The Crossfit Games - Challenge Complete
So I'm all done...I am officially the 125,063rd fittest man on earth!
After 5 months of dedicated training and I can happily say I smashed it!
Well, kind of...
A quick recap on what the Open is...
5 workouts, each one kept secret until announced on a Thursday evening (US time) and you then have until Monday evening to have your workout judged, scored, entered online and validated by your Crossfit gym owner!
Each year as the Open nears, and then each week there is growing speculation about what is coming up. While these workouts to me are fun (kind of), the elite athletes and professionals around the world are waiting more nervously.
Their performances in these 5 workouts will determine if they qualify for the next round of competition that ultimately ends at the 1 week event, The Crossfit games - so for many people it is understandably a big deal.
When each workout is announced, after the initial cheers or groans at the movements and weights, as an amateur the next choice is to do the workout as prescribed for the Elite (RX) or to choose the scaled version, where weight is generally less and simpler movements required. For me, at 50, I am in the general mens group of 16-55 - there is no age related scaling.
The other factor you take into account is the rankings (which are broken up by age groups of 5 years), where you can see how you perform against your fellow competitors. Choosing (or being able to go) RX is important here, if your ranking is important to you. The reason is that when you choose to do a workout RX, when you are ranked, ALL RX athletes are ranked before any scaled athletes. This means someone doing a single rep of an RX workout would rank ahead of the fastest Scaled athlete.
Once you've made this choice, you then have to work out your tactics for the workout itself... how many reps before you have a break or put the bar down etc.. So a surprising amount of mental challenge is involved as well...
Here are my results, and it shows all 5 of the workouts (and my placement 87th overall out of 241 in the UK in the mens 50-55 category).
Week 1: Time Cap 20 mins. Dumbell to overhead (10,20,30,40,50, then box over burpees. I chose RX - The dumbell weight was 22.5 Kg and was a single arm ground to overhead snatch. Burpees were over a 24 inch box.
This was probably my worst workout in terms of performance against resting time, but conversely I managed the RX weight pretty well and was very steady on the lifts. I am still slow and rubbish at burpees, they just suck the air out of your lungs, so I know this is where I lost time.
But a good start, and 75th out of 241
Week 2: This is where Crossfit gets interesting but also irritating. The workout was 12 min time cap.
Start with 2 rounds of 50ft lunges with dumbells, then either 16 Toes to Bar (RX) or Knee Raises (Scaled), then 8 dumbell power cleans. After the initial 2 rounds, you do 2 rounds of the lunges again before either Bar Muscle Ups or Pull Ups, then the power cleans.
Because a Bar Muscle Up is a difficult gymnastic movement, alot of people cannot even do 1.
So do you go RX, knowing you'll do 2 rounds with Toes to Bar, then on the 3rd round, do the lunges and many then stop...
Or go scaled, but knowing everyone doing RX will come out ahead of you in rankings.
I can't do a Bar Muscle Up - haven't even practiced it, so I chose scaled and did a full 12 minutes - working as hard as I could. I soon remember how painful lunges can be, I was sore from this workout for about 3 days afterwards!
146th our of 241
Week 3: Another difficult choice, and again I went Scaled.
The workout this week was 6 Chest to Bar (or Jumping Pull Up) then 6 Squat Snatch going to 7 C2B / 5 Sq Snatch ; 8 C2B / 4 Sq Snatch etc with the weight going up each round. The final round was 11 C2B and 1 Sq Snatch, but there was a time element to it as well, so most people timed out.
I chose Scaled because my C2B are really slow, but more significant is the weight was heavy (starting at 42kg and then straight up to 60kg). The squat snatch is quite a difficult lift to learn and requires strength and flexibility, so I wouldn't have got past the 2nd round.
As it was, I got through 5 rounds scaled, before failing to lift the 60kg - I was pretty close though!
104th out of 241
Week 4 : 14 min cap - 55 Deadlifts (102kg) , 55 Wall Balls (9kg), 55 calorie row, 55 Hand Stand Push Ups...
Going RX, I thought I'd be ok until the Hand Stand Push Ups - another movement that is beyond most people, and something I'd not even tried before the day.. And this ended up being my best workout, my tactic of lift/drop on the deadlift worked well for me and took away the stretch putting the bar back down. Wall balls are one of my strong movements, so I worked through them, and then with the row it really was get moving and hang on to a good stroke rate and power output. I had 2 minutes for the HSPU... and started off by going into a headstand! Mandy, our head coach (and judge) asked me what I was doing, asked me again and then shouted at me "You start in a headstand!!"... Aahh.. fall down..then go into a handstand against the wall, drop down and AAAAARRRRGGHHH! really close, need to get my feet on the wall, but wobble and fall away from the wall and onto the floor.. 2nd attempt goes the same way, and by the third I can't get more than halfway.. Inglorius failure, but 47th out of 241
Week 5 : And my real nemesis of Double Unders comes to haunt me.. For a time: 10 rounds of 9 Thrusters, 35 Double Unders..
350 bloody double unders, and I can't yet string them together, so going RX for me would be a bit of a joke.
I choose to go scaled (lighter weight at 35kg and 35 single skips) and smash through it in under 10 minutes, but feel a bit disappointed.
I know that Crossfit is a little bit Marmite for many people, both within the fitness arena and also people coming to try it, but having tried many sports, I do think their is a really positive community around the sport. Everyone comes together over this period of time, and my Social media feeds were buzzing with great short videos, messages and information, and this is from the top global athletes to lots of smaller gyms and the people involved.
Our box (gym) promotes doing the workout on a friday afternoon through to the evening, so the whole place is full of people, music, noise and is a massively supportive environment.
And as for me... I don't like failure and I do like a challenge... in addition to developing overall strength and fitness, there are 7 movements I need to nail to be able to complete RX...
Bring on 2018.. I'll be ready!