Bobby Dee's Open Tips Aren't About The Barbell

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By Storms Reback

Bobby Dee, the renowned head coach of RAW Strength and Conditioning, has earned a reputation for getting the most out of his clients. Three of the athletes he trains competed in the CrossFit Games last week, so he's definitely among the best coaches on the planet. When he doles out free advice, it pays to listen.

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"If you want to do well in the Open, you obviously have to be extremely fit," Dee said.

We asked which specific skills he thought are most important to develop in order to compete in the Open. His answer was surprising. 

"Beyond that I would probably choose gymnastics proficiency over absolute barbell strength. If you can be proficient in your gymnastics in a way that allows you to showcase your fitness, then that's probably the most important skill for that stage of the competition. There's no point in being really fit if you struggle with your gymnastics because then you can't show how fit you are because you're going to be limited by your skill. Although everyone wants to post videos of heavy deadlifts and max snatches and clean endurance and things like that, I'd prioritize gymnastics proficiency and general aerobic fitness to get a good score in the Open."

He also believes that those who previously played team sports stand a much better chance of succeeding at the Games than those who've only done individual sports or CrossFit.

"I coach quite a few athletes who may have been very high-level gymnasts or weightlifters and people who are only CrossFitters and they do okay in the Open and some of them might make regionals, but they don't do that fantastic at the Games," Dee said. "The Games really tests your overall athletic ability. The people who do well in the Games generally have a very diverse sporting background in either team sports, where you've got to move in multiple planes of motion."

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Dee used Rob Forte of Carrum Downs, Australia, as an example of an athlete whose focus on CrossFit hampers him at the Games.

"He has won pretty much every regional in Australia for the last seven or eight years," said Dee. "But he gets to the Games and he doesn't do very well because he's very good at CrossFit but he's not really good at running, swimming, and biking. He's really good with the barbell, he's good with pull ups, and he's really good with gymnastics, but he's not good at pushing that big snail thing that they had last year or dragging a sled or doing a sprint or handstand walking 100 meters. If I was his coach, I would hardly get him to do any CrossFit. I would say, 'Rob, this year, we're working on running, swimming, and odd objects. You're going to be carrying a sandbag. You're going to be doing farmer's carries. You're going to be doing dead balls. You're going to be pulling sleds with ropes. And you're going to be pushing prowlers. But you're only going to touch a barbell once or twice a week."

When Bobby Dee speaks, you listen.


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