CrossFit Open 14.5 Strategy Guide, Tips & Tricks

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Dang it, no pistols!

14.5 was going to be burpees and thrusters. Our collective minds knew it, our queasy guts knew it, and now we are going to feel all 168 reps because there is no time cap to stop the misery.

If you watched the live show and are tracking the leaderboard, you know how fast it can be done. We are all going to finish under 10 minutes right? High fives, drink some coconut water, and wonder what we’ll do for a second workout.

Coach Madoc called it and this will take 15-20 minutes for most of us. Here is how to experience 14.5 without soiling your shorts and actually looking forward to it!

This could be the longest workout of the Open

Since there is no time cap, this could easily be the longest workout for most people in the Open.

Both movements are extremely accessible. Day 1 beginners can do a bar facing burpee. If you have done any weightlifting at all, a 95/65 lb “thruster” (more on that below) is within your abilities.

It is entirely possible for someone to take 30+ minutes and do this RX. So yeah, a fairly long and AEROBIC effort.

Similar to the 60 calorie row on 14.4, you want to set a pace that is not too fast, that you can hold, in order to get your best time.

Blow your wad early and you’ll finish right before 15.1 is announced.

Setting Up

I suggest you use 6 pieces of tape and mark out your area. The 2 on the side mark where the plates should be after your thruster sets. The 4 in the middle mark where your hands should go on the burpee.

It is so much easier to not have to think about cracking your forehead on a metal bar. So just mark it out and make it easy on yourself!

When putting tape down for your hands, get as comfortably close as your head will allow to the bar. You want to minimize the distance you will be traveling horizontally to get over the bar.

Why not chalk? Well, you are going to get sweaty and can smudge it all to hell. At which point, it is useless. Just use a bit of tape and be nice to our cleaning crew!


We’ve all seen the pros do their fast jumping up and down burpees. We try to emulate and for most, it just sucks and we hate burpees. Buck Furpees!

Well, our conditioning is not pro level so maybe a different way would be better for you.

Instead of jumping up and down and feeling every awful moment of every rep, mix it up with STEPPING up and/or down. I’ve seen so many people try this and completely change their outlook on burpees.

If you need more convincing to test this out, maybe this will help. I know it’s not apples to apples but it shows how although stepping up and down seems “so slow” visually, it actually isn’t!

It’s like stepping up/down for box jumps instead of jumping them. For many, it simply feels like less effort even though the speed is similar.

On the bar facing burpees, you will need to jump over the bar. When you get up from your burpee, just take a small comfortable step closer to the bar and bunny hop over the bar.

I see people doing 6′ broad jumps over the bar and laying waste to themselves. Of course that’s tiring and IT IS NOT REQUIRED AT ALL!

Also, on the hop over, twist in the air. Save yourself time from having to do it once you land and just start it as soon as you jump.

At a steady pace in the middle of the workout while under fatigue, I would estimate most people can get 10-15 done in one minute while stepping all of their burpees.

84 reps of burpees would then take about 5:35 to 8:25 to complete.


In any poll of CrossFitters, Thrusters would easily win by a landslide as their most hated movement. I haven’t found a way to do these that make them feel any better but we can try!

First, mobility.

Your going to get that front squat position and all of its components opened up. Hips, ankles, and especially your triceps/lats. Getting those elbows up easily and keeping the bar in the rack position will be the goal to shoot for.

Scott Hagnas, mobility programmer for AthleteWod, shows a few ideas to get ready for 14.5.

There are no bands, no balls, no rollers. It’s just beyond comprehension how people are able to be mobile just through doing hard work on their active range of motion. I am SHOCKED this could possibly work!

10-20 reps of each or until mobility stops improving.

Second, prime your nervous system.

This means going heavy and building up to a 1-3 rep heavy thruster set before you start 14.5.

You will not tire yourself out by doing this! Instead, you will get your CNS fired up and the first set of thrusters in 14.5 will feel light!

Third, grip width.

Like all barbell movements before, a wider grip might serve you well. It depends on your flexibility in the rack position, specifically shoulder external rotation.

This will shorten the distance the bar has to travel, which is a good thing.

Fourth, don’t OVER THRUSTER!

I see this all the time. People doing a 95/65 thruster with authority and emphasis, snapping the bar to ceiling, looking all intense…and wasting a ton of energy.

Put enough “umph” into the bar to get it overhead easily and not a bit more! There is no extra credit for how fast or aggressive your reps look.

Fifth, thrust above parallel.

I learned this from Chris Spealer in a video ages ago and it applies today. If this weight is not crushing you, the timing for really exploding and putting the pop into the bar is when you have come up from your squat, above parallel.

Give it go and you just might feel how much easier each rep feels.

Finally, this thruster can be heavy for you from rep 1 or maybe it will get heavy on rep 50. The movement standards allow for a great deal of freedom on how to complete a rep.

Here are just a few examples, plenty more combinations. The last one is by far the easiest 😉

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