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If you’re like most of us, you look to the CrossFit Open each year as a seminal event in your fitness career, and the 2018 CrossFit Open will be no different. Although most of the elements that will be programmed is well known in advance, the combinations are endless. The Open is expressly designed to test the unknown and unknowable and provide a true mark of fitness and expose weaknesses in our fitness and training. After that fifth and final workout, it’s on us to spend the rest of the year attacking those weaknesses so that we can come back better the next time.

Well, we’ve all had nearly 3 months to reflect on our 17.x performances, regionals are now behind us, and the Games are just the corner. If we’re going to come back stronger, faster, and harder to kill for Open Workout 18.1, now is undoubtedly the perfect time to commit to a training strategy for an awesome 2018 CrossFit Open.

In his books and seminars, Mark Rippetoe, a well-known strength coach, is famous for asking the question, “Are you exercising or are you training?” Although the question is a bit perplexing at first, it’s a profound one. He essentially defines exercise as an activity that produces a good sweat and leaves you feeling spent. By contrast, he defines training as an activity that’s part of a broader strategy to achieve specific goals.

If you’re looking for an awesome strength training program, Mark Rippetoe’s Starting Strength is second to none!

A simple example may be helpful in illustrating the difference: regularly completing sets of 3×5 back squats with “heavy” weight a couple of times a week would fall into the exercise category. However, a regular cadence of 3×5 with slow and steady incremental additions to the weight over an extended period to achieve a specific strength goal would be considered training. Exercise is essentially to burn some calories and produce a response right now. Training is part of a broader strategic plan.

Although Rippetoe is a strength coach, the same concept equally applies to acquiring new skills or triggering specific metabolic responses like aerobic vs anaerobic conditioning. Whatever your situation, make sure you have a thoughtful training strategy for attacking those weaknesses and make yourself accountable to it.

If your training strategy has to just show up to class and do the WOD, be sure to honestly assess whether you’re getting everything you need during the class WODs. A little bit of extra time scheduled with a coach, a strength training program like Starting Strength, or a few gymnastics clinics with additional practice in your garage or backyard might make all of the difference in the when you face 18.1!

If you’re interested in learning more about Rippetoe’s training philosophies or looking to start a new strength program, be sure to check out Starting Strength and Practical Programming for Strength Training.

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