CrossFit Games

Where Are The Biggest Performance Gaps Between Elite and Average CrossFit Athletes in the Open?

February 4, 2024 by
Credit: Enrique Villasenor,
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When reviewing the 2023 Open, we noticed something pretty interesting among the world’s top athletes.

It turns out that among the top 50 men and women on the worldwide leaderboard, many of them had their worst Open workout finish on the exact same workout.

This workout happened to be 23.2B:

  • Five minutes to find a 1-rep-max Thruster
  • This was immediately after finishing 23.2A

Since this workout was a test of max strength, it showed us that a lot of athletes who are typically lower on the overall leaderboard are likely spending a bit too much time trying to score higher in strength events when, in reality, their weaknesses are in gymnastics skills and conditioning.

Let’s take a quick look at the results from 23.2B among the top athletes and then make some more conclusions.

23.2B Results Among Top 50 Men and Women

Among the top 50 men in the 2023 CrossFit Open, 26 of them (52%) had their worst finish in 23.2B, while the other 24 men had their worst finishes divided among the other three workouts.

Among the top 50 women in the 2023 CrossFit Open, 22 of them (44%) had their worst finish in 23.2B, while the other 28 women had their worst finishes divided among the other three workouts.

It is important to note that this doesn’t mean these athletes are weak. It simply shows that their abilities in other areas, such as gymnastics and conditioning, are much better than the rest of the Open field, whereas the rest of the field ever so slightly closes the gap regarding one-rep-max strength.

For example, Jeffrey Adler, the 2023 Open and 2023 Games winner, scored 312 pounds on his max thruster, which is extremely impressive and happened to be the fifth-heaviest thruster out of all men in the top 50.

Still, he placed 59th worldwide in that workout, which was his worst of the year.

If we look at the women’s side, the difference is even more dramatic.

Mallory O’Brien won the overall Open last year with three of four workout finishes in the top five worldwide (2nd, 1st, 5th), yet she still received her worst score by far in workout 23.2B, where she placed 107th globally.

The Bottom Line

Unsurprisingly, almost all of the athletes in the top 50 in the Open last year have competed at the CrossFit Games before.

By looking at this information above, we can tell that the average person is performing better than average in strength and way below average in other modalities.

To truly compete with the best in the world, the average person is going to need to get their strength to levels where it is in the range of the best, but it doesn’t have to be the best overall.

Instead, they should maintain that level of strength or build slowly while intensely focusing on improving the skills that seem to be making the biggest difference: gymnastics and endurance.

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