“I need to get fitter”, “Improve my engine”

The 2021 Open is only 9 weeks away and many people are saying the same thing.

However, doing more endless running, rowing, assault bike or even more class WODs will not easily improve your aerobic system for 2021.

Crossfit is mixed modal in nature. Meaning that if you are doing rowing intervals, you are improving your aerobic system, provided it is the right intensity and volume. But the aerobic system is specific and that means you are improving your rowing aerobic fitness.

The KEY to improving your aerobic system for the Open is being able to turn the skills that will show up in the Open into aerobic movements and having the ability to seamlessly move between movements. We now know there will be a barbell, dumbbell, box, pull up bar and skipping rope. So your aerobic training should reflect possible movements that could appear in the Open. The key initially is selected manageable reps and time domains that suit YOUR ability.

For example

3 x 5 min AMRAP

12 Thrusters @ 135/95lb

15 C2B

20 Box Jump 

Rest 5 min between AMRAPS and work at a sustainable pace. Aiming for even rounds and reps each AMRAP.

Now, this might be suitable for Mat Fraser but certainly not maybe not a Masters athlete or someone not proficient at C2B. If you’re breaking the thrusters up into 2-3 sets, C2B into 3 sets and more than 15 sec rest between movements, you have turned this into an anaerobic piece and it’s doing little to develop your aerobic system.

A better approach might be

3 sets

2 rounds

6 Thrusters @ 95/65lbs

8 C2B

10 Box jump

Rest 90 sec between sets

Work at a sustainable pace, aiming for even rounds and reps each round.

This might allow the athlete to continuously move, complete the manageable reps and work at a sustainable pace, ultimately using the aerobic system. Progressive overload can be applied but adding more reps, rounds, sets or decrease the rest but only one should be manipulated.

Obviously, this is just an example and I have only touched the surface. There are many more tweaks we can do to improve our aerobic system for the OPEN and developing it is highly athlete dependant.

How can you apply these principles in a class setting?

1) Stop trying to beat everyone and focus on you.

2) Stop going RX and scale weight, so you are not having to break the workout into little sets with big rests. Small sets are fine, with small rests.

3) Break reps up into manageable sets, that allow short rest periods (linked to above).

4) Know your metrics. Understanding your body and knowing what is manageable for you.

5) Work on your pacing. Practise finding a sustainable pace, if everything above is done correctly. Over time that pace will become quicker.

Now GO Crush the OPEN.