The Power of Back-to-Back Events at the CrossFit Games

June 19, 20236 min read

Image Credits: Athlete’s Eye

This year at Semifinals, tests four and five occurred in a “back-to-back” format that we had been hoping to see in one of our preview pieces .

There are several variables to consider when programming back-to-back events like those in a competition. By choosing to include back-to-back workouts you’re demanding the athletes to prove their capacity to recover in a very short time domain, usually with two relatively short workouts on either side of a short break. You also are typically cramming a significant amount of the points available into a relatively small window. For example, 200 of the 700 available points at Semifinals were up for grabs in tests 4 and 5 alone. That’s nearly 30 percent (28.6%) of points available across the entire weekend on the table for athletes to claim, or watch slip by, in a matter of basically 10 minutes. 

2023 Semifinals Tests 4 & 5 

For a handful of athletes, great performances on those two Semifinal tests in succession ended up paying off in the biggest way, with a ticket to the CrossFit Games:

Athlete-placementsPoints Earned on those eventsTotal Points Earned% of Total Pts% of Total Points Available
Abigail Domit- 9th/4th16742139.70%28.60%
Jack Farlow- 2nd/11th16747735.00%28.60%
Rebecka Vitesson- 15th/5th14842434.90%28.60%
Jelle Hoste- 8th/1st17952434.20%28.60%
Morteza Sedaghat- 2nd/3rd18857332.80%28.60%
Fabian Beneito- 10th/13th13742032.60%28.60%

*Note these are not necessarily the best performances globally on these pair of tests. Instead, these are athletes who earned a significant percentage of their total points (relative to the percentage of points available) on these two back-to-back tests en route to qualifying for their first CrossFit Games. 

Back-to-Back Events: CrossFit Games, Historically Good Performances

With this in mind, we decided to look back through the annals in search of athletes who have capitalized on back to back style events over the years at the CrossFit Games en route to their best ever finish at the Games; we found six such examples, and one that was close:

EVENTS and YEARAthlete – placementsPoints Earned on those eventsTotal Points That Year% of Total Pts% of Total Pts AvailableFinal Games PlacingRelative to CareerNext Best Finish
Bicouplet 1 and 2 2018Willy Georges- 1st/2nd19472826.614.30%9thbest of career17th- 2022
PTTM 1 & 2 2015Spencer Hendel- 1st/1st20071827.916.70%5thbest of career9th- 2011
PTTM 1 & 2 2015Amanda Goodman- 2nd/5th17461628.216.70%10thbest of career20th – 2014
Row 1 & 2 2013Samantha Briggs – 1st/1st20092021.716.70%1stbest of career4th – ’11,’15, ’16
Pendleton 1 & 2 2012Kyle Kasperbauer- 5th/3rd17093018.314.80%3rdbest of career13th- 2014
The End 1,2,3 2011Rebecca Voigt – 1st/2nd/2nd29077537.430%3rdbest of career7th- 2008, 2010
Row 1 & 2 2013Jason Khalipa- 1st/1st20089022.516.70%2nd2nd best of career1st – 2008

Some of these examples, specifically Voigt in 2011, Hendel and Goodman in 2015, came right at the end of the competition and therefore may be a little more memorable as it catapulted them into a great position on the overall leaderboard, and their best ever finish as well

For Goodman, she was able to move into her only top-10 finish of her career, but not being in the last heat, and with all the podium drama that season, it was a bit lost in the noise.

Willy Georges’ performance on Bicouplet 1 and 2 came on a featured event in the Coliseum on Saturday night – which historically always gets a lot of attention.  

The other performances which made this list came from Pendleton 1 and 2 and Row 1 and 2, which by nature were a little different. These first of all, were not short events. And second of all, did not have the short break in between them as we discussed in the opener. They did however present multiple 100-point scoring opportunities, and did give a couple athletes a big boost from a percentage of overall points perspective which certainly contributed to career best placements come the end of the competition. 

What it Means for Athletes

If and when back-to-back events are programmed, specifically when they yield multiple 100-point scoring opportunities, it can be career defining in terms of how it impacts your eventual result at either Semifinals of the Games. 

Not every set of back-to-back tests is favorable to every athlete, but for those who get a fast ball down the middle when it comes to the programming of these it can be the catalyst they need to surge up the leaderboard. 

What it Means for Programmers

If you choose to include a back-to-back set of tests, you should be aware of the implications, and therefore selective about how what is being tested in those workouts fits into the bigger programming picture. 

In some cases, like Semifinals this year, the two tests are quite different- a max snatch and a fast run (basically). However, in other cases, like Row 1 and 2, or even Bicouplet 1 and 2, the general skills being tested are very similar. Especially if that is the case, ensuring there are some offsetting tests as well. In fact, likely having Row 1 and 2 and Bicouplet 1 and 2 in the same competition wouldn’t be the worst idea. 

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Brian Friend

Brian stumbled upon CrossFit in the Fall of 2013. He has been a writer, data analyst, content creator, commentator, and broadcast coordinator. He's worked at a majority of the largest CrossFit competitions over the last three seasons, is a regular guest on the Sevan Podcast, and has been amongst the leading sports analysts in the sport in recent years. He has a passion for advancing the sport of CrossFit, and spreading the CrossFit methodology, by living it out in both his personal and professional life.


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