The History of Dumbbell Open Workouts

February 22, 2021 by
Courtesy of CrossFit HPU
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The dumbbell is perhaps one of the most versatile pieces of equipment in the sport of fitness. Even with a single dumbbell, the number of movements possible are only limited to the imagination of the person writing the workout. Because of this versatility and the ability of a tough dumbbell workout to leave an athlete on the floor gasping for breath, it has become an important part of the Open each year.

Remind me: Since Dave Castro introduced the dumbbell to the Open in 2017, there has been at least one dumbbell movement in every Open.

2017: The 2017 Open introduced the dumbbell to the community competition in the first two workouts that year.

  • 17.1
    • For time:
    • 10 dumbbell snatches (50/35)
    • 15 burpee box jump-overs (24″/20″)
    • 20 dumbbell snatches
    • 15 burpee box jump-overs
    • 30 dumbbell snatches
    • 15 burpee box jump-overs
    • 40 dumbbell snatches
    • 15 burpee box jump-overs
    • 50 dumbbell snatches
    • 15 burpee box jump-overs
    • Time cap: 20 minutes
  • 17.2
    • Complete as many rounds and reps as possible in 12 minutes of:
    • 2 rounds of:
    • 50-ft. weighted walking lunge (50/35)
    • 16 toes-to-bars
    • 8 power cleans
    • Then, 2 rounds of:
    • 50-ft. weighted walking lunge
    • 16 bar muscle-ups
    • 8 power cleans
    • Etc., alternating between toes-to-bars and bar muscle-ups every 2 rounds.

2018: The 2018 Open saw three workouts featuring dumbbell movements.

  • 18.1
    • Complete as many rounds as possible in 20 minutes of:
    • 8 toes-to-bars
    • 10 dumbbell hang clean and jerks (50/35)
    • 14-cal. row
  • 18.2
    • 1-2-3-4-5-6-7-8-9-10 reps for time of:
    • Dumbbell squats (50/35)
    • Bar-facing burpees
    • Workout 18.2a
    • 1-rep-max clean
    • Time cap: 12 minutes to complete 18.2 AND 18.2a
  • 18.3
    • 2 rounds for time of:
    • 100 double-unders
    • 20 overhead squats (115/80)
    • 100 double-unders
    • 12 ring muscle-ups
    • 100 double-unders
    • 20 dumbbell snatches (50/35)
    • 100 double-unders
    • 12 bar muscle-ups
    • Time cap: 14 minutes

2019: In 2019, Castro introduced another dumbbell movement.

  • 19.3
    • For time:
    • 200-ft. dumbbell overhead lunge
    • 50 dumbbell box step-ups (50/35 and 24/20)
    • 50 strict handstand push-ups
    • 200-ft. handstand walk
    • Time cap: 10 minutes

2020: The 2020 Open introduced another dumbbell movement.

  • 20.2
    • Complete as many rounds as possible in 20 minutes of:
    • 4 dumbbell thrusters
    • 6 toes-to-bars
    • 24 double-unders
  • What could be repeated?: While there’s been a dumbbell movement in every open at least once since 2017, not all dumbbell movements are possible for this year’s Open given the equipment list only requires a single dumbbell.
  • The only dumbbell movements that could be repeated from previous Opens would be a dumbbell snatch, single-arm dumbbell clean and jerk, dumbbell box step-ups, and single-arm overhead dumbbell walking lunges.
  • It is possible, however, that previous movements could be repeated as single-arm movements.
  • For example, the double dumbbell thruster could become a single-arm dumbbell thruster and the double dumbbell front squats could become single dumbbell front squats.

What new dumbbell movements might show up?: Over the years, many dumbbell movements have appearred in CrossFit.com workouts as well as Sanctionals and qualifiers that have yet to appear in the Open. With Castro’s tendency to sprinkle in a few new movements each year, it’s possible that athletes might see some new dumbbell movements.

  • The Devil’s Press has been a staple of many online qualifiers and sanctionals. Even though athletes only have one dumbbell to work with in the Open, athletes could see a single-arm devil’s press.
  • The dumbbell squat clean has also made appearances on CrossFit.com. While it’s often with two dumbbells, a single-arm dumbbell squat clean is a possibility.
  • The dumbbell push jerk is also a frequent flyer in CrossFit workouts and it’s not unlikely that a single-arm version could be featured in this year’s Open.
  • The dumbbell overhead squat made an appearance at Regionals in 2017 in both the team and individual divisions and as a single arm movement, is a strong candidate for an appearance in the 2021 Open.

How many dumbbell movements could be programmed? Since 2017, there have been an average of two dumbbell movements in each Open. However, the number has also been declining. While there were three dumbbell movements in the first two Opens featuring dumbbells, by 2020, there was only one dumbbell movement programmed.

  • Because they are on the equipment list, it’s highly likely that we will see a dumbbell movement in the 2021 Open. 
  • However, based on the trend over time, it’s likely that we will only see one workout featuring the dumbbell.
  • That being said, it’s highly likely that that movement will be a new dumbbell movement, since every Open since 2017 has introduced a new dumbbell movement.

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