CrossFit Games

Bold Prediction: How This CrossFit Open Could be All Repeat WODs

October 10, 2019 by
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That’s right, you heard correctly, all repeats. 

Five weeks of Open competition comprised entirely of workouts that Dave Castro has already tortured tested us with over the past ten years. That means no new Open workouts to strategize for or watch anxiously as your guinea pig friend “tests it out first,” and no new test to speculate the potential top-end scores for. 

Before you write off the potential for all repeats as boring or unlikely, hear me out. The concept of recycling five Open workouts, although novel, isn’t that far-fetched. If you know your CrossFit Games history, as well as the core fundamentals of the CrossFit methodology, then the idea of having an Open test made entirely of things we’ve seen and tackled before starts to make a little more sense. 

Three big things to consider. We’ll dive into each one more down below. 

  • CrossFit really likes to recognize its history, which was particularly on display at the 10th anniversary 2016 CrossFit Games. 
  • Test, test and re-test. Castro is notorious for introducing re-tests into every stage of competition. 
  • It’s actually possible to combine five workouts from previous years that have never been repeated before and make a complete five-week test.
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Know Your History

This the 10th anniversary of the CrossFit Games Open, an important benchmark for what started in 2011 as a controversial online competition stage evolved from the Sectionals competitions a year prior. 

An important benchmark: A decade of the Open is a big deal for a sport that is still fairly young, and has a history of nostalgia, symbolism, and paying homage to its roots. This extends well past the Open and has been a part of every stage of competition.

  • During the 10th CrossFit Games in 2016, athletes and fans were surprised by a trip to “The Ranch,” in Aromas, California and the first day of competition took place at the original home of the Games, where the sport began. 
  • That same year, there was significant branding dedicated to the 10th year concept that was present across the Games platforms including athlete jerseys, signage, and media assets such as graphics, and advertising. 
  • The iTunes best selling documentary covering the Games that year was aptly titled “Fittest on Earth: A decade of fitness” and included elements on the history of the sport’s past up through the present. 

More Recently: Dave Castro, who was unusually quiet during the 2019 Open, has been posting past photos of his programming board from the first few years of the Open along with some insights. The posts harken back to when the sport was still in its infancy, and immediately raised some eyebrows as to the true intent of the posts. 

  • Castro: “I believe 12.1 was one of the nastiest Open tests ever.”

Factor in things like the creation of the hero workout Amanda for the Games, and the later use of workouts like 2007 from the inaugural year, it’s clear that the Games organizers have a clear sense of the sport’s history, and how to preserve it by weaving it into the fabric of future seasons.

Test and Retest

The tenet of creating workouts or specific tests, and returning to them later as a means of tracking progress and assessing one’s fitness is a fundamental part of the application of the CrossFit methodology. Greg Glassman has repeatedly stated that in developing CrossFit he wanted to build fitness that stands up to the rigors of the scientific method – observable, measurable, and repeatable. 

The result: A collection of benchmark workouts that most affiliates and fans are familiar with have been used consistently since before the sport’s inception, and their place in the sport is undeniable.

  • Hero workouts like Amanda or Murph have been included and repeated in some variation across multiple years of Games and Regionals programming. 
  • Past Regional competitions have featured events like The Triple 3 that were initially tested at the Games, and then were brought to athletes on a broader scale a few years later as the level of competition progressed. 
  • Benchmarks such as Fran, Karen, or 30 muscle-ups for time, have been used as building blocks for Open workouts such as 11.6 and 13.4, that have been repeated throughout the Open’s history. 
  • There’s been a repeat every single year of the Open except for year one. 

It’s a natural evolution given that Castro made the repeat a hallmark of the Open from the beginning, choosing to have a repeat workout every year following the first in 2011, allowing the community at large to have a clear comparison to their former self.

Let’s take stock for a second: We’ve got a sport on the verge of a milestone that’s deeply in touch with its history, a methodology that employs testing and retesting, and the current stage of competition regularly repeats tests in a manner that’s fairly predictable.

Five repeats suddenly sounds a little bit more reasonable, and at the very least, these concepts open the door for all repeats as a possibility. Which ultimately leads us to……

Logistically, it is possible, and here’s how we get there.

Not accounting for repeats, there have been 48 workouts programmed in the Open’s history. Six years included five workouts programmed in total, while 2011, 2015, and 2018, had six workouts each. 

Step one, ditch the repeats: We’ll start by removing the workouts that have been repeated at least once, to give us a pool of workouts that have only shown up once, and stand a greater chance of being repeated. 

  • A workout has only been repeated twice, once in the Open’s history. It was 11.6 after it received a plurality of votes to be 18.5.
  • That leaves us with just 33 workouts in total to choose from to fill the five weeks, and based on Rulebook Section 1.01 stating that “The Open is a series of five workouts, with one workout released each week over five consecutive weeks,” we can safely assume there will be five workouts.

Step two, account for movements and timing: Only once in the Open’s history has a movement shown up twice in two workouts during the same year. In 2016, bar-facing-burpees showed up in both 16.1 and the dreaded 16.5, which was a repeat of 14.5. 

  • Another trend that’s worth noting is that since 2014, repeat workouts in the Open have always shown up during the same week they were originally programmed.
  • Assuming we don’t see a repeated movement, and accounting for what week each workout originally was programmed, it gives us a clear structure for what workouts can be programmed and where. 

[chart title=’Movements in the Open (2011 – 2020)’ ]

  2011 2012 2013 2014 2015 2016 2017 2018 2019 2020
Toes to Bar 11.5 12.3 13.4 14.4 15.1 16.2 17.2 18.1 19.2  
Double Unders 11.1 12.4 13.3 14.1 15.3 16.2 17.5 18.3 19.2  
Chest to Bar 11.6 12.5 13.5 14.2 15.2 16.1 17.3 18.5 19.5  
Thrusters 11.6 12.5 13.5 14.5 15.5 16.5 17.5 18.5 19.5  
Deadlifts 11.2   13.2 14.3 15.1 16.4 17.4 18.4    
Burpee [11.4] 12.1 13.1 [14.5]   [16.1/5] 17.1 [18.2] [19.4]  
*Burpee Over Bar 11.4     14.5   16.1/5   18.2 19.4  
Snatch 11.1 12.2 13.1 14.1 15.1 16.3 17.3   19.4  
Wall Ball 11.5 12.4 13.3 14.4 15.3 16.4 17.4   19.1  
Ring Muscle Up 11.4 12.4 13.3 14.4 15.3     18.3    
Row (for cals)       14.4 15.5 16.4 17.4 18.1 19.1  
Box Jumps 11.2 12.3 13.2 14.3     17.1      
Overhead Squat 11.4     14.2 15.2     18.3    
HSPU         15.4 16.4 17.4 18.4 19.3  
Clean 11.5     14.4 15.4 16.2     19.2  
Bar Muscle Up           16.3 17.2 18.3 19.4  
DB Snatch             17.1 18.3    
Clean and Jerk 11.3   13.4              
Push Press/S2O   12.3 13.2              
DB Hang Clean and Jerk               18.1    
DB Front Squat               18.2    
1RM Clean               18.2a    
Handstand Walk               18.4 19.3  
1RM Clean and Jerk         15.1a          
DB Clean             17.2      
DB Lunge             17.2      
Overhead Lunge           16.1     19.3  
Push Ups 11.2                  
DB Box Step-ups                 19.3  


Final step, build a program: After trimming down the options using all of the above criteria we’re actually left with a number of viable options that fill out five weeks of programming without selecting more than one workout from a single year. Here are two options to cut your teeth on:

  • Example 1: 12.1, 13.2, 16.3, 14.4, and 19.5 (could also swap with 17.5). This combo begins with the infamous 7 minutes of burpees for time, and closes with last year’s hellacious thruster, pull-up combo. It includes a single modality, couplet, triplet, and chipper, has both task and time priority workouts, and has timecaps of 7, 10, 7, 14, and 20 minutes. Movements include: Burpees, deadlifts, box jumps, push press, snatch, bar muscle-ups, rowing, toes-to bar, wall balls, cleans, ring muscle-ups, thrusters, and chest-to-bar pull-ups. 
  • Example 2: 19.1, 13.2, 16.3, 11.4, 17.5. This one is a personal favorite. It starts with the “clydesdale friendly,” wall balls and rowing of 19.1, and closes with the only sane thruster workout in the history of the Open – the thruster, double under combo of 17.5. It’s all couplets and triplets, but who cares because on paper it doesn’t hurt my soul nearly as much as the first one. With timecaps of 15, 10, 7, 10, and 40 minutes, it’s slightly longer than the first example, but still has both time and task priority workouts. Movements include: wall balls, rowing, deadlifts, box jumps, push press, snatch, bar muscle-ups, bar-facing burpees, overhead squats, ring muscle-ups, thrusters, and double unders. 

The Big Takeaway

The evidence is compelling, but remember, Dave Castro has the world at his fingertips, literally and figuratively, when it comes to programming the Open. Even though a 10th anniversary repeat extravaganza is hardly guaranteed, like Lloyd Christmas at a ski chalet in Aspen, I’m telling you there’s a chance

We’ll know later today whether or not this idea truly has legs, and if tonight brings us a repeat it certainly adds intrigue for the remaining four weeks. If 20.1 ends up being a completely new workout, then allow me to apologize in advance for introducing the possibility in case Castro gets any crazy ideas for next year.

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