How To Prepare for the CrossFit Open (23 Training and Lifestyle Tips)

Published on:

Last Updated on:

January 13, 2023
a barbell on the floor in a gym to prepare for the 2023 CrossFit Open

It’s just about “3-2-1 GO!” time and the CrossFit Open is right around the corner. Whether this is your first year or you’re a seasoned athlete going for an all-time-best ranking this year, there’s lots you can do to prepare for the CrossFit open.

From changing up your training to the little things, like dialing in lifestyle and psychological factors, we’ve got you covered.

Here are 23 ways you can prepare to crush the Open this year.

1. Make Sure You Register On Time

Don’t forget the most important part! All athletes must be registered (and pay the $20 fee to participate) in order for their scores to be input. You can register right on the CrossFit.com website.

If you don’t register prior to the first workout release (for the 2023 Open, that date is February 16), you won’t have data from the first workout in the system.

2. Study Workouts from the Previous Opens

Be a student of history and you’ll learn many of the previous CrossFit Open workouts follow a pattern.

Some patterns from previous open workouts include:

  • Tendency for couplet and triplet style workouts
  • Time-caps on workouts
  • Max reps or max weight on certain barbell movements
  • High rep deadlifts
  • High-skill movements like HSPU or wall walks

Because it’s such a big competition, the organizers tend to prioritize basic movements. They also favor equipment most gyms have, so you probably don’t have to worry about anything obscure finding it’s way in. There may be a surprise or two in there, but most of the movements from the functional fitness world can be expected.

3. Dial In Your Nutrition

What you put in is what you’ll get out of these Open workouts. Dialing in your nutrition in the weeks prior can help you maximize your training and overall scores. (This applies all year, really.)

Consider counting macronutrients and focus heavily on getting enough protein and carbs in each day to fuel your training. Avoid sugar and stick to sources like rice and sweet potato when possible.

You should go into the Open with a meal plan and simple lifestyle factors established, not tweaking things as the weeks go on.

4. Practice Gymnastics Movements

The coaches programming the Open workouts know they must create workouts that separate top performers from those who may just get great open scores off one crazy sprint effort.

That’s why movements like handstand push-ups, toes to bar, bar muscle ups, and last year, wall walks, always seem to make their way into programming.

Many athletes can handle a few reps, but high reps (especially when the repetitions climb) show who put in the tough training days and who didn’t. Start working your gymnastic movements now!

5. Work On Anaerobic and Aerobic Capacity

Moderate workouts (usually under 20 minutes) dominate the CrossFit Open because scoring chipper WODs would be very difficult for affiliates.

Between now and the Open, train both your anaerobic (short distance sprints, high-intensity efforts) and aerobic cardio to prepare for the CrossFit Open successfully.

6. Practice Double Unders

Other skilled movements like double unders have their way of sneaking into the CrossFit Open. Doing as many sets of these between now and the start of the competition as you can would be wise.

7. Set Reminders for Scoring Submissions

It would be a tough pill to swallow to get a massive PR and realize you didn’t submit your scores in time. They need to be in by Monday afternoon each subsequent week. Set reminders on your phone now to avoid this worst-case-scenario.

8. Dial In Your Sleep Routine

One of the most important lifestyle and psychological factors to dial in is your sleep. Sleep helps with recovery and gives you the best chance at doing your best.

Aim for at least eight hours every night leading up to the CrossFit Open, as well as during it. For optimal health and recovery, this should be a priority for your training anyway.

9. Train With a Partner (or At an Affiliate)

A little competition rolls into the gym and all of a sudden you hit a big PR. Or you start training under the watchful eye of a coach (or other CrossFit athletes) and you notice your skills improve. What gives? Well, you’re holding yourself accountable to others, and you increase ability as a result.

Join a gym or train with others, even if it means adjusting your schedule. Even if it’s just for the Open, it’ll help boost performance. Oh, and you can’t submit scores remotely anymore, so you’ll need to work out with others to compete in 2023 anyway.

10. Hydrate

Physical performance deteriorates when the body is dehydrated by even 5 percent. 100 ounces of liquid per day for men and women is baseline, and you should add 16 ounces of water per half hour of training as a minimum.

11. Look At What Other Top Competitors Are Doing

Follow a few of your favorite CrossFit Games athletes on Instagram and study their routines. See if there’s anything you can add to your repertoire. Don’t mix and match too much, especially if you’re already following your gyms programming. But little things, like how they rest in between exercises or transition movements, could come up big during the Open.

12. Establish Baselines for the Major Lifts

Test one-rep maxes in the major lifts, especially cleans and snatches, so you know roughly what you can hit if maxes get called upon. The Open likes to sneak these in every couple years.

13. Make Sure You Don’t Peak Too Late

Training volume should peak no later than two to three weeks before the competition. You shouldn’t be hitting big one-rep PRs the weekend before the first Thursday WOD announcement. Give your body a chance to recover.

14. Train for Psychological Factors

Go through the mental prep to get ready for the Open. Practice old workouts with the mentality you want to have on competition day. Some athletes add an Open Simulation Saturday training session to their program in the weeks before the games.

15. Practice Transitions In Your WODs Now

Almost every Open workout involves alternating between at least two movements.

One common transition is moving between a rower and a pull up bar or a barbell and a pull up bar. There are many combinations they can use here, from rowing to pull ups to squat cleans to toes to bar.

Practice these! Faster transitions can save you literally minutes of time during workouts, which will help you maximize your score.

16. Set a Realistic Goal Based Around Time

Where is your training and fitness level? How long until the Open starts?

You may not dramatically improve in two months; but you can make a total transformation in eight or ten months. Keep stress levels low by having a goal that you can actually reach in your mind.

17. Refine Your Warm Ups

Some of the CrossFit Open workouts are, quite literally, “3-2-1 GO!” and you need to have your body ready from the jump to get the best score. In a seven minute workout, you can’t afford to lose two minutes because you’re not fully warm.

Practice now by adding 10 extra minutes to your warmup. Work through basic skills and skill-specific movements to the WOD, then do some plyometrics like box jumps or explosive push ups to prepare your body.

18. Drill Heavy Olympic Lifts While Under Duress

Practice heavy cleans and snatches while breathing. These come up frequently in the Open. If you can clean 315 fresh but only hit 255 when your heart rate is elevated, you may not get the score you were hoping for.

It might help to lift around others to simulate the pressure of hitting a big lift, too.

19. Use Rest Days to Work On Skills

Whether you program an easy training day Sunday or you take multiple days off per week, use the 12 weeks before the CrossFit Open to get in the gym and rep out your weaknesses.

Rest days are a great time to do a muscle up or two, drill double unders, practice wall balls, and do more advanced movements like handstand walks.

Keep the volume low so you aren’t gassed the next day. Rest days aren’t the time to work on aerobic capacity or do sprints, either.

20. Keep Your Dumbbells Warm

Dumbbells are another popular inclusion in Open workouts. If you’re programming for yourself, make sure you rep out the basic dumbbell variations we’ve seen in the past (dumbbell snatches, cleans, etc.) a few times before the Open.

21. Decide On Your Strategy

Will you do one workout per week when the CrossFit Open rolls in? Or will you aim to double up and give yourself twice the pain but a chance to beat your score every Monday morning before submission times? Decide now and start training accordingly.

22. Practice “All Out” Sets at the End of Workouts

Those “separator” sets we mentioned earlier sometimes end up being burner sets at the very end of workouts. For example, 15 muscle ups, which a large majority of athletes in any given gym won’t be able to hit in a small window of time when they’re breathing hard.

Practice these now at the end of workouts when you’re tired. Don’t use max training volume in all your workouts. Instead, take one movement from an example training split and drill to failure (one or two sets maximum) after a workout.

If you can hit 10 muscle ups or 20 chest to bar pull ups when you’re already fatigued, that could come in handy later.

23. Start Preparing for Next Year Right Away

Take some time off to assess your performance when this year’s Open ends, then start looking at what you need to do to improve for next year. Brutal honesty and self-reflection are two of the most powerful tools you have in your arsenal for success.

The Open is a special time of the year and we wish you nothing but success. Go crush it!

About Julien Raby