The CrossFit Open for Newbies: Your Guide to Strategy and Beyond

February 15, 2022 by
Photo Credit: Johany Jutras
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The CrossFit Open started in 2011 as the first step in finding the fittest man, woman and team on earth. Today, hundreds of thousands test their fitness in what has now become the largest participatory fitness event on the planet. 

Whether you’re doing the Open for the first time, or a seasoned vet, we know there are a ton of questions around how to log scores, selecting the appropriate division and what to expect, so we’ve assembled answers to the most common questions to help you navigate. 

If there’s a common question that you think we missed, please send a note to [email protected]

To help make it easier to find what you’re looking for, we’ve organized questions into three separate sections: 1). CrossFit Open Overview: Divisions, Registration and Structure, 2). Performing the Workout, Standards and Equipment, and 3). Score Submissions, Deadlines and Leaderboards.

We have also included helpful links for navigating the 2022 CrossFit Open beyond the scope of this article.

CrossFit Open Overview: Divisions, Registration and Structure

When is the Open and how do I participate?

The 2022 CrossFit Open starts on Thursday, February 24, 2022 and lasts for three weeks, ending on Monday, March 14, 2022. There will be a new workout released each Thursday at 12:00 PM PT. Scores need to be submitted by the following Monday at 5:00 PM PT. 

You can click here to register.

Do I have to be a member at a CrossFit gym to do the Open?

No. You can still compete and log your scores by either recording a video of your workout or using a certified CrossFit judge to observe and validate your score. 

According to CrossFit Games Support: “During Step 1 of the registration you will be asked if you workout at a CrossFit affiliate. Select “No”. This will list you as an unaffiliated athlete. You will still need to select a country.”

Why is doing the Open so important? What’s the hype?

A few main reasons:

  • Fun and Competitive Community/Affiliate Event – gives you a chance to meet new people, build relationships at your affiliate, and a boost of motivation for the Open month
  • Personal Data – gives you an idea of where you’re at year to year, and compared to others in your demographic
  • Giveaways!

Why should I register and pay the $20 when I’m not going to qualify for the CrossFit Games?

You certainly can just do the workouts and not register, but the point of competitions is to compete and see where you stack up.

When you register and record scores through your Competition Dashboard, your scores will also be logged for all the future Opens you compete in, allowing you to track your progress throughout your own fitness journey. One of the great things about CrossFit is it’s measurable and repeatable, and we have a hunch that next year you’ll be looking back to see if you improved your overall fitness a year later. 

Nicole Christensen, owner of CrossFit Roots, summed it up well: “Not signing up for the Open is like running a 5K alongside an organized race, but never paying the registration fee. Paying to play creates an additional layer of commitment.”

If I don’t do CrossFit workouts at an affiliate is there any point for me to do the Open?

Of course there is.

The Open is a chance to record personal data, measure your progress year over year, and see where you stack up against the rest of the community. Signing up is also an extra layer of accountability for completing the workouts each week.

If you don’t workout at an affiliate you still have two ways to submit and get your scores verified: 1). Record a video of your workout or 2). Have a certified CrossFit judge watch and validate your score. 

I did the Open once already, why should I do it again?

Just like in class, Open workouts are constantly varied so no two years are exactly the same. To allow athletes an opportunity to re-test a previous workout, CrossFit brings back one from previous years to see if you’ve been working on that movement and how much you’ve improved. Plus, this could be the year you get your first bar muscle-up. 

Which division should I choose? Do I do the open or the age qualifier/What’s the difference? How do I know if I should do the Masters workouts vs individual?

From CrossFit Games rulebook page 8 section 1.10 Division Selection: An athlete’s competitive division will automatically be assigned based on age as of July 14, 2022 and gender, unless the athlete selects an adaptive division during registration. There are 36 total divisions for individual competitors.

According to CrossFit Games rulebook page 14-15, sections 1.32 Masters, 1.33 Teenagers, and 1.35 Teams: For masters in the 35-54 and teenagers in the 16-17 age divisions, the prescribed events will be the same as the prescribed events for the individual divisions. Masters or teenage athletes who perform these prescribed events will be ranked relative to individual athletes on the overall CrossFit Games leaderboard as well as relative to other masters or teenage athletes in their age division on the masters/teenage leaderboard.

I hear there are multiple scaling options for each workout, what is the difference between RX, scaled, etc?

There are four different scaling options for each week’s workout, depending on your skill level, access to equipment and comfortability with the weights and movements. You do not have to choose your skill level until you perform each workout, and you can mix and match from one week to the next.

Here’s a brief overview of what to expect from each option:

  • Rx’d: Do the workouts as written. This is the most challenging option. Rx scores are ranked above Scaled, Foundations, and Equipment-Free scores on the worldwide leaderboard.
  • Scaled: Not quite ready to tackle the workouts as written, or don’t have one of the movements down? No problem. The scaled division offers classic scaling options for many of CrossFit’s common gymnastics movements and includes lighter loading.  
  • Foundations: If you just started CrossFit, or are still unfamiliar with many of the movements, the Foundations workouts are a great place to start. You will still get a great workout, and be able to challenge yourself alongside the rest of the community.
  • Equipment-Free: Just like it sounds, equipment free is a perfect option if you don’t have any equipment available or you’re more comfortable with body-weight only movements at this time.

Information adapted from “What is the CrossFit Open and Why Should I Sign Up?” by Nicole Christensen.

I have dual citizenship, which country should I register under?

The choice is completely up to you.

Athletes with dual or multiple citizenships must choose which country they will be representing by the close of the first week of the Open (Monday, February 28 at 5 p.m. PT), see CrossFit Games rulebook Sec 1.09 Open Registration – Country Selection on page 7.

Keep in mind, advancement to Quarterfinals is based on Open rank by continental region (see rulebook page 16, section 2.01 Individuals and Teams).

Why do they only do the Open once per year?

The Open is the official beginning of each CrossFit Games season, and acts as the first stage of qualification.

After this, athletes will move on to the quarterfinals then semifinal stages. Only the elite of the elite will qualify to compete at the CrossFit Games.

If you’re looking for more opportunities to compete, there are various online, regional, or local competitions hosted year round. We recommend talking with coaches or other athletes at your affiliate for information about competitions near you.

What do the workout names mean (example: 22.2)?

22 refers to the year (2022) and the number after the decimal point refers to the number of the workout. So 22.1 is the first workout of the 2022 CrossFit Open, 22.2 the second, and so on.

Who do I contact if I need help with my online profile, registering, or submitting a score?

Any athletes with questions or concerns about their account should contact [email protected].

How good do you have to be to do the Open? I’m a total beginner.

There’s nothing wrong with being a beginner and competing in the Open. Everyone is starting their fitness journey in a different place and just like in class, there are several different scales for each workout: Rx’d, scaled, foundations, or adaptive if you have a physical limitation. If this is your first Open, take a look at the first workout once it’s released and evaluate whether the workout is right for you or if a scaled option is more appropriate. You can always consult your coach who can help advise you on the best route. 

I’m new. I still don’t have pull ups but I’m strong otherwise. What division should I sign up for?

Because we don’t know which movements will show up, it’s hard to say.

The good news is, you do not have to select your skill level at the time of registration. You will decide which version of that week’s workout to perform at the time you do it, and you are able to mix and match between Rx, scaled, and foundations from week to week.

Our best advice is to wait and see the workout each week and consult with your coach if you’re unsure.

I’m 34 but will be 35 in June. Am I in the Masters category for the open?

According to the CrossFit Games rulebook, page 8, section 1.10 Open Registration – Division Selection: “An athlete’s competitive division will automatically be assigned based on birth date and gender, unless the athlete selects an adaptive division during registration. For non-adaptive athletes, the athlete’s age as of July 14, 2022 will determine which division the athlete will compete in during the 2022 season.”


Can I register after the first workout submission deadline has passed?

You can still register, but unfortunately you will not be able to submit a score for any workouts  with a submission date that has already passed, and will receive a score of 0 for those workouts. However, you can still submit scores for the remaining Open workouts. 

Note: In order to compete for a team, athletes must be registered and listed on the team roster prior to the close of the first Open event on Monday, February 28 at 5 p.m. PT. See CrossFit Games rulebook page 9, section 1.13 Affiliate Cup Teams.

What are the Occupational Games?

Athletes participating in the Open that work in one of eight selected professions also have an opportunity to compete against their peers in the 2022 Occupational Games to see who is the fittest in that profession.

At the conclusion of the Open, the top 10% from each profession will receive an invitation to compete in the online Occupational Games, taking place from April 21-24, 2022.

The eight professions are:

  • Active-duty military
  • Military veterans 
  • Law-enforcement officers
  • Firefighters
  • First responders (e.g., paramedics, emergency medical technicians)
  • Medical professionals (e.g., physicians, nurses)  
  • Educators (e.g., professors, school teachers, tutors, school administrators)
  • College students
Photo Credit: Whitney Kono Cardenas

Performing the Workout, Standards and Equipment

How much will this suck?

Open workouts are by nature intended to be uncomfortable, but like we always say in CrossFit, “get comfortable with the uncomfortable.” At least one workout will likely take you out of your comfort zone, but just like your first ever WOD, if you don’t give it a shot, you’ll never see how far you can grow. The goal is to tangibly mark your fitness level at this moment in time through a variety of tests.

”At the end of the day, remind yourself it is fitness and fitness is fun.” – Kari Pearce, retired CrossFit Games athlete.

I’ve heard they do thrusters, burpees, and box jumps every year. How come?

Over the years, CrossFit has programmed classic movements like thrusters, burpees and box jumps, while introducing new movements like handstand walks, dumbbell snatches, and pistols. Each year, CrossFit programs new challenges to test your fitness in various ways just like the daily WOD in class. We all know burpees and thrusters suck, but sometimes it takes a competition like the Open to motivate us to work harder for next year.

For a complete list of all Open movements ever programmed, consult our movement guide

Do I need certain equipment? Can I use any jump rope, DB, and box brand?

For the most part, you are allowed to use any branded equipment you choose provided that it allows the movement to be performed as written and does not alter the movement in order to gain an advantage like shortening the distance of a rep.

You can read more about the Uncommon Movement Clause by consulting the CrossFit Games rulebook section 1.21.

For a complete list of required equipment, go here

When do I do each workout? Can I do all three at once?

Each week, starting on Thursday, February 24 at 12:00 PM PT, a new workout will be released. This continues for three weeks total. Scores are due by the following Monday at 5:00 PM PT on

  • Thursday, February 24 @ Noon PT: Week 1 Workout Released
  • Monday, February 28 @ 5PM PT: Week 1 Scores Due
  • Thursday, March 3 @ Noon PT: Week 2 Workout Released
  • Monday, March 7 @ 5PM PT: Week 2 Scores Due
  • Thursday, March 10 @ Noon PT: Week 3 Workout Released
  • Monday, March 14 @ 5PM PT: Week 3 Scores Due

By the nature of this structure, only one workout is completed and submitted at a time.

What is the process of doing a workout correctly?

Each week, CrossFit will produce a detailed guide for how to complete each workout, as well as a video demo and score card. Please consult each week for detailed instructions. 

Is there an at-home option this year? What if I don’t have all the equipment?

There will be an equipment free option, so you can perform the workout anywhere.

Keep in mind, performing the workouts equipment-free does have implications on an athlete’s worldwide leaderboard standings.

Is there going to be a 1RM or heavy lift?

With the Open, you never know, but here’s a detailed chart of all movements ever programmed in the Open. 

If I do one workout Rx, do they all have to be Rx?

No, you are not required to do all workouts in the same skill variation (all Rx or all scaled, for example). You can switch from week to week, however, this will affect your overall placement on the leaderboard.

All valid scores from a workout performed Rx will be weighted above Scaled, Foundations, and Equipment-Free scores on the leaderboard. Scaled scores will be weighted above Foundations and Equipment-Free, and Foundations scores will be weighted above Equipment-Free scores. See CrossFit Games rulebook page 14 section 1.31 CrossFit Games Leaderboard – Scaled, Foundations, and Equipment-Free Events.

Do I need to record my workouts on video?

If you think you have a chance to qualify for Quarterfinals, then it’s a good idea to record your video, but it is not required. It is required, however, if you cannot perform your workout at an affiliate or under the supervision of a certified CrossFit judge.

See CrossFit Games rulebook page 11, section 1.22 Score Submission and Validation, for details.

If I do the workout at an affiliate, do I need to submit video?

You do not. However, if you think you have a chance to qualify in the top 10% of your country and move on to Quarterfinals, it’s advised that you record all of your workouts as you may be asked to submit your video for score verification.

My gym programs the Open workout on Fridays and Mondays. Should I do it both times? Why or why not?

There are a lot of different ways to approach the Open. If you’re feeling healthy and want to try the workout twice to get the best score possible, then by all means, double-up. You can also use that as an opportunity to try it Rx and then scaled on a different day. The most important thing to remember is that you do not have to do the workout twice: one and done is always a good strategy.

I’ve been doing CrossFit for 4 years, can I still do the Foundations division?

The choice is entirely up to you. If you’re feeling good, go Rx, if you think the workout is better done scaled, then scale the WOD this week. You are able to mix and match Rx, Scaled, Foundations, or Equipment-Free throughout the Open.

Do I need to judge someone else if I go to my gym’s event? Am I qualified to do that?

If you’re at an affiliate, you are allowed to judge an individuals workout. The affiliate manager is ultimately responsible for validating all scores from workouts performed at his or her affiliate.

If you’re uncomfortable judging, we recommend speaking with the affiliate manager or a coach at your gym. You also have the option of completing the CrossFit Games Judges Course for $10, but it is not required in order to participate in the Open.

See CrossFit Games rulebook, page 11, sections 1.20 Judging, and 1.23 Validating Events at an Affiliate.

Can I wear my grips, wrist wraps, and knee sleeves like I do in class?

According to CrossFit Games rulebook page 33 section 9.01: “Subject to CrossFit’s prior approval, chalk, weight belts, non-tacky gloves, gymnastics wraps, hand tape, neoprene joint sleeves, and common fitness wear may be allowed in competition. In general, support gear that improves safety and/or comfort but does not confer advantage is allowed.

For specific questions regarding equipment, consult the CrossFit Games rulebook equipment section beginning on page 33, or email [email protected].

Photo Credit: Syracuse Sweat Club

Score Submissions, Deadlines and Leaderboards

Do I get a worse score if I complete the whole workout scaled vs part of the workout Rx?

Yes. If you log any score Rx you will be placed above all athletes who completed the workout scaled. 

Open leaderboard scores are ordered as follows: Rx/As prescribed, then Scaled, then Foundations, then Equipment-Free.

Completing any work at a higher skill level will result in a higher leaderboard placement than competing more work at a lower skill level.

See CrossFit Games rulebook page 14 section 1.31 CrossFit Games Leaderboard – Scaled, Foundations, and Equipment-Free Events.

If I’m still not sure if I should do Rx or scaled, should I do the WOD twice with one of each?

Each week, you have four days to complete the workout and log your score, which gives you more than enough time to try the workout Rx and scaled if you choose. However, you can only submit one score.

What happens if I can do the entire workout Rx except the last movement (like muscle ups)?

The Open is designed to challenge you outside your comfort zone. Each year, thousands of athletes surprise themselves by pushing beyond what they thought was possible. There’s nothing wrong with getting stuck at a particular movement. It just shows you what you need to work on for next year. If you can Rx the majority of the workout, it’s typically a good barometer to see how you improve in the future.

Do I need an official judge in order to get on the leaderboard?

Not necessarily. There are three ways to submit a score: perform a workout at an affiliate, under the supervision of a certified judge or by submitting a video recording. 

See CrossFit Games rulebook page 11, section 1.22 – Open Events – Score Submission and Validation.

If I have an accredited judge, do I still need to record and submit a video?

Those who pass the 2022 CrossFit judges course are considered accredited CrossFit judges for the 2022 CrossFit Games season.

If you complete your Open workout in the presence of affiliate manager or accredited judge, and you do not plan to advance to Quarterfinals, you do not need to record a video.

However, “top athletes who qualify for the Quarterfinal competition should have all their Open events videotaped and kept on file. These videos may be requested for review by CrossFit at any time,” according to CrossFit Games rulebook page 16, section 1.37 – Video and Judging Requirements for Quarterfinal Qualifiers.

How does redlining come into play? Should I go as hard as I can in each Open workout since it’s a test?

Open workouts are designed to test your fitness, so you should approach each week’s workout with the intention to go hard. After the workout is released, Morning Chalk Up will post several strategy guides to help you get the best score possible. 

What is redlining? Read Emily Beers’ article on the topic.

How do I submit a score? How do I know my score is valid?

You will submit your score from the Competition Dashboard when logged into

Scores must be submitted prior to the 5 p.m. PT deadline on the Monday directly following each Thursday workout. See CrossFit Games rulebook page 11, section 1.23 Score Submission and Validation.

Athletes that have questions about the score submission (or resubmission) process are advised to email Games Support at [email protected].

How is the leaderboard scored?

The leaderboard is scored just like golf – the best score gets one point, second best gets two points, and so on. The winner of the 2022 CrossFit Open will have the lowest (validated) total score worldwide.

There is one important thing to note: If you choose to perform a scaled version of a workout, instead of Rx, your score will ranked below any Rx score submitted. This continues for scaled to foundations to equipment free. For more details, see CrossFit Games rulebook page 14, section 1.31 CrossFit Games Leaderboard.

In the end, don’t worry if you’re 13,833rd, you’re still first in our hearts.❤️

How do I know my standings, or see my place on the leaderboard?

You can look up your score and placement on the official CrossFit Open leaderboard and filter by your division.

How do I read the leaderboard?

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