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Breaking Down the Most Common CrossFit Open Movement Combinations

By Presser
February 24, 2024
5 min read

Constantly varied programming is at the core of CrossFit, and with a multitude of movements to choose from, we should expect to see plenty of variations in movement combinations during the 2024 CrossFit Open. 

To put some numbers to it, we took the total number of unique movements from the history of the CrossFit Open, which is 41 (plus or minus a few, depending on what you consider unique). This gives us 10,660 possible unique triplets.

Since the programming is varied, not random, we tend to see certain movements show up together often. We dig into the most common pairings below.

[Related: What Is Separation Value?: Training Smarter With Training Think Tank’s Kyle Ruth and Brannen Dorman]

Moves You’ll Likely See in the 2024 CrossFit Open

First, let’s take a glance at some of the most common movements in the 13-year history of the CrossFit Open:

  • Technically, the double-under is the only movement that has remained unchanged in every CrossFit Open.
  • Thrusters have appeared in every Open, but they were performed with dumbbells in 2020 and as a one-rep max in 2023.
  • Burpees have shown up in various forms 13 times in 13 years but were left out in 2015. Then, as if feeling neglected, they showed up twice the following year as burpee bookends in 16.1 and 16.5. 

5 Common Movement Combinations To Look Out For

We can use past data to spot trends and guide our preparation when looking at common movement combinations. We have compiled examples of commonly paired movements and how they could affect each other. 

Thrusters and Chest-to-Bar Pull-Ups

These two moves have been combined seven times in 13 years (54% of all Opens). This combination of pushing and pulling allows athletes to go hard on each movement. Fran comes to mind.

Thrusters tax the whole body, however, making any other movement more challenging. Nailing a good overhead position allows for a moment of rest in the lockout of the thruster.

Toes-to-Bar and Cleans

The toes-to-bar has been in all but one Open. The movement they’ve been combined with the most is the barbell clean, showing up together five times. However, if we include all variations of the clean (with a jerk, with dumbbells, as a one-rep max, or part of a complex), these movements have been combined 10 times, or at 77% of all Opens. 

Cleans, in all the previously mentioned forms, have been programmed 13 times. The main challenge with these two movements is grip fatigue. Also, as midline fatigue sets in with toes-to-bars, receiving the clean with high elbows becomes more challenging. On training days that include cleans, mix in toes-to-bars and vice versa. 

Wall Balls and the Rower or Ring Muscle-Up

Wall balls have been included 10 times and have been paired six times with the rower and six times with ring muscle-ups.

These three movements have been matched up as triplets three times, and have a similar effect as Jackie, which includes rowing, light thrusters, and pull-ups. The toss of the wall ball will affect the dip of the muscle-up.

[Related: The CrossFit Fran Workout Explained and Scaled for Every Skill Level]

Rowing has shown up eight times and has been with wall balls six times. Similar to the push and pull aspect of the thruster and chest-to-bar combo, yet with lower skill, these two movements allow athletes to keep the intensity high. Rowing and wall balls are considered by many to be movements that favor a taller athlete.

Could this common pairing be meant to balance some things out? Regardless, you should be working these two together in your training. 

Using a technique on the rower that mimics more of a deadlift than a squat will help save the quads for the wall balls.

Wall Walks and Double-Unders

Wall walks are a new staple of the Open, having been included from 2021-2023. And in two of those years (67%), they got paired with double-unders.

Combined together, these movements tax the shoulders in a specific way. The shoulder fatigue that athletes experience tends to come from stabilizing the shoulder joint rather than having to press a heavy weight.

Deadlifts and Handstand Push-Ups

The deadlift has been included nine times and paired with handstand push-ups (HSPUs) four of those times (44%). This strength-building staple has a high metabolic cost, especially when performed with speed, so getting inverted with a spiked heart rate makes the HSPUs significantly more challenging. Diane comes to mind (18.4 and 20.3).

The pressing fatigue of the handstand push-ups is compounded by the stabilizing fatigue on the shoulders in the deadlift. The pull off the floor taxes the lats, which makes the lockout of the HSPU that much tougher. 

The Bottom Line

The 2024 CrossFit Open starts on February 29, but its future is untold. We can make predictions based on the data we have compiled, and we will probably be wrong. What we know is there is most definitely a method to the madness, and we can’t wait to see what’s in store for us in 2024.

Featured Image: Kjetil Kolbjornsrud / Shutterstock

The post Breaking Down the Most Common CrossFit Open Movement Combinations appeared first on BarBend.

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