CrossFit Open 16.1 Tips, Tricks, and Strategy

Xi XiaCFPDX Competition1 Comment

First Thoughts & General Comments
CrossFit Open Workout 16.1 includes a movement that has become nearly ubiquitous in higher levels of competition, yet is making its first appearance in the Open: the Overhead Walking Lunge. I, for one, am pretty excited about single leg strength being tested in the Open. But while everyone who takes on the workout will certainly experience some “unique” soreness in their glutes and legs in the days (weeks?) following 16.1, I don’t think single leg proficiency will be the limiting factor in most people’s scores. Instead, it will come down to upper body strength endurance and good ol’ aerobic conditioning. Two factors, I might add, that we prioritize in our competition program.

Movement Considerations
This section is about optimizing technique for the chosen movements, actual strategy remarks are below.

Overhead Walking Lunges

Grip width is a big consideration here. Narrow or wide? Perhaps unsurprisingly (and unhelpfully), it depends. For athletes with great mobility, a jerk width grip will probably be preferred. But if you are a bit tighter overhead, you’ll want to inch your hands in the direction of a snatch width grip – though maybe not all the way. While it may be a generally “weaker” position for most, having the bar in an ideal position overhead (right over the middle of the body) should be the priority and will make the lunges easier. If you can snatch the bar overhead easily, do so!

Big steps are best for the lunges, but not to the point that the movement becomes awkward. And be sure to be aware of the most common ways to no rep: extra steps in between lunges, and not standing up all the way. If you do have to break these up, which many will, be sure to drop right after you’ve crossed one of the 5 foot lines, rather than somewhere in no-man’s land, causing you to have to backtrack.

Bar Facing Burpee
My philosophy on burpees in long workouts: be as lazy as possible. You will need to save your upper body for the lunges and pull-ups, so be sure to “flop” as well as you can on the ground (no slow negative), and then do a wormy push-up on your way up. At the top of your wormy push-up, it’s easy to shoot your feet under, as seen here.

Keeping with the laziness theme, it will save a lot of energy to step out of each burpee, rather than jump to your feet. Stepping will get you closer to the bar than jumping will (at least when you’re fatigued), and it takes less energy for the same amount of work. Be sure that when you do jump over the barbell though, you don’t get no repped because both feet didn’t leave the ground at the same time!

Chest to Bar Pull-up
Butterfly pull-ups are fast, and if you can do any, you should definitely do so for as long as you can. But for many people, the rhythm of these will disappear pretty quickly. When this happens, it is best to abandon ship immediately, meaning switch to a traditional kip. You’re only going to get more tired as the workout progresses, and the chances are strong that your butterfly will get more and more wonky. Wonkiness is bad!

In the traditional kip, it is best to keep your swings rather tight & fast, as opposed to big & loopy. Big & loopy swings may feel like they help build momentum, but they often result in bad timing that makes the pull-up that much harder.

Don’t be afraid to use a supinated (palms inward) grip, or even a mixed grip for this workout. This works well even if you usually use a pronated grip – anything you can do to squeeze out a few more reps in the last couple of minutes.

Also, take care of your calluses the night before, and if you have even a fleeting worry that you might rip your hands, tape ‘em up!

As I said above, this workout favors individuals with good upper body strength endurance and aerobic conditioning. If you only have one, or neither of those things, fear not, there is a strategy for you below!

Keep in mind, these are all just suggestions. I recommend you use these as a jumping off point, but ultimately develop your own individual strategy, and be prepared to adjust on the fly!

If you consider yourself strong aerobically (you only wish the workout was 30 minutes, not 20), can pull-up and go overhead for days, then congratulations, this workout is your jam. It would be a mistake to come out in a dead sprint, but you don’t need to hold back as much as others might. For reference, the two Games athletes who took on the workout on Thursday night got around 11 rounds. So anything faster than 1:30 per round initially is probably way too fast. Focus on smooth and unbroken lunges for as long as possible, burpees done continuously, and pull-ups unbroken as long as possible..

If you lack the upper body strength endurance, but are good aerobically, you will want to have a plan for breaking up the lunges and pull-ups. One idea is to commit to doing the first lunge length of each round unbroken, but then breaking up the second one into two. Or, simply plan to break each and every length – but strive for no more than one break! Pull-ups will be very individual, but if 8 is a challenge for you, going all out in your first set is going to be a very bad idea. You could start with 2 sets of 4, then preemptively switch to 4+2+2, then preemptively switch to 3+2+2+1. Doing so in advance of when you need to is important; by pre-emptively, I mean a round before you feel you absolutely need to. Going to the point of failure, or near failure on pull-ups very early in the workout will spell certain doom for your score. If you know you will get to the point (maybe even from the beginning) where you need to do your pull-ups in singles, they can still be done pretty quickly! The key is to find a bar that is close enough to the ground that you can easily grab it (while still being able to kip), and then forcing yourself to keep your hands on the bar in between reps (with your feet on the ground) in between reps, rather than bringing them to your sides.

If on the other hand, you have great upper body stamina, but consider yourself more of a “power” athlete, you will want to take advantage of an idea that seems counterintuitive for a CrossFit workout: doing movements slowly. If you can do your pull-ups unbroken, you should, and if you can do your lunges unbroken, you should. But the rhythm that you use for these should be very smooth and dialed back. If you go all “fast-twitchy” on them, you will surely amp out. You are also the perfect candidate to methodically time your rests in between exercises. You can go purely by seconds, or count your breaths before starting the next movement. Something like 5 breaths before moving on initially, then adjusting up to 6 when needed, then more if necessary.

If the idea of a 20 minute metcon made you shudder, and your arms just don’t work the way you want them to sometimes, you will need to pace the heck out of this workout. Start at what feels like 80%. A TRUE 80%. Do your absolute best to maintain that 80% effort level until the last 5 minutes of the workout. If you come out too hot, you will be sucking wind with a longggg 18 minutes ahead of you. You want to utilize all three pacing techniques covered above: breaking up movements preemptively, doing your reps more slowly, and resting methodically between movements. If it feels too slow at the start, that’s probably a good sign!

10 minutes Light Aerobic Activity
– Row, Jog, Bike, etc. Get the blood moving.
5-10 minutes Dynamic Range of Motion work
– Focus on hip flexors, quads, adductors, and shoulders.
Behind the Neck Press x 10
Scap Pull-up x 10
Unweighted Lunge x 5RL
Kipping Swing x 5
Overhead Lunge x 3RL unweighted
Kipping Pull-up x 3-5
Overhead Lunge x 3RL slightly heavier (rx weight if it’s light for you)
Overhead Lunge x 2RL (rx or a bit heavier)
Burpee x 2
Chest to Bar Pull-up x 2
Rest 1 minute x 3 sets
– Start slow & build to full speed by 3rd set

Additional Notes
Prepare for some epic soreness from this one. Best to get some light recovery work (hike, row, walk, jog) the next day. You’ll be better off doing this than just lying on the couch all day.

Have fun!

One Comment on “CrossFit Open 16.1 Tips, Tricks, and Strategy”

  1. Pingback: Tips & Tricks: Open 16.1 | Peanut Butter Kait

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