Should You Do The Open? Pros and Cons of the CrossFit Games First Stage


You’ve heard us mention the Open in the last couple weeks and months, whether in the context of a workout you’re about to do or an event you might want to sign up for. For us, the Open is an amazing mixed bag of pros and cons, and your decision to participate in some capacity is going to depend on a couple of things. 

First off, here’s what the Open is: a 5-week competition produced by the CrossFit Games team. At its core, it’s about qualifying people for the next stage in the competition, leading ultimately to the CrossFit Games in the summer. One workout is announced (in spectacular fashion) each week, and competitors log their scores on a worldwide leaderboard. 

So who should do the competition? The simple answer is “anyone who wants to,” but I’m going to go a little further. The value in the Open, in my mind, is fourfold: 

1) You get to compare yourself to everyone who does CrossFit around the world. 

Think there’s some warrior monk in the hills of Tibet who has a faster Fran time than you? Do some leaderboarding and find out. You can see how you stack up in almost any demographic you belong to, which can be a great experience for a lot of people, causing a cascade of emotions from “wow, I’m way better than I thought I was,” to “holy cow I need to work on some stuff.” If you are enthusiastic about making progress and seeing the truth of your fitness, there may be no better opportunity. 

2) You get to track your fitness year-over-year.

A huge benefit to the Open scoring and tracking is the data over time. It’s very similar to why we use SugarWOD: to compare these snapshots of fitness as time goes on. Peaking for one event or competition is one thing, but our philosophy of fitness as a lifelong pursuit means that we want to know if our abilities are trending up or not. Being in the top 10k last year can drive you to push for that top 5k this year. 

Which brings me to my next point: 

3) Competition drives acute progress.

When there’s a time-bound external goal, you’re incentivized to do just a little more, and make some beneficial changes based around that goal. For most of us, fitness competitions are the perfect time to do things to improve performance that may not always be worth it in daily life. Maybe that means giving up alcohol for the duration of the 5 weeks, maybe that means getting more vegetables or counting your calories so you can perform better, or maybe it means signing up for some 1-on-1 sessions to get those double unders, or those toes-to-bar, or those muscle ups. 

There are times to sprint forward in your fitness and make some trade-offs that at other times, for more conservative or wholistic goals, don’t make as much sense. If you’ve been wanting to dial something in, the Open can be a perfect moment for that. 

4) The Open is a blast. 

We do the Open workouts on Fridays. At 4:30, we gather and get our scorecards out, blast the music, and go all-out. Friday Night Lights make for some amazing memories, and participating in the “main event” of the evening is super fun. Watching people get their first muscle ups, or PR their cleans, or just sell out for the workout garners a chorus cheers and “oohs” from the spectators, and we get some great photos as well. The atmosphere is electric, and great to be a part of. 

But it's is definitely not for everyone. 

For example: I’m not doing the Open this year. 

Who should not do the Open?

My health has suffered for the last two months, and I’m not in a sturdy enough place to give the effort I would want to give in those workouts. There’s no scenario in which I am happy with how I do if I were to sign up. And the intensity of the workload itself could cause me to slide back into illness. 

This makes me sad, as it's one of my favorite events of the year, but I am going to make the best choice for my long-term health. 

Reasons you might not want to do the Open could include health, like me, or it could come down to something else. The main question I would have you ask is this: 

Would doing the Open move me towards or away from my main goals?

At CFGE, we want to know what you want to accomplish, and then help you get there. For a lot of people, the Open will do that. For others, it’s a distraction. The Open does not define the gym, but we want it to enhance your journey as much as possible, whether you sign up or not. 

So whether it's for 18.1 or your regularly scheduled Glen Ellyn programming, I'll see you on the floor.


If you have questions about your specific situation and the Open, or want to talk about dialing in your training/nutrition for it, send me an email (