CrossFit Open 15.1 Strategy Guide, Tips, Tricks

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General Comments & First Thoughts

Two part workout! One question that every strategy-minded competitor will ask him or herself is, “Should I go all out on the metcon, or save some energy for the clean & jerk?”

In my opinion, you SHOULD give full effort to the amrap (or at least 99.9% effort).

The difference between lifting heavy when you’re 100% fatigued versus 92% fatigued will not be nearly as great as the difference between your metcon score if you go 92% versus 100%.

Meaning, it is very possible that you could lose a full round or more off of your metcon score (which will probably be a larger drop on the leaderboard) if you don’t go at it with full gusto.

Compare this with you might only lose 5# off of what you could have lifted even if you are fatigued.

Of course, you shouldn’t push yourself to the point that you HAVE to flop on the ground after the 9 minutes is up – but most never truly HAVE to do that, anyways.

Movement Considerations

Strategy will be covered below, this section will be devoted to technique considerations for movements.

Toes to Bar

An efficient kip will be key here. If you’ve not already read our article on “balance” while kipping, go ahead and do that now > https://crossfitportland.com/balanced-kipping/. Everything within that article can be applied to the toes to bar.

Many people who have efficient kipping swings have trouble getting the “rhythm” of toes to bar. A common reason for this is a lack of activity in the lats when going for their second rep.

You must pull back hard with your arms as you can on the second rep (without bending them, almost like you were trying to do a front lever) in order to make sure the kip is maintained and your feet hit the bar. Generally those who complete their second rep can “catch” the rhythm of the kip.

For those who cannot cycle toes to bar kips, or for whom the cycle dies a bit as fatigue sets in (this will be most people!), the important thing to remember is to continue to use momentum as best you can to complete the movement.

The last thing you want to do are strict toes to bar. One popular method is the double-swing variation, where one does essentially two kips at the bottom of each rep – this is not ideal, but is better than the strict alternative.

If you have access to a short enough bar, singles can actually be done really fast if do it this way.

If you just want to get your FIRST Toe To Bar ever. This is a SIMPLE trick to get it done.

Deadlift

Use a mixed grip for the entire workout, and if you have the awareness, try to switch which hand is up and which is down each set. Your grip is going to get fried no matter what in this workout, but every little thing you can do to save it is worth it.

Also, and this applies to snatches too, but for the love of Thorisdottir, DON’T use shitty form when you deadlift and snatch. You know what I’m talking about – rounded back, lazy lifting, letting things “get weird.”

It is simply NOT worth it to do that to your spine hundreds of times (and then go and try to lift heavy). Take the extra half second it takes to set your back.

Snatch

Unless your 1 rep maximum is not far above the prescribed weights, you will want to power snatch these. It is worth considering widening your feet out a bit in your set-up so that they don’t have to move in and out and in and out rep after rep.

Clean & Jerk

Should you squat clean or power clean? Split jerk or push jerk? Not surprisingly, the answer is to do what you’re best at! It’s that simple.

While “theoretically,” a squat clean and (usually) split jerk have a higher ceiling for most people, you need to do what you’re most confident in, period. Gameday is not when to try a new technique.

15.1 Strategies

The main limiter for most people in the first part of the workout will be the toes to bar. Athletes who can continue to move through those quickly (even when having to break it up) will do the best.

It is tempting to want to burn through the first round of toes to bar unbroken, but that might not be the wisest strategy in the long term, unless you know that you can do 25+ consecutively easy.

If you know that your max effort is less than 25, say in the 15-24 range, consider starting off the first set with 10+5. From 10-14 unbroken, do 6+5+4, and below 10, start with doubles or triples.

The goal is to delay the “point of no return smoked-ness” on toes to bar as long as possible, and pre-emptively breaking up sets, rather than pushing to failure (or close to it), will aid with this.

For the later rounds, things will obviously start to get broken up. When making your individual strategy plan, consider implementing descending rep schemes (i.e. 6, 5, 4), which can be a great help both mentally (you’re doing less than you did on the previous set), and physically (you start with a higher rep set when you have not been on that exercise for a bit).

This can even be done with lower reps, but it would look something like this: 5, 3, 2, 2, 2, 1. Again, the key is to avoid going to failure, especially at the beginning of each new round (at least until you get to a minute or so left on the clock, then go bonkers).

If you happen to get to the point where you are doing only 1 rep at a time, make the best of it. I like to remind athletes to “stay in their quadrant” (usually the rubber mats at a gym) – meaning, once you do a rep, stay as close to your implement as possible, stay within that rubber mat.

So, if you are down to singles, don’t walk away from the pull-up bar (as painful as it might be to look at it), plant your feet and don’t move until you do your next rep; you will likely get back on the bar more quickly. Continue to KIP your toes to bar, and if you can, keep your arms raised between reps (rather than bringing them down after each and then back up again).

For the deadlifts, most individuals should do them unbroken. Snatches are another story, and will depend on one’s ability. It is of course faster to do them unbroken, touch and go style, and 5 is a relatively low number.

However, if the weight is heavy-ish for you, and your grip is shot, consider doing 3+2, or even singles. The key, as in toes to bar, is to stay close to your bar between reps, rather that stepping away after each break.

15.1a Strategies

Plan to only take about 4 attempts. Realistically, the first minute or so after 15.1 ends will be spent trying to remember who you are, why you thought this whole CrossFit thing was a good idea, and loading weights on the to bar.

That will give you about one lift every 75 seconds – anymore than that and the quality of each attempt would degrade too much to be productive. You want 3 or 4 really good lifts.

Of course, have a plan going in for what you want to lift. It will completely depend on the individual, but in general, “newer” trainees will probably be able to lift closer to their 1RMs than more experienced athletes – unless you are an experienced athlete with the engine of Rich Froning.

A good place to start for newbies would be 80-85%, with hopes of reaching close to 100% by attempt 4. For more experienced athletes, 70-75%, with hopes of getting to 90%-93%.

A good rule of thumb when selecting weights to attempt is for the jump in between weights to lessen each time. That could mean a 15# jump between weights 1 & 2, a 10# jump between weights 2 & 3, and a 5# jump between weights 3 & 4.

Additionally, it is almost (almost) always better to go for the “sure thing” weight when choosing an attempt, rather than choosing something you only “maybe” make. In weightlifting and in CrossFit, the person who can make the most lifts will generally do best. The only weight you should potentially miss should be your last one.

Remember, there is no rule against going down in weight if you’ve bit off more than you can chew, and you can use change plates that are a half pound and heavier. Use this to your advantage – beat the log jam at 225 by going to 227 when you know you probably won’t hit 230.

Pick weights that are easy to load and have them laid out as close to your bar as possible. Ideally, you’ll be able to slide the weights for your first attempts on top of the weights you used for part 1.

And finally, be prepared for your first attempt to feel like shit. It just will. Get over it, get your head right, and do the next one better.

Warm-up

I believe that you most definitely should warm-up your clean & jerk prior to the conditioning, at least up to your first attempt weight. Even if there will be a long interval between that part of the warm-up and when your attempts actually happen, it will be benefit you to have patterned the clean & jerk and fired your nervous system up before having to lift in the workout.

The rest of the warm-up can go like this:
10 minute Easy Aerobic Movement (Airdyne, Row, etc)
+
5-10 minutes Active Movement for all major muscle groups
– This is not stretching, but working through ROM for all joints – prioritize warming up the hip hinge.
+
Build to Clean & Jerk opening weight
+
Build to Snatch/DL weight
+
3-5 rounds with 1 min rest in between:
2-3 Toes to Bar
3-5 Deadlift
2-3 Snatch

Start at 60% speed and build to 100% speed by the last round
(rest 5-10 minutes before starting the workout)

Additional Notes

There is a bodyweight tie-breaker, so be sure to accurately record your bodyweight on gameday. It would be a shame to tie in weight with a lot of people, but rank lower than them because you didn’t put a bodyweight in. And DO NOT be silly and try to cut weight; you need all the fuel you can get!

Kilo bars will count as heavier weights than they actually are. A 20 kg bar counts as 45 pounds (actually 44 and change), and a 15 kg bar counts at 35 pounds (actually 33). Use ‘em if you got em!

This workout is just begging to destroy your hands. Grind or shave down any raised calluses the night before your workout, and strongly consider hand protection (well secured tape!) during the event.