The crossfit open doesn't use weight classes, and the argument put forth has been something along the lines of, "The workouts have all been balanced so heavy weight (easier for heavy people) are balanced with body weight exercises (easier for lighter folks). Is that true? Let's look at some data.
|The blue line represents the 'elite' or the top 10% of athletes for a given weight (5 lb increments). The red line is the overall average athlete for a given weight.|
Plotted is the performance of athletes across weights for workouts 1 and 2. To explain further - I have grouped athletes according to their weight (in 5 lb increments), and plotted the mean performance of those athletes. 'Average' athletes in a given weight are plotted in red, and 'elite' althletes, or the top ten percent of athletes in a given weight, are plotted in blue. For reference, I have also included the cumulative percentile score chart on the right, since that information isn't immediately obvious on the open website. If you wanted to quickly see where a score of 200 ranked on workout 1, you would go directly up from the bottom axis at 200 until it crossed the 'S' shaped curve. From that point, going directly left to the axis will give the percentile score, which in this case is around the 30th percentile.
For workout 1, the curves go up from a weight of 140, peak at 185, then head downward. Does this make a huge difference? I think for average athletes the answer is yes. An 'average' 185 open athlete bested 20 percent more people than his 'average' comrade weighing in at 230 lbs, translating to an overall rank difference of over 2000 people!
What about for elite athletes? The mean percentile scores for 140, 185, and 230 pound elites were all in the top 10% of total scores, so I think weight wasn't too much of an issue for those folks. The overall pattern is the same though.
As an aside, why should we care about the 'elite' catagory of athlete? Given that there's 17 total regions, and 50 athletes that move onto the regionals (total 850), I would argue that the top 10% of athletes (~1100) should stand a reasonable chance at moving on to the next round of competition. Understanding patterns in these athletes should hopefully tell us in the future what's important for the open.
|It's good be a 180 pounder so far!|
The circumstances change a bit when you look at workout 2. Everybody, say over 220 pounds, should have screamed a collective Bender favorite, "We're boned!" Yikes the heavier people were punished on this exercise, no matter if you were an average athlete or an elite one. In the elite category, the difference between an average athlete at 180 lbs and one at 230 was a crazy 19 percentile points. Another stat, no person weighing above 220 lbs cracked the top 5% of scores. I don't know how that will translate into a real effect at the end of the open, but if this trend continues I wouldn't be surprised if there weren't many 220 pounders that make it to Regionals.
So to answer the question, in there an ideal CrossFit weight for men? So far in the open, the athletes around 180 pounds have had it pretty good. There's still 4 workouts to go, so circumstances could change...
Analysis for the women will hopefully come next!