Redos and the CrossFit Open

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by Taryn Haggerstone

For a lot of CrossFitters, the Open is one of the most exciting parts of the year ‘CrossFit Year’, regardless of what level they’re at. For recreational CrossFitters it’s a chance to throw down against the rest of the (CrossFit) world and see how you stack up; and for the more competitive athletes it’s the first step on the way to Super Regionals, the Masters Qualifier and possibly the CrossFit Games.

crossfit meme

Because it’s such an exciting 5 weeks however, it can be easy to get a little ‘carried away’ with the Open, and fall into the trap of doing “whatever it takes” – let our technique go, push through injuries, redo workouts multiple times –  to get just a few more reps. In the end however, what matters more than our score(s), and where we place, is what we learn from the Open and how we apply that to our training to become better athletes down the line.

So on that note, let’s talk about “redos”, and some questions you should ask yourself (or your clients) before making the decision to redo

  1. How does my body feel (honest answer), and
  2. Why am I redoing/what do I hope to achieve?

Because if your body is feeling wrecked from your first attempt at an Open Workout and/or there is no chance of you advancing to the next stage (Super Regionals, Masters Qualifier) is a redo really worth it?

16.2 Photo Credit: Julieth Fajardo

16.2 Photo Credit: Julieth Fajardo

Rather than placing emphasis on short-term improvement (a few more reps in a workout) why not take what you learned from the workout

E.g. “I can’t double under when fatigued”, or “I need to strengthen my midline”

and apply that knowledge to your training, so that you can come back stronger/more well-rounded next year.  For 99% of CrossFitters, there is no “next step” after the 16.5 – it’s back to regular training until next year – and in most cases people would benefit more from hitting the workout once and getting back to training, rather than redoing it.

The Open Workouts are good tests of fitness – they push us to to our limits and reveal where our weaknesses lie – but a lot of the time our limting factor(s) aren’t things we can fix in a few days.

E.g. weak posterior chain, lack of muscular endurance

And if this is the case, our odds of seeing any significant improvement on a redo is minimal. On top of that, there is often a higher risk of injury when we redo, because we are taking an already weakened system/muscle group(s) and placing it under a lot of stress.

16.2 Photo Credit Julieth Fajado

16.2 Photo Credit Julieth Fajardo

That being said, sometimes the issue isn’t our strength or cardio, its our pacing; and in that cases it is possible to ‘get better’ in only a few days. Keep in mind however, this improvement doesn’t mean we have become “fitter”; it just means we have gotten better at taking the test. Which isn’t in itself bad – the ability to “test well” is important both in life and in crossfit –  however, going 100% on a workout and/or hitting maxes is only one piece of what it takes to become a good athlete. Behind all the PRs and impressive performances there is a lot of hard work that must be put in – much of which is not exciting/fun – if we’re too busy testing and retesting ourselves we won’t have time for the “grunt work”.

That being said, for that top 1% of CrossFitters the Open is a stepping stone to the next step – Super Regionals, the Games – and depending on how you stack up in your Region, a redo may be the difference between moving on to the next stage and not. But even here, I would recommend using discretion when deciding whether or not to redo, and taking certain factors into account.

1. Can you Qualify without A Redo?

For those athletes who are consistently at the very top of the leaderboard,redo’s often aren’t necessary (although they may do better) because their initial score is more than enough to qualifty them for the next stage. And many of these athletes may choose not to ‘redo’, so they can focus their time and energy on training for the next stage – Super Regionals, Masters Qualifiers and/or The Games.

2. What can you gain (points/spots on the leaderboard) vs. what do you risk losing

For the ‘Fringe Athletes’ – the ones sitting right on the bubble of qualifying – there is a good possibility that you’ll need to redo at least one workout (if not more) in order to secure your ticket to Super Regionals. However, if you find yourself in this scenario, its important to be smart about your redos and honest with yourself with regards to  

  • how many more reps you think you can get (and how important each rep is on the leaderboard), and
  • What sort of state your body is in

Because if a redo only gets you one more rep, and it fucks your back up – it wasn’t worth it. Pick your battles, and if there is a workout you don’t think you can safely redo and/or improve upon, then move on and focus on the next week.

Ultimately, the decision to redo (or not) is up to you and your coaches to make. However, if you are planning to redo, at least take what I have said into consideration and don’t just make the decision blindly. It’s easy to get caught up in the “craziness” of the CrossFit Open, but in the end it’s just another workout (well 5 workouts) and it’s not worth injuring yourself for a few reps/spots on the leaderboard.

Visit Taryn Haggerstone’s blog Go Hard Get Strong for more of her thoughts on training. Follow her on Twitter at @TarynHaggerston and Instagram at @tarynemilyh.

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