From the start, 2019 CrossFit Games were very different than in years past—aside from Mat Fraser and Tia Clare-Toomey cleaning up the individual championships for the fourth and third straight time, respectively.
The organizers of the Games have taken the competition in a variety of directions over the last several iterations, but the 2019 CrossFit Games were about getting back to the contest’s roots. That meant a lot of “traditional” CrossFit, especially over the back end of the competition. The best part about this: You’ll be able to try a lot of these events in your own workouts.
The activities from the Games aren’t easy, and you won’t want to take them every day. But there are a few gems here that you can do every so often to test your own well-roundedness as an athlete.
What’s Traditional CrossFit, Anyway?
The sport is about testing the well-roundedness of an athlete. That often means testing skills and endurance in cardio, weightlifting, and gymnastics-based exercises. To do that, many of this year’s events stacked 2 or 3 such movements, then had competitors either perform them as quickly as possible or complete as many rounds of those movements as possible in a set time (an AMRAP).
This doesn’t mean that the 2019 Games didn’t have some unique challenges, like the 6K ruck race, but it did focus on workouts that can generally be done in a gym.
Try The First Ringer
Two of the Games’ most accessible workouts took place late in the competition. Events 10 and 11 were Ringer 1 and Ringer 2.
Each is simple. Ringer 1 requires only an air bike and a set of rings. You’ll work through three rounds of calories on the air bike, and toes-to-rings reps (essentially a modification of toes-to-bar reps). In the first round, you’ll do 30 cals and 30 reps. In the second, you’ll do 20 cals and 20 reps. In the final round, you’ll do 10 cals and 10 reps.
It’s a demanding workout that shouldn’t take you more than 15 minutes. The bike will push your endurance, while the toes-to-rings will challenge your core. Rest as needed, but work to take your rest on the ring reps. And remember, as four-time Games champ Mat Fraser says, the bike is supposed to hurt. Push through the pain on the bike.
Take On The Second Ringer, Too
Athletes received a seven-minute rest after that first Ringer, then they did Ringer 2. This event is also filled with core CrossFit ideas, and it’s something you can tackle on your own.
The setup here: You’ll do 15 burpees, followed by 15 overhead squats with 135 pounds. Then you’ll do 10 burpees, and 10 overhead squats, followed by 5 burpees and 5 overhead squats.
It’s another demanding workout that’s over quickly (think 5 or 10 minutes), and your biggest challenge here is handling a serious load under fatigue. Those burpees will tire you out but, somehow, you’re supposed to gain control of your breathing and heart rate so you can complete the overhead squats.
Unless you have a well-trained overhead squat, don’t even think about doing this with the 135 pounds used by Games competitors. Instead, use a lighter weight — or even no weight at all. If you’re new to the overhead squat, don’t even load the bar. Instead, use an unloaded 45-pound bar (trust us, it’s harder than it looks) or even a broomstick.
Do You Dare Try The Standard?
The Games finished with a devastating series called The Standard. The closing challenge saw competitors completing 30 barbell clean-and-jerks with 135 pounds, followed by 30 muscle-ups, followed by 30 barbell snatches with 135 pounds.
This type of series is CrossFit at its finest, and you may be tempted to give it a go. But this one is only for seasoned CrossFitters; it’s not a workout to play around with. If you give this one a try, plan to do it and rest completely the next day. What’s more, you’ll need to approach it carefully. Here’s how.
- Don’t try to string reps together.
Mat Fraser and Noah Ohlsen, who spent the entire Games going toe-to-toe with each other in all competition, frequently did single reps on the clean-and-jerks and snatches. A workout like this isn’t about killing yourself immediately; you need to pace it.
- Don’t be afraid to scale.
This is important especially if you’re training on your own. Think about doing cleans with 75 or 95 pounds instead of the 135, or consider doing pull-ups instead of muscle-ups. You’ll still break a nasty sweat, but you’ll spare your shoulders in the process.
Sit Out the First Cut Event
One major difference between this year’s Games and previous contests: Athletes were cut from the field. The first two events from this year’s Games saw low-placing finishers bowing out from the competition. In previous Games, if you made it to Madison, you were competing throughout the four-day extravaganza.
And boy, did CrossFit start things off with a challenging event. Competitors started with 4 rounds of a 400-meter run, three legless rope climbs, and seven squat snatches at 185 pounds. They had to finish in less than 20 minutes.
This event tested total-body strength and conditioning, and it’s one you shouldn’t be adding to your fitness routine. It required athletes, already under great fatigue from a 400-meter run, to lift their bodies continuously up a rope. After that, they had to lift an even heavier load from the ground to an overhead position.
As a challenge event in the competition, that type of construction is acceptable. For your own workouts, it’s something to avoid at all costs.
You Can Take On the Second Cut Event
The second event also saw cuts, and this one was challenging as well. But you can do this series as a workout finisher, especially if you make key modifications to your fitness level.
The game plan: Row 800 meters as quickly as possible, then perform 66 double-kettlebell push jerk reps, then close with a 132-foot handstand walk. It’s a smart workout that requires you to pull first before challenging you with some push moves. Competitors used 35 pounds on the push jerks.
The key here is not overextending yourself. Row hard during the 800-meter row, then pace yourself through the push jerks. Don’t do too few reps here, because you’ll have to clean the weight back into position, but don’t try to do 30 reps at once, either. Think of doing 6 to 8 reps per set, then resting briefly and going back to work. Don’t be afraid to use lighter weights to protect your shoulders, which will grow increasingly fatigued.
You end with the handstand walk, but don’t worry if you can’t do that. Just do a 132-foot bear crawl instead.