Observations and Predictions for the 2014 CrossFit Open (and more)

The 2014 CrossFit Open begins when the first workout (14.1) is announced this Thursday night. With that said, I thought I would offer some observations on past Open workouts and make some predictions for this season. These are strictly guesses as we never truly know what HQ will throw at us!

K.I.S.S. – (to a point)
Let’s start with the premise that the Open is designed to allow everyone to participate. By everyone, I mean your stay-at-home mom working out in her garage to the Navy Seal in Afghanistan to the elite CrossFit Games athlete with access to Eleiko bars and bumpers and 10,000 sq. ft. of space. Yes, the RESULT of the Open is a ranking of the top competitors to move on to Regionals and then the Games, but the PURPOSE of the Open is to foster an environment in which anyone can participate.

With that said, the movements in the Open will be common and the equipment will be minimal. As CFG Analysis has broken down, there have only been 14 movements in 3 years’ worth of the Open and 10 have been used each year. Equipment-wise, a barbell, some bumpers, rings, jump rope, box, and pull up bar are all that’s needed. This is not the time to introduce atlas stones, rowers, prowlers, and Airdynes. The K.I.S.S. method is the name of the game for the Open.

This is not to say that high skill or heavier movements won’t be in the Open. However, you probably will not see muscle ups or a snatch ladder until the 2nd or 3rd workout. Even when they do show up, they will be preceded by an accessible movement to allow the majority of people to post a score. For instance, Open workout 12.4 included 150 wall balls, 90 double unders, and then 30 muscle ups. Most of the world can do a number of wall balls, but then the higher skill double under and muscle up will separate the mediocre, advanced, and elite athletes. 

AMRAP has and will be the timing format for the Open. As a coach, I’m a big fan of AMRAPs because it’s neat and tidy: everyone starts and ends at the same time, but the amount of work done can differentiate performances. Last year’s 13.5 saw a slight variation of AMRAP where athletes had to do a certain amount of work in a time cap. If they made the time cap, they continued. I wouldn’t be surprised if they repeat something like this, but save it for the last workout again. 

The shortest and longest workouts have been 4 minutes and 20 minutes respectively. I don’t think they will go longer than 20 for logistical reasons (especially if people are uploading to Youtube), but we may see a workout that is in the 3 minute domain. The only problem with short workouts is that movement can become sloppy from the intensity, but it’s not like we haven’t seen sloppy performances across all time domains! I would expect the majority of workouts to be in the 7-14 minute range this year with two straying in either direction.

There are a few things we won’t see, based on equipment issues or movement issues.
-We’ll never see a rowing workout given that not everyone owns an erg.
-We also will never see a kettlebell workout if AJ Moore has anything to say about it.
-Similarly, although 11.2 had hand release push ups in it, I don’t think we’ll ever see push ups in an Open workout again. There simply is too much snaking and bending of the rules (pun absolutely intended).
-And although I would love to see HSPU’s in the Open, I think it’s just too hard to judge considering some people will be videotaping and feet will be coming off the wall at all different points. The angles just don’t seem to work, but maybe HQ will prove me wrong.
-REALLY heavy weights: while it would be fun, a deadlift ladder won’t happen, mostly because of logistics. Not everyone has 500# or more of weights and we would definitely need that for a deadlift ladder.

Burpees: They’re simple, require no equipment, and have been in the Open every year.
Snatches: We’ll see some variation, but not sure if they will be light a la 11.1 (75#) or a ladder a la 12.2 or 13.1. Either way, every year should be a wake up call to work on the snatch! Since they have done a heavy snatch ladder for the past two years, I think they will be more CJ or thruster focused this year with lighter snatches in the mix.
Squatting movements: wall balls, squat cleans, front squats, overhead squats. We will see a bunch of these, but not necessarily all. We’ve never had an air squat in the Open and I don’t expect it to be in this year (they didn’t even appear until the 5th CF Games in 2011!)
Overhead pressing: most likely a shoulder to overhead, allowing for people to shoulder press, push press, push jerk, or split jerk a weight.
Pull ups: no explanation needed.
Midline test: this will most likely come in the form of knees to elbows or toes to bar. GHD’s are rare outside of a CF box and sit ups are harder to judge standards (do we touch the toes, the ground, what if someone has long arms, etc)
-double unders: these have also been in every Open and at the Games level we may see some triple unders (mainsite has programmed it)
Muscle ups: same as above. Addenum:  I forgot to put the bar muscle up, but I think there’s a good possibility to see it in the Open. Why? 1. It’s a movement we’ve seen programmed on mainsite 2. It’s fairly easy to judge (get over the bar and get shoulders in front of pull up bar with extended arms) 3. It’s a variation of the ring muscle up. 4. It will expose weaknesses.
Box jumps: I didn’t necessarily like the fact that step ups were allowed, but they did prove to be more efficient. We’ll see some sort of “get on top of the box” movement. Another thought is that we’ll see a “jump on and over box”, perhaps paired with a burpee. If you thought 7 minutes of burpees were awful, how about 7 minutes of burpee box jump overs?

If they Open is supposed to be simple and straightforward, the Regionals and Games are where HQ can have their creative fun. We have seen the weights get heavier and heavier every year (The 2007 Games had a “heavy” 135# push jerk for reps whereas the 2013 Games had 405# deadlifts for reps), but I think we are going to see a focus on high skilled gymnastics and odd objects. Free standing handstand push ups and/or strict HSPU’s instead of relying on the kip, possibly back flips (although I don’t think so), and maybe even America Ninja Warrior-style stuff like rope traverses may be in the mix. Maybe some strong man stuff like atlas stones over walls or odd objects like fire hydrants (have you ever tried to lift one of those? Crazy hard since all of the weight is in the cap) Since the Winter Olympics also just ended, I think it would be fun (and definitely varied) to have some winter sports mixed in: ice skating, skiing, etc. The one thing we have not seen in a CrossFit-endorsed event is bench press, so I’m thinking we will see some sort of bench workout: maybe not a 1RM, but an NFL combine including 225# bench for reps?? Or maybe a heavy bench combined with a bodyweight movement like burpees?

In the spirit of the Open, 14.1 should be a workout that is accessible to the most amount of people. Last year surprised me when they threw in a snatch ladder first thing, but the couplet format just works. For this year, I think 14.1 will be an AMRAP for 10 minutes of 20 burpees and 15 thrusters (or squat clean to overhead), 100#/65#.

What do you think 14.1 will be?? How about other workouts we will see, or thoughts on Regionals/Games?

see also: CrossFit Open: Bringing Out the Best (and Worst)