The 2021 Open is fast approaching, and this year there are a few significant changes to the format. Here is everything you need to know to prepare clients for the week ahead and to develop an Open Prep Course for your athletes in addition to their regular classes.

What we know so far:

  • The Open will only run for three weeks (March 11 – March 28) and will have an equipment-free option for members still not back to the gym.
  • New online competition (Quarterfinals) for the top ~10% of the 2021 Open.
  • Ten in-person Semi-Finals spread across six continents.
  • A “Last Chance Qualifier” for those that narrowly missed qualifying from the Semis.
  • Live and in-person CrossFit Games in Madison, Wisconsin, starting the week of July 26.
  • There will also be the return of Teens and Masters, alongside a brand new adaptive category.

In typical Dave Castro fashion, a list of all the equipment needed for the 2021 Open has been provided. Although it is nearly impossible to predict what each workout will look like, it does show that we won’t be seeing some old favorites like rowing, wall balls, or ring muscle-ups.

  • A Dumbell (Assume 50/35, 35/20)
  • A barbell and plates
  • A plyo box
  • A jump rope
  • A pull-up location

So what does that mean for you and your gym? How do you make sure that your athletes are peaking and your programming is dialed in to benefit your members?  

As long as an athlete at your gym has been attending classes regularly, 4-6 weeks is plenty of time to get your athletes ready. Here are some factors to consider when programming for the Open.

  • Set up your program about four weeks out to reflect a week during the Open:
    • Monday-Wednesday: Strength/Higher Intensity
    • Thursday: Active Recovery
    • Friday: Open Re-test WOD
    • Saturday & Sunday: Light-Moderate Intensity 
  • A few movements have been programmed in Open each year. Here are the top four your clients should be seeing once per week both in skill development and workouts: 
    • Thrusters
    • Toes to Bar
    • Double Unders
    • Gymnastics Pulls (Pull-ups, Chest-to-Bar Pull-ups, Muscle-ups)
  • Other movements likely to come up (all but 1 or 2 opens) include snatches, burpees, deadlifts, and cleans. For these movements, the focus should be on the technical side of cycling light-moderate reps of snatches, cleans, deadlifts, and pull-ups. Generally, many members struggle with these techniques or the concept of cycling high volume reps.
  • The two most common WOD schemes you can expect are couplets and triplets. That means when choosing which Open workouts to repeat, look for the movements listed above that have been combined. Workouts like 12.3, 14.1, 14.3, 16.2, 16.3, 17.1, 18.5, 19.5, and 20.4 are great places to start.
  • You need to have a plan for beginner, intermediate, and advanced athletes in your skill development sessions. If your program includes muscle-up skill work, a newer athlete who is still learning to kip and can’t do a pull-up might become discouraged. Instead, make sure every skill session has a few options for your coaches to help members regardless of their experience level. Here is a great example: 

Gymnastics Pulling Progression EMOM

Above all, you need to make the Open and the month leading up to it as fun as possible. Getting members into the spirit of the Open, helping them develop new skills, and familiarizing them with the movements they can expect to see are the most important things you can do when programming for the Open!