Why should you sign up for the CrossFit® Open?

It’s an often asked question. Read on for why we think you should jump on board the biggest community fitness competition in the world!

  • Accountability is the biggest reason to sign up.  Signing up commits you to making time for the 3 weeks of competition workouts. This is amazing for building positive habits in attending class regularly. The results that you want will be with you via consistency!
  • You also get to do the same workout as the best in the sport. The CrossFit® professionals. You get to see how you compare to them on the same leaderboard. This allows you to experience the same thing as the elite. We can’t all play at Wembley or go to the Olympics but we can all hit a benchmark day workout against the best of the best in the CrossFit® world.
  • The workouts will push you outside of your comfort zone. “Challenge creates change.”
  • Getting fully involved with the community and sharing a common thread of a great workout! Every Saturday we will celebrate the small wins together, talk about the exciting workouts and how you tackled them.
  • The best way to make fitness friends forever is to get stuck into a workout with one another. We are all about community at Shapesmiths. Every Saturday, our aim is to create a little fitness festival atmosphere with cool things going on. We hope you will join us and help make each Saturday super special!!


Can we have a quick chat…about correctly counting reps?

We have this amazing article here called 9 things we LOVE when our members… 

We are going to add a 10th thing here… 10. any time you enter your score on WODify, be sure you complete the required reps in the workout AND record your score accurately for your workout. 


  1. Because data. It helps us program as we get to know what our community is good at and not so good at. 
  2. You’ll hit the intent of the workout and make more progress in a shorter time frame. 
  3. It shows you are considering your community and those in class with you. I think we can agree that a large number of us are a tad competitive in class when a benchmark day arrives. On these days we should strive for honest competitiveness. 
  4. Because when the CrossFit® Open comes around you’ll be glad you battled the mental demons telling you to cut the set short or telling you to post a more flattering score than you actually managed. 

In the heat of a workout it’s easy to, every so often, miscount how many reps you have completed or how many rounds you have left. It’s also possible to accidentally pop an incorrect score on WODify if you brain isn’t functioning properly, post WOD. These are honest mistakes made by folks that are sometimes NOT the best mathletes. If this is you, it’s always best to do a couple extra reps or add 10s to your time. 

If you read this and conclude that it’s quite often not an honest mistake, remember that we care about you progressing your fitness level, but no one judges how fit you are currently.  You have nothing to prove at Shapesmiths. We welcome everyone and value your effort more than anything. 

So, next time it becomes tempting to shave reps off your workout, take a breath, fight that thought and finish your workout with positivity!

Caveat: rep shaving is not the same as working with your coach to scale/modify to preserve the intent of the workout. Scaling is f*cking cool and will help you progress a heap quicker!

So you’re doing the CrossFit Open, Rx?!

Box Jumps in the CrossFit Open

Earlier this week I shared the article: Should you do the Scaled Division in the CrossFit Open & Why?

Today we delve very briefly into the other side of the open. Taking part, as prescribed (Rx) by CrossFit® HQ.  

As a side note: check out this article I wrote on bridging the gap between scaled and RX. It will give a bit of background on why Rx is a great thing to be working towards in your CrossFit® life.

Simplifying the Open*.

The below is a powerful piece of information we have been updating yearly since 2017. It shows movements that have appeared in the CrossFit Open & the number of times it’s been seen, in descending order.

  1. Muscle Ups (Bar or Ring) – 11
  2. Double Unders – 10
  3. Toes To Bar – 10
  4. Thrusters – 10
  5. Wall Balls – 9
  6. Chest To Bar Pull Ups – 9
  7. Snatch (Full / Power) – 8
  8. Burpees (Bar Facing /Regular/Box) – 8
  9. Deadlifts – 8
  10. Clean (Power/Full/DB) – 7
  11. Box Jumps – 6
  12. Handstand Push Ups – 6
  13. Calorie Row – 6
  14. Overhead Squats – 4
  15. Shoulder To Overhead – 3
  16. Walking Lunges – 3
  17. Handstand Walks – 3
  18. DB Snatches – 3
  19. Clean & Jerk – 2
  20. Push Ups – 1
  21. Push Press – 1
  22. DB HC&J – 1
  23. Single Leg Squat – 1
  24. Front Squat – 1

Out of 20 total movements, only 4 have been included every year in the CrossFit® Open. They are double-unders, toes-to-bars, a muscle-up variation and thrusters.

*2021 data.

You’ve signed up for the open. Should you do the Rx Division?

If you are regularly (for around two months) performing the Shapesmiths programming as Rx (as it is on WODify with recommended loading) you should be entering into the Rx division.

If you are consistently hitting Rx on some WODs, but you’re missing a few things like consistent double-unders or Muscle Ups, know that the open can spur you on to great things. Back yourself. We will have plenty of  additional open prep in Shapesmiths Gymnastics class this Jan & February for the toughest movements in the open.

In instances where a certain listed skill is really lacking, you should chat to your coach and plan together. Because we love to help. Remember, we can help with specific advice when we know the workouts, which are kept secret until the Thursday evening, prior to Shapesmiths Super Saturday!

Participants in the CrossFit® Open have also been given the ability to choose to do either the Rx, Scaled or Foundations for any of the workouts out of the three weeks.  Scores will still contribute to the leaderboard no matter which variation you choose.  In terms of your leaderboard rank here’s how it works: if you performed one Rx workout, and two scaled workouts, you would just rank lower than someone who completed two Rx and one scaled etc. 

Also worth noting that CrossFit® Open workouts are there to literally Benchmark and give a snapshot of your fitness for 2023. Lets take the example of the following workout:

12:00 clock to perform 3 rounds of 10 x 120KG DLs, 15 Burpees over bar, AMRAP Muscle Ups in remaining time.

If you are able to perform the three rounds and have 5mins left for MUs thats your time to either try and get your first Muscle Up if you are close, or if we know its not happening that day we record where you got to and time it took you (tiebreak), then we switch to something you can do, like Chest to Bar, Pull Ups, Jumping Variations so we can maintain the intent of the workout.  That way you get some data, have taken part in the open and you have had a top workout!

Ultimately, if you are still really not sure, you should drop us a WhatsApp message (02032021004) or chat in person. We will be able to tell you straight away.

Love you all. Hope this information helps!


If you want to join us at Shapesmiths for the 2023 CrossFit Open, or want to start your training for the 2024 CrossFit Open, contact us below!

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Should you do the Scaled Division in the CrossFit Open?

CrossFit Open scaled pullups

The scaled division’s purpose in the CrossFit® Open is to increase participation in fun events at the gym and bring you all, our TRULY wonderful community, together at Shapesmiths. 

The Open also fits right in as one of our ‘Benchmark days’, which you all have taken part in already.  The workouts for the CrossFit Open will be similar to those you have ALREADY done at Shapesmiths. The only difference is, late February through March, we will run ‘heats’ all day on Saturday so you can complete the workout, you’ll have fitness friends that count reps FOR YOU and have a bit of a social throughout the day and afterwards. It’s a brilliant laugh and a great way to meet people!

What type of movements will you be asked to do in the Scaled division?

In short, you won’t be asked to do anything that we haven’t already programmed for you.

Below is a list of everything that has ever come up and also the weight for barbell movements. If you can do the below, you won’t get stumped.


  • Hanging knee raises
  • Single-Unders (Single skips with skipping rope)
  • Burpees (we know you all love these)
  • Jumping chin-over-bar pull-ups (standing on a box, you can use your legs as much as you want to jump up and touch your chest on the pull up bar)
  • Hand release push-ups: (lay fully on floor, take hand off floor, return to the top of a plank with hands on the floor, body in line, anyhow)
  • Scaled mini wall walks.
  • Bear Crawls.
  • Jumping Jacks.
  • Lateral Jumps.


You need to be able to 1-2 reps of each of the following.

  • Deadlifts Men 40kg/Women 25kg.
  • Snatches* Men 40kg/Women 25kg.
  • *ground-to-overhead/clean and push press allowed
  • 10 Push Press Men 40kg/Women 25kg.
  • 10 Cleans Men 50kg/Women 35kg.
  • Thrusters Men 30kg/Women 20kg.
  • Front-rack lunge Men 20kg/Women 15kg.
    Power snatches Men 20kg/Women 15kg.


  • Wall-ball shots 20/14lb to a 10/9ft target
  • Row (calories)
  • A couple of Dumbbell Snatches, Cleans & Thrusters with 15KG Men/10KG Women

So, if you would like to get involved in the CrossFit open, but you are wondering if even the scaled open won’t be ‘scaled enough’ for you, you now have some insight into the standards you will need to take part.

NEW THIS YEAR (and last) is a Foundations level, below scaled. This makes it truly inclusive! There will be something for everyone! And of course if you can’t decide between scaled and RX, here’s what you should expect in the RX division.

Give it a go. You honestly won’t regret it. It’s an amazing time of the year where you really get to give it your all among such positive people that really want to see everyone simply do the best they can. Plus, we will have some treats for after each WOD.

REGISTER and SIGN UP: https://games.crossfit.com

With Love,


If you’re interested in learning more about how to scale CrossFit workouts to best fit your abilities, contact us below!

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This is an article I (Lee) wrote in 2019, drawing on personal experience and from what I’ve read along the way since starting CrossFit® in 2011! A lot if it still holds true today. I will clean the article up at some stage, but here goes:

First off, full disclosure: it doesn’t ‘ruin’ progress if someone does a workout twice in a few days.

Our programming at Shapesmiths should be robust enough (AND not so overwhelming) that folks can get away with a ‘random’ week where they do the same workout two times! 

However, using ‘the repeat’ as a strategy to get maximal scores in the Open (and doing it multiple weeks) is not entirely the correct philosophy. 

I will be the first to admit that I have on occasions been silly enough to repeat open workouts 3 & 4 times circa 2012/3, but I am hoping that I have made the mistakes so you guys and girls don’t have to. 

There are more than a few potential pitfalls  if people make repeating a habit, or core strategy, of doing the workouts more than once per week in the Open. Below I will go through the following points in hope of educating a little and setting the scene. 

  1. You will not push yourself as hard the first time.
  2. Things to think about when it comes to strategy.
  3. There are no ‘second chances’ in other competitions.
  4. You are more likely to pick up niggles. 
  5. It puts your actual training and development progress on hold
  6. It is bad for your ‘mental game’.
  7. There ARE times when repeats make sense (see below)

You will not push yourself as hard the first time

If you are planning on doing it more than once, you are almost guaranteed to ease back and not give it full, all in, effort.

Avoid the possibility of that little voice in your head saying, “its okay, I’ll try harder next time” or ‘i’m just feeling this one out to get a hang of how it feels.’ 

Think about your strategy for the workout to get the most out of it and then lock in and give it your best effort. There are 40 days left before the first CrossFit Open WOD 19.1. There are multiple competition days left in the Shapesmiths programming. This is the time to practice competing. 

Top Tip: You must be mentally prepared to ‘burn the bridges’ so you make your attempt the best. 

‘Don’t save anything for the swim back’: https://youtu.be/hZKZSiCmXLQ

Things to think about when it comes to strategy. 

Think about breaking the workout into blocks. For example if we take a workout such as 10 rounds of 10 C2B Pull Ups, 10 Thrusters @42.5 + 20 Cal Row. We can break this into 10 blocks. 

Ideally you want the last block (10) to be the fastest part of the WOD, the 1st block to be the second fastest and from 2-9 to be the third fastest part.  As an estimate the hardest part of most workouts is 3/4 of the way through. Breaking down the workout into parts can help you predict this and mentally prepare for them.

Identify what matters generally about the workout. Is going an extra 100 cals per hour on the rower going to impact another movement negatively for example.

Then identify what matters specifically for you (specific movements you are good at, ones you will have to manage, a particular rep scheme effect on the workout etc). 

Identify what can be decided beforehand. This could be the way you warm up and prepare. It could be that you are certain of your ability to crank out 50 WBs at the start of the WOD without it hurting the rest of your workout.

Identify what will need to be decided or adjusted as you go. For example, your rep schemes as the metabolic insult of the workout reduces your ability to ‘do work’

Stick to your game plan. 

There are no ‘second chances’ in other competitions

As far as ‘The Sport of Fitness’ and similar competitions go, you aren’t allowed to ‘try again’ if you mess up the first time. You should become adept at planning your workout (pacing, resting, technique, etc.) so that you get your best score right out of the gate. 

Giving yourself the option to repeat will prevent you from learning how to ‘knock it out of the park’ on your first try. 

Most top level athletes that sit near the top of the open rankings know themselves and the movements so well they can execute a plan 9 times out of 10. Every so often they may repeat a workout if they took a gamble on the first, or there are ‘weird’ rules about a lift immediately after or achieving a certain number of reps before a certain time to move on.

You are more likely to pick up niggles. 

There is a reason why good programs usually don’t have folks doing hundreds of reps of the same movement a few days apart, unless it has a clear rationale. 

It puts your actual training progress on hold

When people are hyper focused on the Open their progress stalls for 5-6 weeks. 

When you are planning on doing the workouts 2 or 3 times, you are NOT making overall gains. You are resting the day before their first attempt, then resting between attempts, then resting the day after, all while hammering movement that won’t be coming up in later weeks.

That only leaves a couple days to try and get some training in before the next announcement! 

It can be mentally draining. 

It can sometimes be intense to place a lot of emotional energy doing these workouts. 

By planning on doing the workout one time, you are giving yourself the permission to move on. Once your workout is complete, it’s happy days. You can move on.

You can focus on getting back to your training. You can focus on the movements that are likely to come out in the next workouts and/or getting ready for the next competition (whether that is Regionals, a local competition, or the next Open).

Some notes about when a ‘repeat’ might be a good idea

There are times when a repeat might be a good idea below. However, they should all be discussed with your coach. 

  • If you really ‘botched’ the first attempt (because of a super bad strategy, pacing, a rule misunderstanding, etc.).
  • If there are unconventional formats or rules. Things like having to do a max effort lift immediately after a metcon, having to do a certain number of reps to ‘break through’ to another round, etc.
  • If you failed at a movement that you were really close to getting. Almost getting that muscle up, or snatching that next barbell load come to mind.
  • If you are ‘on the cusp’ of qualifying for the next level. Age Group Qualifiers are the only one here unless you have a chance of going to the games by coming 1st in the country or top 20 in the world.

One last thing…

The CrossFit Open is a TON of extra work for the team. We have quite a few tasks that include:

  • Ensuring everyone who is signed up gets a chance to perform the WOD.
  • Organizing Heats.
  • Setting up the gym layout.
  • Judging
  • Approving scores
  • Coaching during the heats
  • Consoling people who aren’t happy
  • And more!

Even if you have determined that a repeat is something that you absolutely need to do, reach out to a coach or [email protected]

The best way it to ask politely if there is a possibility of doing it again, and what would be the best day and time for you to do it. Any time you are repeating a workout, the coaches (who have to be there to open the gym), and the judge, are doing you a HUGE FAVOR. You are going to have to be the one with a flexible schedule (do not ask them to come in around your schedule). Offer to pay an extra drop in fee if, and definitely give them a ‘thank you’ gift (a note, gift card, coffee, etc.).

Keep in mind that if you are asking to do a repeat, so probably are others. And if they let ‘some’ people do it, then everyone gets the chance. This adds significantly to the workload, and you have to remember that all of this extra work is on top of the regular day to day operations of the gym! Some gyms have a ‘1 repeat’ or ‘2 repeats’ max to help limit the amount of extra work, and to limit the ‘repeat mania’ that some folks get into. You should consider holding yourself to something similar. Your coaches will love you for it!

I hope this helps you understand some of the strategies behind doing repeat workouts, and how it all fits into the bigger picture.

Remember that it isn’t about where you finish this year. It is about how this year made you better!

What you should know about Practice, Benchmark & Resilience Days…

The way the programming team set things up at Shapesmiths is very unique to us. The system you workout within has developed, with influence from some pretty amazing people, over the course of the last 20 years in the fitness industry.

Last year all the hard work of the team paid off as we can proudly claim to be the fittest gym in the UK and Fifth fittest in the WORLD, judged by the CrossFit Open rankings for our full roster of members. That’s a sign of some pretty healthy individuals!

Below you will learn a little of the background and the why behind what we do. If you want to delve a little deeper we have a blog series available on our Shapesmiths Members Page on Facebook.


If Shapesmiths are running members, or allowing members to run themselves into the ground with huge amounts of exercise and multiple classes in a day, those members won’t be here in 6-months time for one reason or another. This is meant to be a lifetime relationship that we are developing with you.  We want to teach you principles that will stay with you forever, so that you are alway closer to fitness than to sickness, on the continuum

Fitness is typically described by Greg Glassman’s ‘What is Fitness article’ and by his Fitness Pyramid shown here

The one thing that it does not consider is mental and psychological fitness. This is why we add a final foundation, below nutrition…CONTEXT. 

Context is provided by programming that recognises that as an athlete you can have 90+ movements to learn in the CrossFit world. With that being the case we should learn how to PRACTICE movements some days, compete against the clock on others to test and BENCHMARK some of the movements we have been practicing. Additionally, it is beneficial to test our RESILIENCE once in a while, whilst being open to your coach moderating your session depending on what they see in front of them. This is the artisanship of coaching human beings. Essentially it’s your coach knowing what type of day you have had and adjusting the workout so you can get a little bit better than your yesterday self. 


The programming itself is a MIND over BODY plan. Programming begins Monday to Friday (5days) x 2 weeks. This gives us 10 days or our 100% in this case. Pre-COVID this leaves the weekends open for organic fluctuation such as team workouts, fun challenges, fundraisers, box ‘throw-downs’, BBQs, Track Sessions, Swim days and more.

Prepare for some percentages to be thrown at you below…

How the programming is split up.

P = Practice Days and make up 60% of training days.

B = Benchmark Days and makes up 30% of training days.

R = Resilience Days and makes up 10%

50% of Benchmark days are movements that we are working on as a gym in a particular training cycle (12 weeks). The other 50% are something we are not practicing. This preserves some of the unknown and unknowable philosophy that CrossFit is famous for. 

The above equalises the training exposure and experience. A particular 12-week cycle is broken down further into a 6-week block. Similar themes are repeated or tweaked, depending on how the 6-week block went. Sometimes we will repeat a benchmark to get a test/retest result so we have another metric to show improvement!

P-days are characterised by intervals with in-built rest periods, For Quality WODs and EMOMs. This allows us to prioritise practice and training as we include ample rest periods to repeat skills without significant fatigue. 

B-days prioritise relative-intensity, based on your ability and challenging yourself sometimes to beat a previous record. These days will often have a time cap to help you make great decisions with intensity [KGs/Reps/Sets/Rounds]

Furthermore, in each two week block the three competition days feature one phosphogenic, one glycolytic and one oxidative test. In other words, one test that lasts 0-10 seconds (like lifting a 1-3rep max deadlift), one that lasts for up to several minutes (like the workout Fran or Helen) and one that lasts for longer than several minutes, like Barbara. Reducing benchmark days further, you’ll see short, medium and long tests. 

R-days, more than anything, are opportunities to work on breath and controlling chatter in your mind. The idea is simple yet challenging to master: Control your breath and thoughts. Generally, the clock doesn’t matter for these workouts. If you walk away from the workout with a sense that you were able to calm your mind and negative thoughts through breath, then you’re headed in the right direction. 

Within our R days we would like you all to practice 4 tools to deal with the adversity of the WOD, in the hope, this crosses over to other areas of our lives.

  1. Visualisation: Imagining success, with a lift, a set of thrusters, a set of/your first pull up/s. You can do this before class or simply take a moment to do this during class.
  2. Setting small, achievable goals: This is easy to practice when you see a MT Chipper WOD. Don’t think about the big set of 100 DB squat snatches you have to do, instead break this down into manageable sets of 5-10reps. This success with the little things will add up.
  3. Breathing: One of the most under trained elements of fitness training and in life. Use the MT sessions to practice controlling the way you breathe, deep slow breathing in through the nose (unless your previous rugby/boxing career has left you with a deviated septum) and out through the mouth to reduce tension. Breathing has a two-way relationship with biochemical, biomechanics and psychophysiological systems of the body. Don’t over look this element.
  4. Positive self-talk: Assertive positive statements like: ‘I CAN do this’, reminding yourself to ‘stay calm and keep moving forward’ can be game changers. Turn up the positive chatter in your head when times get uncomfortable during a WOD.

What is the program set up to achieve? What are the main aims and goals?

1)    There are ten recognized general physical skills within CrossFit’s definition of fitness. They are cardiovascular/respiratory endurance, stamina, strength, flexibility, power, coordination, agility, balance, and accuracy. The first aim of the program is to make you competent in each of these ten skills.

2)    Measurable, Repeatable, Observable. The fact that we use WODify to track your fitness data allows us to quantify, to some extent, the 10 physical skills. Furthermore the CrossFit Open is the major test that we program for at Shapesmiths. It brings the worldwide, and local community together. It is a great too to get valuable date and to compare your fitness/work capacity against previous tests and those in your country, Europe and worldwide.

3)  In short by developing the above you will become prepared for the unknown and unknowable things that may come up in your life. We genuinely believe that the CrossFit program is the greatest hedge against disease and metabolic type disorders. 

A quick note on athletic development.

What if you desperately want that elusive muscle up or bodyweight snatch? This is where the context comes in from our coaches. You may hear us say ‘’You’re not there, yet. We have to work the foundational basics to get you there’’ and then we will insert an appropriate scale/modification.

What if you want to go hard every session? Well that’s understandable. The high intensity workouts are what we all fell in love with, but at some point if we are not working the basics, something is going to give and we won’t have you as a member anymore. 

This is the blending of science and art that we look for in all our coaches here.

The neat thing about this is that it means that all our coaches can coach anyone from general populations to games athletes as no one is above doing the basics otherwise known as ‘doing the common, uncommonly well.’