That being said, I think there is enough data out there to break things down adequately and understand more about the state of our sport and possibly where we're headed. Due to the amount of material, I'll be breaking this post up into two parts. To start, here is a list of topics I plan to cover, followed by a list of things I will not be touching on in this post:
- Breakdown of the programming of this year's Open, much like last year's post "What to Expect from the 2013 Open and Beyond" (Part I)
- Correlations between events this year, compared with last year (Part II)
- Comparison of performance by new competitors vs. returning athletes (Part II)
- Comparison of 12.4 and 13.3 results, in a fair amount of depth (Part II)
- Attrition in this year's Open, compared with last year (Part II)
- Comparison between regions (don't have region information on the data at the moment)
- Breakdown by age group (don't have age information, either)
- Predictions for regionals
- Probably lots of other subjects that I simply didn't think of. If you have suggestions for future analysis, by all means, post to comments or email me.
- Excluded any athletes who did not complete all 5 events. This simply makes for fairer comparisons. I did look at all scores in order to calculate the number who dropped off each week, but that is it.
- Masters competitors are lumped in with everyone else. As mentioned above, I don't have age information this dataset since I pulled it straight off the worldwide leaderboard. This is not ideal, but I made sure to do the same when looking at last year's data to make comparisons. Only about 20% of the field are in the Master's divisions, with only 2% in ages 55+ (where the workouts are slightly scaled).
- I have re-ranked athletes on each event among the athletes in this dataset.
- Athletes were identified as returning athletes if their full name was in last year's dataset. There are multiple athletes with the same exact name, but I had no way around this without region or age information. I assume any impact here is minor. The one manual fix I made was to make sure the Ben Smith at the top of the leaderboard was matched up with the correct Ben Smith from last year's data.
OK, with that out of the way, let's get rolling.
We'll start with the programming this year. As I mentioned in my prior posts, I felt this year's programming better was an improvement over last year, if for no other reason than we eliminated the single-modality events. I also felt the events this year were balanced, with specialists unlikely to finish particularly high on any given event, but yet there was enough diversity that we weren't testing the same thing over and over again. As I started looking into the programming further, it became clear that 2013 was, in many ways, a blend between 2011 and 2012. First, here is a basic comparison of the average loading* used each year in the men's competition (the pattern is the same for women).
The average relative weight was down slightly, but very much in the same neighborhood as previous years, while the percent of points from lifting and the load-based emphasis on lifting (LBEL) were both basically equal to the average of the previous two years. Now let's take a look at which movements** have been used across the three years, and how they have been valued (1.00 equals one full event).
You may notice that we have not introduced a single new movement since the Open began in 2011. I was glad to see we brought back the clean and deadlift this year, but notice which movement is at the bottom: overhead squat. In my mind, this is the quintessential CrossFit lift, and yet it's accounted for only 2% of the points in the Open over the past three years. Sad but true.
You'll also notice that in general, the Olympic-style lifts and derivatives (thruster, overhead squat), as well as basic gymnastics movements, are the biggest keys to Open success. Running, rowing, powerlifting, kettlebells, wall balls, high skill gymnastics, strongman lifts - these are all of minor importance until you reach beyond the Open. If you want to make Regionals, work on your snatch, clean and jerk, burpees, thrusters and pull-ups. If you can't do those things extremely well, it doesn't matter if you can bang out 25 consecutive ring handstand push-ups or lift a 300-lb. atlas stone. It doesn't even matter what your time is on a 5K run. That's not to discount the usefulness of these other skills in training; it's just that you're not likely to see that tested until at least the regionals.
Finally, here's a chart I put together showing the relationship between loading, the number of movements, and the length of workout in the past three years of the Open. In the past, I probably haven't spent as much time as I should looking into the time domains in workouts across the Games season, partly because after the Open, the workouts often have a set workload, not a set time. But for the Open, we know the time domain exactly***. In the chart below, the x-axis represents the time domain, the y-axis represents the number of movements and the size of each bubble represents the LBEL of that particular workout (roughly how "heavy" was each workout). Note that I considered 11.3 a single-modality despite technically being a clean and jerk.
What we see is fairly typical of CrossFit programming. The fewer movements are involved, the shorter the workout is likely to be. In training, this is generally true because of issues like Rhabdo that come into play when you hammer one muscle group too much. Also, the relationship isn't quite as strong, but typically the heavier the load, the shorter the time domain. Again, I think part of this is simply being smart and safe, since going heavy for an extended period of time lends itself to potential injury.
That's it for Part I. In Part II, I'll be focusing more on the results of this season's Open. See you soon.
*For background on these metrics, please see my post "What to Expect from the 2013 Open and Beyond." Just as I did last year, the average weight load on the burpee-snatch workout was calculated based on the average score from the regional-level competitors. Therefore, that workout was considered fairly heavy, despite the fact that many beginner and intermediate athletes would not lift more than a 75/45 lb. snatch.
**For 13.4, I considered the toes-to-bar to be worth 50% of the workout, the clean to be worth 25% and the jerk to be worth 25%.
***For 13.5, which had a varying time limit, I used the average time spent for athletes in the top 1,000 worldwide (roughly the regional competitors). This turned out to be 8:00 for men (seen in the chart) and about 5:20 for women.