My Top 10 Tips To Maximizing Your Performance in the Open
By Natalie Newhart
Alright CrossFitters, time to talk business! For the next 5 weeks, most of us will be participating in the 2018 CrossFit Open with the ultimate goal of maximizing our performance potential in one hard workout each week.
Whether your personal goal is to qualify for Regionals or to simply complete all 5 workouts in the Scaled Division, the next 40 days is the perfect time for you to take a closer look at your lifestyle choices and make a commitment to refine your fitness, nutrition and recovery.
The Open consists of one hard workout per week for a total of 5 weeks. Many of you will be completing each workout twice, every Monday and Friday, in order to improve your leaderboard standings. With the limited time between workouts and the duration of the Open season, it will be imperative for each athlete to optimize their readiness and recovery between each workouts.
Here are my top tips on how to do just that:
- Decrease training volume through the week in order to keep the CNS fresh and maximize intensity for the Open workout. Strategize a new weekly training schedule based on when you’ll be performing your Open workouts. Ideally, you’d want to consider taking the day before your event completely off or as a light recovery. For instance if you plan on doing the Open workout Friday and Monday, then you’d take Thursday and Sunday as your recovery days and continue normal training on Tuesday, Wednesday and Saturday. If you’re on the bubble to qualifying for Regionals, then you’ll really want to be conservative with strenuous activity that will tax your CNS for Open workouts.
- No sudden changes on game day; Meaning, don’t make any huge adjustments in your food choices, meal timing, workout timing or supplements on game day. This is a classic rookie mistake. Continue with your daily routine as usual; If you typically fast before your workout and feel great that way, then don’t change a thing. If you feel light, energized and powerful with the foods you’re eating, then do NOT do anything differently. Basically, if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it. If you do want to make changes to your foods or supps, experiment with it a few days prior to the Open workout.
- Similar to Tip #2, perform the Open workouts around the same time you have been training all year on those days. Your body and mind has completely adapted to the workout regimen you’ve been consistent with- your brain, gut, muscles, lungs, and heart actually know your routine and will prepare the nervous system for the activity it is used to enduring. Last thing you want to do is surprise your circadian rhythm with an extremely intense workout at a time of day that it is not prepared for or used to. Your body is already in a rhythm… keep that rhythm.
- Plan out when you will eat your pre-workout meal. If you plan on doing the workout mid-morning or later, then plan on getting a solid meal in 2-3 hours prior to your workout, with a small carbohydrate snack at least 30 minutes prior to the workout if needed. It’s in your best interest to go into the workout in a slightly fasted state to maximize mental acuity, muscle endurance and sustained power. Your meal should consist of low to moderate protein, moderate carbs and low fat… choose foods that you know are easy to digest and have worked well with your gut in the past.
- Increase carbohydrate intake to appropriate levels to restore sugar levels in body and keep cortisol levels at bay. The Open is a very stressful phase, physically and emotionally, but each person will have a different response to that stress depending on their level of fitness. Thus, and experienced CrossFitter who plans on going ham will want to increase their carb intake signficantly, but only a slight increase in carbs will be necessary for a newer CrossFitter who won’t be pushing your body to such extremes. Best go-to carbs are a cyclic-dextrin carb supplement, white rice, sweet potatoes, and oats. Choose the least processed version of carbs and you’ll be properly fueled!
- After each workout, first take time to get in a proper cool down then get in your post workout shake… something like 20 min of light walking or biking will help flush out the lactic build up and will get you on a faster track to recovery, mentally and physically.
- Consume a post workout shake following your cool down. The cool down will give your digestive system time to relax before you down your post-workout shake. Protein to carb shake ratio varies between 1:1 to 1:3 depending on the intensity and duration of the workout. So if the workout was more taxing (think heavy and 10+ minutes), then you’d want to consume more carbs in relation to protein. We are looking to not only fuel your workouts but kickstart recovery the moment you’re finished. Protein and carbs will take care of this.
- Prioritize quality sleep all throughout the week. Besides maximizing our nutrition, sleeping is the most anabolic thing we can do for our bodies. Skip out on sound sleep and your reaction times will be slower, risk of injuries will be higher, and your speed will decrease. Sleep in a darkened room under cooler than normal temperatures for 7-9 hours per night… the closer you are to 9 hours, the better.
- Hydrate! Hydration can be easily overlooked but is SO important to your performance. Dehydration can wreck havoc on your body. Every cell in your body requires water in order to function. When we are putting our muscles through their paces during the Open water will be even more important. Skip out on H2O and legs will lock up on lunges, forearms will cramp on large sets of pull-ups, and just everything you don’t want to happen can happen. Just reaching 3% of dehydration and your physical and mental performance takes a hit. With that said, you better grab that water bottle now and get to it. A good goal would be to drink
- Have fun! Don’t forget about why you love CrossFit to begin with. We love the pain, the highs, the lows, the PRs, the ripped hands and the people who we get to share it with. Take a moment before each workout to look around and feel grateful for having found CrossFit and all the amazing people and experiences that come with it.