Preparing for Competition
For this episode I am going to be talking about the best way to prepare for an event. We have the CrossFit Open starting in 6 weeks’ time. This a good period to be completing final preparations for a competition.
I am not going into detail on complete annual training cycles but think of the last 6 weeks before an event as like the final days before a big exam. You should have done most of the work before this date. You are not going to able to massively increase your strength numbers or master skills in the short period of time remaining. Immediately following your recovery from an event is when you give much of your focus to this side of your training.
The last 6 weeks are about giving yourself the best chance with what you have. When we are talking about competition this means covering the following bases:
Although CrossFit includes a multitude of tests there is one area that will give you the biggest bang for you buck when it comes to results. This is body composition. Aim to get your bodyfat down as low as possible. There is a low point, Games athletes work at around 6-10% for the guys and 9-14% for the girls. Doing this will remove excess load that you will need to move throughout workouts. If you can drop 3-5kg of fat this will make any workouts involving bodyweight significantly easier. Consider this as a calculation of work capacity. Workouts like Fran have featured in every CrossFit Open, Fran consists of 45 pull ups. If you shed 5kg of bodyfat that means moving 225kg (45 x 5kg) less weight through the workout! Considering the Open has a plan for no equipment options this year your bodyweight is even more significant. Think about burpees, double unders, box jumps all of these are made significantly harder when weighted!
Start tracking your macro nutrients and aim to hit your lowest bodyfat 3-5 days prior to the event. Remember when cutting weight to time your carbohydrates around your workout. You want to have energy to give everything for these crucial engine building workouts but not so much that you are holding on to bodyfat. Whether it is a competition, wedding, photoshoot, or any other important date the principles of preparation are remarkably similar. The only difference is the last few days!
On the last days before a competition up your calories to a maintenance level to ensure you are primed for workouts.
If we have been working skills and strength prior to this period now is the time to flip the switch on intensity. All Open works range between the 5–20-minute window and we need to train as such. For our in-box programming there will be more emphasis on competition style workouts to get you prepared. We will complete previous Open workouts and other that are similar in nature. The tough part from an athlete’s point of view is that now you must force yourself into the ‘pain cave’. We need to be pushing for extra reps, hanging on to the bar for longer than you would like and suffering more during each workout. Workouts longer than 20 minutes should be used as recovery as the focus needs to be on those short hard workouts.
You can perform more than one workout in a day, but it is important to value the intensity over the volume. Training too much can also result in training too slow. If you hit 2 workouts, then make sure your rest period between each is significant. Maybe performing a morning/evening split. Ensure you have at least 2 recovery days in an 8-day period.
The key is trying to push as hard as possible for 3 to a maximum of 5 workouts a week. Other workouts can be performed but you should be sensible!
This may sound contradictory when I have just said push hard. But this means that now is not the time for PR attempts on lifts or pushing your scaling choice on workouts to a point where form suffers. If you are in between weights, go lighter and faster in good form. The competition is when you can go heavy, adrenaline will do a lot to help that! Mat Fraser won the Clean event in the 2019 Games and stated he had not lifted anything close to the weight he cleaned in the months leading up the Games. It is about moving well with intensity.
Although it may be too late to learn and perfect new skills it is still important to think about barriers that will affect your score in the workouts. If you are really close to your first toes to bar, then working on your kip swing and core/hip flexor strength may mean achieving you first one in competition. I personally achieved my first bar muscle up in the 2018 Open. This acceleration of PRs is because more often when you face a class workout that includes a movement you cannot do you will rightly scale to achieve the desired training stimulus. In a competition however there are times where you have no option but to try and reach new levels to progress. This added element has seen multiple PRs.
This year the Open is unique as it is planned for everyone to be more limited on equipment. The equipment list is as follows:
- A dumbbell
- A barbell and plates
- A plyo box
- A jump rope
- A pull-up location
Areas to look at for this year’s Open would be:
· Pull ups, Toes to Bar, Handstand press ups, Handstand walk, press ups, double unders and box jumps. With all of these if you manage to achieve just 1 rep you will move thousands of places on the leaderboard. We know that this year there are not going to be muscle ups and ring work at the Open stage. (Those who may reach the quarter finals can consider working these skills.)
· Cleans and Snatches – With requirement of a rig we can assume that all lifts will be from the floor which means you will need to clean or snatch the weight. Deadlifts are also likely to be there but as previously stated you cannot make massive strength gains in 6 weeks. Therefore focus is better spent on the Olympic lifts. History of the Open allows us to guess the potential weights/increments. Have a look back at previous workouts and see if you are on the boundary of the next weight up on a lift. Much like the gymnastics movements achieving 1 rep at a heavier weight can move you many thousands of positions on the leaderboard. For example Men’s Rx weights for the clean Workout 19.2 (63,85,102,125,145). If you are close to achieving an 85kg clean, then work technique on this and hope that adrenaline can carry you over. For reference Ladies Scaled weights were (25,35,45,55,65). A quick search will find you the same info for snatches. Check the various categories and work on trying to get over that border weight for yourself. Those of you without barbells at home should focus on the gymnastic movement and engine work. Use our barbell programme to work skills with a PVC to give you the best chance if we do manage to perform the Open at the box.
Competitions have one other difference between regular training. They are judged by your peers. This means your rep standards need to be on point. Ensure you reach depth on squats and press ups, lockout weight overhead and ensure pull ups and toes to bar are hitting the standards. It is time to be your own strictest judge. Work on this now so you do not get caught out in competition.
This is why competitions and events are so important. It will give you a focus. A reason to get your nutrition on point, to add intensity to every session and to work on the quality of your movement. Without deadlines and end points all our work becomes complacent and sub optimal. Now is the time for this to stop and the real fun to begin!