It’s the Monday after 17.5. While there are still some people frantically re-doing the workout and scores are trickling in, for most of us the Open is officially over. Even though the dust is still settling on the leaderboard, it’s not too early to start thinking about your overall Open experience, and how to use it to guide your training and mindset for the rest of the year. Here are a few ways you can take what you learned about yourself in the Open and apply it to make yourself a better athlete!
IMPORTANT NOTE: Negativity has no place in this exercise. The point is not to see how much better everyone else is than you. Try to be objective here — we are seeking self-improvement and learning, and ultimately action. Got dead last in your state? Who cares? Nowhere to go but up!
Our model looks like this: Analyze >> Prioritize >> Execute
Step 1: Analyze.
Use the leaderboard as a learning tool. For the vast majority of people, looking at our placements on the worldwide or even regional scale isn’t going to tell us a whole lot, because the placement numbers/points are such big numbers to look at. If you’re someone trying to get to regionals, then by all means look at the region. But for many of us average Joes, looking at the state level makes things more manageable. If you’ve only been looking at your affiliate’s leaderboard, you may have a skewed understanding of where your strengths and weaknesses are. Using the state level leaderboard, check out your placements for each workout. You can also utilize Beyond the Whiteboard’s post-workout analysis articles to determine what percentile you fall in. Maybe you got dead last in 17.1 at your affiliate — but maybe your affiliate is really good with endurance workouts, and in reality your engine is pretty good! Checking the state or region level and seeing where you land in relation to a much larger pool of athletes will help you see which workouts and movements were truly strong for you, and which ones need some work. If you need some inspiration, here is a post-Open analysis I did on my own performance after the 2016 Open. Warning…it’s very in-depth.
After looking at your placements across a broad swath of athletes, what themes do you see in your performances? Most Open workouts have one or two movements we can consider the “key” movement(s). Think back to your workouts — for each week, what movement do you feel held you back the most? A reminder of the movements by week:
17.1 — DB Snatches, Burpee Box Jump Overs. Engine Workout
17.2 — DB lunges, Toes to bar (leg raise), Bar muscle ups (pull up). Gymnastics Workout
17.3 — Chest to bar (jumping pull up), Squat snatch. Heavy snatch workout
17.4 — Deadlift, Wall Ball, Row, HSPU (pushup). Engine, but mostly HSPU workout
17.5 — Thruster, Jump rope. Thruster workout
Step 2: Prioritize
Were your placements pretty uniform across the board? Or did you have a wide gap between your best and worst placement? If you have some obvious gaps in your game, choosing a few of these key movements in your lower-placed workouts will be an obvious place to start your prioritization for training.
I’ll use myself as an example. Let’s say my goal for next year’s Open is top 100 in MN. My two best placements by far were 17.1 (engine workout) and 17.2 (gymnastics workout), with both being in the top 125 in MN. Overall I’m reasonably satisfied with those placements, so those movements won’t be a priority. Obviously I will still do them in training, but they don’t need to come up quite as often. The other three workouts were not nearly as good — all of them outside the top 300 in MN — so that is where I can start with prioritizing which movements to focus on.
If I look at 17.3, 17.4, and 17.5, it’s not a mystery to me where I fell short. Snatches, Handstand pushups, and Thrusters. Three movements. Not quite as intimidating as three whole workouts.
Two to three key movements is a reasonable number of movements to prioritize. It also gives you some variety, so if you plateau in one movement and need a break, you have something else meaningful to work on.
While the exact format, time domains, and combination of movements is relatively unpredictable in the Open, we have a very good idea of the core movements we will see in 2018. Toes to bar, chest to bar pull ups, thrusters, double-unders, snatches, burpees, wall balls, muscle ups. If your goal is to improve in next year’s Open, you really can’t go wrong picking from those movements and implementing them in your training regularly. Chances are if you are good at those, the more “exotic” movements like dumbbell cleans won’t phase you.
Step 3: Execute
So we’ve done our homework — we know which movements will have the most meaningful impact on our Open scores. Now comes the most challenging part: taking action! How do we actually get better at these movements?
A good starting point is talking with a coach. They can help you put together a specific action plan, and maybe even write some accessory/skill workouts for you.
For most of us, the key here is gaining experience. To get better at movements we struggle with, we have to do these movements. Translation — you won’t get better at thrusters if you don’t do thrusters. If you look at the workout of the day and see Karen (150 wall balls for time) and decide to skip class that day, guess what — you aren’t going to get better at wall balls! Especially for the relatively low-skill movements like burpees, thrusters, wall balls — just suck it up and do them more!
It doesn’t have to be hours a week. Decide to do one max-effort set of wall balls before you leave the gym, once or twice a week. Throw in an EMOM of thrusters once every couple weeks in your Open Gym time. Cash out with 30 burpees once this week. Next week, make it 35. And so on. Suddenly after a few months, you have experience with these movements — you know how they feel, you know what to reasonably expect for yourself, and you have confidence in your ability to execute them.
High-skill movements like toes to bar, chest to bar, muscle ups, and snatches are similar in that you need experience. However, due to their more complex and nuanced nature, you want to spend time doing them right, not just doing them. The reason you’re not good at toes to bar might not be a strength or endurance issue — just your technique. Maybe you can “muscle” out a muscle up or two, but they aren’t pretty. Stop doing crappy muscle ups, and focus on efficiency and good movement. Play the long game!
Start with some fundamentals. Nail those consistently, then move up to the next level of progression. Your coaches are great resources for this. Also, the internet is loaded with progressions to learn these movements. This takes patience. So be patient! It will be worth it in the long run.
Regardless of which movements you are trying to improve on, you must be consistent. A few minutes each week is better than waiting until January 2018 to suddenly spend an hour a day on muscle ups because you procrastinated.
The Open is a great tool for us to test our fitness. It gives us some awesome data-driven insights we can use to focus our training. Don’t get down on yourself if you feel like you didn’t perform as well as you wanted. Put in the work this year, and good things will happen. Use this as an opportunity to light a fire!