The 2021 CrossFit Open kicks off March 11, and preparation is well underway. We’ve been busy working on our mindset, thinking about whether or not we want to scale the Open workouts, and unsuccessfully attempting to guess what Dave is going to throw our way. If this is your first Open, you might be feeling a mix of emotions: excitement, nerves, curiosity… We want to help you prepare as best we can, so let’s talk about a few things you should know ahead of time.

6 Things You Need to Know if This is Your First Open

It’s Probably Going to Be Harder Than You Think

Let’s just get this one out of the way.

So many of us go into the Open thinking that whatever Dave Castro programs, we’ll just somehow magically figure it out. “Muscle-ups? Know problem. I mean, I’ve never touched the rings in my life, but how hard can it be?”

Hard. But that’s the idea.

You have to keep in mind that this is a worldwide competition — and the first step in finding the fittest on earth. It’s not supposed to be easy; what would be the point of that?

If you get into a workout and you’re struggling and suffering and hating every second of it (in a good way), then you’re on the right track. This is what the Open is about: pushing you to your limits and beyond.

This is Going to be *Nothing* Like Your Regular Training — in the Best Way Possible

You might be thinking, “It’s just another workout.” Wrong!

There’s nothing like the Open. The vibe, the energy, the community… This is an experience unlike any other; so don’t make the mistake of thinking that it’s just another day at the box, because it isn’t.

Something in the air shifts when the playing field is leveled and everyone’s put on the leaderboard. Your name is going to be up there just like Tia-Clair Toomey’s. How cool is that?!

And you’re never going to feel closer to your fellow athletes and coaches as you do during the Open. The worldwide competition brings out the cheerleader in all of us.

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While you might be struggling during a workout (again, totally normal), the feeling of accomplishment and the adrenaline rush you get after the fact make it so worth it.

It’s Okay if You Do Every Workout Once… and That’s It

Whether or not an athlete should repeat an Open workout is always a bit of a mental battle. You want to attempt to improve your score, even if only a little bit. But at the same time… wasn’t once enough?! You’re sore. You’re tired. Your hands ripped. And you might just need this time to rest and heal up before the next event.

And there’s not wrong with that.

We know that it can be tempting to repeat an Open workout. After all, now that you know what to expect, it’s perfectly reasonable to believe you can prepare and strategize better and maybe get a few more reps in, or shave a couple of seconds off. Right?

Possibly. But here’s the thing.

In the grand scheme of things, how much do a few reps or a couple of seconds really matter?

If you happened to just really enjoy a workout and would find pleasure in doing it again, great! Or, if something went totally sideways with your first attempt and significantly impacted your score, then that’s another scenario where you might be okay doing a repeat.

But if it’s merely the perfectionist in you telling you, “Your first attempt wasn’t enough — go again!” then you might want to reconsider. Very likely, your time will be better spent recovering, so that you can give the next Open workout your all.

And speaking of recovery…

You Need to Prioritize Recovery More Than Ever

Open workouts aren’t like your average, everyday WOD. They’re meant to challenge and test you in completely unique ways.

Plus, let’s be honest: Knowing that it’s the Open, you might push yourself harder than you normally would.

For this reason, you might find the wear and tear that you experience during the Open to be noticeably heightened. Thus, recovery should be at the forefront of your mind.

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Salt baths, foam rolling, mobility drills — give your body the extra special attention that it needs. Now isn’t the time to skimp! You might also need to modify your remaining workouts during the Open, if you’re feeling especially sore or if your grip suffers more than normal. Don’t be surprised if your training and lifestyle habits need to adjust slightly. The Open will do that to you.

You Might Be Tempted to Compare Yourself to Others — Don’t!

It’s hard not to. When you’re doing the workouts with other athletes around you, and it feels like everyone is moving faster than you are, it can get a little discouraging.

But even if you’re the last person in the box to finish a workout, hear this: You are on your own journey. The Open is for you. And we all start from the beginning.

We’re going to repeat that last one: We all start from the beginning!

Tia used to be where you are. Mat Fraser used to be where you are. Annie Thorisdottir, Noah Ohlsen, Katrin, Brooke, Brent, Pat — they all started at the beginning, just like you.

Don’t compare your Step 1 to somebody else’s Step 10. It’s unrealistic and unfair to you.

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Don’t Base Your Upcoming Experience on Past Opens

If you kept up with Opens in years past, take note: This one is going to look very different. Between CrossFit being under new ownership, and parts of the globe needing to seriously adapt due to the pandemic, this year is going to be one of a kind.

In some countries, for instance, athletes will be doing the workouts from home, with no equipment — and that’s totally okay. Other people will be in a gym with their friends and coaches rallying around them, and that’s great too.

In areas where the pandemic still has a large presence, you can only do so much. And if that means doing the workouts in your living room, then do it, and give it your all.

The simplest way to approach the Open? With an Open mind and a willingness to give it your best effort, no matter what. If you do that, you’re going to have an amazing experience.

Don’t forget that we’re giving you the chance to compete against some of the best athletes in the world for free and be sponsored by TWL! We’ll kit you out in TWL plus a pair of the new Nano X1s ahead of the Open and highlight your journey across our socials. Sign up here to enter!