Congrats on making it through the FIRST of the 2019 Opens. That’s right, don’t forget about that October Open looming around the corner.
If this is your first Open, then you’re just now discovering that feeling immediately after that 5th workout. “I need to do _____, perfect ______, work on _____, etc.” You maybe thinking “I need to lose some weight for gymnastics movements and to improve my endurance.”
If this is not your first Open, then you know this feeling well. This was my third consecutive Open. I have all the movements and can easily Rx the Open…and I STILL get these thoughts post-Open. I need to get better at my strict gymnastics movements. I need to perfect double unders (my arch nemesis). I need to build capacity under fatigue.
But if you’ve done the Open, you know all too well the process that usually occurs. You hit the gym every day for the next month or two. You stay after and work on all of these movements. You add in accessory work. You start cleaning up your diet. This lasts maybe 2 months…three if you’re lucky, then it’s just back to the old routine because “you have time until February”. Then February comes along and you haven’t done jack and this goes on and on every single year.
This year is going to be even harder…why? Because you only have 6 months to accomplish ALL these goals before the next Open comes around. That makes achieving your lifelong Games appearance dream pretty hard.
But have no fear. I’ve got the solution for you. Key here is to pick ONE direction for you to focus on. Rather than go 20% on 10 different things to only see a 1-2% improvement, instead go 100% on 1-2 things and see a much bigger margin of improvement.
First you have to decide which of the three options you want most.
Option #1. Improve strength
You can take some time and build some strength by going into a surplus. If you want to put on muscle, NOW is the time to do it. In this phase, you will go into a surplus for 3-4 months, decrease cardio and increase lifting frequency and volume while adding in some accessory work.
Option #2. Lose weight
If you want to get beach ready or if you want to lose some weight because you 1. Just want to or 2. Feel that this portion slowed you down significantly in the Open, then now is the time to do it. You shouldn’t be in a deficit for any performance-based period in your training, which means you want to be reversed out of the deficit and in maintenance come October, which means NOW is the time to prioritize aesthetics.
Option #3. Skill improvement
If you don’t want to lose or gain weight and you simply just want to be better, then this is the option for you. Pick 2-3 skills ONLY and work on them 3-4x/week. These skills could include aerobic capacity, pull ups, handstand push ups, TTB, muscle ups, etc. Pick the two or three you’re weakest on. If you have pull ups just not a high capacity but don’t have handstand push ups and muscle ups, choose the latter two…not pull ups. Talk with your CrossFit coach and ask for accessory work to help you work on these two-three movements/skills. You need a structured program and PLAN. You can’t and shouldn’t take the next three months attempting muscle ups if you don’t have one. Instead, get on a program that provides months of progressions and accessory work that not only builds the strength but also defines the muscle memory to complete the movement safely…and accurately. If you don’t have access to a coach with said skills, then apply here for a skills-based coaching program.
Ask yourself some questions:
1. What was the hardest Open workout for you this year? Why was it hard?
2. What is your biggest weakness when it comes to CrossFit and the Open? Is it gymnastics, heavy weights, or conditioning?
3. If you could have ONE THING achieved by October what would that be?
If you struggled most with 19.2 (the heavy cleans), then I’d suggest leaning towards Option #1, building some strength.
If you struggled most with 19.3 or 19.4 because of the gymnastics portions (the muscle ups and strict HSPU) or if the TTB tanked your 19.2 performance, then I’d suggest a combo of Options #2 and #3.
If the capacity or high volume reps of the skills from 19.1, 19.4, or 19.5 is what you struggled with the most, then I’d suggest Option #3.
But can’t I do it all?
Nope. Remember your training and your nutrition should be periodized. You can’t be in tip top shape year round…well you can, but you won’t see near the results that you could see. You can’t build your strength and prioritize aesthetics at the same time. You can’t build aerobic capacity and build strength because in order to build muscle, you need to lower your cardio and conditioning.
That’s why it’s helpful to have a coach guide you through this process.
But first…give yourself some recovery.
One of the biggest faults I see in CrossFit especially is lack of recovery. This is especially true post-Open. You have a million things you want to work on, so the Open ends and you immediately ramp up activity in the gym. I call people out on this all the time and the answer I get is “It doesn’t matter for me, I’m not a Games athlete, so I didn’t work as hard as them to need the recovery.” No you’re not a Games athlete but remember the basics of CrossFit, everything is about the stimulus. We scale and modify the workouts based on fitness levels. No you’re not Mat Fraser and you didn’t complete 19.5 sub-7:00, but are you going to tell me you half-assed it and didn’t put forth an effort? No! You and both I completed 19.5 as hard as Mat Fraser did. The intensity was there even if it wasn’t the same time. I completed 19.5 10 minutes slower than Fraser…but that doesn’t mean I didn’t try. I can tell you I gave it 110% because on Wednesday (after doing the workout on Saturday), my quads are still fried!
Games athletes aren’t the only ones who need recovery. You are transitioning out of a performance-based phase where you gave it more than 100% for 5 consecutive weeks, and that means you need to recover.
If you’re truly dedicated to your training and to your health, I challenge you to take a whole week off. Jason Phillips, owner of NCI, said he would mandate a MONTH off for anyone completing the Open because that’s the amount of recovery you need. Now I’m not mandating you to take a month off, but I say this to demonstrate that you can afford 1-2 extra rest days for the next couple of weeks.
All you want to do is take 1-2 weeks and add in more active recovery days and more rest days. Consider a diet break to increase intake and promote recovery. Sleep a minimum of 7 hours/night. Eat 90% whole foods and stay away from alcohol for the week to allow your body the chance to fully recover so you can enter the next phase of your training hard and motivated.
If you’re not sure where to go from here, then simply sign up for a free strategy call to game plan the next 6 months of improvement in your CrossFit training.