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?



Observations and Predictions for the 2014 CrossFit Open (and more)

The 2014 CrossFit Open begins when the first workout (14.1) is announced this Thursday night. With that said, I thought I would offer some observations on past Open workouts and make some predictions for this season. These are strictly guesses as we never truly know what HQ will throw at us!

K.I.S.S. – (to a point)
Let’s start with the premise that the Open is designed to allow everyone to participate. By everyone, I mean your stay-at-home mom working out in her garage to the Navy Seal in Afghanistan to the elite CrossFit Games athlete with access to Eleiko bars and bumpers and 10,000 sq. ft. of space. Yes, the RESULT of the Open is a ranking of the top competitors to move on to Regionals and then the Games, but the PURPOSE of the Open is to foster an environment in which anyone can participate.

With that said, the movements in the Open will be common and the equipment will be minimal. As CFG Analysis has broken down, there have only been 14 movements in 3 years’ worth of the Open and 10 have been used each year. Equipment-wise, a barbell, some bumpers, rings, jump rope, box, and pull up bar are all that’s needed. This is not the time to introduce atlas stones, rowers, prowlers, and Airdynes. The K.I.S.S. method is the name of the game for the Open.

This is not to say that high skill or heavier movements won’t be in the Open. However, you probably will not see muscle ups or a snatch ladder until the 2nd or 3rd workout. Even when they do show up, they will be preceded by an accessible movement to allow the majority of people to post a score. For instance, Open workout 12.4 included 150 wall balls, 90 double unders, and then 30 muscle ups. Most of the world can do a number of wall balls, but then the higher skill double under and muscle up will separate the mediocre, advanced, and elite athletes. 

AMRAP has and will be the timing format for the Open. As a coach, I’m a big fan of AMRAPs because it’s neat and tidy: everyone starts and ends at the same time, but the amount of work done can differentiate performances. Last year’s 13.5 saw a slight variation of AMRAP where athletes had to do a certain amount of work in a time cap. If they made the time cap, they continued. I wouldn’t be surprised if they repeat something like this, but save it for the last workout again. 

The shortest and longest workouts have been 4 minutes and 20 minutes respectively. I don’t think they will go longer than 20 for logistical reasons (especially if people are uploading to Youtube), but we may see a workout that is in the 3 minute domain. The only problem with short workouts is that movement can become sloppy from the intensity, but it’s not like we haven’t seen sloppy performances across all time domains! I would expect the majority of workouts to be in the 7-14 minute range this year with two straying in either direction.

There are a few things we won’t see, based on equipment issues or movement issues.
-We’ll never see a rowing workout given that not everyone owns an erg.
-We also will never see a kettlebell workout if AJ Moore has anything to say about it.
-Similarly, although 11.2 had hand release push ups in it, I don’t think we’ll ever see push ups in an Open workout again. There simply is too much snaking and bending of the rules (pun absolutely intended).
-And although I would love to see HSPU’s in the Open, I think it’s just too hard to judge considering some people will be videotaping and feet will be coming off the wall at all different points. The angles just don’t seem to work, but maybe HQ will prove me wrong.
-REALLY heavy weights: while it would be fun, a deadlift ladder won’t happen, mostly because of logistics. Not everyone has 500# or more of weights and we would definitely need that for a deadlift ladder.

Burpees: They’re simple, require no equipment, and have been in the Open every year.
Snatches: We’ll see some variation, but not sure if they will be light a la 11.1 (75#) or a ladder a la 12.2 or 13.1. Either way, every year should be a wake up call to work on the snatch! Since they have done a heavy snatch ladder for the past two years, I think they will be more CJ or thruster focused this year with lighter snatches in the mix.
Squatting movements: wall balls, squat cleans, front squats, overhead squats. We will see a bunch of these, but not necessarily all. We’ve never had an air squat in the Open and I don’t expect it to be in this year (they didn’t even appear until the 5th CF Games in 2011!)
Overhead pressing: most likely a shoulder to overhead, allowing for people to shoulder press, push press, push jerk, or split jerk a weight.
Pull ups: no explanation needed.
Midline test: this will most likely come in the form of knees to elbows or toes to bar. GHD’s are rare outside of a CF box and sit ups are harder to judge standards (do we touch the toes, the ground, what if someone has long arms, etc)
-double unders: these have also been in every Open and at the Games level we may see some triple unders (mainsite has programmed it)
Muscle ups: same as above. Addenum:  I forgot to put the bar muscle up, but I think there’s a good possibility to see it in the Open. Why? 1. It’s a movement we’ve seen programmed on mainsite 2. It’s fairly easy to judge (get over the bar and get shoulders in front of pull up bar with extended arms) 3. It’s a variation of the ring muscle up. 4. It will expose weaknesses.
Box jumps: I didn’t necessarily like the fact that step ups were allowed, but they did prove to be more efficient. We’ll see some sort of “get on top of the box” movement. Another thought is that we’ll see a “jump on and over box”, perhaps paired with a burpee. If you thought 7 minutes of burpees were awful, how about 7 minutes of burpee box jump overs?

If they Open is supposed to be simple and straightforward, the Regionals and Games are where HQ can have their creative fun. We have seen the weights get heavier and heavier every year (The 2007 Games had a “heavy” 135# push jerk for reps whereas the 2013 Games had 405# deadlifts for reps), but I think we are going to see a focus on high skilled gymnastics and odd objects. Free standing handstand push ups and/or strict HSPU’s instead of relying on the kip, possibly back flips (although I don’t think so), and maybe even America Ninja Warrior-style stuff like rope traverses may be in the mix. Maybe some strong man stuff like atlas stones over walls or odd objects like fire hydrants (have you ever tried to lift one of those? Crazy hard since all of the weight is in the cap) Since the Winter Olympics also just ended, I think it would be fun (and definitely varied) to have some winter sports mixed in: ice skating, skiing, etc. The one thing we have not seen in a CrossFit-endorsed event is bench press, so I’m thinking we will see some sort of bench workout: maybe not a 1RM, but an NFL combine including 225# bench for reps?? Or maybe a heavy bench combined with a bodyweight movement like burpees?

In the spirit of the Open, 14.1 should be a workout that is accessible to the most amount of people. Last year surprised me when they threw in a snatch ladder first thing, but the couplet format just works. For this year, I think 14.1 will be an AMRAP for 10 minutes of 20 burpees and 15 thrusters (or squat clean to overhead), 100#/65#.

What do you think 14.1 will be?? How about other workouts we will see, or thoughts on Regionals/Games?

see also: CrossFit Open: Bringing Out the Best (and Worst)

CrossFit Open WOD 13.5 Tips and Strategies

So I’m totally taking the easy way out here, but I’ve been coordinating a huge event at my day job which will occur tomorrow, thankfully. Unfortunately between that and coaching, I haven’t had time to do a write up for 13.5. If I did, it would be: “Do as much as you can to get 1 round done. That will set you apart from a ton of people and then you have four minutes to get as many extra reps in.”

If you’re looking for more details, here are two videos of people that I respect and would take advice from for this workout. Besides these, my predictions for top female in the world is Camille and top male is Josh Bridges.