Maximizing your Potential in the CrossFit Open

It’s that time of year again. What every CrossFitter trains and prepares all year for; the CrossFit Open. It’s the ultimate and most universal test of fitness and should be regarded as a useful tool for us athletes to track our progress.

Here are some ways in which you can make the most out of your 2017 CrossFit Open experience. Take some time to review these topics and implement them into your quest to conquer the Open.

Recovery is Paramount

It is likely that you’ll reach new levels of mental and physical distress when completing these workouts. As you may know, sleep has numerous acute and long-term effects. If you want to prepare yourself for the Open workouts and recover quick enough to hit it a second time, then you need to prioritize sleep. That means at least 8 hours. If your body says it needs 10, then give it 10. I know most people have a full-time job and kids, so power naps (15-30 minutes) can prove effective also. Look at your sleep hygiene as well to make sure you’re getting the most out of your sleep.

What other aspects of recovery should we as athletes be considering? Of course, I believe mobilizing before and after your workouts is always an effective habit to practice. Prepare your tissues and joints before your workout by utilizing some active distracted stretches. Target the movements and areas that are specific to the workout. After your workout, use some soft-tissue manipulation to address those taxed muscles and fascial elements.

“What does this all mean Gavin?” Good question! Let’s take the 16.1 Open Workout for example: 20 min AMRAP of 25 ft. walking overhead lunge, 8 barbell facing burpees, 25 ft. walking overhead lunge, 8 chest-to-bar. Before this workout, I would prioritize my overhead position, using some distracted overhead stretches to prepare my shoulders. I might add in some stability drills such as bottom-up kettlebell presses to target the rotator cuff muscles supporting my shoulder joint. After my workout, my glutes have probably been to hell and back. Accordingly, I might focus on some soft-tissue work on my high hamstrings and low glutes as well as some active distracted posterior chain stretches. As always, I invite you to come to our mobility classes to learn more about these techniques.

Nonetheless, make sure you do a 10-minute cool down after your workout. Don’t be that guy/gal that lies on the ground for 5 minutes tossing and turning in agony. Get up and walk around, get on the bike, row for a little while in order to flush your body of all those metabolic toxins that built up during the workout.


As always, you can’t reach peak performance without proper nutrition. There is a reason that nutrition is at the base of the pyramid for CrossFit performance. Greg Glassman (the founder and CEO of CrossFit) knew that nutrition was vital for athletic performance. Check out the Zone Diet protocol if you don’t know where to start of consult with Coach Amy to get a better understanding of nutrition’s impact on your performance and what you can do to optimize your athletic potential.

Planning Your Training Week

Here is how I would plan my week for the next five weeks during the CrossFit Open season.

I would try to perform the Open Workout during the time I usually workout. If I usually workout at 5:30 pm and try to do the Open workout at 6:30 am, my central nervous system (CNS) is not going to be primed nor ready for optimal performance.

The workouts get announced Thursday evening and scores have to be submitted Monday evening. The CrossFit Open is like the in-season competition for the majority of us. Therefore, I would recommend changing your training week accordingly.

On Thursday, I would perform a workout that is general and won’t cause any soreness. Something like rowing and bodyweight movements would be perfect for this type of workout. On Friday, I would hit the workout with everything you have, assuming you’re not going to do it again to try to get a better score. Subsequently, Saturday becomes an active recovery day and/or skills and drills day where you practice on those movements of the workout that need some refinement. Monday you can try the workout again. Tuesday is a full rest day and is followed by a normal training day on Wednesday. This completes the full weekly cycle.

Some More Tips:

Don’t be cold! You should be shooting for at least a 30-minute warmup consisting of some mobility/ dynamic stretches, general warm up, specific warmup, and skill work.

Drink up! You should be drinking at least half your weight in ounces of water per day (e.g. if I weight 200 lbs., then I will drink 100 ounces of water per day). Check out hydration methods here to learn more.

Get tough! CrossFit forges not only elite performance but also mental toughness. These workouts will test your ability to grind it out. Prepare yourself by taking some time to meditate. Visualize yourself completing the workout; realizing the physical pain you will be in but picture yourself giving your 110% until the buzzer sounds off.

Reach new heights by implementing some of these strategies. Give it everything you have and realize your goals and potential this year in the 2017 CrossFit Open.

By Coach Gavin Guard


Works Cited
Fullagar, Hugh HK, et al. "Sleep and athletic performance: the effects of sleep loss on exercise performance, and physiological and cognitive responses to exercise." Sports medicine 45.2 (2015): 161-186.
Takahashi, Masaya. "The role of prescribed napping in sleep medicine." Sleep medicine reviews 7.3 (2003): 227-235.