Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Thoughts on Reebok CrossFit Games Open WOD #12.1

A year ago, 26,000 people around the world signed up for the CrossFit Games Open. CrossFit opened the doors to the world once again (50,000 people as of Feb. 22, 2012 in fact...) to throw down and see who is the fittest in the world. Folks will have 5 weeks and as many workouts to sort themselves by region. Top 60 men, top 60 women, and top 30 teams move on to each regional competition. From there, 2-3 each of men, women, and teams move on to the CrossFit Games held at the Home Depot Center in California. Last year Rich Froning Jr., "Iceland" Annie Thorisdottir, and CF New England were the respective winners. In the Masters Division, the winners were: Scott DeTore, Susan Habbe (45-49), Gord Mackinnon, Mary Beth Litsheim (50-54), Steve Anderson, Shelley Noyce (55-60), and Greg Walker (60+). 

 Something new this year is that past champions need to compete in the Open. In the past, champions have always had a bye to the Games. This year, if a champion takes a qualifying spot at Regionals, an additional person is invited to the Games (on top of the 2 or 3 already qualifying). Let's take a look at the first workout of the 2012 season. 

Mid burpee. Photo courtesy of Tom Cercedes of CF Del Val
Complete as many reps as possible in 7 minutes of: BURPEES
This workout begins from the standing position. The Athlete will move from flat on the ground to touching an object with both hands that is 6 inches above their max reach. Score is total reps completed.

Keep moving! Some folks will go all out from the start, but may be gassed by minute four. This is totally dependent on how you work and what your stamina is like. If you know you can go the full 7 minutes at high intensity, go for it. If, however, you know 7 minutes is a long time for burpees, keep a pace so that you are just moving the whole time. Also, if you're someone who likes to rest, perhaps try going at full intensity for a set amount of reps and then take 5-10 seconds to rest. Try to have someone nearby to yell at you, encourage you, or do whatever it is that you need to keep moving. It may help to pick a number ahead of time and try to reach that number. Something that may be helpful is to chunk numbers so that you create mini goals. For instance, pick 25 as the first number to get to and then count another 25. Since most people work better with short term goals, this could be helpful mentally. The fact is, you can always do one more. This is a testament to your ability to push your limits and quite simply, how much you're willing to give. It's a matter of WILL.

In terms of the actual burpee movement, there are some things that might help, namely, where you jump your feet. One possible way is to jump your feet OUTSIDE your hands, not in. Doing this creates less emphasis on your knees/quads and more on your posterior chain and hip flexion. If you watch anyone extremely proficient at burpees, they always jump their feet out and keep their hands in a push up width, however, this is usually not to a target. The second consideration is this target. Jumping your feet INSIDE your feet will allow you to stand taller, essentially making your jump shorter. BUT it places more emphasis on the quads which will probably be burning anyway. 

 In true egalitarian fashion, CrossFit has posted a workout that is accessible to everyone around the world. Simple in nature, yet devastating by the end of 7 minutes, burpees haunt CrossFitters in their sleep (and while awake). The fact that no equipment is necessary makes this one of, if not the most accessible workout to date. EVERYONE from eight year veterans to day one CrossFitters should be able to get a score and could theoretically do it two or three times to best themselves. However, the standard of jumping 6 inches will be quite different for those who usually speed through with half open hips and hair-thin jumps. Generally your lighter, more agile athletes will fare better at this single modality workout. Heavier athletes are probably cursing this workout, (if you were anywhere near social media when the workout came out, you probably saw things like this actual paragraph posted by my friend, Prime (as in Optimus Prime): 

"Way to knock it out of the park Crossfit HQ. Reduce the open from 6 weeks to 5 and why dont we have week one be a 7 min AMRAP of burpees? Way to go. Next week will be a 6 min AMRAP of hugs and cartwheels.....but the RX will come in a FULL bear hug, ass out hugs are scaling."

Needless to say, Prime is much larger (and stronger) than me and his reaction is hilarious. Either way, this is just the first of five workouts. I guarantee strength and size will play a bigger role (pun intended) overall for the CrossFit Open and true Transformers will reign supreme. At the end of these five weeks, everyone will have forgotten the simple burpee workout and will be talking about that crazy C+J/OHS/Snatch/deadlift/etc. workout. 

Speal at CF KoP for a cert
Christy Phillips winning 2010 CF Central East Region

This one is going to go to my favorite CrossFitter, Chris Spealler. Although I have Mikko coming in a very close second (he once did 1000 burpees for time and did 30 burpees every minute with REST for the first 15 minutes), Spealler simply has a shorter way to go on the hip opening and jump. Although Speal has gained weight for the Games season, I still think he's got the engine he's always had. For the women, it's a little tougher to predict, but I'm going to go with Christy Phillips from CrossFit MPH in DC. I was able to see Christy's performance in the 2010 Central East Regionals and she is a force. Her determination to win is what's going to get her 1st in this workout. 

How many burpees are you going for? 
What's your strategy? 
What are your predictions??


  1. I too predict Speal but I think an unknown girl will win...topping Clever by 2.

    I did 100 for time in my hotel room two weeks ago and I was one with the tiny jump and got to 100 in 7 minutes. After seeing the likes of Katie Hogan and what not, my goal is 75. I think I will be pretty fired up with that.

  2. I am going to pace myself, try to stay at a constant steady rate and not have to stop for rest. I also would be happy with 75, anything over that would be a bonus.


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