The Open is over, some are happy, some are sad. But what happens next?

Well for most people the Open has highlighted in big bloody massive letters, the weaknesses that we’ve been avoiding. Come on, did you really think you were going to link your toes to bar for the first time? Or that watching muscle ups on you tube was going to somehow be absorbed into your muscle memory and you were going to soar above the rig like an eagle? So maybe the gaps in your crossfit game are not new news, but are you actually going to do something about them now? 

This year is a little different to all of the previous years’ open seasons. 2019 will see a second Open in October, qualifying competitors for the 2020 Games. This gives you only about 6 months to get to work and see some improvement.

Many of you will have been posting your Open statistics eg how many places you have climbed up the leaderboard vs 2018, or that this year you completed all the WODs RX. Well that’s all very good, but you should have had an improvement over 12 months. Obviously making allowances for injuries, or maybe you’ve popped out a baby, it makes sense that if you have been taking part in CrossFit regularly, you will have improved. But, I’m thinking ahead and wondering if I will still be able to say the same in 6 months time. It’s going to be a lot harder to improve significantly, in a shorter space of time,  if you don’t start working now on the things that have let you down in 19.0. 


I realise that it is much nicer to continuously work on the things you like doing, or have a more natural affinity with. Nobody loves to slog away at something that is difficult. But I am motivated by my sister. She is faster than me at CrossFit, stronger, tougher (and younger). But can she do a wall ball? Nope. She cannot hit the target consistently. The wall ball smacks her in the face, she mis-catches it and bends her fingers back. She cannot squat low enough and she even managed to head butt the wall itself in 19.1 . Although there is some part of me that enjoys her obvious struggle (come on- sibling rivalry and all that), we both know that if she had been able to operate properly in 19.1, she would have probably ranked 1000’s of places higher. And, the Open aside, to have not mastered such a basic movement is going to hold her back in many everyday WODs and local competitions. 


So every day since the Open finished, she has turned up at the box and completed 30 wall balls before her warm up. Every time. And this is in front of everyone waiting for their class to start. She has pushed aside her feelings of embarrassment and just got on with it. If wall balls come up in the next Open, she will be ready (well I hope so, because currently progress is slow). 


So what is the approach?


It’s unlikely that your strength is going to significantly improve in the next 6 months. Maybe you’ll achieve one PB? Two if you are very lucky. But for many of us, 19.0 highlighted the weaknesses in our gymnastics. When toes to bars or bar muscle ups are done properly, they look graceful, smooth and easy. But despite watching hours of tutorials on youtube, it appears that these skills cannot be learnt through absorption of information. A complex mix of strength, flexibility, co-ordination and grip strength all go into creating these beautiful movements. Gymnastic ability was one of the major factors that separated the pack in the 19.0 Open.


So how are you going to focus on gymnastics without detracting from your lifting or endurance? 

How can you add more into your training without considerable time and financial expense? 


I’m looking at two options. 


The first is a monthly PT session with a CrossFit Gymnastics trained coach.

I am lucky enough to know one (@emgage13). I don’t want to be practising something incorrectly and developing any bad habits. I’ve no idea why it is soooo much easier to learn a bad habit, but I guess there is a philosophy for life here. This is the more costly of options. But I figure that a small investment at the start of my gymnastics journey will save me an awful lot more in physio/ medical bills than if I plough ahead on my own and hurt myself. 



The second option is an online training program. 


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Bar Muscle-Up Entry. - In the video I show two ways to enter the Kipping Bar Muscle-Up to optimise your leverage for your first rep. - By “optimising leverage”, I mean, efficiently bringing the torso as close to the bar as you can before attempting to go over. - Maybe the biggest lightbulb moment for many athletes will be the cue “the body must continue to rise after the hip extension” 💡. - The reason for failed reps and chicken wings is when an athlete’s body does not continue moving upwards during the transition, but the hips pull back instead. - The pull-up bar is an immovable object you must rise on top of. This is what makes this transition different to the Ring Muscle-Up. - Of course, knowledge and application are not the same thing. Even after an athlete becomes aware of this concept 💡, unless they have enough power in the lats & the core it’s going to be difficult to execute this continued rise. - As always make sure strength is your priority! - @simonnieland #SYNGymnastics #SYNNER - #barmuscleup #crossfitgymnastics #muscleups #crossfitters

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I have been following gymnastics specialist Simon Nieland (@simonnieland SYN Gymnastics) on instagram for quite a while now. His approach is simple and has varying levels of ability. So if you are like me, and are pretty crappy on the rig or, you are a competent flying ninja up there, there are options suitable for you. 


The rise of the online training program has really surprised me. Probably because I only got an instagram account a year ago. But advances in technology has made it so much easier (and cheaper) for trainer and student to communicate. You can access tutorials on the web, input data via an app and even have FaceTime catch ups. Now you can have training from someone anywhere in the world. And most importantly, it works. Expert, personalised guidance on how to break down the movements and completing accessory work to build strength and flexibility. 

I’m really excited to give it a go. But I am also feeling more focused too, knowing that I have a plan and an objective which has been broken down into mini-goals. 

These are just some ideas to consider. Maybe you are happy with where you are, and that’s great. But if you aren’t, don’t just sit there moaning about being too old, too tall, too small, too big. Put a plan in place and get on with it. If there’s one thing that successful CrossFit athletes have in common, it is that they get their head down and put the work in. 


“The numbers don’t lie, neither does the work…The Bright lights don’t make you shine, they only reveal the work you did in the dark” Kammi Hickman (@killakam_17)

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