Breaking Down the Dubai Fitness Championship’s Elimination Workout

Elimination-style workouts are exciting to watch, but it's not always easy on the athletes.

Elimination-style workouts have become more common at higher-level CrossFit competitions in recent years. With the announcement of yet another elimination-style workout at the 2022 Dubai Fitness Championship (DFC), are these workouts a positive for elite CrossFit competitions as a test of fitness? Should certain elements be considered if elimination events are included in the programming?

Here’s a rundown of some of the notable elimination workouts at CrossFit competitions and the issues athletes have encountered doing them:

[Related: 2022 Dubai Fitness Championship Event 1 Results — Alex Kotoulas and Jamie Simmonds Climb to Victory]

Editor’s Note: This article is an op-ed. The views expressed herein and in the video are the author’s and don’t necessarily reflect the views of BarBend. Claims, assertions, opinions, and quotes have been sourced exclusively by the author.

Sprint: Event 6 of the 2019 CrossFit Games

The CrossFit Games has included elimination workouts for a decade, going back to the Obstacle Course at Camp Pendleton in 2012. Many elimination workouts at the Games since have been in lifting events. However, in 2019, a sprint-syle elimination event debuted. It came at a critical time in the competition when the final 10 athletes who would continue (and finish) the second half of the Games were selected.

It was one of the more controversial elimination-style workouts in CrossFit’s history, and it set a tone for the seasons and competitions since. Everything the athletes did up to that point factored into the standings. But since that sprint workout was elimination-style, many previous top-10 Games athletes — Annie Thorisdottir, Laura Horvath, Brooke Wells, Pat Vellner — saw their weekend cut short.

[Related: 2022 Dubai Fitness Championship Results]

Rogue Invitational: The Duel (2021) and the Duel II (2022)

There were elimination-style workouts at the 2021 and 2022 Rogue Invitational. In 2021, “The Duel” was the last event of the weekend. It featured athletes battling through multiple rounds of heavy double-unders, moderate-weight squat snatches, and a sandbag lift. Competitors with the slowest times were eliminated, while the rest advanced to the next round.

There were two points of contention: the top five athletes got a bye, and one miss on the squat snatch was effectively sufficient for elimination. For the top five athletes, it could be considered a disadvantage to even have a bye in the first place.

The first round of The Duel served as a primer or warm-up for those who made it through — but the athletes with the bye had yet to use the weights by the time they joined the fray. Plus, they had an extended layoff in between events. So the top competitors like Thorisdottir and Vellner were eliminated before the workout really began.

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In 2022, the elimination workout, “Duel II,” was not the final workout; instead, it was in the middle of the competition (event six of 10). The movements were one legless rope climb, 10 light overhead squats, and a moderate-weight sandbag carry.

Again, the top five athletes had a bye, which likely had less impact because there wasn’t a heavy barbell to get acquainted with. But this time, two other points of interest emerged:

  • Was fitness the deciding factor, or were inconsistent applications of movement standards more important?
  • As this event was in the middle of the contest, how did the total volume of work for those who did all four rounds compare to the volume of those who were eliminated after one round?

These are not necessarily positives or negatives regarding the event’s structure; after all, athletes should always move to standards, and their training should prepare them for the volume. However, with the elimination workout programmed for the 2022 DFC, it seems some of these previous points of interest have been considered in the design.

Ride or Die: DFC 2022, Event 5

This will be a three-round workout on Saturday, Dec. 3, 2022. Twenty athletes start, followed by 10, and then five in the last round. Each round includes the echo bike and legless rope climbs, but they are in decreasing quantities.

If an athlete survives both elimination rounds, the total volume of work for men is 90 calories on the bike and nine legless rope climbs. For the women, it’s 60 calories, and six legless rope climbs. Due to the decreasing nature of the workout, even the athletes who make it through are doing nearly half of the total work (44 percent for men and 50 percent for women).

With so little room for error, are the movement selections enough to reward fitness instead of a close call? As far as the bike is concerned, this is an excellent way to use it: everyone starts on it, and there’s very little room for error in terms of potential inconsistencies with using the machines.

[Related: Relive the 10 Most Iconic Moments From Dubai Fitness Championship History]

On the other hand, the legless rope climbs have been a point of contention. The clamping of the legs early, the difficulty in spotting athletes’ hands making contact with the designated area, and the use of legs on the way down are just a few of the questions that come to mind.

When asking questions like this, it’s crucial to think about “if not this, then what?” The clear answer is to make it rope climbs without the requirement of legless. It drastically changes the workout’s difficulty, but it makes any room for error in judgment calls much less likely.

Growing and Learning

Taking risks in programming is part of the growth and evolution of the sport. Regardless of how the workout goes in Dubai, it feels that the team of programmers at DFC and HWPO have learned from previous elimination-style workouts.

Featured Image: @rogueinvitational on Instagram