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.



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!



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