CrossFit Open 16.5 Tips, Tricks, & Strategies

Xi XiaCFPDX Competition2 Comments

Initial Thoughts & General Comments
Each year at the end of the Open, I reflect on what I’ve learned. And this year, perhaps belatedly, I’ve finally learned that I should never hold too tightly the guidelines that I perceive Dave Castro to be following when developing the workouts. I was one who thought that rowing would never show up in the Open due to some gyms not having many (or any) rowers. I didn’t think there’d be a workout done for time. Or handstand push-ups. Or bar muscle-ups. All wrong! And this year, I’ve come to find that redoing movements that have already shown up (burpees) is not off limits either. I think Dave honestly likes flipping the script on people who think like me.

But I digress. This year’s open has been a fun mix of events, and 16.5 (aka 14.5) is sure to cap things off in an appropriately bruising fashion. See the strategy guide below!

Each year, we take lessons learned from the season and apply them to the training in our competition program.

Movement Considerations
There are a lot of things that can go wrong in the thruster, but I want to focus on just one: the rack position. It is imperative that the bar be fully supported by your shoulders during the squat. If the weight is supported mostly by your arms, you will surely fatigue faster, and won’t get nearly as much help from your legs when driving the bar upwards. The thruster combines a front squat and press – I think your grip should be more “front squatty” than “pressy” (those are definitely words). In an ideal world, you’ll be able to drop your elbows pretty low while still supporting the bar in a good rack position. But for most people this won’t be the case!

I really think you should wear your weightlifting shoes for this one. The thrusters are definitely the hardest part.

And while it may be counterintuitive, the best place to rest on the thruster is with the bar up overhead. Unless your overhead is quite compromised, this will be the best spot to breathe (watch Froning do thrusters when fatigued, he is great at this).

Bar Facing Burpee
As with the burpees in 16.1, you’ll want to try and be as “lazy” as possible on these. That means flopping to the ground, and doing a wormy (not strict) push-up, and then stepping forward, rather than jumping.

The strategy for the burpees will be the same for everyone – constant, steady movement. Obviously, you’ll need to pace the rate of movement depending on how fit you are, but just getting to the next rep no matter where you are fatigue wise will be better than doing “quick bursts” of 3-5 burpees, and then having to recover. The key here will be to not fall into no man’s land, where you just feel like you’re doing burpees FOREVER. You could be on rep 3, it could be rep 18, it doesn’t matter, it’s just a slog. You know the feeling. Instead, even if you’re going quite slow, stay focused. It is helpful to set mini goals for yourself to count to – every 3, or 5 reps, for example. A mantra (really) of something like, “stay with it,” or simply “focus” can keep your pace high and prevent you from feeling like you’re just wandering through the woods without a map.

But as far as strategy goes, it of course comes down to the thrusters. The elite will do this workout unbroken, but most people will need to fraction the reps. And, as I’ve stated in previous strategy guides, it is best to do this preemptively, at least until you get down to the final few sets.

Below I’ve given some suggestions for how you might fraction the reps based on your general abilities. Remember that this is ONLY a starting point; you should develop your own individual strategy. How do you categorize yourself? Well, think about which workouts you love and excel at, and which ones you don’t. Do you love to lift but fear the day a 30 minute amrap shows up on the board? Or is it “the longer the better” when it comes to metcons, while lifting doesn’t come as easy? Here’s your sign.

As for the muscular endurance aspect, use Fran as your guide. If you can do the first 21 thrusters in that workout unbroken, and feel like you could keep going, then your muscular endurance is high. If your shoulders and legs are burning like a thousand suns by the time you reach the end of the set, it’s low.

More powerful, less enduring, high muscular endurance
21, 7-6-5, 6-5-4, 7-5, 5-4, 6, 3

More powerful, less enduring, low muscular endurance
8-7-6, 6-5-4-3, 5-4-3-3, 4-3-3-2, 5-4, 6, 3

Less powerful, more enduring, high muscular endurance
12-9, 7-6-5, 6-5-4, 5-4-3, 6-3, 6, 3

Less powerful, more enduring, low muscular endurance
7-6-5-3, 6-5-4-3, 5-4-3-3, 4-3-3-2, 3-3-3, 3-3, 3

Yes, these don’t cover every classification. If you are powerful, enduring, and have good muscular endurance, then you are probably elite (or just very confident), and will likely do the workout unbroken. If you possess none of those traits, then this workout will be harder for you – but you can still have a plan! I would start with triples from the get go, and then modify as needed based on feeling.

When evaluating your rep plan, if you are a more enduring individual, you want to plan for something that allows you to take less than 10 seconds of rest between sets. If you are more powerful, plan for no more than 15 seconds between sets.

5-10 minutes Easy Aerobic Activity
– Row, Jog, Bike, etc.
5-10 minutes Dynamic Range of Motion
– Emphasize ankles, triceps, thoracic spine.
Build to moderately heavy single Thruster
3-5 Thrusters 95/65#
3-5 Bar Facing Burpees
Rest 1 min
X 3 sets – build speed each set

Additional Notes
Resist the urge to downplay the fact that you finished the whole Open. It is a BIG deal to do so – evidence of that fact can be found in the number of people who register but ultimately don’t finish all 5 events. Have some ice cream and celebrate a job well done, no matter where you finished.

Have fun!

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