2015 CrossFit Games Open WoD 15.1 Strategy Guide

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First thing's first, I love the workout. Bravo again Castro. Doing a lift at the end brings back memories of the Pyramid Double Helen workout from the Games in 2010 when they did a max jerk at the end. Enough reminiscing, here's comes my lengthy strategy guide. Forgive me for the length of this post, but this is a peak inside how I break down workouts. 

Warm Up

The biggest limiter on this workout (besides being in shape) will be GRIP! Your motto should be break TTB early and often, but first I would start my warm-up with light rowing to get some blood flow into the pulling muscles you're going to be using in your back, arms, and forearms (ex. 4 to 6x250m @60-75% building pace, walk around a little between). Next you'll want to make sure you hit your hip flexors, hamstrings, and shoulders a little more specifically. Again you don't have to follow this, but my warm-up would go something like so:

2 Rounds

10 leg swings per side, 20 walking lunges, 10/10 banded side-steps, 10 good mornings (with a bar or band), 10 glute bridges, 10 2.5# plate shoulder external rotations at 90/90deg (think scarecrow position), 10 PVC shoulder pass throughs, and maybe a light mobilization for anything you might personally struggle with. 

Next I'd pay a little extra attention to the forearms. Get a little extra blood to them with some light kettle bell swings. If you have tendinitis issues or they're just really tight you can voodoo floss them. I don't recommend long static stretching holds before a workout. It's better to keep things dynamic and move in and out of wrist extension picking your hands up each time to loosen up the forearm flexors. I like this one. Make sure the fingers extend as well. 

Then I would move into the specific movements themselves. Start with the bar weight and do 3-5 reps at each working up to the workout weight. At the workout weight do a few rounds of 5 deadlifts and 3 snatches alternating the rower or airdyne to get your heart rate close to 90% so you're not so shocked when it elevates during the workout. This should take you less than 5min. to do. As for TTB do less than 10 in warm-up. Don't waste them! Finally, I would work up to 90% of what you hope to hit on the clean and jerk. As Dave said, if you have no idea what you can clean and jerk take an extra day or two to figure that out before performing the workout. During it is not the time. 

Lastly, once you're warmed up don't then set everything up for the workout and wander around. Make sure you get into the workout before you cool down. 

Onto the Specific Movements!

TTB

  • Put chalk within reach by the TTB. Mostly likely this is the part of the workout you'll need it on. 
  • If you feel your grip is better with grips then wear them, Rich did. I wouldn't wear them just to protect from ripping though. TTB usually aren't as bad about that as pull-ups. 
  • Consider which shoes you'll be wearing. A Nano weighs about 1lb. less than a weight lifting shoe. A pound per ankle could feel like a lot after 100 TTB. If it were me I would wear Nano's for the metcon and switch into lifter's quickly before the lift. If you can lift comfortably without olympic weight lifting shoes than that's even better, but if not make the transition quick.
  • These were the limiting factor for the guys due to grip. If you're comfortable I recommend putting your thumb around the bar and on top of your first 2 fingers even. Sort of like a reverse hook grip. If it's too weird to you don't change now, but your thumb is your strongest finger so it makes sense to use it.
  • Try to make them quicker cycling by leading with the knees and kicking at the top to finish the movement. A long swinging hinge with straight legs will mostly likely tire your grip sooner and be slower.
  • Break these early. There is a limited number of people in the world who should do the first set of 15 unbroken. If you're one of them you probably know how good you are at TTB already and can do 40+ unbroken. Be smart and choose from the start to break 8/7 if you're excellent (like 30+ unbroken), 5/5/5 if you're good, and consider 3's if you're just ok. Like Rich said in the interview after, "once they go, they're gone" and you'll find yourself staring at the bar and wanting to repeat the workout. So listen to your body and get down as soon as your grip starts going. 
  • If you're starting to really get fatigued try a mixed grip, but don't start out that way. 
  • When you do take breaks don't roam around. Stay in place under the bar, focus on your breathing, mentally count your rest and go again. 
  • Finally, RELAX on these. DO NOT, I REPEAT DO NOT, death grip the bar. Let is slide a little through your hand and grip harder at the bottom of the movement (that's what she said).

Deadlifts

  • My PT side has to insert a little precaution here. After a full spinal flexion movement of the TTB make sure you set your back again before lifting the bar off the ground.
  • Use a mixed grip. Consider hook gripping as well, since the weight is so light it shouldn't hurt and will save your forearms. 
  • Elite athletes won't need to break these, but most people will need to plan on doing so sooner rather than later. 
  • Obviously put the bar as close to your TTB as you can and not across the gym. 

Snatches

  • Tape your thumbs! You'll need it because you're going to be hook gripping, and if you aren't then say you are to preserve your dignity. 
  • I can't really teach you how to snatch in a short post so I'll just say remember to bend your knees to return the bar down if your back starts getting fatigued.
  • Touch and go is fastest if you're in the elite category and can do them unbroken. If not, drop from the top early on. 
  • Stay relaxed in your breathing.
  • Control the bar on your last rep so you don't have to go chase it down or move it out of the way to do your TTB. 
  • Lastly, wait for it... HOOK GRIP! 

Clean and Jerk

  • Remember to check the rules because you have to enter in your weight for this event. Weigh yourself in the morning the day of before eating and obviously take off your shoes and anything heavy! A few extra pounds could mean a lot of points when there are tie breakers. 
  • If you are doing the workout without a shirt or in a tank top (I hope you're a chic) consider having one nearby to put on so the bar doesn't slide off your chest on cleans. 
  • Have a belt near by as well for the lift, if you use one. 
  • Have all of the weights ready you could possibly need. This means over 100% of your max, because you never know. 
  • If you're a Regional contender consider fractional plates. There are going to be log jams at certain weights like 200# for females.
  • Don't underestimate the effect the workout will have on your lift. Rich opened up with about 70% and Matt about 56% of their maxes. I would recommend trying to go 70%, 75-80%, 80-85%, and then if you get in a fourth attempt whatever you're feeling, give it a whirl. The first lift is purely to wake up your CNS to a heavier weight and the movement pattern. In my opinion Matt lost this part of the workout because he was too conservative in the beginning and took too many lifts. If his max is 400# (which I think it is), he went 56% 74% 79% 82% and then 86% (which he missed). If he had consolidated his lifts and taken 4 still ending at 86% more rested, he would've had a better chance at sticking it (even though it just looked like his foot slipped). 
  • Also because there will be people who miscalculate and underperform on the lift or go too hard on the TTB and burn out, I would do this workout Friday first so you have the opportunity to repeat it if necessary on Monday.
  • Keep in mind these guys are extremely well conditioned too, so you may only have time for 3 lifts if you aren't as super human. 
  • I would recommend if you plan on squat cleaning your last attempts to start that way on your lighter ones as well. Prime the CNS for the movement pattern you want it to perform. Same goes for a split jerk vs. power jerk.

A little word about pacing. Take most of your rest between movements during transition and short rests between TTB. I think the limiting factor on this workout will be grip for the majority of people who have been training for the open. That said it will still be easy to go out too hot metabolically so be aware of your breathing and stay aerobic. A little hint, Rich and Matt were under 1min. on their first 2 rounds and then slowed from there. Unless you're a regional contender if your first round is under 1min., you're probably going to fast. It's better to take short breaks often and early than to go out too hard and not be able to recover. Also, if you can kick at the end instead of just holding on for dear life you will have a much better overall score. I wouldn't try to conserve on the first workout too much in an attempt to do better on the second one either. I doubt an extra 5lbs will make up for the loss of reps that much. 

Lastly, have fun! No matter how you did, thank your judge, pat a buddy on the ass, and be grateful you're capable of doing the insane amount of work you just did in 15min! 

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  • Talayna Fortunato
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