Burpees in the Open: We Aren't Done Yet!

March 09, 2017

Burpees in the Open: We Aren't Done Yet!

One of the great things about the CrossFit Open workouts in the past is their tendency to include very simple, universally doable movements early on in the competition. Sure, they’ve included muscle-ups and rowing before, but they just meet the requirements of how the “Sport of Fitness” is evolving; the core of the Open workouts tend to be with the essentials like jumping rope, deadlifts, and burpees.  Although 17.1 included burpee box jumps, don't be surprised if this dreaded movement arises again in a different form (burpee over bar or a repeat of 13.1...barbell snatches and burpees to a target

The beauty of these exercises lies in how easily they scale across the fitness spectrum. If my 91-year old grandma wanted to do the Open, she could do deadlifts by using a puzzle box on the ground, and if the fittest athlete in my gym wanted to do the Open, he could use the prescribed weight. The core movements in CrossFit equally challenge both the beginner and advanced athlete. Where I have seen problem occur is when the “advanced” athlete does not respect the movement, which leads them to burn out early in the workout. In my experience, the burpee tends to be the main culprit of this.

For one burpee rep to be considered successful, the athlete’s chest must touch the ground on the bottom, then jump high enough for their hands to clap on top. What happens in between those two poses is ultimately up to the athlete, but also can make or break a workout. Here’s a good strategy to help you or your athletes get so efficient at burpees that they will eventually become a rest station.

Standard 1: Stance

I would recommend using the technique referred to as “blocking movement” early on in any burpee workout; this case simply meaning meet together.

Keeping this standard throughout the entire movement ensures the hips, knees, and ankles stay in a good position and the wrong muscles won’t get fatigued. As the workout goes on and you fatigue more, the tendency will be for the feet to spread apart more because it requires less tension. Fight this as long as you can keep a consistent rhythm, they allow for it to happen in order to complete the set unbroken. But starting off the workout with good form means you’ll have more in the tank at the end.

Standard 2: Global Extension

One of the most athletic positions human beings can adopt is a shape referred to by gymnasts as “global extension”. If we keep our butt and belly squeezed tight (and only if we keep them squeeze tight) we can bow our body back into an arch, which can give us a lot of potential energy for the follow through. We can use this technique for the push-up portion of the burpee.

By doing this, your hips are not moving as far, which means your shoulders are doing less work. It also gives you a great opportunity to snap up into a landing position.

Standard 3: Rhythm

Now that we have defined shapes, we can assign them numbers and give the movement a rhythm. 1 is the bottom of the push-up. 2 is the globally extended arch. 3 is the snap up. And 4 is the jump. Count them out to yourself as you are doing them and try to keep to a consistent cadence. The longer the workout is, the slower the cadence, and Vis versa. Practice this in your daily warmups so you will be ready for the Open.

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