2014 CrossFit Open Workout 14.5 Strategies and Tips

2014 CrossFit Open Workout 14.5 is:

21-18-15-12-9-6-3 reps for time of:
95/65-lb. thrusters
Bar facing burpees

Thrusters and burpees were all the talk in all CrossFit circles, but very few people predicted a task priority workout. Another first in the history of the Open, this workout is for time – no clock saving you from doing another rep. Let’s talk about gear, prep work, and tips for 14.5.

Knee sleeves like Rehbands will help you bounce out of the hole in your thruster, plus provide a nice cushion for your knees on the burpees. Weightlifting shoes will help your bottom position in the thruster and shouldn’t be a question unless you have Froning-like dorsiflexion.

Some people will want to wear wrist wraps if you’re used to your wrists hurting in a front rack position. Wraps may hinder mobility though, so use them wisely.

Row if you can (e.g. 1k @ 60%, 500m @ 75%, 250m @ 85%, 250m @ 90%), or work squats in your warm up. Work thoracic mobility to have a comfortable overhead position for the thruster. Get those wrists mobile and do some front squats so you don’t complain in the middle of the workout. Grab a kettlebell and do some goblet squats to work your bottom squat position. You don’t want immobility to get in the way of your workout. Work up to a medium-heavyish thruster so 95 or 65 lbs. seems light when you give it a go. Be warm before you start because you’re definitely going to GET warm during it.


hanging out with Annie


getting coached by Annie on….THRUSTERS

Rich Froning and Sam Briggs did this workout in 8:26 and 8:31, respectively. You and I are NOT going to do that, so we need to think of this workout in terms of a 15-20 minute workout.

Break It Up – If you watched the face off among the 5 champions (Froning, Khalipa, Holmberg, Briggs, and Thorisdottir) you noticed that they pretty went unbroken in their thrusters. This is not the strategy for mortals. In training and daily workouts, we want you to go hard and push that lactic threshold. In terms of competition like 14.5, you need to hold back from that redline and break reps up so you can keep moving. So whether that’s three sets of seven for the 21’s or eleven and ten, break the thrusters up.

Watch Your Rack – Get the bar on your shoulders in the front rack position and use your body to carry the bar down in the bottom of the squat and throw it off on the way up. Holding it with your hands will not only put a lot of strain on your wrists, but it also makes you use your arm muscles to hold the weight through the full range of motion. When you are in a front rack position, you don’t need to be in a full front squat position with triceps parallel to the floor, but if you can them at a 45 degree angle, it’s probably your best compromise.

Relax on the Burpees – this might seem like a contradiction, but since we don’t need to jump and clap with arms overhead, try to relax your arms while your jumping over the bar. Even jump the minimal height necessary to get over the bar. Don’t waste energy jumping from 4 feet away and 3 feet high when you can step up to the bar and hop the 9 inches or so required. Also, DO NOT speed through the burpees unless it’s your last 6 or 3. Going slightly faster on burpees only to have to rest 10-30 seconds on the bar is not worth it.

Jump Your Feet Out – Many people doing burpees tend to jump their feet in between their hands, but this makes you ball up in a very compressed position. If you can jump your feet outside of your hands, you’ll notice that you’re less compressed and use less energy to stand up, especially valuable quad strength. At some point you may need to walk your feet in due to fatigue and that’s fine. Just keep moving.

Breathe – while obvious, think about take a breath in when you descend into your front squat and then exhaling while the bar is on the way up overhead. This will keep you breathing and possibly allow you to keep a rhythm doing thrusters. On burpees, continuous breathing is a must and like I said before, try to relax and get your heart rate down from those dang thrusters.

Squat Clean the Bar – you are allowed to squat clean the first rep into your thruster, so do it. If 95/65 is a heavy weight for you, then of course power clean it and then front squat it (assuming that your squat clean form is less than perfect compared to power clean)

Communicate with Your Judge – Many everyday CrossFitters still have trouble finding the right depth in a squat, so make sure you and your judge are on the same page in terms of what counts and what doesn’t. For burpees, make sure you know what number you’re on because doing extra reps of either is costly for both time and energy.

Have Fun! – This is the last workout of the 2014 Open season so have fun! Get a cheering squad or your favorite fellow athletes to go in the same heat as you. Stay at your gym to socialize and cheer others on. Since this for time, people will be grinding reps out and need all the support they can get!

If I find other useful videos, especially from Athlete Cell, Outlaw Way, Carl Paoli, etc. then I’ll post them here at a later date. For now, go get a lax ball and mobilize!

Any tips for 14.5?



2014 CrossFit Open 14.1 Strategy (11.1 repeat)

Dave Castro announced the 2014 CrossFit Open 14.1 workout as a repeat of the very first Open workout back in 2011:

AMRAP in 10 minutes:
30 double unders
15 snatches, 75#/55#

Rich Froning Jr. took first place in 2011 with an incredible 448 reps, just shy of 10 rounds. Tonight, Marcus Hendren and Garret Fisher went head to head to start the season and posted scores of 358 and 373 reps, respectively.

I’m actually surprised they would have double unders as the first movement of the Open. Many of the 172,000+ registered athletes already have double unders, but I’m willing to bet there are a whole lot that don’t. While it would be exciting for them to get their first one in 14.1, chances are they would have to scale the rest of the workout and post scores of 1, 2, or 3. The reason I was expecting burpees was for the same reason they put them in 12.1: practically EVERYONE can do them, no skill required. But I digress….

Let’s talk strategy:

Prep: Get two lacrosse balls, tape ’em together and work that thoracic mobility. Foam rollers are fine, but the lax balls will dig deep into that tissue to loosen you up. You don’t want to lose reps on a bar that isn’t over your head. Hamstrings will be used for both the snatch and the dubs, so warm them up as well. You want to be fairly warm by the time this workout starts for you aka don’t go out there cold otherwise you’ll get smacked in the face. (you’ll probably get smacked anyway around minute 5)

10 minutes is a long time. This is a simple couplet that is incredibly deceiving if you’ve never done it before. Your lungs and shoulders will be burning in the first few minutes and you’ll think about how 10 minutes can go so slowly. Pacing is key, but not too slowly.

If you have du’s, it should go without saying that you should do them unbroken. 30 UB du’s takes about 20 seconds or less, whereas a couple of sets can extend out to a minute. Stay relaxed, keep your elbows in, fling those wrists around, and keep your jump composed. I like to focus on a single point in the distance about 5 ft. up from my horizon, but that’s just my thing. Find a way to stay focused.

Snatches for most people will be light. You should NOT use the same form as you would a 1 rep max snatch. In fact, most people should be muscle snatching: a movement where you do not rebend under the bar to catch it in a power position. Hips are generally going to be higher in the start, legs are straighter, and lower back is used more for these light, high rep snatches. Keep the bar close, explode up, and lock the bar out quickly overhead. Hook grip will save your forearms just a bit.

Bringing the bar down, be smooth and keep the bar close again. By pausing a fraction of a second at the hip, you can descend back to your original starting point and retrace the way you came up. Try to keep the bar on the ground for as little as possible; Marcus and Garret both tapped the bars and brought them back up.

If you do need to power snatch, make SURE that you stand up with it for it to count. Nothing worse than shorting a rep and it not counting.

If you have to rest, do it intentionally. Don’t go crazy on the snatches if it means getting 10 reps, taking a 30 second break, and needing 5 more. Break it up in either 3 sets of 5 or 8 and 7. I like 8 and 7 or 9 and 6 because mentally you can say to yourself that you’re more than halfway and the next set is less than what you just did. Obviously in the last rounds, you may be doing singles or doubles to get reps in and this is fine.

Transition is key. These are quick movements that can earn a lot of points on the leaderboard and the difference between even one point could equal hundreds of spots due to ties. Don’t walk 10 feet from rope to bar if you can walk 5. Don’t throw your rope in dramatic fashion because you’re just going to have to pick it up again. Don’t ghost ride the bar and toss it somewhere because you’re either going to hurt someone or you’re going to have to hunt for the bar or both.

Every rep counts, but the dubs are so efficient in that it takes very little time to get a bunch of reps and therefore a bunch of points. 10 double unders takes 4 seconds, but 10 snatches can take 25-60 seconds! What does this mean for you? If at 9:30 you’re in the middle or starting snatches, you have to do everything in your power to get back to that rope. Because if you do, there’s a great chance you can rack up 10-30 reps in the remaining seconds.

Those are my candid thoughts, I didn’t even edit. I may add more, but I figured people are googling “CrossFit 14.1 strategy” in hopes of beating Rich.

ADDENUM: you MAY clean and jerk and although I said snatches were the way to go, I looked back to my notes from three years ago and I improved my score from 266 to 302 by clean and jerking when I felt like I could only do singles on snatches. I may or may not try this strategy, but it’s something to think about. The reason is that although C+Js are slower, if you can string them, then they make up over time