The Final Countdown: How to Prepare for the CrossFit Open

‘Tis the season to put your CrossFit training to the test! The CrossFit Games season is upon us with registration now live, and competitors training for the February 27th release of the first Open workout. You squat all year with this elite athletic contest in mind, but now is the time to up the ante in pursuit of a spot at Regionals.

Here are seven tips to jack up your CrossFit Open training:

1. MARK YOUR CALENDAR

The first Open workout will be released on February 27th. Over the course of five weeks, one workout will be released every Thursday, giving competitors until the following Monday at 5 p.m. Pacific Time to officially record their scores. Mark the dates and ensure you have adequate time to attempt the workout and record your performance. It’s also important to note that some affiliates join together to judge workouts publicly. This is done in an attempt to take pressure off individual boxes and to build camaraderie between athletes. Check with your box or local affiliates to see if any group workouts are schedule for the CrossFit Open.

2. DO PAST WORKOUTS

The CrossFit Games website has posted all the Open Workouts from the past three years. Try your hand at the workouts and judge your performance to determine what you should focus on when moving forward with your training. http://games.crossfit.com/workouts/the-open/2012

3. FINE TUNE SKILLS

As you attempt past Open workouts, are there specific moves you struggle with? It’s important to move efficiently to prevent fatigue and injury. If there are moves you cannot do flawlessly, now is the time to master them.

4. TARGET MOBILITY AND STABILITY WEAKNESSES

Each CrossFit move depends heavily on stable spines and flexible joints. As you work your way through past Open workouts, note any instability or stiffness you may feel. Add more stretches, yoga, or longer recovery sessions into your workouts.

5. BUILD STAMINA

In the three or four weeks leading up to the first Open workout, do all WODs at 100%. Upping the intensity is an excellent way to prepare for the pressure of the competition and also identify your weaknesses. Going 100% may mean adding more rest days into your schedule, but a little extra rest and relaxation is vital to your performance.

6. REST

The week before the first Open workout is released, consider cutting down your WOD volume. One option is to complete your regular WODs but cut the repetitions in half or reduce loads to the minimum. Minimizing the impact on your body while still staying sharp is key to performing at your best. Throughout the five-week Open, make sure to rest… a lot.

7. TEST YOUR MENTAL STRENGTH

Checking the leaderboard on the CrossFit Games website can be both exhilarating and debilitating. Seeing so many competitors from all over the world is exciting, but noting the ability of these extraordinary athletes can make you question your own strength and skill. Remember that you’re capable of more than you think. Training for the CrossFit Games puts a lot of emphasis on physical strength, but staying mentally strong is just as important.

Originally published by http://www.wodlounge.com/7-ways-to-prep-for-the-crossfit-open/

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The Map to Dreamland: Five Tips for Better Sleep

Catching quality Z’s can improve your memory, lower your stress and help you live a longer, happier life. So why is it so hard for us to tuck in at night and drift off to dreamland? With our buzzing cell phone always within arms reach, it’s easy to see why so many of us struggle to relax at bedtime. A perfect night’s sleep is attainable (and important to living a healthy life!), so check out these five tips to getting better sleep.

1. PRE-BED RITUALS

It’s tempting to write one last email in bed or channel surf under the covers, but habits like these can keep your mind turning for hours after the light go out. Instead, start winding down at least fifteen minutes before bedtime. Turn off your computer and stash your phone away before slipping into comfortable pajamas and sipping warm caffeine-free tea. If you find yourself fretting about tomorrow, jot down what’s concerning you and then clear your mind for a restful night of sleep.

2. WATCH WHAT YOU EAT

Although slumber is hours away, your 4pm coffee might be keeping you up at night. Cut out caffeine after 2pm and be especially careful what you eat or drink in the evening. A glass of wine before bed might make you feel drowsy, but alcohol can keep you from getting deep sleep.

3. DIM THE LIGHTS

Our bodies react to the light around us. Bright light signals daytime, while dimmer lights help us to relax. A study recently showed that exposing yourself to natural morning light can reset your circadian clock (your internal alarm clock) to help you rise earlier naturally. If privacy allows it, crack your shades to allow in morning light.

4. WORK IT OUT

Keeping a regular exercise schedule can help improve your sleep. Research has shown that at least 45 minutes of cardio each day decreased the effects of insomnia. The best time to sweat is always up for debate, but stretching or gentle yoga before crawling between the sheets is a nice way to quiet your mind and relax your body.

5. EASE THE PAIN

Mild lower back pain might not keep you from drifting off to sleep, but it can make your snooze restless. Tucking a pillow between your knees is an excellent way to align your hips and relieve back pain.

Originally published at http://www.wodlounge.com/5-tips-for-better-sleep/