Dumbbells in the CrossFit Open

Dumbbells in the CrossFit Open

So it’s been announced that dumbbells will be used in the CrossFit Open, so on that note, here are some things to consider:

    • Get over the complaining of DB’s and the like – they are coming, you have been warned, its is the price we all pay for admission. If you are an owner of a gym this is a shared responsibility between the client, the organization of the testing and you – so lay judgement appropriately. (NOT on the DB’s)


    • OPEX has trained thousands of people all year every year since 2007 with DB’s in #functionalbodybuilding, off season structural programs, and muscle endurance, lactic and aerobic pieces. Using DB’s can pick up a LOT of asymmetries, so it’s a great training and assessment tool, IS IT A GREAT TESTING TOOL? Well, we will see. R to L imbalances is what you’ll need to focus on throughout – awareness of where they are in space when they are tired as well.


    • Has anyone ever spent a lot of time in the front rack position with DB’s? With a massive audience of unstable shoulders, R to L imbalances from barbells, low grip endurance,  and with pronounced internal rotation- these will be a massive limiter for a lot, should we see that position – judging that position???? Again, we will see.


    • You might want to train a few new movements in a non fatigue based skill session right now – like today.  A number of our clients have done complexes and workouts for months now with a gymnastic competent, DB’s in various positions and a cyclical piece – and we can tell you – it’s rough out there. Practice DB burpees, DB step overs on a box, DB OH walking lunges, DB push press, DB thruster…and envision based on load for your age WHAT movements might make most sense with those – 2 arm DB power Snatch? Probably not, 2 arm DB clean? Probably not, you get the idea. How to judge and measure the above ones that might be in there? We will see.


    • A key movement we should watch for is something OH; we all know how tough it is overall to get there; add some age and fatigue and that might be VERY challenging to some; locking out with your core and legs with a barbell is VERY different mechanically than locking out each arm the same way in an open chain situation, while tired…(keep those ribs packed, and scapula free to move!)


    • Did you know that Canada is metric? Did you also know that 10kg is equal to 22#, not 25#? Can you imagine if a person has to do a certain number of reps per minute with 3# less per hand over 20 minutes, and the variation in that power output score over time?


    • A good little practice session to play with some of the movements is a TTB, DB OH walking lunge and DU combo – perform a number of reps on each over and over for a few minutes just checking pace and how it feels (weights based on your age and possible DB used) then rest for a few minutes and repeat this and see how it feels. This toasty little combo might be a little more or a little intensive based on what might come, but at least you can feel it out for a tougher OH, unstable movement – and how it combines with the other elements.


    • Measure your DB’s to ensure they are actually the weight it says they are – it is NOT uncommon for some DB’s to be labeled as 50# be +/- 3# off on each DB in true weight. It is well known in some weight lifting plate circles that they give this knowledge up before sale of those plates, as they know in manufacturing it cannot be perfectly on with the 45# plates.


    • If something goes from more stable to less stable (i.e. barbell to dumbbell as an example) you make things LESS stable – so a requirement now is stability. Instability in the presence of fatigue is MUCH different than stability in the presence of fatigue. This is just a reminder on principles of movements. The largest challenge with DB work is what it makes the wrist and shoulder do that the ground or the barbell could adapt to. Having the DB’s in hand hanging is MUCH different as you can imagine (think DB lunges, DB burpees) as opposed to front rack (think DB thruster, DB push press) as opposed to OH [think OH walking lunge, OH thruster finish, OH squat with DB’s 🙁 ].


    • Final thoughts on this, a shout out to Coach Rut, some may remember that name – who forever engrained the DB in the intense fitness world IMO. As well, there used to be moderate levels of them showing up on Crossfit.com years back, then not so much but over the past year there has been more programming given to DB’s. Will they show up right away or not until 17.5? I have always wanted to see a heavy DB Snatch repped over and over in an OPEN setting, those things suck at the right weight and rep scheme.


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