CrossFitters worldwide are getting excited butterflies in their stomach at the thought of the announcement of the first Open WOD of 2013 (or second, if you saw 13.0 already). While only a very few elite athletes will go on to Regionals — and an even tinier percentage of that group will go on to the Games — everyone else participating is still striving to improve their own respective performances and find out how they measure up against the world. Besides greater absolute strength, what separates the weekend warrior CrossFitter from Games athletes?
Open WODs vs. Regionals
If you haven’t already read it, check out Doug Chapman‘s “Thoughts on Virtuosity and Coaching” from last June. What is the dividing line between the Open WODs vs. the Regional WODs? Chapman, coach of 2nd place finisher Julie Foucher, summed it up this way:
The Open programming was inclusive and let everyone participate. It is like the entrance exam to get into a college. Anyone can take the SAT, but with each extra point the students expose whether they have the potential to complete a degree. Similarly, anyone can do the Open, but with each extra rep, the competitors expose their raw potential to excel in the Games season.
In contrast to the Open, the Regionals programming was exclusionary. The Regionals are designed to cut down the 60 to just three — such that only those who have a chance of being named the Fittest on Earth may advance to Carson, Calif.Virtuosity is achieved through practically perfect movements even during practice so that great form becomes muscle memory, almost automatic.
In my opinion, the Regional workouts achieve this goal by punishing those with poor mechanics, lack of virtuosity in training, and insufficient programming depth.
“Poor mechanics, lack of virtuosity in training, and insufficient programming depth.” Regardless of your plans to make a run at the Games or just become a better CrossFitter each day, you should care about all of these elements, too.
Caring About Movement Standards Every Day
Holley Dickmeyer at CrossFit Intrepid responded to Chapman’s article and highlights why the best athletes dominate in competition:
[T]he top athletes complete each movement the exact same way every time, almost making it difficult to keep up with the rep count. These athletes train with “uncompromising attention to detail everyday.” Virtuosity is achieved through practically perfect movements even during practice so that great form becomes muscle memory, almost automatic. Athletes consistently getting no reps are a result of not meeting the standard for movements during training. If you do a movement wrong or don’t complete the movement on a regular basis, you sure aren’t going to do it correctly every time in competition.
In other words, there is no double standard for the elite among us; there is only one high standard that the best of the best try to replicate day in and day out during each training session. If you are not there yet, are you doing accessory work? Are you mobilizing? The only way to achieve big goals is to chip away at them, one centimeter at a time.
Not surprisingly, this also means no cherry-picking when it comes to your daily training. After the initial newness of CrossFit has worn off, it can be easy to check the WOD blog in advance and decide that you’re going to skip or “rest” on the days when challenging movements are on the board. But just as you need a plan to address movement weaknesses, you also need to be conscious of gaps in your overall programming:
[A]thletes at the top have no glaring weaknesses, they find themselves at the top of the leaderboard regardless of the type of work out (short, long, heavy, body weight focused, etc). It is the job of the trainers to come up with balanced programming to build athletes as evenly as possible in all areas… It’s your job as an athlete to know where you are unbalanced and put in the effort to minimize your weaknesses and expand your strengths with the guidance of your coaches. Overall, an athlete who practices movements with full range of motion, good mechanics and is well rounded with no obvious weaknesses will come out on top.