your body feel pretty awful. To clear those waste products out of your tissues, your aim should be getting maximal amount of blood flow to as many tissues as possible.
Running may sound like a nice way to get some blood flow, but your muscles don’t contract and relax much due to the relative lack of range of motion you go through when you run. Focus on large, full joint movements, without the intention of improving at those movements.
This is a key point: Your goal with active recovery is not to cause an adaptation in the tissues, but to get oxygen and blood to as many tissues as possible. Work up a little sweat, move your joints and tissues and get out.
Example: a circuit of ring rows, ring pushups, and squat cleans. Nice and light. Go through the movements one by one and don’t worry about time or weight. You should be leaving tons of reps in the tank and feeling nice and fresh after this work.
4: Hand Hygiene! Prevent Rips and Tears
So many of my athletes have had plans to dominate in the Open and then go out and tear their hands on the first workout. Since they haven’t healed, they re-tear on the second workout. And the third…
Having ripped up hands does you no good in CrossFit. Other than thinking you look awesome by posting Instagram photos of your ripped and bloody hands with #crossfitproblems there are no benefits to ripped hands.
Invest in callous remover. They are cheap and will save you weeks of anguish.
This is a five week competition. If you have ripped hands half the time, expect half the performance.
5: Start With Strategy
This is easier said than done, but have a game plan to attack each workout. Using mental energy comes at a cost of physical performance throughout a workout.
Break sets and reps up into manageable chunks that you estimate before the workout starts.
That being said, having a game plan is ideal, but also always think of a backup and a backup to your backup. Things don’t always go as planned and being able to rely on a game plan will take the pressure and nerves off and let you focus on performing the best you can.
Not only is a strategy for the workout important, but your strategy for warming up the tissues and nervous system in preparation of the movement important as well. You shouldn’t be fatigued by doing a bunch of pull ups warming up before a clean workout, for example.
Follow along with Dr. Ryan DeBell of The Movement Fix as he will be posting his extremely useful 2016 CrossFit Open movement prep strategy videos each week of the open.
6: Think Marathon, Not Sprint
There are times when to push to the limits of your capacity, and there are times to look towards the next step.
If the best professional sports players went out and absolutely crushed themselves in the first quarter, good luck on winning the entire game. You have five shots to aggregate a score, be smart and look ahead as the weeks go on.
When in a competition, it is tough to turn off the gear of wanting to win, I get that. However, if you are yanking with your life on a deadlift and know you’re not in good form on 16.1 or 16.2 and blow out your back, well then you aren’t going to be able to do 16.3, 16.4, or 16.5.
This is a five week marathon, not a 5 minute sprint.
7: Celebrate The Small Wins
Chances are you’re not going to win every workout and PR every time you attempt a lift. Chances are you’re not going to Regionals, the Games or even placing top three in your gym. And that’s fine.
Don’t get down on yourself if you don’t perform the way you imagined. You don't need to compare yourself to others to measure your success.
Celebrate being better than you were last year. Did you get your first muscle up? First pull up? That’s awesome!
Many people can’t do what you set out to do and accomplished since you started training for the CrossFit Open. Look at where you started and where you are now.
Not to mention, CrossFit is supposed to be fun. So don’t get bummed if you didn’t hit a PR. There is always 2017 and a whole year to work on weaknesses. If you had nothing to improve, would training even be fun?
Do you need any help with getting ready for the Open or maintaining your performance throughout? Shoot me an email at email@example.com and I’ll see if I can point you in the right direction or have some tips for you. Seriously, I will help you. For free.