Every July, Dave Castro and the rest of the CrossFit Games team (okay, mostly Castro) throw a mix of the familiar and flat-out unexpected at athletes over a grueling 5+ day test. We see a combination of famous benchmark workouts (some with a harder twist), “traditional” CrossFit skill work, heavy lifts, and brand new elements before the fittest are ultimately crowned.
Some new elements are exciting to watch (2012’s obstacle course comes to mind), while others are more like seeing a building collapse as competitors struggle mightily to get past just a few reps (the pegboard). Some present new challenges for judges (split snatches; more on that below), and others easily separate the career CrossFitters from folks with varied athletic backgrounds (like the softball toss, which a few people treated as more of a shot put-and-pray style maneuver.
Below, we’ve outlined seven events we haven’t seen competitors take on, but we’re guessing they may make an appearance, if not in 2016 then in years to come — whether or not the event stays in Carson. Most are individual events, but we also included one team-specific movement we’re betting will crop up sooner than later.
1. Atlas Stones
This may be the most obvious, and to be fair, we’ve already seen a related movement in heavy medicine ball cleans back in 2014. But real, concrete stones made a notable appearance at the 2015 CrossFit Invitational, where only Team Europe was able to complete the required number of reps.
Atlas stones can be intimidating to people who haven’t practiced them before, and there’s a significant risk factor, especially when compared to softer, more manageable medicine balls. But the fact that traditional strongman stones made an appearance in official CrossFit competition suggests it’s a matter of “when” and not “if” they make an appearance at the Games. Athletes, you’ve been warned.
2. Log Clean & Press
Another strongman implement competitors may not have seen before, but one we’d be pretty excited to watch them learn (or show some proficiency with, if athletes have been taking “constantly varied” to heart in training). The log clean & press is a hallmark of strongman competition, and while we’re used to seeing pro strongman behemoths push press nearly 500 lbs overhead, CrossFitters won’t be putting up anywhere near those numbers. Expect lighter fitness athletes to try a more efficient split or push jerk to move the weight overhead, provided they can manage the log-style clean needed to get the implement in position.
3. Split Cleans
One of the first “celebrity” CrossFitters (back when that meant fame in a much, much smaller community), Josh Everett was widely considered one of the best Olympic lifters at early Games incarnations. He split snatched and split cleaned when the weight got heavy, and if you haven’t seen the below video before, it was one of the first things CrossFitters pointed to when people criticized the methodology for producing weak athletes (back in 2008-ish).
We’ve seen split snatches at the Games before, and they were a (controversial) feature in a 2012 track workout that had some people scratching their heads as far as judging standards:
If these do pop up at the Main Event, we’re guessing that, like with the split snatches, they’ll be in a lighter weight, higher rep situation.
4. Tandem Clean & Jerks
The Team entry on this list, the tandem/partner clean & jerk is a pretty fun movement to watch, especially when two athletes are approaching world-record loads (check out the heaviest caught on camera here). Compared to the regular clean & jerk, there’s an added element of “oh shit oh shit!’ if the athletes get even the tiniest bit out of sync. Regionals and Games have seen about as many partner deadlifts and worm movements as we’re likely to want our entire lives, so this could be the next logical step to add variety in a synced lifting movement.
Plus, Games equipment partner Rogue is known for making made-to-order equipment, including longer bars, like the Elephant Deadlift Bar used at the 2016 Arnold Strongman Classic.
5. Weighted Toes-to-Bar
We’ve seen this movement in GRID/NPGL competition before, and while some athletes were able to get in a good rhythm and establish a kip, the extra weight is extremely taxing on the core. We’re not sure if the weighted element would come in the form of medicine balls held between the legs/feet or sandbags attached to the ankles, but this is one where it pays to be humble and avoid going to failure at all costs.
6. Freestanding Handstand Push-ups
Another GRID element we’ve seen multiple times — including deficit versions — freestanding handstand push-ups are a logical inclusion at the CrossFit Games, where mastery over both deficit handstand push-ups and handstand walks are pretty much necessary to even compete at Regionals.
Some other functional fitness comps have even included them as stopping points along handstand walk routes, which adds an extra skill factor and slows down former gymnasts who can basically run on their hands. Judging standards may be difficult, and showing control at the top of this movement can be a bit subjective, but it’s still one we’d be excited (though not surprised) to see.
And if athletes need some pointers sending a kettlebell-like implement vertical, there’s really only one man to take pointers from.
Featured Image from CrossFit, Inc.