What changed into CrossFit® Games structure in 10 years? How the athlete’ performance evolved from there?

Hereinafater we’ve tried to answer on these questions with a simple comparison of the differences between 2012 and 2022’s editions.

Starting at the beginning, in the 2002 publication “What Is Fitness?” CrossFit® suggested a theoretical hierarchy for the development of an athlete. This hierarchy starts with nutrition and moves to metabolic conditioning, gymnastics, weightlifting, and finally, sport. Considering the three basics [SMTA(1] domains, that is metcon (or monostructural), weightlifting and gymnastic, every CrossFit®’s WOD (sport) is made of one or a combination of these.

CrossFit Games 2022 – Pic: BAW Media

The Structure

Getting back to 2012 Games edition there were 15 workouts divided into a 4-day-long competition. While the 2022 edition showed 13 workouts split into 5 days of competition.

Furthermore, the combination of the different domains has – completely – changed.

  • In 2012, events characterized exclusively by gymnastic were 2 on 15, it means almost 15%.
  • In the last edition of Games, no event was composed by pure gymnastic.
  • For others event characterized by mono-domains, that are metabolic conditioning and weightlifting, all these events were present in both editions.

Workouts with only conditioning in 2012 were four time (30% ca) compared to WODs proposed in 2022 (8%). While events of pure weightlifting ten years ago (13%) were almost double time of today (8%). During the events directed by the Deus ex machina Dave Castro, there were always events with gymnastic (handstand walk, sprints, …), while in last edition, directed by Adrian Bozman no events.

WODs composed by two different domains, namely those with gymnastic and weightlifting, Metabolic Conditioning and gymnastic, and – finally – Metabolic Conditioning and weightlifting, look different.

If ten years ago there weren’t any event with gymnastic and monostructural domains, in today’s edition almost one fourth of total workouts (23%) were of this type. Events characterized by gymnastic and weightlifting in 2012 were 4 (almost 30% of total), in opposite of 2022 where just 15% of workouts were characterized by this combo.

The largest discrepancy, anyway, is on the events composed by metabolic conditioning and weightlifting. In the 2012 edition there was only an event of this type, while in the last edition 5 WODs out of 13 (almost 40%) showed this combination. Finally, the number of events with all of three domains was quite stable in both editions, with two events in 2012 and one in 2022.

It’s worth to note as in the 2012 edition of Games, just 7 events on 15 (that is less than 50%) were workouts characterized by two or three domains’ combinations, while in the current edition well over 80%. Furthermore, also the last five editions of Games before the current (detailed analysis here, we’re sorry it’s in Italian but we’re sure that you can read the graphs), showed strong differences with this one, leaded by Adrian Bozman. It’s plausible that this is due to taking up a different position from Castro’s way.

It’ll be interesting see what will happen in the next edition of CrossFit® Games, after the reintegration of Dave Castro into CrossFit’s staff.

Table 1 – the percentual difference between the performance of first and last athlete (Δ)

Ahletes’ Performance

Performance of the athletes deeply changed in this last 10 years. The comparison between gap of first-to-last athlete in each combination of domains give us a chance to discuss more in depth about that.

  • In general way, in each domains’ combinations the average difference between first and last athletes (Delta) is diminished in 2022 (26%) compared to 2012 (34%), which means that likely overall fitness level is considerably increased, but – at least – it’s more leveled. Especially if you keep in mind that are increased also the workouts (by two or three domains) that require a higher level of preparation.
  • Not considering that combinations not proposed in the two editions, the highest gap is in gymnastics’ events for 2012 and in metabolic conditioning and weightlifting for 2022. Anyway, honestly not only numbers can describe the noted difference of these competitions. If you compare the type and the weights used in WODs, there were drastic changes. In 2012 the highest barbell load was 205 lb (ca 93 kg) for a clean, in today’s edition 300 lb (ca 136 kg) for clean and jerks. A huge increase. Anyway, in percentage terms the difference among athletes (first-to-last) in the events where was involved barbell and metabolic conditioning is growth in the last edition, but it’s likely due to the high weight’s load used.
  • In the same manner, during 2012’s edition, the most complex (that’s debatable but it’s universally recognized as) gymnastic skill was bar muscle ups, and in whole competition the total number of required bmu was 21 divided into 3 rounds. While, in 2022’s edition, there were handstand walk with different starting, strict pegboard etc. and as well as 30 unpartitioned bmu. A drastic change.
  • Finally, also into the metabolic conditioning domain something has changed, while in the 2012’s edition the gap was around 40%, in the 2022 the gapd ecreased to 24% although the required skills were significantly different. For example, in this edition, likely on Castro’s wave, the double-under crossovers have been introduced.

CrossFit Games 2012 vs CrossFit Games 2022 – Conclusion

All of us have in mind Annie Thorisdottir while she’s trying to get her first ring muscle up during CrossFit® Games 2009, and how she’s improved her level through this last 13 years.

So, as each sport, especially a – relative – new sport like CrossFit® has a great opportunity to improve the athletes’ general level of preparation and performance. It’s news of these days, the new Fran world record by Noah Olsen with time of 1:49. He beat the previous score by 10 seconds (it means improving the performance in the order of 10 %).

If you compare this with the score obtained by Rich Froning winning the Fran’s event during CrossFit® Games 2012 with time of 2:58.08, there is an improvement of well 40%.

A massive increase.

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