17.4 analysis

Data Fit - Crossfit Open 17.4 Analysis: How Much Did the Community Improve?

17.4 is.... 16.4

Every year during the open one of the workouts is a repeat of a workout from a past open. This gives everyone in the chance to measure their performance not by how they stack up in the community, but by how they have improved themselves. Personally, I think this is a healthier form of competition, as it lets you step back and reflect on your year of training to answer the question:

Did I improve my fitness since last year?

In our first three 38Plank Crossfit Open Articles, we included some fun data points, graphs, maps, and diagrams analyzing competition and performance between regions and the community at large. Although these are all really fun to look at, we decided to focus more on individual improvement and highlight how far the Crossfit community has come in the last year as a whole.  At 38Plank, we believe that you are your biggest competition...it is the main inspiration for our app after all! Don't get us wrong, we love some healthy competition, but fitness should ultimately be about challenging yourself and working to get better every day. 

So, in order to honor this belief, we decided to also include some fun interviews with a diverse group of athletes. We hope that their stories also help inspire and motivate you in your training :)

Improving Fitness

For the first part of our analysis, we wanted to see whether or not the Crossfit community improved as a whole since last year. To keep it short, we KILLED IT! 

"The average improvement of the entire CrossFit community who did RX in both 2016 and 2017 was 9.3 reps, or roughly 5.7%"

This number is from 90k+ results of people from different fitness backgrounds, cultures, and geographic locations, making a strong case that if you are looking for a new workout program that will improve your strength and overall fitness, Crossfit could be just the one for you! This is also probably the largest ever study of a fitness program or methodology ever conducted.

Let's break the community numbers down by male / female and also separated by region to see who had the biggest improvements.

Note: RX16 & RX17 means the number of people who posted an RX score in both 2016 and 2017.

Men's Regional Data
Region Reps Gained Percent Gain RX16 && RX17 Scaled to RX
Africa 13.18 8.04% 1501 150
Asia 13.31 8.39% 1272 161
Australia 8.20 4.81% 3754 241
Canada Eat 8.94 5.13% 2277 155
Canada West 8.40 4.93% 1231 88
Central East 7.77 4.53% 3740 243
Europe 11.36 6.80% 8967 795
Latin America 14.59 9.20% 3846 510
Mid Atlantic 7.52 4.36% 4087 254
North Central 7.58 4.37% 4407 307
North East 7.37 4.32% 5026 361
Northern Cali 6.61 3.85% 1960 91
North West 6.58 3.80% 2121 142
South Central 6.78 3.96% 4261 239
South East 6.92 3.99% 4176 227
Southern Cali 6.73 3.92% 2554 136
South West 6.98 4.09% 1925 155
Womens Regional Data
Region Reps Gained Percent Gain RX16 && RX17 Scaled to RX
Africa 14.98 9.88% 611 163
Asia 21.31 15.41% 471 134
Australia 9.98 6.26% 2465 462
Canada Eat 10.22 6.24% 1427 278
Canada West 9.23 5.67% 848 171
Central East 9.09 5.63% 2251 408
Europe 13.60 8.58% 3616 843
Latin America 16.38 11.05% 1328 466
Mid Atlantic 8.99 5.59% 2591 497
North Central 9.73 6.00% 2486 509
North East 8.88 5.51% 3014 655
Northern Cali 7.91 4.90% 1268 208
North West 8.14 4.95% 1457 259
South Central 9.56 6.09% 2508 471
South East 9.22 5.74% 2308 388
Southern Cali 10.20 6.32% 1500 254
South West 8.99 5.67% 1925 298

Looks like Latin America, Asia, and Africa are improving at a rapid pace. It's great to see the normally underrepresnted regions improving fast and likely catching up to everyone else.

All Reps are not Equal

We see that the entire community improved by ~9 reps, but what type of movements were they? 9 handstand pushups and 9 wall balls are not created equal, so we need to figure out what percentage of both men and women made it to each round to be able to base our information.

First lets look at the overall scores in the community.

Red is Men, Blue is Women

Red is Men, Blue is Women


As you can see a large group of the population was cut off at some point during the handstand pushups. Using this information we can better understand our results from before. On average, a large proportion of those extra 9 reps were from the handstand pushups. Looking at the table below, we see the breakdown percentages of the community. 

Percentile Male Reps Female Reps
10% 123 110
20% 149 135
30% 165 151
40% 166 164
50% 171 165
60% 176 166
70% 181 172
80% 189 179
90% 201 191
95% 215 204
99% 254 245

We see that 72% of the men, and 42% of the women who did the workout RX were able to get one Handstand pushup. That means a majority of those 9 rep improvements were done on this portion. 

Scaled to RX

For most of our analysis, we have focused on the RX community, as that provides us with the most consistent source of data. That may make the data science easier but Since the addition of the scaled category in 2015, many people have been going scaled, increasing the number of people who can compete in the open. In this workout, many people scaled for one of two reasons, either the deadlift was too heavy, or they are not able to get a handstand pushup. But anyone who improved their fitness since last year may have shored up these gaps and moved from scaled to rx, which in its own right shows an improvement in not only fitness, but confidence. The question we can ask ourselves then is, "How many people went from RX to Scaled" and use that as an number to show community improvement. 

The number of people who went from scaled in 2016 to RX in 2017 was 10,719

Thats a massive number. Deadlifting 225/155lbs x55 is no easy feat, and for an athlete to improve enough in one year to go from not being able or confident enough to tackle this, to going RX in 2017 shows an incredible amount of improvement.

Individual Stories

Looking into the data of the Crossfit Open is incredibly fun (at least for me) and insightful. It helps us as athletes put our scores into perspective and evaluate ourselves on a larger scale. But when you dig down into it the data does not tell the whole story, and doesn't answer the most important question that anyone can ask, "Why are we doing this?".

To find the answer to that all encompassing question, we interviewed crossfitters that improved and asked them questions about how and why the worked through out the year to improve. These stories are incredible testaments to the power of dedication, hardwork, and motivation. I am so happy that the athletes let us share their deeply personal stories why.