CrossFit Open Cheat Sheet: 5 Movements You Need To Practice

5 Common CrossFit Open Movements

Every year the CrossFit community comes together to perform the CrossFit Open. This is done at affiliates around the world and scores go on to a global leaderboard. This has been running since 2011 and includes over 300,000 people from around the world at varied levels, ages, and abilities. Whether you’re new to CrossFit or over 10 years deep like me, this should be on your training calendar and serve as a benchmark for all the hard work you put in the gym every week.

We’ve compiled a list of five of the most commonly used movements that we’ve seen in the CrossFit Open over the past 10 years so that you can train with clarity and focus, and crush the 2024 CrossFit Open. If you haven’t started adding Double Unders, Toes to Bar, Thrusters, Burpees, and Muscle Ups into your weekly training then this is your reminder.

#1. Double Unders

Let’s start with Double Unders. It’s all about rhythm and breath. I recall coaching a talented athlete who struggled with Double Unders. She had the strength and stamina and had competed internationally including the Torian Pro. But in workouts, she would tense up and forget to breathe. This cost her early on in her competitive career but with a bit of focus and regular practice, she now strings together sets of 100+ reps without any issue. Remember, it’s not about jumping higher or spinning the rope faster. It’s about finding your rhythm and staying light on your feet so you can stay relaxed and breathe.

Key Tip: Start with single unders and gradually integrate double unders into your routine. Focus on consistent, low jumps and wrist movement. Time your breathing with each jump.

#2. Toes to Bar

Moving onto Toes to Bar, the challenge here lies in core engagement and timing. This movement is within reach of most CrossFitters but the key to being efficient here is in great hollow and arch position, and timing the kip. The common mistake I see is athletes swinging wildly, trying to muscle their way through. This causes the hips to be in the wrong position at the top of the rep which makes recycling and starting the next rep near impossible. Just like the double unders, there is a certain rhythm to the movement, let momentum do the work as you move from your arch to your hollow.

Key Tip: Practice hanging knee raises to build core strength, and focus on a smooth, controlled swing bringing the feet higher and higher on each rep until you can bring your toes to the bar without losing your timing.

#3. Thrusters

Thrusters combine the complexity of weightlifting with the intensity of a cardiovascular workout. They require a fine balance of strength and endurance. The workout Fran is like a rite of passage for anyone starting CrossFit. It is here that you truly learn that you don’t need huge weight on the bar to get a good workout. Athletes with good squat strength will always excel here but simply knowing when to engage (and disengage) the shoulders during a thruster can save precious energy and allow you to hold on to bigger sets.

Key Tip: In training, focus on a strong front rack position where the bar ‘rests’ on the shoulders rather than in the hands. This will allow you briefly unload the shoulders and more effectively drive the bar up with your legs.

#4. Burpees

Ah, Burpees – the movement everyone loves to hate. They are the ultimate test of mental and physical endurance. An infamous workout that we recently tested at Instinct Fitness is Open workout 12.1 – 7 minutes of Burpees. If nothing else, this workout teaches you to find the most efficient way to perform a burpee so that you don’t need to stop and rest. As a coach, I often see novice athletes treat burpees like a sprint instead of a steady jog, moving erratically and burning more energy than is necessary. After a few reps they inevitably have to stop to catch their breath (and consider their life choices). The one thing that changed burpees for me, and I tell all my athletes, is to treat burpees like a steady-state movement like running or rowing. Perform the movement in a sequence and repeat it over and over while staying relaxed and breathing consistently to control the heart rate.

Key Tip: Keep your movements efficient and repeatable. Remember, slow is smooth, and smooth is fast. You might need to slow down to go faster 😉

#5. Muscle Ups

Muscle Ups are a true testament to upper body strength and technique. I’ve witnessed athletes achieve their first Muscle Up after months of dedicated practice, and the look of triumph is unforgettable. It’s a complex movement that combines a pull-up with a dip, requiring both strength and finesse. Unlike the other movements on this list, this is a movement you won’t be able to jump straight into. The reasons it is featured here are A) Muscle Ups have been in the CrossFit Open every year, and B) One rep can propel your score thousands of places higher.

If you have the prerequisite strength in both pulling and pressing you’re 80% of the way there. The last 20% that will give you your first rep is in the deliberate practice of the transition and catch. The best part – neurological skill development occurs much quicker. Spending 10-15 minutes a few times a week on progression will put you in a great position to hit your first Muscle Up by the time the Open rolls around. The adrenaline and cheers from your gym will always give you that extra motivation too.

Key Tip: Start with strict pull-ups and dips to build foundational strength. Practice the transition from the pull-up to the dip in a controlled, fluid motion.

Remember, the key to excelling in CrossFit, especially in competitions like the Open, is to become as efficient as possible in these fundamental movements. If you want to do well in the Open it would be wise to give these movements extra attention. By focusing on technique, rhythm, and efficiency, you’ll not only improve your performance, but reduce the risk of injury, and climb that leaderboard.

CrossFit is not just about chasing the latest trend or technique; it’s about mastering the basics and building upon them. Each time you perform these movements focus on the quality of each repetition and stay relaxed in your breathing. With dedication, patience, and practice, you’ll find yourself not only ready for the CrossFit Open but also equipped with a solid foundation for all your CrossFit training.

Remember, in CrossFit, as in life, the basics are often the most challenging to master, but once you do, they become the most rewarding. Keep training hard, be disciplined, and enjoy the journey. We don’t HAVE to do this, we GET to do this!