CrossFit Open 20.5 Strategy Guide



Open 20.5

What’s up guys?!  We’ve arrived at the 5th and final week of the CrossFit open. Hopefully everyone has made it through unscathed and possibly set a PR or two.

For the final workout we have a nice three movement workout consisting of 40 ring muscle-ups, 80 cal row and 120 wall balls. The great news is you can partition the reps however you like and have 20 minutes to complete it.

 

This is a great week 5 workout for everyone to test their abilities in different ways. The best strategy for you depends primarily on your muscle-up skill. Further down I cover several different approaches to get your best score possible. But first let’s talk about how to have the best success on each movement.


Movements

 


Ring Muscle-Ups

While the last 4 CrossFit Opens have had athletes performing bar muscle ups (bar & ring in 2018), we are back the the rings this week.

For those of you that have been working on your muscle ups, this is a great workout to chop away at them as you progress through the row and wall balls.

If you don’t quiet have muscle ups yet, that’s ok! This workout should leave plenty of time to get your first, second and beyond muscle ups.

To start the muscle up, hang with your arms fully extended and feet off the ground. At the top, elbows must be full locked out. Killing is allowed but swings or rolls into the support position are not allowed. Also, no part of the feet can pass above the rings during the kip.

Check out these links for some great pointers on how to get your first MU or string more together smoothly:

WOD Prep- Muscle-up progression

Cole Sagar- How to do ringmuscle ups

CrossFit- The Kipping Muscle-up

 


80 Cal Row

When we break up 120 rowing calories, it becomes manageable to hold a decent pace. For example, If you break up the row into 10 sets of 12 cals, it will only take about 30 seconds a set holding a 1,400-1,500 cals/hr pace.

On the rower, remember to keep your grip loose and drive through your legs. Find a pace that you can stay within 5-10 seconds for each set and strive to stay there. Aim for a 1:2 work/recovery pace on your stoke rate. On the recovery stroke, don’t forget to breath and also allow your hands to pass the knees before sliding forward. This should keep the chain in a smooth and steady line.

The rower must be set to zero at the start of each row. Assistance is allowed to reset the tower between sets. Calories will be counted until the handle is released or the 20 minute cap is reached.

 

 


120 Wall Balls

The medicine ball must start in the support position. Squat until the hip crease is below the knee. Squat cleaning the medicine ball is allowed. A rep is counted when the center of the ball hits the minimum height requirement. If the ball hits low or does not make contact with the target, it is a no-rep. Additionally, the ball must come to a rest when dropped; catching the ball off a ground bounce is not allowed.


Partition Strategy

There are endless ways to approach this workout. Chose one that best suits your current skills and be ready to modify it based on how things are actually progressing along during the workout. Since muscle-ups are the determining factor for 99% of people, I’ll break it down based on your current max rep unbroken ring muscle ups.


A: 0-2 Muscle Ups

The open is a great time to get your first muscle up! If you occasionally can get one but not string them together or don’t do well under fatigue, this may be the strategy for you.  The tiebreak time is the time you complete wall balls and rows. For this strategy, a fast tie-break time is the goal.

A1: Complete the wall balls and row as fast as possible and use the remainder of time to attempt/get muscle-ups

A2: Spend the first 5-10 minutes on muscle-ups, then complete the wall balls and row

Those of you that have a hard time performing muscle ups under fatigue, A2 may work well. Your total score is more important than the tiebreak time and every MU you get will go a long way. If it is highly unlikely you will get a MU, try the A1  approach and give it your best!

Either way you are going to want to break up the row and wall balls into manageable sets. You could try 10 rounds of 8 wall balls and 12 cal row or chip off larger chunks of perhaps 8 rounds of 10WB and 15 cal row. Do what works best for you, just don’t be a hero and try to go unbroken on the wall balls.

 

B: 3-12 Unbroken Muscle-ups

If you can perform in this range, I’d advise to set up your rounds with a muscle-up target of 30-50% of your max unbroken MU. For example, if your PR is 10 MU, consider performing 10 rounds of 4MU, 8WB and 12Cal row. It’s important that that you hit the wall balls and row cals each round, but keep the muscle-ups as a target. If you perform a rep or two shy, that’s ok, just keep moving and you can complete the additional muscle ups at the end, if time allows.

 

C: Muscle-up Masters 12+

If gymnastics is your game, it may be beneficial to bang out some big muscle-up sets along with wall balls, and save the row for the end. This approach will allow you to go as hard as possible on the row for the best finish time possible. At 1200 cals an hour, 80 cals takes 6 minutes. Crank that up to 1600 cals/hr and you’ll be done in 4.5 minutes! One way to partition this could be 4 rounds of 10MU/30WB and then 80 cal row.

 

Final Thoughts


As you can see, there are many ways to chip away at these numbers. Choose the strategy and order sequence that currently best suits you. Some people recover better during wall balls others are at home on a rower. Both will fatigue the explosive hips needed for the muscle up kip, as well as the row taxing your grip and wall balls straining the triceps needed in the dip.

Big congrats to everyone that has made it this far! Hopefully we’ve all learned a few things about ourselves and had a good time in the process. Stay tuned to my blog next week for a discussion on where to take your training post open, weather you are headed into the off-season or gearing up for your next competition.

Until then, have a great workout and don’t forget to CRUSH IT LIKE NO OTHER!

 

-NICK ALEXANDER

OPEN 20.4 STRATEGY GUIDE


 

OPEN 20.4

Week 4 of the CrossFit Open has arrived and many of you are rejoicing that a heavy workout has finally arrived! This is a chipper style workout but it’s really all about the barbell and testing your ability to perform heavy clean and jerks under fatigue.


INITIAL THOUGHTS

We have another movement new to the Open this week; single leg  squats, aka pistols.  If pistols are a new movement for you, with a bit of warm up progression, this could be the moment to get your first and knock out some reps!  While pistols movement may be a sticking point for some, the real beast of this workout is the increasingly heavy clean and jerks.

The clean and jerks open with a modest weight but as the rounds increase, the weight climbs and climbs.  Thankfully every 3rd round, the reps decrease by 5. Most people can look at this workout and have a pretty good idea how far they will make it based on current clean and jerk strength.

The best strategy will depend on what bar you believe you can get to or your ability to perform pistols. I’ll discuss a few different ways to attack this workout, but first let’s talk about the movements.


MOVEMENTS

 


Box Jumps

The box jumps may be performed in several different variations. Stepping up or down is allowed and may be done in conjunction with jumping either direction. Whether you jump up, step up, step down or rebound, pick a method that is sustainable for the 90 reps ahead of you. If you have not performed rebounding box jumps recently or are a masters athlete, I’d recommend against rebounding to minimize any potential for an Achilles tendon strain.  I think for many athletes, jumping up and stepping down is a great option, does not add much time over rebounding, and will allow you to control your breathing.

Regardless of the method you choose, make sure you are reaching full extension on top of the box, not in the air. It’s important that the box must not be angled and using the hand to push off the leg is not allowed.  Only your feet may make contact with the box.

Do your judge a favor and show an obvious full extension at the top. Lastly, try to move through the box jumps at a nice pace; there’s no need to over-exert yourself going into the clean and jerks.

 


Clean & Jerks

This workout is all about the clean and jerk. These will test your strength under fatigue and ability to keep the midline stable. You should have an idea of what weight will be your sticking point.

Even if you think you can make it to the 4th or 5th bar, I’d like you to consider starting with singles. They may seem way to easy early on and you will be tempted to bang out some big sets.  But quick singles will save your grip, legs and core for when things get heavy. Just make sure you follow the bar on the way down and pick it right up. Don’t walk away from the bar at any point when you break the clean and jerks up.

You should also perform power cleans as long as possible before moving to squat cleans to preserve your legs for the pistols and heavier cleans.

Any form of the clean and jerk is allowed such as push press, split jerk, squat clean, split clean etc., as long as the bar makes contact with the shoulders (no snatches and no hang cleans).  At the top of the position, feet must be in line with the bar locked out and the bar over or slightly behind the center of the body.

Wrap your thumps with some stretchy tape and remember to use your hook grip.

 

 

Pistols

Single leg squats are new to the Open with this workout.  Unfortunately, many generalized programs neglect sufficient single leg work. If it’s been a while since you performed pistols or today is your first attempt at them, proper warm up and progressions are vital.

Even if pistols are in your arsenal it’s going to take some solid clean and jerks to get there, and if you can handle the weight, there’s potentially 90 pistols to tackle.

Wearing oly shoes can really help maintain good positioning with the pistols and provide stability when the clean and jerks get heavier. Unless you have a hybrid lifting shoe or are performing all step up and step downs on the box,  I’d recommend waiting to put your oly shoes on until you reach pistols or when the cleans and jerk get heavy, whichever comes first.

A weightlifting belt could also be beneficial to maintain midline stability with the pistols and clean and jerks.

When you start and finish each pistol, the hips and knee of the working leg must be fully extended.  You may hold onto the non-working leg for support but nothing besides the working foot is allowed to touch the ground. Also make sure you alternated legs every rep and your hip crease is below the top of the working legs knee while in the bottom position.

 


PACING

Your going to need to manage your engine early if you plan to make it to the heavier weights. If you can get at least one rep of a clean and jerk in a later round, your tie break time will not matter anywhere near as much as the extra reps will.

On the other hand, let’s say you know you absolutely can not hit the 3rd or 4th weight or are hoping to perform some pistols but finishing 30 may not happen. In this case, you should really go hard and push the pace until you complete your last full set of box jumps or pistols (that will be your tie-break time).

Try to conserve energy during the box jumps and pistols to maximize your potential for completing reps.  When you reach that finally heavy weight, it’s ok to compete reps EMOM or every 30 seconds if it means making the reps. Every failed rep is wasted energy output, so make them count!

 


PREGAME

This workout will require you to dig deep and require full CNS output.  Hopefully you got a big meal with lots of carbs in last night if you are doing 20.4 today. This one is best done later in the day and NOT fasted. Consume a meal with plenty of carbs and lean protein a couple hours prior to your heat.

 


WARM UP

Let’s start by getting the blood flowing throughout your body. I recommend 10 minutes of cardio at a steady pace that you can hold a conversation at. The rower is ideal, as it will engage and warm the hip drive and pull needed in the workout.

Prioritize warming up your hips, ankles, calves, shoulders and quads. With a foam roller, roll out your lower back, quads and calves.  Spend some time with a lacrosse ball to open up your shoulder girdle.

Grab an ab mat and spend one minute in both the lower and upper position of a couch stretch against a wall, on each leg.

Having your ankles and calves loose will really help for the box jumps and pistols. Sit in the bottom of a squat and shift weight over each ankle to stretch the front of the ankle. Stretch the back of the ankle and calf with your foot against a rack. Next perform  heel and toe walks followed by some explosive jumps to get the hips firing.

Get your wrists loose to help the clean catch. Try some general wrist warm up movements followed by a couple short sets of plank and handstand holds. Next get a barbell into the front rack position with a full grip and alternate driving each elbow up, maintaining that grip.

Let’s work on a few pistol progressions. Start with banded pistols or holding a rack.  Once you get the movement pattern down, try some pistols holding a 10 pound plate in front of you.  Lastly perform a few strict pistols but not enough to fatigue.

Alright, on to a specific warm up and then it’s time to crush the workout! You need to get comfortable feeling the weight under strain but not necessarily touch the final weight you’ll hit in the workout. The opening rounds will get you warm, so let’s not overdo it here.

Perform the following:

8 Minute EMOM 

  • 20 seconds of box jumps
  • 5 C&J @40% of 1rm
  • 20 seconds of box jumps
  • 5 C&J @55%
  • 20 seconds of box jumps
  • 3 C&J @70%
  • 20 seconds of box jumps
  • 3 C&J @85%

 

 


FINAL THOUGHTS

This is one you probably won’t want to redo and unless something goes really wrong, and most likely will not benefit much from taking it to that pain cave again, so give it all your effort today!

Get some liquid carbs and protein in soon after 20.4 and have a big meal of complex carbs and lean protein a couple hours later.

Time to give this beast your best and then there’s only one more open workout to go!

 

Now crush it like no other!!

 

-Nick Alexander

OPEN 20.3 STRATEGY GUIDE


OPEN 20.3

Hey guys, it’s week 3 of the Open and 20.3 has officially dropped, as a repeat of 18.4! Basically it’s Diane followed by three rounds of heavier deadlifts and handstand walks. This is a challenging workout and will test your strength, gymnastics and ability to work under fatigue.


INITIAL THOUGHTS

Just two season ago, many of us were surprised to see handstand walks at the open level. But as top athletes continue to push the sport to new levels, the bar elevates for the entire community as well. To achieve the 90th percentile in 18.4, RX men made it though 25 feet of handstand walks and RX women completed 21 reps of deadlifts at the second weight. This year, I would expect to see males making it into the second round of handstand walks and females 25-50 feet into the walks to hit the same percentile.

How far you progress in this workout and the strategy you choose will depend on your deadlift strength, ability of handstand push-ups and if you have handstands walks or not. I’ll be covering that in a bit but first let’s talk about the movements.

 

 

MOVEMENTS

Deadlifts

The volume of deadlifts has a major ability to tax your CNS. The weight is moderate to heavy for many in the first 3 rounds (225/155) but becomes significantly more challenging when it climbs to 315/205.  It’s important to not crush the core here; midline stability for the HSPU and walks must be preserved.

Pacing is covered below but if you are already thinking about going unbroken on the deadlifts, I urge you to reconsider now and break it up into 2 or 3 sets. If this weight is heavy for you, there’s nothing wrong with fast singles here. Dropping the bar at the top will save some energy. Also consider using a belt and mixed grip here.

While there is nothing too complicated with the deadlifts standards, a few points are worth mentioning:

  • No sumo deadlifts
  • Hands must be outside your knees
  • No bouncing the weights
  • Hips and knees must reach full extension at the top with your head and shoulders behind the bar
  • Two barbells are allowed
  • If using one barbell, assistance to change plates is allowed
  • Collars must be used

 


Handstand Push-ups

It seems like every year there is a new standard for where or to what height a HSPU must be performed. This year is no exception.

To calculate the height your heels will need to pass at the top of the handstand push-ups, do the following:

  • Have someone measure your height, standing against a wall with back and heels touching the wall, feet no wider than hip width
  • Still against the wall with your forearm straight out bent 90 degreees at the elbows, with your tricep against the wall
  • Make a fist and measure from the wall to your furthest knuckle
  • Divide this by two
  • Add that to your height
  • Make a line with tape that high above the surface you will perform the HSPU on


I recommend everyone break their handstand push-ups into manageable sets. If you are great at them, you’re going to need to preserve your shoulders for the walks. If you struggle with HSPU, make sure you stay a couple reps shy of failure each set or you’ll find yourself starring at the wall a lot to recover. Check out these resources for some helpful tips:

Crossfit Pacific Beach Tips

https://www.google.com/amp/s/breakingmuscle.com/amp/fitness/chris-speallers-tips-for-efficient-kipping-handstand-push-ups

https://youtu.be/BJUuqvjG3sc



Handstand walks

If you can make it through Diane and 21 reps of heavier deadlifts, now you get to test your gymnastics skills with handstand walks! These will challenge your ability to maintain a tight core and shoulder stability under some pretty heavy fatigue.

If you haven’t quiet dialed in your handstand walks but have the ability to get here, it’s time to kick up and try to knockout five feet at a time. If you are proficient with walks, try to move through them without pushing it to failure (unless you are down to the last minute). There’s a ton of great resources on handstand walks. Here’s a couple of my favorites:

https://wodprep.com/blog/handstand-walking-progression/

https://www.google.com/amp/s/barbend.com/make-one-change-immediately-improve-handstand-walk/amp/

Remember for the HSW to count, you must kick up before each segment and both hands must cross the line before your feet touch the ground. For you gymnastic masters, walking more than 25 feet in one direction is not allowed.


PACING

If you know you won’t be able to make the second deadlift weight, really go all out and try to PR Diane. The tie break is the time you completed the last round of deadlifts, so make it count!

For those of you that know you can make it through Diane, but the second deadlift weight looks really heavy, make sure you break up the first three sets. Again, quick singles dropped from the top is a legit option, even if you feel you don’t need to.

Now for the 10% of you that are planning on making it through some distance of handstand walks, it’s imperative that you pace Diane and not approach failure on any of your prior sets of deadlifts or handstand push-ups. You’re going to need that midline and shoulder stability to cover ground.


PREGAME

Hopefully you got a big meal with lots of carbs in last night if you are doing 20.3 today. This one is best done later in the day and NOT fasted. Consume a meal with plenty of carbs and lean protein a couple hours prior to your heat.

 

WARM UP

Let’s start by getting the blood flowing throughout your body. I recommend 10 minutes of cardio at a steady pace that you could hold a conversation at. The rower is ideal, as it will engage the heel drive and hip extension of the deadlifts.

Prioritize warming up the low back, hamstrings, hips, glutes and shoulders. With a foam roller, roll out your lower back, quads and hamstrings. Spend some time with a lacrosse ball on your shoulders and upper back area to restore your range of motion.

It’s going to be vital to get the hamstrings loose and activated. Go through 6 inch worms focusing on lengthening the hamstrings. In the extended position, add in an upward-facing dog to stretch the low back. Next try 3 sets of 10 banded Romanian deadlifts with your feet through a band and around your low neck.  Squeeze your glutes HARD and fully extend your hips at the top.

You need to get comfortable being inverted; start with a couple sets of handstand holds against a wall. Once your shoulders get warm and wrists loosen up, attempt a few handstand walks. If you are proficient with handstand walks, don’t get anywhere near fatigue, just get comfortable in the movement again.

Before we get into a movement specific warm up, it would be beneficial to ignite your CNS through a complementary movement. Performing some heavy single power cleans would be good. We aren’t trying to set PRs here or fail reps.  Pick a weight that you can be explosive at. This will prep you for the deadlifts nicely through CNS potentation by increasing muscle fiber recruitment, as well as boosting neural excitation.

Alright, enough warming up for the warm up! Time to run through a few practice rounds of 20.3

Perform 2 rounds of:

  • 3 Deadlifts at your 1st RX weight
  • 3-6 Handstand push-ups

Rest 2-3 minutes and complete 2 more rounds


FINAL THOUGHTS

A cool down for 10 minutes on the assault bike followed by flowing through down dog, up dog and child’s will help promote recovery. Make sure to get in plenty of carbs after this one and a big meal of complex carbs and lean protein a couple hours after.

The CNS fatigue will be high from 20.2 Really prioritize your recovery today. Stretch your hamstrings  and low back tonight and get at least 8 hours of dark sleep. If you really must repeat this workout, give it until Monday.

Give this one your best and this Open will be over halfway completed!

Now crush it like no other!!


-Nick Alexander

CrossFit Open 20.2 Strategy Guide


OPEN 20.2

Hey guys, welcome to week two of the Open! Hopefully everyone had a chance to complete 20.1 once or twice and walk away proud of their results. If you learned a thing or two about your ability to pace, 20.2 is the time to apply it!

For this workout we are looking at 20 minutes to complete as many rounds as possible of dumbbell thrusters, toes-to-bar, and double-unders. This is a very aerobic, grip intensive workout that will tax the core and require a steady pace.


20 MINUTE AMRAP:

  • 4 Dumbbell Thrusters (50/35)
  • 6 Toes-to-Bar
  • 24 Double-unders

 



INITIAL THOUGHTS

Just as many athletes were hoping for something short and fast or heavy, Castro left us with no option but to get through 20 minutes of this AMRAP.  For advanced athletes, this is a pure test of conditioning. Others may find the double-unders and toes-to-bar technically challenging or run in to difficult with the weight of the dumbell thrusters. I spoke a lot about pacing last week, and 20.2 will require even more of a smooth and steady flow.

 

MOVEMENTS

 

Dumbbell Thrusters

 

This movement is new to the Open and offers a nice alternative to the bar. Without resting the bar on your shoulders, the dumbbells should allow the chest to open up and proper breathing to occur.

The dumbbell weight will be heavy for many. Really try to use your hips to explode up out of the squat and shoot the weights to full lockout. Don’t waste time fatiguing the shoulders at the top but consider actively pulling the dumbbells down from the top once full extension of the knees, hips and arms is reached.

The dumbbells must begin on the floor at the start of each round. A squat clean into thruster in the first rep is permitted. Make sure your hip crease clearly passes below the bottom of the knees in the bottom position. Also, there is no re-dipping in the press (jerks) allowed.

 

Toes-to-bar

Not a ton of reps per round here, but the cumulative grip and core fatigue will become taxing. I absolutely do not want to see any double kip dangles going on here. If you need to break them up, drop from the bar and quickly get back on it. I promise this is faster than flopping around, taxing your grip on the bar between reps.

On the first rep, ensure your feet are behind the bar to start.  If you like hand protection or need extra grip; choose one means of it. Grips and a taped bar together are NOT allowed in 20.2 but you may use either alone.

 


Double-unders

The key here is to remain calm and composed. It’s the same jumping speed as singles; you’re just spinning the rope faster. If double-unders aren’t your thing, consider breaking them into two sets, but try not to loose yourself and throw the rope across the room.  Regardless, set the rope down after each round with intent so it’s ready to go and not tangled up for the next round.

Check out these links for some great tips on DUs:

CFPB Double-under Tips!

WOD Prep Dominating Double-Unders!

 

PREGAME

If you are doing this early in the morning, it’s best to be done fasted. Make sure you get a solid meal with lean protein and complex carbs in the night before.

 


If you will be completing 20.2 later in the day, make sure you get a whole foods meal, including a small amount of lean protein and complex carbs, ideally 2-3 hours prior to your heat time.

WARM UP:

Let’s start by getting the blood flowing throughout your body. I recommend 10-15 minutes of cardio at a steady pace that you could hold a conversation at. The rower is ideal, as it will promote and warm up hip extension, the leg drive needed for the thrusters and engage the lats for the TTB to come. Warming up the shoulder girdle, lats, legs and hips today will go a long way.

 

 

Grab a foam roller and lacrosse ball. Spend some time on your lats, shoulder girdle and rolling out your arches with the ball.

Next let’s get the shoulder girdle open. Start with PVC dislocates: 10 pass-throughs overhand, 10 underhand. Spend some time doing weighted arm circles with a light weight change plate as well.

Head over to the pull up bar and try 2×15 seconds of dead hang, then 2×10 scap pull ups, and lastly a set of 5-10 kip swings. It’s important to not spend too much time hanging on the bar and over tax your grip in the warmup.

 

Your upper body should be feeling better; on to the the lower.  Perform some walking groiner stretches, glute bridges, banded hip stretches. Try a couple sets alternating between heal walks and toe walks to really loosen up the calves and achilles.  

Sit in the bottom of a squat with a kettlebell and drive your knees out to open the hips. Next shift your weight on to the toes and stretch out the ankles and calves.

Some explosive hip drills should be performed as well. Perform two rounds of 5 each: tuck jumps, broad jumps, high jumps and squat jumps.

A couple sets of lightweight narrow grip overhead squats will also help create extra space and mobility in the shoulders and warm up the legs.

At this point you should be ready to jump into a few warm up rounds of 20.2, BUT FIRST I recommend taking about 10 minutes to build up to a heavy single squat clean thruster. This will benefit you through CNS potentation by increasing muscle fiber recruitment, as well as boosting  neural excitation.  It’s important that we only excite the CNS here and not fatigue it or a reverse effect will take place.

It’s now time to get setup for 20.2 and run through a few practice rounds. With as many rounds as there are, it’s important to setup in a linear fashion and keep each movement only a few steps away.

Perform 2 rounds of 20.2, rest 2-3 minutes and complete 2 more rounds.  Practice the pace you think you can maintain for 20 minutes and note your practice splits. Think about a pace you would hold for Cindy or a 5k run.

This should have gotten your heart primed and pumping nicely.  Try to finish the warm up about 5 minutes prior to your heat time.

 

 

FINAL THOUGHTS

Remember to stay calm and move smoothly.  Settle into your pace and rhythm the first 5 minutes and keep moving. You don’t want to be deep in the pain cave with 15 minutes left. Be mindful of your transition times and resist tensing up.

I really hope everyone kills this one on their first try! If not, 20.2 is definitely repeatable, as CNS fatigue should be low to moderate.

Remember to stay positive and appreciate how far you’ve come!

 

Now crush it like no other!

 

-Nick Alexander

OPEN 20.1 REPEATS & WEEK 2 GAME PLAN


 


Are you happy with your score from 20.1? Are you considered giving it one more go on Monday? With less then five days until 20.2 drops, it’s vital you plan your week 
strategically.

If you are not repeating 20.1 Monday, skip ahead to the Week 2 Game Plan below.

 


 

20.1 Repeat Strategy

Did you come out too fast and blow it in the second half? Did you pace correctly but know you can push a little harder to shave some time? Did something else go horribly wrong? Now’s the chance to give this one another go! CNS fatigue is relatively low for 20.1 and it shouldn’t be too painful of a repeat, so let’s tackle this!

If you came out too hot and crumbled apart, take a look at my earlier blog post on 20.1 Strategy for some tips on pacing.

If you gave it 100% and held a steady pace, it’s time to dig deep and give it 110%. I firmly believe many Athletes are capable of up to a 10% reduction in time or increase in rounds, so let’s take a look at an example pace for a 10% performance gain.

 

 

Our example athlete, Chad, completed 9 full rounds at the 15 minute time cap. That translates to an average pace of 1 minute 40 seconds. If you didn’t finish under the cap but want to find your average pace, divide 900 by your total reps competed, multiple that by 18 and you will have your average pace in seconds.

Chad’s target pace for a 10% improvement, is 1 minute and 30 seconds (100sec*0.9).

Now before you slam a bang and head in to crush it, let’s work out a round by round target pacing strategy for your best chance at success!

 

Chad’s Pacing Targets for 90      Second Splits

Round

Target Pace (sec)

Elapsed Time

1

80

1:20

2

90

2:50

3

90

4:20

4

90

5:50

5

95

7:25

6

100

9:05

7

95

10:40

8

90

12:10

9

85

13:35

10

85

15:00


While your actual pacing fluctuations may be more or less elastic then Chad’s, most people will start out a little fast, settle into a grove, slow a bit towards rounds 5-7 and then give it that last juice for an all out finish.

You could write out your target finish times for each round on a white boards. I’m not saying you should look at it every round, but knowing where you should be after the first round and when you settle into your pace may be helpful.

 

 


Open Week 2 Game Plan

Let’s work out two example scenarios of what your week may look like.

 

If on Monday you are/have repeated 20.1

Mon- 20.1 & Mobility

Tue- Active recovery/rest day

Wed- Go Hard!

Thur- Active Recovery/ Rest Day

Fri- 20.2 & Mobility

 

If you happy with your score and getting ready for 20.2

Mon- Hard day/ Full effort

Tue- Light day/ 70% Effort

Wed- Hard day

Thur- Active Recovery

Fri- 20.2 & Mobility

 


The Open is one workout each week that your really have to give everything you got, so it’s important that athletes have at least one high effort training session each week that they are able to push hard.

If you are doing two a days or going 100% every workout leading up to the next Open WOD, you are NOT helping yourself by performing these sessions at sub-maximal peak performance.

If your body is not recovered to give your best performance on these high intensity days, consider resting more and intentionally varying effort throughout the week.

The skills, speed, and strength you have developed in the months of programming leading up to Open season will now just need to be touched upon each week. When Friday arrives, you will be ready to give it your best!

 

To arrive at your best performance yet, nutrition and recovery also must be dialed in during these next 4 weeks. Ensure that you are consistently drinking enough water throughout the week. Strive for 8 hours of sleep in a dark room. Keep the carbohydrates flowing during the week. I’d  also recommend keeping your calories at about 10% over maintenance for peak performance.

Don’t forget that if you will be completing 20.2 Friday, these lifestyle decisions are vital a minimum of 2 days out for peak performance. Stay away from any food intolerances and alcohol 40 hours prior.


Final Words

Best of luck if you are repeating 20.1 today! Believe in yourself and give it your best!

Consider my strategy guide and check out some others on the web. The Morning Chalk Up is a great resource to find other top blog posts.

Stay tuned for my 20.2 Strategy Guide drilling early Friday morning and get ready to crush it like no other! 💪🏽

 

-Nick Alexander

CrossFit Open WOD 20.1 Strategy Guide


OPEN WOD 20.1

Just when we thought we were done with the Open for 2019, we have arrived at the 2020 CrossFit Open! It’s a special year, where athletes will have a chance to show their skills and progression a second time, with a change of the Open season to October. If you have not signed up yet, there’s still time. Come join your friends and community for the next 5 weeks as we take on this beast together!

The first work out is very straightforward and a game of pacing; blow it out of the gate and you’ll be paying the price come round 7.

10 ROUNDS FOR TIME:

  • 8 Ground to overhead 95/65
  • 10 Bar facing burpees

(15min time cap)

 

INITIAL THOUGHTS

We saw a similar pairing last year in 19.4 with power snatches and bar facing burpees. This year has a few more rounds but also allows us options with the change to ground to overhead. It really comes down to an athletes ability to move well and know their body. There is nothing overly complex or technical with 20.1 and should make for a great opening week burner.

 

PREGAME

If you are doing this early in the morning, it’s going to be best done fasted or consuming some liquid carbs 30 minutes prior.

If you are doing it later in the day, make sure you get a whole foods meal, including a small amount of lean protein and complex carbs, ideally 3 hours prior. You could also benefit from some quick carbs 30 min beforehand. Gatorade or dextrose with some optional BCAAs will work fine. Aim for about 20% your body weight in grams of carbohydrates.

 


WARM-UPS

Let’s start by getting the blood flowing throughout your body. I recommend 10-15 minutes of cardio at a steady pace that you could hold a conversation at. The rower is ideal, as it will promote and warm up hip extension, leg drive and the pull muscles required in this workout.

This one has really has a lot of hip flexion, hip extension and bending over, therefore the back, shoulders and hips will need to be nice and warm. It’s also quite taxing on the shoulder capsules and will challenge an athletes ability to maintain a smooth and clean overhead position throughout. Proper mobility will play a big roll in sustaining good form.

At least 1 min each side

 

Grab a foam roller and lacrosse ball. Spend some time on your lats, shoulder girdle and mid and lower back.

Next let’s get the shoulder girdle open. Start with PVC dislocates: 10 pass-throughs overhand, 10 underhand. After that, complete 2-3 sets of 15 alternating between banded pull-aparts and face pulls.

On to the pull up bar. Start with 2x15sec dead hang, then 2×10 scap pull ups, and lastly a set of 5-10 kip swings. It’s important to not spend too much time hanging on the bar and over tax your grip in the warmup.

Some explosive hip drills should be performed as well. Perform two rounds of 7 each: tuck jumps, broad jumps, high jumps.

At this point, your body should feel warm, mobile, and ready to start moving faster! Let’s get into a 20.1 specific warm up.

Get your bar loaded up to the prescribed weight, RX 95/65. You should run through the two movements, perhaps try

2 rounds of:

  • 3 to 4 Ground to overhead
  • 4 to 5 Bar facing burpees

Rest 2 minutes and repeat

These burpees should be performed at the same pace you plan to do the 10 rounds of 10 during the workout. Did I mention pace yet? This workout is all about pace! I’ll talk more about that and strategy soon.

About 5 minutes before your heat time, we NEED to get your heart rate jumping up. Get on the assault bike and go hard for 12/8 cals for 3 to 5 sets.

By now you should be ready to give this one your best! Stay calm, breath, and remember to PACE!

But first, let’s talk about these movements.


MOVEMENTS

GROUND TO OVERHEAD

This can be performed as any variation of the snatch or clean and jerk. We are working with a moderate, respectable weight. Most athletes will perform the reps touch and go. There are 10 sets of 8 reps here, so breaking the sets up may be necessary, and could also save grip and keep your heart rate down. As far as performing a power or muscle snatch versus clean and jerk, it comes to your ability to perform clean, smooth reps. If you can snatch 135/95 for 10 unbroken, go for snatches. If you’re on the fence, you can always alternate each round between snatches and clean and jerk. And if performing 40-80 snatches RX is not for you right now, smooth clean and jerks are the way to go!

BAR FACING BURPEES

10 sets of 10 bar facing burpees. That’s 100 burpees; exactly what you should be thinking about when you approach your pace here. Elite athletes are finishing 20.2 sub 10 minutes, while most Open competitors will be just looking to finish under the 15 minute time cap. With 10 rounds that gives you 90 seconds a round. Figure out how long the ground to overhead takes you and how much time you have for the burpees. I know everyone comes out way to hot I’m round one, but round 2 through 8 or 9 you really need to stay steady and move at your own pace. You can kick it up at the end but don’t risk dying early and staring at the bar.

Now this isn’t your everyday 7 minutes of burpees; it’s bar facing burpees! These must be performed perpendicular to the bar, with both feet leaving the ground at the same time, clearing the bar. You can turn mid air or when you land. Notably, this year if any part of your body touches the bar, you have to re-do the burpee, so keep it clean! Thankfully, unlike last year, we can once again step up in the burpee. I really don’t want to see anyone jumping up. There’s no reason for it when doing 100 burpees and even Panchik and Froning stepped up every rep last night.

The last thing I’ll say about burpees is breathing is key. Get a breath in at both the top and bottom of the movement and avoid going to fast. PACE!

FINAL THOUGHTS

I promise this is the last time I’ll mention pace but think about this as a 2 mile run, find your groove, settle in and save some for the finish line!

Sweatbands, wrist wraps and/or gymnastic grips could be helpful if you sweat half as much as I do. Keep some chalk nearby, but if you’re chalking up every round it’s going to cost you half a minute 🤔

This workout is definitely repeatable, as CNS fatigue should be very manageable. If something went wrong or you know you could do even a little bit better, give it another go on Monday.

And let’s remember, this is week 1 of 5, the Open is long and there’s work to be down. About 30 minutes after this workout, try to get in 40% of your body weight in grams of liquid carbohydrates (I prefer half dextrose, half maltodextrin) and about 20% your body weight in whey protein. Two hours later, aim for a whole foods meal with complex carbohydrates and lean protein. Try to save the claws and pizza for tomorrow or next month and get at least 8 hours of sleep tonight. We are 1 day closer to 20.2! 😬

Now go get after it and crush this one! 💪🏽💪🏽


-Nick Alexander

Eat This Not That!


Easy food swaps to keep you fit.

Is there anything like a piping hot slice of pizza sliding out of the oven? How about a heaping mountain of nachos in front of you during the game or a tall stack of pancakes for weekend brunch?

As you look to improve your diet you may have struggled to give up certain foods. Knowing how to make a few simple ingredient changes can have a major impact on your nutrition and health. The best part is that you don’t have to sacrifice any of the delicious foods you love. Whether you are an athlete, a mom, a busy working professional, or maybe even a combination of all three of those, making healthy diet choices easier is something you can benefit from. Try these a few of these easy switches to make any meal healthier!

“You are what what you eat eats.” -Michael Pollan

A twist on pasta

Spaghetti dinner is a staple in many American diets but if you are focused on eating healthy you have to tread lightly. The calories and carbohydrate content of pasta adds ups quick. Even alternative pastas that are gluten free are still calorie dense foods to keep an eye on. A better choice is to try veggies like spaghetti squash or spiralized zucchini. Combined with a low sugar tomato sauce and a healthy serving of lean protein pasta night can take on a whole new meaning of health.

A new slice on pizza

Pizza can be tough to navigate as your range of options is so vast. Some local joints may use great quality ingredients but still pack a caloric punch. National chains should be totally avoided with the processed ingredients and additives that make up their knock-off pies. Since most of us would love to keep pizza in our lives it is important to develop a system of eating it that supports your diet and lifestyle goals. Gluten free has become a buzzword and marketing tool used to attract new customers. I’m not here to have the GF debate about whether or not your body can digest it, I’m saying that a pizza crust made from processed starches that happen to not have gluten does not make them any healthier. Luckily you have a few options…

One method is to limit total intake, order a pizza with as many veggies and proteins on it as possible and limit yourself to one slice of the crust. Or you can try finding a restaurant that has or making your own cauliflower crust pizza. This is a great low carb alternative that lets you reach for another guilt-free slice.

Flip what you sip

It’s easy to forget the calories that are found in drinks. A study conducted by Harvard found that women who consumed sugar sweetened drinks daily tended to consume more calories daily and gained weight. Meanwhile women who eliminated sugar sweetened beverages tended to consume fewer calories and demonstrated better body composition. Scientists believe that drinking calories doesn’t provide the same signaling mechanisms in the body as food does. Basically our body doesn’t recognize it has consumed calories and the subsequent insulin spike can leave you feeling energy depleted and hungry.

Soda, juice, and alcohol don’t really belong in your diet if you are trying to build muscle or burn fat. If you are looking for a fun drink try reaching for a juice made from vegetables like kale and collard greens, powerful nutrients like ginger root, and maybe a dash of lemon or lime juice. Kombucha, a fermented tea beverage, can be a great option as well provided you find a low sugar variety (always read the label) and of course there are many great flavored sparkling and seltzer water options out there.

The Burger Swap

One of the toughest foods to give up can without a doubt be the hamburger. Before you part ways with this American classic let’s figure out a way for you to still enjoy your cheeseburger in paradise…

There are two ways to clean up this delicious food. One way is to eliminate the bun. Replace it with a collard greens wrap or two pieces of fresh romaine lettuce. Two large portobello mushrooms can also do the trick if you have them available (Pro tip: Grill the mushrooms for 2 minutes on each side with a little oil, salt, and pepper).

The second way to clean up your burger is to make sure you have a patty made from high quality grass fed beef or organic ground turkey. Balance the fats you use as topping and try swapping out the cheese for some fresh avocado slices.

Pancake, stacked to jacked

Fluffy buttermilk pancakes or belgian waffles are a staple of weekend brunch. Instead of shooting for the white flour varieties though try a cleaner approach next time. Start with the batter. Substituting bananas and ground flax meal, almond, or coconut flour are a much better alternative. Keep an eye on the fat content if using nut flours as they are very calorie dense. Make sure you have a ratio of at least one egg per pancake or add a scoop of protein powder to the mix to keep the macro-nutrients balanced. Top with fresh berries and grass fed butter and avoid the powdered sugar and whipped cream. Also be sure to spring for real maple syrup over any of the high fructose corn syrup versions. It is packed full of antioxidants and so sweet that just a teaspoon will go a long way in terms of flavor.

If you want to learn more about eating healthy and getting in shape then ask your coach.

We can develop a plan for you to help you achieve your goals!

Check Your Ego at the Door


“Greatness comes from humble beginnings; it comes from grunt work. It means you’re the least important person in the room—until you change that with results.” -Ryan Holiday

As an athlete you know how to work hard.

You show up day in and day out. You keep track of your training, nutrition, and recovery. But do all your actions truly align with a deeper goal. The one you say you want to accomplish but still feel hesitant towards. Are you truly on the path to mastery?

In his book Ego is the Enemy, author Ryan Holiday tackles the difficult topic of the place of ego in success. So often we become impatient on our path to success. We get caught up in what is unfair. We want to boast or show off and show the world our best side. All the while neglecting our weakness. Avoiding the work truly necessary to get better.

Can you think of a time in the past few weeks when you let ego get the best of you?

In this moment you were probably not taking the best course of action. Not focused on your values, who you want to be, or on taking action toward your goals. This can be problematic if you consistently let ego get the best of you.

Wanting to be the best will make you train hard toward your goals. Thinking you are the best can even have its place. If you are an athlete and need to go into every contest or event with confidence that you can win. But when you begin to act and treat everyone else like you’re the best…well that’s when you start running into problems.

The danger of ego is directly related to the reality distortion field it creates. You have seen examples of this in those who have achieved some levels of success. In business, music, and certainly in sport there are countless men and women who have made fatal blunders due to unruly egos. Often times they think themselves invincible and surround themselves with a team of people who only feed the ego and let it grow out of control.

Compare this to an individual who has their ego in check. By getting out of your head, detaching from the internal dialogue, emotional language, and most importantly outcomes of a situation you will be in a much better place to decide and act.

Winston Churchill says, “facts are better than dreams”. If you can be realistic with your current standing or status it sets you up for true success. You will know where to leverage your strengths, how to attack your weaknesses, and a realistic view of the challenges and competition that could get in your way.

How about in the gym-are you checking your ego when you train?

Working with a coach is one of the best ways to get a reality check. They can hold you accountable when you try to skip the warmup you should be giving more effort toward. They make sure you get deep enough on every rep of your squat.

They’re not just fitness police though. They’ll tell you when it’s time to put more weight on the bar. To tell you exactly the strategy you need to execute in competition. They may not always give you the answer you want, but always the answer that you NEED.

If you have a health goal you want to achieve don’t let ego get in the way. Reach out to a coach at your next class.

Maximize Your Macros:


A Consumer’s guide to Fat, Carbs, and Protein…

Diet and nutrition are a highly individual journey and no one answer is true or right for everyone. The simple fact of the matter is that when it comes down to it, you have to figure out what works best for you. However there are some overarching philosophy that can channel your approach to healthy eating. When you figure out a style and frequency in your relationship with food that works well you will notice improvements in energy levels, focus, mood, and of course physical performance.

Fats

Paleo, Ketogenic, and Atkins diet have helped change many of the negative perceptions of fat in the diet. As Americans, a far bigger threat to our health is a diet that contain high sugar and processed foods. Fats are not only not bad for you but are an essential source of fuel and micronutrients that make us healthy. It’s important to choose the right types and amounts of fats in your diet that let you operate at your best.

The chemical structure of a fat or fatty acid determines what role it will play in our bodies. Based on this structure we are able to classify fats in certain classes that share similar characteristics.
Fats can be divided into saturated, monounsaturated, and polyunsaturated fats.

Saturated fats are found in red meat and coconuts and up until recently have gotten a bad rap as culprits of heart disease. Monounsaturated fats are found in plant foods like nuts, avocado, and olive oil. Polyunsaturated fats include Omega-3’s and Omega-6’s which can be found in fatty fish, flax seeds, and walnuts and are associated with a variety of health benefits.

Fats are essential for energy requirements, hormone production, and make up the wall of every cell in your body. They are also directly related to our immune system and having the right ratio of fats is very important for a healthy inflammation response.

Carbohydrates

Carbohydrates are found across a wide variety of foods and depending on the structure of the molecule our body will respond to eating carbs in very different ways. Carbohydrates have a direct relationship with the glucose levels or blood sugar in our bodies. When our blood glucose levels become elevated our body releases a hormone called insulin to store this extra energy for later when we might have a greater need for it. This glucose is stored in the muscle and liver in long chains known as glycogen or the glucose can be stored in adipose tissue to be utilized later (aka fat storage).

Your goal should be to optimize the amount of carbs that are being stored as glycogen and minimizing excess carbs that would contribute to fat stores. Selecting the right types of foods like vegetables are beneficial because they contain fiber, vitamins, minerals and have a low glycemic index. The glycemic index measures how much a food increases our bodies glucose after consumption. High GI foods include white bread, white rice, and cereals. These foods can be very bad for your waistline, because if your body is not prepared to receive fuel and store it as glycogen they will immediately be stored as fat.
Our bodies can become insulin resistant and requires higher and higher amounts of insulin to store the glucose. Resistance training however, can increase our insulin sensitivity. That means that our cells are highly responsive to storing glucose when insulin is present. Focus on consuming low glycemic carbohydrates that provide key nutrients and avoid high sugar or refined ingredients.

Protein

Protein is found in and comprises most of the cells in our body. It is found in a variety of animal and plant sources. Protein is important because it contains amino acids, tiny molecules that are the building blocks of muscle and also used for the synthesis of hormones and neurotransmitters. Some of these amino acids are considered essential meaning they must be provided from a dietary source. Without these essential amino acids we will not be able to repair our tissues and certain vital processes will cease to happen.

Since protein helps us recover from and perform optimally during our workouts it is important to consume after a workout for muscle repair. Real food sources of protein include beef, chicken, eggs, and fish. Try to include these foods as staples in your diet. These foods have amino acid content that is similar to what our human body requires for repair. This is also known as the biological value of the protein. Vegetable sources of protein have a lower biological value and may lack one of the essential amino acids needed by humans. These foods must be strategically combined by vegans or vegetarians so they consume all the amino acids needed for tissue repair. As a vegan athlete it can be challenging to meet your needs without supplementation and can be difficult to get a full spectrum of key micronutrients.

Try to consume 1.0 to 1.5 grams of protein for every kilogram of body weight. For a 200 pound man (90 kg) that means 90 grams to 135 grams of protein per day. This will provide enough amino acids for your bodies daily needs. Unfortunately eating more protein doesn’t mean it automatically turns into muscle. Unused protein will be broken down and utilized as a fuel source by the body.

Hopefully knowing a little bit more about each of the macronutrients and how they act in your body will help you to make informed decisions. If you have more questions around a healthy diet ask coach!

Missed Lifts and Threshold Training


Whether you are a seasoned veteran or new to lifting, there always seems to be an area for improvement.

As you train each day you are working hard to make progress and hit that next PR.

Some days when you’re pushing the weight you might feel your form start to break down. It might be a low catch on the clean you couldn’t quite rack or taking ten steps across the gym floor to stand up a snatch or jerk. You want your lifts to look snappy and butter smooth. A performance worthy of a super slow-mo breakdown to epic music like the folks on Hookgrip. Unfortunately your running man snatch is like that bad high school yearbook photo your girlfriend always laughs at.

“Success is not final, failure is not fatal: it is the courage to continue that counts.” – Winston Churchill

You’re working hard and no one is going to hold an ugly lift against you, but sometimes the best way to move forward is with a work smarter not harder approach. Working with an experience olympic lifting coach can help you tackle your weaknesses head on. There are many reasons why you could be missing lifts and many of them have nothing to do with your time in the gym. Sleep, nutrition, stress and recovery are all important areas to consider before addressing the training program itself. If you feel that things outside the gym are good then it is time to look at your training program as well as you as an individual athlete.

A proper training program should incorporate some form of periodization. This means alternating volume, intensity, and exercise selection in a fashion that keeps continuous long term progress. The program should address your goals and take into account the whole body of work. If you are missing lifts during a lifting session you first need to identify if the issue is technique based, strength based, or a mobility issue.

If it is technique based there are accessory drills to help you address the weak component of your lift. If it is strength based you can adjust the percentages you are working at to ensure you are able to successfully complete. You may also need to incorporate more strength work based on a strength inadequacy or imbalance. You may simply need to dial back volume to prevent neuromuscular fatigue. Mobility issues can be corrected by screening a series of movement patterns to identify where to tackle with stretching and mobilization.

Missing a lift during a lifting session has different implications than misses on olympic lifting movements incorporated in a metcon based workout. The first thing you have to remember is the intention behind the workout programming in terms of the energy system being taxed and desired physiological response. It wouldn’t make sense to incorporate Cleans at 90% of your 1 rep max into a workout designed to build aerobic capacity. The lift would slow you down too much in between attempts and make it challenging to repeat the efforts with an elevated heart rate. There could also be a discrepancy between movements that is holding you back. For example it may be dangerous to attempt snatches after performing grip taxing movements like deadlifts, pull ups, and kettlebell swings. Some workouts are designed to tax the grip and that is perfectly fine but you need to be smart about the goals of the workout to keep your training both safe and effective