CrossFit Games

Open Movements Over the Years: Historical Open Trends Broken Down

February 1, 2024 by
Credit: Kay Wiese
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Perhaps one of the most exciting parts of the Open is predicting the workouts and guessing which movements will show up. 

Since its inception in 2011, the Open has featured fewer than 100 distinctive movements and since the inaugural year has only added a handful of additional movements each year. Despite this, the challenge remains each year to predict what’s coming during the three weeks of the CrossFit Open.

Today we’ll take a look back at previous Opens to see which movements might be in the cards for 2024 and where you should focus as you put the final touches on your Open prep work.

Tracking movement: The biggest change since 2011 has been the number of weeks. In its infancy, the Open consisted of six weeks of competition. In the second year, the number dropped to five weeks and by 2021, the Open had been parred down to just three weeks.

  • With this, the number of movements per week has steadily been on the upward trend.
  • While the total number of movements has dropped, we’ve seen the number of movements normalized for the total number of weeks in the Open slowly creep up to an all-time high in 2023, where we saw 4 unique movements for each week of the Open.

Beyond the total number of unique movements featured across the entire Open, we’ve also seen some changes in the frequency of the type of movements.

Gymnastics: Perhaps one of the most consistent features in the Open, gymnastics movements have appeared on average four times in every Open, the most of any other type of movement.

*average number of unique movements per year from 2011-2023 broken down by category
  • Not only that, but the percentage of movements that gymnastics occupies throughout the Open has steadily been on the rise since 2016 when we saw gymnastics movements spike up to take 40% of the Open movements.

One thing that we can always be sure of, however, is that toes-to-bar will almost certainly make an appearance.

  • Since 2011, toes-to-bar have been featured in every Open, except for 2022.
  • Other movements to be on the lookout for are chest-to-bar pull-ups, which have been featured in nearly every Open, as well as some type of muscle-up (bar or ring), which has been featured in every Open except for 2022.
  • Since 2015, we’ve also seen the growth of inverted movements after the introduction of handstand push-ups in 2015.
  • Since then, we’ve seen some sort of inverted movement every year, including handstand walks and wall walks.

Barbell Movements: Since 2011, every Open has seen some type of barbell movement whether it’s in barbell cycling or some sort of ladder or one-rep max.

  • However, one trend that we are starting to see is the decline of barbell cycling movements in the Open.
  • As this has happened, it seems that dumbbell movements (which were introduced in 2017) have come in to fill the void, but a large contributor to this drop is the increase in the percentage of gymnastics movements.
  • One of the more popular movements, thrusters, has made an appearance in every open in a variety of formats over the years, including dumbbell thrusters and max lifts.

Machine Movements and Other Miscellaneous Movements: If there are three things we can be sure of, it’s death, taxes, and burpees in the Open.

  • One of the most common movements to be featured in the Open, they have been a staple of almost every Open in a variety of formats, including bar-facing burpees, burpees to target, and burpee box jump-overs, as well as their inclusion as burpee pull-up in 2023.
  • As a whole, the category that burpees fall into (non-machine-based cardio movements), which includes double-unders, box jumps, and wall balls, has been a fairly consistent category over the years, with the total percent of movements in the Open only falling under 20% once in the past 13 years.
  • Some of the more popular movements from this category include double-unders and wall balls, with double-unders appearing in every Open.
  • We also saw the introduction of shuttle runs in 2023.
  • Rowing has also played a prominent role in the Open since its introduction in 2014.
  • While we took two years off from rowing in 2021 and 2022, it returned in 2023 and will most likely continue to play a role in Open workouts.

What does all this mean?: While no one can say for certain what the Open will look like this year, we can start to predict simply by looking at trends and patterns from the last thirteen years of workouts. Based on all that, we can reasonably conclude the following.

  • Expect gymnastics: We will always see some form of high-level gymnastics featured in the Open, likely across a variety of movements. Despite the reduction in the total number of unique movements in the Open year over year, we’re still seeing the total number of unique gymnastics movements continue on an upward trend in the past few years.
*unique gymnastics movements in the Open.
  • Work on your rowing: While we took a few years off in 2021 and 2022, rowing returned to the Open in 2023 making it a solid chance that we’ll see rowing once again in this year’s Open.
  • Expand your cycling beyond barbells: As the number of barbell cycling movements in the Open has gone down over the years, it seems dumbbell movements have come in to replace them. While we didn’t see dumbbells in 2023’s Open, there is a good chance that they will re-emerge for 2024 based on historic trends.
  • Get strong: While gymnastics, barbell cycling, and other classic CrossFit movements take up the majority of the workouts in the Open, every year since 2011, we’ve seen some sort of heavy lift or ladder. While it might not seem like a lot, a strong performance in the lift event of the Open could mean the difference of a few hundred spots on the leaderboard.

Be prepared for new movements: In the last few years, CrossFit has regularly introduced new movements into the Open, including wall walks, shuttle runs, and pistols to name a few. As comes with the territory of CrossFit, being prepared to adapt to new movements quickly will be critical for performance in the Open.

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