2016 Open Preview, Part 1

Conventional wisdom holds that Dave Castro, and the team behind the Open workouts, are unpredictable. Conventional wisdom also holds that the best predictor of future behavior is past behavior.   When it comes to anticipating Open WODs, can these be reconciled?  We examine HQ’s history of programming to arrive at predictions for the 2016 Open.  We apply a general guideline:  Any exercise in the Open must be familiar, broadly accessible and easy to judge. Familiar means known to the community, likely from a preceding competition.   We’re not going to see a javelin throw or triple jump.  Broadly accessible means you can walk into almost any random box and do it.  “The Pig” and the “Double Banger” are examples of tests that are familiar to the Community, but not accessible.  Ease of judging enables consistency across thousands of testing sites.   This is why the Open never includes running.   

We started by looking back at the past five years of Opens.   Here are the exercises that appeared in each:

It's hard to believe 2012 had only 3 barbell exercises, after there were 7 in 2011.   The Open seems to have settled on five or six barbell exercises, and that's what we expect.   Each of those exercises is a fundamental strength training or weightlifting exercise, and we expect little change on the barbell side.  On the skills side, there have been some recent additions.  Past Opens have tested 7 or 8 skills.  We expect eight or nine skills this year, with at least one and possibly two skills appearing for the first time in the Open. 

To help predict which skills might be likeliest to appear, we reviewed the individual workouts programmed by HQ since 2011:  27 Open workouts, 33 Regional workouts and 63 Games events, plus 3 during the Liftoff.  The chart below lists all the tasks, and the total number of times the movement has been programmed in all competitions combined.  Exercises in bold have previously appeared in the Open.  For example, Double Unders have been programmed 14 times, including in the Open.   Bar Muscle Ups have been programmed 3 times, but never in the open.    

History tells us that new skills do not come out of left field.  When rowing was added, it was already one of the most frequently tested modalities.   The 2015 addition of handstand pushups came after HSPU of several varieties had been programmed repeatedly.   Using our criteria of familiar, accessible and easily judged, we filtered the list of skills and barbell exercises to the list we think will be tested in the 2016 Open:

We believe every Open exercise will come from this list, though not every single one will be used. Here are our thoughts on what will be in the Open, and what will not:

PERMANENT RESIDENTS:  Rowing and HSPU are here to stay.   

SEE YOU AT REGIONALS:  Rope climbs and handstand walks, though often tested, cannot be standardized and easily judged.   Gyms are all different sizes, heights and layouts.  There may not be space for even a short handstand walk.   If you want to do these exercises, make it to Regionals.  They'll be waiting.   

THE WAITING LIST:   We believe GHD sit-ups and Assault Bikes will be excluded because of accessibility concerns.   Some boxes have only one or two of each, and many have none at all.   Assault Bikes may be here in a year or two.  GHDs will remain under-appreciated.   Front squats have a tiny chance of being included, but with thrusters almost guaranteed a spot, we don't think Front Squats will get in.

PROBATIONARY STATUS:   We think one-legged “pistol” squats are a likely candidate for addition.  They’ve been around a while, and programmed a bunch.   They're a known entity.   We also believe bar muscle ups may be added, and if so, they'll replace Ring Muscle Ups There will be muscle ups of some type in the Open.  

WELCOME BACK:  We believe there will be burpees of some sort, and the box jump will return as the box jump-over.   Jumping on, and then over, the box appears to eliminate the problem of judging the box jump.   Despite a 2015 hiatus, we do not believe these movements are gone for good. 



We did not include the Team Series in our analysis; individual competitions only.  But the Team Series included a 2RM bench press.  While this is nothing more than a hunch, throwing in bench press might possibly be the most “Castro” thing ever.    Therefore, our dark, dark horse prediction for barbell exercises is the bench press.  Our dark horse prediction for skills work is strict pull-ups.   We don’t think they will be included, but we’ve been hitting them regularly, because you never know. 

For a look at how to build an effective test, check out Part 2:  http://www.thegainslab.com/open-preview-2

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