CrossFit Open Workouts: The Golden Age (11-14)

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Last time, we discussed the “Modern Age” of the CrossFit Open, looking at the most recent years’ workouts (2019-2023).

Today, we’re going way back in time…back to when anything and everything could happen during the CrossFit Open.

Unfortunately, the things that awe us today would have been incomprehensible by the standards at the time, leaving us with some workouts that look…rather “underwhelming” in retrospect.

They’re all here; you can be the judge.

2011 CrossFit Open Workouts

A somewhat “uneven” version of the Open with some real yawners as well as a couple of workouts that would give top CrossFitters a run for their money…today!

As it is, you can’t really blame CrossFit for not putting together the most exciting Open during it’s maiden voyage. Also, you have to hand it to them for learning some key lessons (don’t program 6 separate workouts…don’t program push-ups!) and immediately adapting!

CrossFit Open Workout 11.1

Equipment: Jump rope, barbell, bumper plates

The first CrossFit Open workout is…kinda underwhelming, to be honest.

It kinda reminds me of when you watch some old episode of “The Twilight Zone” and the “twist”, which probably blew peoples’ minds in the 60’s is just “meh” today.

Small sets of double unders and snatches with “Randy” weight. Wake me up for Week 2….

CrossFit Open Workout 11.2

Equipment: Barbell, bumper plates, plyo box

Man…can you imagine what it was like to have to judge…push-ups? Like…regular push-ups?!

Who knew I’d already be clamoring for Week 1 again!

Another sorta odd, but representative of the times, long and uninspiring AMRAP. I think the box jumps are what is going to get the most annoying, if for no other reason than you’ll start to lose focus after a bit.

Watch your shins!

CrossFit Open Workout 11.3

Equipment: Barbell, bumper plates

Okay, this is a fun one since it is essentially a heavier, longer (for most people) version of Grace. What a difference 30 pounds makes when doing a bunch of clean and jerks!

It should be noted that if you miss a jerk, you do not have to squat clean the bar to try again. How…lucky!

CrossFit Open Workout 11.4

Equipment: Barbell, bumper plates, gymnastics rings

Yeah…it’s time for Anchorman…

About a million bar-facing burpees (and half as many heavy overhead squats!) just to start the workout.

After that..well…I can’t imagine that the muscle-up prowess was that high back in 2011.

Truth be told, I think the numbers for the first two levels of athletes are a bit on the low side, but this is a tough one, nevertheless!

CrossFit Open Workout 11.5

Equipment: Barbell, bumper plates, pull-up bar/rack, wall ball

Oh man…what a tease! After the craziness of 11.4, 11.5 is back to a long, tedious AMRAP. To be fair, the clean weight is kind of interesting, but with all of the exercises involving rather low numbers of each exercise, you really have to keep moving.

21 rounds…more than one a minute…for the “elite” athletes in the crowd.

There were some bad dudes, even back then!

CrossFit Open Workout 11.6

Equipment: Barbell, bumper plates, pull-up bar/rack

Hmmm…does this one look a little…familiar?

(Hint: It should!)

The first iteration of the infamous duo of thrusters and chest-to-bar pull-ups (and one of the more commonly repeated or modified CrossFit Open workouts). This is when “the burn” really got started.

May as well get used to these two movements. You’re going to be doing them a lot!

2012 CrossFit Open Workouts

After a successful first Open, there was a lot of hype going into Year 2. And you know how CrossFit rewarded everyone who stuck around and was ready for anything from the 2012 Open…

With a bunch of burpees to kick things off!

From there, we saw a lot of similarities with the previous year’s events as well as the first repeat of an Open workout. Nothing too creative here, but, if you made it beyond Week 1, you were “rewarded” with some more “normal” workouts.

CrossFit Open Workout 12.1

crossfit open workout

Equipment: n/a

Gosh…my first ever CrossFit Open workout…

What an awful week to give CrossFit a try!

You just do burpees…over…and over…and over again.

To be fair, anyone can do this one. Whether they actually want to do it though…well…that’s another story, entirely!

CrossFit Open Workout 12.2

Equipment: Barbell, bumper plates

For some reason, I actually came back for more after 12.1’s burpee extravaganza. My reward? Trying to do 12.2 with a single barbell and a bunch of tiny bro gym iron plates on a busy Saturday morning.

(I think this is the day when the owners really started to get annoyed with me!)

Interesting thing: back then, everyone changed their own weights and having to do so on your own definitely adds to the challenge of workouts like these. Give it a try and see how it affects your score!

CrossFit Open Workout 12.3

Equipment: Plyo box, barbell, bumper plates, pull-up bar/rack

Now we’re back to the CrossFit Open workouts that early CrossFit loved so much! Another long AMRAP with objectively boring movements.

Don’t get me wrong; these are probably the best workouts for developing actual capacity (at least in relation to some of the more “novelty-like” workouts today), but they’re probably better at building mental strength more than anything else.

It takes a lot of willpower to keep lifting, pressing, and jumping come minute 16!

CrossFit Open Workout 12.4

Equipment: Wall ball, jump rope, gymnastics rings

…and here we have where my burgeoning, CrossFit Open in the globo gym career abruptly ended.

No wall balls. No (legit) jump ropes. No gymnastics rings (nor the ability to perform muscle-ups)….Yes problem!

As it is, this is an excellent workout to test your true grit under fatigue. Do the Karen CrossFit WOD and immediately do a moderately big set of double-unders….and then a bunch of muscle-ups.

Those muscle-ups feel a bit different at this point, don’t they?

CrossFit Open Workout 12.5

Equipment: Barbell, bumper plates, pull-up bar/rack

…and here we have it: the CrossFit Open’s first repeated workout!

As we mentioned just a short while ago, CrossFit would become somewhat obsessed with this combination of thrusters and chest-to-bar pull-ups.

Really obsessed

As obnoxious as this combo might be, there are some high points:

  • The workout is only 7 minutes long. You may as well just get it done!
  • It’s repeated, in one way or another, so often that you can develop some nice little benchmarks for yourself. You just know it’s coming back again; may as well get a baseline number ASAP!

2013 CrossFit Open Workouts

After setting the standard of what the CrossFit Open was going to look like at its most basic level, HQ decided to start throwing some wrenches into the system and started to modify previously programmed workouts. Just compare 12.2 with 13.1; same snatch weights and rep schemes…but with a bunch of burpees included to mes with you along the way!

At this point, CrossFit also started to get more creative with rep schemes and workout parameters. The inclusion of work requirements for specific time periods (which had to be met in order to continue) was an interesting touch that would become a staple in future CrossFit Open workouts.

CrossFit Open Workout 13.1

Equipment: Barbell, bumper plates

Ya know those altered workouts we mentioned? 13.1 was the first one of these.

Ascending weights of high-repetition and a bunch of burpees (with an additional 7 minutes to suffer)? Congratulations CrossFit Open-ers…you’re capacity for suffering is evolving!

CrossFit Open Workout 13.2

Equipment: Barbell, bumper plates, plyo box

One of the more forgettable CrossFit Open workouts, 13.2 is kind of a mash-up of everything that was boring about the early, early editions of the event. Push presses (for most people), deadlifts, and box jumps (man was CrossFit in love with their box jumps back then!)

On the bright side, this one only went for 10 minutes so instead of grinding things out into oblivion, you just got to sprint through things.


CrossFit Open Workout 13.3

Equipment: Wall ball, jump rope, gymnastics rings

Sometimes CrossFit doesn’t need to modify its classic workouts. When they’re this iconic (and probably when the head honchos want to see how much work the people have been putting in from the previous year!) there really is no need to do so!

Hopefully you practiced your double-under efficiency, gymnastics, and ability to suffer!

CrossFit Open Workout 13.4

Equipment: Barbell, bumper plates, pull-up bar/rack

For a brief moment, it appeared as though the rep scheme (3,3,6,6…) as opposed to the movements themselves would be the constant theme. Remember, at this point, we only had a couple of years of data to go off of and, at the time, this was the third straight year of it.

However, as much of a grind as a clean-and-jerk, toes-to-bar sprint can be, the real burn was coming in the form of…

CrossFit Open Workout 13.5

Equipment: Barbell, bumper plates, pull-up bar/rack

There are those thrusters and chest-to-bar pull-ups we’ve all come to know and love!

The twist this time? That ascending time domain (despite my best efforts, have never been able to get beyond that initial 4-minute cap). This gimmick would be almost standard in CrossFit Open workouts to come.

2014 CrossFit Open Workouts

One could argue that 2014 is when the Open really started to look like “CrossFit”. After a snoozer of a workout in week 1 (a repeat of the first even Open WOD), the remainder of the workouts provided some true gems.

  • Weird time requirement workout – check
  • Ascending deadlift weight workout – check
  • Thursters and burpees…and no time cap – check
  • Greatest Open Workout ever – check
  • CrossFit actually compiling collective data about Open performance – check

Yeah…2014 was a great year for the CrossFit Open!

CrossFit Open Workout 14.1

Equipment: Jump rope, barbell, bumper plates

I get that CrossFit was trying to be cute here and take us “back to the beginning”, but come on. This one is another yawner.

The “worst” part about it (or the “best” part about it, depending on how you look at it) of this one, the two guys from the Open announcement both lost to Khalipa’s score from 2011! Three years later and people still weren’t doing it better yet!

CrossFit Open Workout 14.2

Equipment: Barbell, bumper plates, pull-up bar/rack

There’s that 13.5 pattern (and one half of the devastating duo of chest-to-bar pull-ups and thrusters).

Don’t feel bad if you don’t get too far in this one. Even the top dogs weren’t doing more than 6 rounds (although I could see Adler doing closer to 8 nowadays).

CrossFit Open Workout 14.3

Equipment: Barbell, bumper plates, plyo box

It’s kinda fun to see how some of these CrossFit “personalities” have evolved over time. Tovar was all about the booty shorts (they were a bit of a novelty back then) 10 years ago and now she sounds like a concerned 1st-grade teacher as she commentates at the CrossFit Games.

Regardless, this is where things were starting to get fun. Those box jumps after the barbell really started to get heavy…yeah…if you’re gonna take this one on today, opt for a soft box!

CrossFit Open Workout 14.4

Equipment: Concept2 Rower, pull-up bar/rack, wall ball, barbell, bumper plates, gymnastics rings

Okay, now things are really getting good!

I wasn’t even aware of this workout until 2023 when it was re-programmed as the first workout of the Open. Probably the most “CrossFit” of CrossFit Open workouts (and the first time we;re seeing rowing introduced) of all time as well as being one of the all-time great benchmarks WODs (check out our discussion of the 2019-23 Opens to see how people “evolved” on this one!)

CrossFit Open Workout 14.5

Equipment: Barbell, bumper plates

Gosh…cut out the chest-to-bar pull-up and replace them with…bar-facing burpees!

This one is sick enough to watch (consider how “slow” Annie looked compared to the others…she was still solidly in the top 1 percent of finishers!), but there is something about it that makes it absolutely lethal.

The time cap…or, should I say, the lack thereof!

84 thrusters, 84 bar-facing-burpees…

…and no “clock” to save you on this one!

The Golden Age CrossFit Open: Highs and Lows

The CrossFit Open had to start somewhere and most would likely agree that many of the workouts in the early years weren’t the most interesting. However, considering how new the sport was and the relatively little amount of experience that athletes had with the movements, some of these workouts may have still seemed to have been pretty nutty at the time!

Thankfully, the workouts quickly evolved and by 2014, we had experienced one of the greatest opens ev-er.

I would suggest going and giving one of these solid gold oldies a try, but, if you’re more into something new, check out our list of the Modern Age CrossFit Open workouts.

Or wait one more week…I think you know what’s coming next!

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Tom, CrossFit Level 1 Trainer, ISSA-CPT, PN1-NC, DPA, CAPM has been CrossFitting for over 10 years. He has participated in a number of team and individual CrossFit competitions across Europe and the United States. He was the 2012 Chick-fil-A Race Series champion (North Georgia Circuit) and has put together a few gnarly garage and basement gyms in his time!

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