CrossFit Open

It's that time of year- The Open is here! The Open is the "start" to the "season" of CrossFit. It's an extremely exciting time, as everyone around the world does the same workouts! I would like to pass on some advice regarding being physically and mentally prepared. I have participated or been around The Open since 2014. If you're injured, pregnant or postpartum, I've got some stuff for you, so keep reading!

Physical Preparation

  • Get your rest!

    • Ideally you want to get 8+ hours of sleep. I understand that's challenging for a lot of people, depending on work, family, etc. At the minimum, strive to get 6-7 hours of sleep.

    • Sleep is when a lot of healing and recovery happens, you don't want to shortchange all your efforts during the day by not getting enough rest at night

  • Fuel your body!

    • Sometimes when we get nervous we forget to eat...or don't want to. Make sure you've fueled your body throughout the day and before you workout.

    • If you really want to feel your best, try to get in whole foods, avoiding processed stuff. Some inflammatory food groups you may want to consider avoiding are dairy, gluten, processed foods, sugar and alcohol (but I know many like that celebratory drink after completing their Open workout!). Avoiding inflammatory foods will help your body feel better and give you more energy.

  • Hydrate!

    • Keep your body hydrated- it helps with recovery as well and decreases inflammation.

    • Try to space your water intake out over the day- don't wait until the late afternoon/evening to get it all in!

    • Don't know how much water you need? Take your body weight and divide by 2- that's how many ounces you should be drinking in a day. On days you work out, I'd recommend getting an extra 15-20 ounces in to cover your water loss during exercise.

  • Take care of your hands!

    • eep those calluses shaved down! They're going to be the easiest to shave down after a shower, but if they're really hard, try applying some Vaseline or Bag Balm before bed, and then try to shave them in the morning.

    • Consider using grips/gloves- now I would not recommend using something new for the first time during an Open workout. I also recommend only using grips/gloves on high volume workouts, if they're always worn, the hands won't be tough enough (we need some calluses on them!), plus precious time could be wasted having to adjust them continuously mid-workout.

    • Coaches who program, maybe refrain from programming high volume gymnastic work during the Open? ;)

  • Don't overtrain!

    • Now is not the time to add in extra gymnastic, cardio or weightlifting work. Too much volume can lead to increase risk of injury.

    • My girl Sarah, at Arrow Physical Therapy, put it this way: the Open is measure of your fitness right now. Trying to squeeze in too much extra now is probably not going to have a positive impact on the Open.

Mental Preparation- ask any elite athlete and they'll say it's one of the most important parts of their performance and training.

  • It's just another workout.

    • n 2017, over 380,000 people signed up for the Open worldwide. Of those 380,000+ people, only 320 women, 320 men and 320 teams went on to Regionals. From Regionals, 40 women, 40 men and 40 teams went on to the Games. That's a very small percentage making it to Regionals, and an EXTREMELY small number making it to the Games - as individuals or team.

    • A majority of people who participate in the Open will not go on to a higher level. So let's take the pressure off ourselves & have a little more fun!

  • Bring your A-game and 100% effort.

    • I don't recommend coming into the Open with the mentality of "oh, I can do this workout again if I don't like my score". I think unconsciously there won't be 100% effort put into the workout with that mindset.

  • Have a plan.

    • Have a gameplan for the workout. Know whether you're going Rx or scaled. Think about your strategy/how to break up the work. You can always ask your coach for advice.

    • I recommend watching Nicole Carroll's tips session during the Open announcement. She's the director of training for CrossFIt, and she does a great job about providing advice for getting your best performance on the workout.

  • Have a good mindset.

    • hat is your goal for the Open? Have you put in the work to make that goal possible? What will you do if you don't meet that goal? These are hard questions that are not fun or easy to ask, but they have a HUGE impact on your mental game.

Injury and the Open

If you are currently dealing with an injury or surgery coming into the Open, you may be unsure on whether you should sign up or not. Well that depends, in my opinion. First off, I don't recommend that anyone complete any movements or workouts that are causing pain. Bad pain, not fatigue or pushing your fitness. Bad pain= sharp, dull, burning, shooting, etc. The only circumstance I can think of where I would say it's ok to workout with pain, is for individuals who have a chance to make it to Regionals or the Qualifiers.

If you're dealing with an injury, and not a candidate for Regionals or the Qualifiers- then what? If you're someone who is going to be tempted to try a workout or movement that you probably shouldn't, if you're signed up for the Open (like me...), then I would say don't sign up and just perform the workout as you would normally modify it.

Pregnancy and the Open

Congratulations! I did the Open last year while pregnant, I think I was about 11 weeks pregnant for week 1. Being so early in my pregnancy, I was able to complete the workouts without much issue. I remember by week 5, feeling that my cardio was gone. I also cut out kipping movements after I performed them in the Open, as they were starting to become a little more uncomfortable. Looking back, I have some different reflections.

If you're pregnant, I wouldn't worry about going Rx or scaled. If you're pregnant, you're not going to Regionals. I would focus on moving with good posture, technique and breathing pattern. I highly recommend beginning to implement the piston breathing strategy ASAP, to decrease intra-abdominal pressure. I would also highly recommend seeking out a fitness professional who works with pregnant women to go over what movements are appropriate and how they should be performed.

Pregnancy isn't about gaining strength or isn't about maintaining. It's about setting you up for the healthiest and safest delivery possible, and the best postpartum experience. Where does HSPU fit into that? It doesn't really- CrossFitting through pregnancy is no longer about maintaining a high intensity or pushing ourselves to the limit. The whole "just because you can, doesn't mean you should" absolutely comes into play here.

I highly recommend following Brianna Battles and Julie Wiebe on social media, and join Brianna's Facebook group, The Pregnant and Postpartum Athlete. They can be a great resource in this time, and keep a lookout for my posts. I'll be posting my thoughts for pregnant and postpartum women for each Open workout announced.

Postpartum and the Open

Congratulations on your little one! Next, are you cleared by your physician to return to exercise (generally this occurs at the 6 week follow up)? That's the first step. 

I would highly recommend seeing a pelvic floor physical therapist before returning to working out. They can assess for diastasis (DRA), check for prolapse and assess pelvic floor strength. Then they can make specific recommendations for you. Somewhere around the 6-10 week period would be a great time to go see a PF PT. Before that, you're still healing.

If you're not 6 weeks yet, or that's going to fall in the middle of the Open, I'd say no go on the Open this year. The likelihood that an individual will push and do too much too soon is very high, and that can cause injury later on. Diastasis may not close, a prolapse may develop, hernias can occur, etc. Please give you body time to heal. Instead, focus on learning to be a mom to your newborn, go for walks, and cheer others on at your gym instead. 

I would not recommend trying any rig work until after 12 weeks postpartum, and after being check for DRA. If you are cleared by a PF PT to do rig work, definitely opt for the scaled division. Avoid any movements that cause coning/doming. Check out my last blog post to see what this looks like- it can occur during pregnancy AND postpartum.

When talking to a PF PT a week ago about "getting back" to where I was pre-pregnancy, she said honestly it probably wouldn't be until a year. That would give my body time to heal, slowly build back strength and progress to kipping movements slowly. I gave birth to my little girl in September. She'll be 5 months old in a couple days, if that helps put things in perspective.

Again, I would recommend following Brianna Battles and Julie Wiebe on social media, and join Brianna's Facebook group, The Pregnant and Postpartum Athlete. Become familiar with piston breathing and begin incorporating it in everyday movements, then start it with the fundamental movements.

Double unders and box jumps and heavy lifting. I'm going to put this out there right now: PEEING/LEAKING DURING THESE AND ANY MOVEMENTS IS COMMON BUT NOT NORMAL!!!! If you feel the need to wear a pad or panty liner for a workout, you need to see a PF PT. If you experience these symptoms, my professional opinion is that you should stop doing that movement and get assessed.

Unless you have been cleared by a PF PT, are healed, and can perform all movements with no symptoms and good technique- you should not be attempting the entire Open Rx. Again, my professional opinion. Feel free to comment below, find me on social media or email 

I will not be signing up for the Open at 5 months postpartum. As someone with an athlete brain, I don't need the added temptation to try a movement that is not the best thing for me to do at this stage in my journey.

Victoria Grace- almost 5 months old.

Victoria Grace- almost 5 months old.