The Crossfit Games announced Open workout 15.3 last night:
14 minutes as many rounds as possible:
7 Muscle Ups
50 Wall Balls
100 Double Unders
The reactions to the workout having muscle ups at the beginning have been polarizing. On one side you have people voicing their opposition to the advanced gymnastic skill being placed at the beginning of the WOD. It’s hard not to listen to those complaints. After all, I’d be willing to bet that 85% or more of the Open base will not be able to make it past the 7 muscle ups in 14 minutes. I may be included in that number when final WOD submission time passes.
On the other side you have those who are less than sympathetic to those who do not have the muscle up mastered at any level. Quotes like, “You knew it was coming”, “You’ve had a year to get ready”, and “Stop your whining and complaining and just do one” abound. And then the worst comment out there, “Just go scaled, that is what it’s there for”.
Scaled! Are you kidding me? The Open isn’t about going scaled. The Open (RX) is for everyone. At least that’s what we thought until 15.3 was announced.
Typically the Open was inclusive to a specific point in the WOD. You could hide a hole in your game. Muscle ups were typically placed at the back of the WOD so everyone could score a few reps and at least “get a workout in”. You could slog through double unders, get that pull up, hang a few reps up as long as the weights didn’t get to heavy and still stay RX.
15.3 became the dagger of truth for a lot of people. It stabbed you right in the chest and either filled your heart with pride and confidence that your training had prepared you for this moment or despair and frustration that you were going to have to consider the scaled option. It’s not new, you have this battle with yourself everyday that the WOD is posted in your box. RX or scaled? It’s just this time, it’s on the leaderboard for the whole world to see. You just walked up to an important fork in the road in your Crossfit life and you are going to have to make a decision about what happens next.
In my six years of Crossfitting, two distinctions have grown as a result of the emergence of the Crossfit Games and regional level competitions. There is Crossfit and there is the Sport of Crossfit.
Crossfit is the workout based training program designed to improve your overall fitness by addressing the 10 general physical skills that define fitness. You get this training at a local affiliate, in your garage gym, or wherever you get your fitness on. The training is highly functional and scalable for most people and you can get great results from training 3-5 days per week, one hour per session.
The Sport of Crossfit is for the competitive athletes who chose to develop the skills required in order to compete at the highest levels of the sport with the goal of advancing out of the Open, to the Regional competitions, and hopefully to the Crossfit Games. They participate in local, regional, and national fitness competitions. Their training consists of broad skill development, advanced gymnastic work, higher levels of volume in strength training, and a lifestyle that is somewhat focused around training and competitive goals. The training regimen for those who focus on the Sport of Crossfit requires more time and commitment than one hour for 3-5 days per week. For some, focusing on the Sport of Crossfit is a full time job.
Evolution and adaptation are critical components of both Crossfit and the Sport of Crossfit. As the sport evolves, the athletes who want to compete must adapt their training as well. We’ve seen this evolution in all of the programming specific to Crossfit and the Crossfit Games. If you have ever followed main page programming for more than a year, you’ve seen the evolution. If you have followed the Games programming, you have witnessed the evolution as well. In the results, you’ve seen the adaptation.
As the sport and the athletes have evolved and adapted, the level of competition has increased. The increased level of competition has resulted in an intersection between Crossfit and the Sport of Crossfit. Advanced gymnastic movements have been moved to a strategic point in the Open. Where muscle ups were once something that you would only see at the back half of an Open WOD or at the regional level competitions, they have been brought to the forefront. Placed neatly and squarely at the end of 3,2,1 go with clear intentions.
This intersection between Crossfit and the Sport of Crossfit is uncomfortable. As the sport evolves and pushes tougher standards and movements into the Open, each person has to make a decision about which fork in the road they will take in regards to their Crossfit journey. 15.3 nudges those on the edge of RX into the scaled division. For some,that nudge stinks. For others, it has become a time to pound their chest and brag that the Sport of Crossfit should have been doing this the whole time. It will define who choses to participate in future Opens and alter the goals of those who choose to be involved going forward.
Are you RX or are you scaled? 15.3 don’t care.