The CrossFit Open means different things to different people. For the top 0.5-1%, it means the chance to progress to Regional competition. For even fewer, it’s the fun first brick in the road to the games. But for most, it’s a chance to put your training (no matter how far into CrossFit you are) to the test, help you identify your strengths and weaknesses, and – perhaps most importantly – participate in a worldwide community event.
Depending on your reason for competing, the leader board can become an obsession. After all, the difference between 120 and 121 reps could mean a huge amount in placings, and quite often you’ll see a number of top level athletes re-do workouts to get a better score. But for those of us with zero chance of qualifying for Regionals, what real reason is there for re-doing a workout? Do a few extra reps matter that much that you would potentially take time away from your other training and true progression, or even push your body to the brink of injury?
The Ego Trip
One reason I don’t like re-dos is actually one of the most well-known of the CrossFit box rules of conduct: “leave your ego at the door”. In my opinion, 9/10 re-dos are borne almost entirely out of ego. “So and so got X more reps than me and I know I can beat him/her”, or “I didn’t do as well as I think I could have”. Focus on your own game, or why you didn’t perform to the standard you think you should have, and make actionable plans for progression instead of trying to perfect a workout that ultimately doesn’t matter.
Developing Bad Habits
Another reason I don’t like re-dos is that I genuinely believe it can lead to poor behavioural traits and a potential sense of entitlement. My nutrition coach and friend, Lee from Monday Muscle, once said “good intentions can lead to bad habits”. The action he was referring to? Devouring an entire tub of low calorie ice-cream. But I think the same can be applied to redoing workouts. How will you ever learn to give your 100% in the first attempt if you get in the habit of redoing? After all, if you go to live competitions there are no re-dos! Second chances are rare, so I’m all for learning to leave it all on the table the first time around.
Cost Vs Benefit Analysis
The deadlifts in 18.4 were heavy, especially for the men. I know a number of people who struggled with back pain and started to sacrifice technique during their first attempt, so why bother risking back injury for potentially just a handful of extra reps? By the same token, if your hands are already calloused up, why have another stab at toes to bar or pull-ups just to risk tearing the fuck out of your hands for the next workout? Sometimes you need to about the risk versus potential benefit and decide is it really worth it?
Looking Forward Not Back
What matters more to me than a few extra reps and moving higher up the leader board just to satisfy my own ego, is learning from my potential disappointment and training to become better. It all boils down to something Ben Bergeron often talks about – sacrificing short term gains (“instant gratification”), in favour of longer term growth/satisfaction. Assessing my performance, identifying what needs to be worked on to improve, and learning to be happy with what I have is something I think will make me a stronger character and better person all round. Instead of dwelling on past performances, I’d rather address the issues that caused me to not do as well as I’d hoped.
When To Re-do
Having said all of that, there may be some entirely valid and justifiable reasons to re-do; like making it to the next level of competition, or achieving a PB or skill that’s within reach. So think about it before you decide to redo:
- Are you so close to achieving a certain movement (e.g. muscle-ups) that re-doing could mean the difference between nailing it or not?
- Do you feel like there was a fundamental issue in your strategy or technique that you know you can address and will mean a much better score?
- Are you just points away from qualifying for Regional level competition, and a few reps could mean moving from outside to inside the threshold?
- Was there a substantial issue with your equipment, judging criteria, or strategy that would mean performing significantly better?
- Were you well/recovered enough to perform the workout the first time around, and are you honestly well/recovered enough to repeat it?
If the answer to all the above is no, then suck up your “failures” and focus on what you can do in training to improve for your next competition.
My Lessons Learned
Here are my actionable lessons learned from my CrossFit Open 2018 performance:
- Work on skills… specifically double unders. 18.3 was my only scaled performance, and pretty much only because of my inability to string together enough double unders to give me a score I would have been happy with claiming as RX.
- Practice better technique. 18.5 was my second lowest percentile ranking – not through a lack of strength for the deadlifts (I could have made a dent in the second weight) but because my HSPUs aren’t up to scratch according to the movement standards.
- Develop my ability to cope with high intensity workouts. 18.2 was my third lowest performance, and I should be able to cope with the pain of faster burpees. I need to move more efficiently and push my lactate threshold with high intensity interval work.
- Train gymnastics progressions. Generally speaking, most of the areas I performed worst in involved gymnastics movements – not being able to string together TTB, being inefficient with HSPUs, lacking strength and efficiency for C2B… notice the common theme? And even if I did have double unders for 18.3, I would have been stuck staring at the rings for my lack of muscle ups.
Did you re-do any of the CrossFit Open workouts? If so, why? And did you learn anything from re-doing them? I’d be really interested to hear your thoughts!