Tips & Tricks: Open 17.5

The last CrossFit Open WOD of 2017 is upon us.  17.5 is here!  I’m feeling a mix of relief, anxiety, and excitement – it’s a weird feeling I assure you, although for those doing the Open, I’m sure many can relate.

17.1 brought us dumbbell snatches and burpee box jump overs.

17.2 featured dumbbells again (cleans and walking lunges), plus toes-to-bar and muscle-ups.

17.3 was snatches and chest-to-bar pull-ups.

17.4 was 16.4!  Deadlifts, wall balls, rowing for cals, and handstand push-ups.

I’m sure the majority of us were anticipating thrusters for 17.5, as they’ve been known to pop up in the last Open workout the past couple years.  And surprise! (See Alex Parker’s reaction here):


I actually am surprised that the thrusters are with a barbell, not dumbbells.  And I had heard internet whispers about double-unders (DU), which would make sense given that we hadn’t seen them yet in the 2017 Open, but I was also praying that they wouldn’t show their face.

pike meme

I digress.

I can do double-unders, but they sure as hell aren’t pretty.  Worse yet, my parents are down visiting this weekend so I’ve got to perform (just kidding… kind of).

440 reps.  The thruster part I’m reasonably happy about due to my short stature and quadzilla legs.  The double-unders are the liability portion of the workout.  Once my heart rate gets uncomfortable, I have no stamina for double-unders and the dreaded piking/tripping/swearing starts.

Some mantras I will be focusing on during the double-unders:

  • Breath
  • Relax
  • Toes <– mentally, this cue helps me stay upright (not piked)

Since the pros took just under 7 minutes-ish, I’m not sure what to aim for.  Goal: keep heart rate under control.  Finish in under 20 minutes. 

I’m going to try a 5/4 rep scheme for the thrusters with the aim to keep my heart rate manageable.  And for the DU, perhaps a 18/17 split?  We shall see if it’s a good or bad double-under day when I get there (which may change my strategy).

Nagging Reminders (from the 17.5 Standards):

  • Your skipping rope has to stay on the ground while you do thrusters.  Not on an elevated box.  Not hanging from the rig.  Not handed to you by a friend.
  • The official time cap is 40:00.

Advice from the Wise Gurus of the Internets

For the athlete who is [much] stronger and faster than me, you might appreciate CrossFit Games’ Nicole Carroll’s tips:

  • Main strategy: find a pace that allows you to do the thrusters and DU unbroken.
  • Don’t waste time transitioning.

Note from Kait… that was basically the least helpful advice ever.  Okay, moving on…

Actual constructive advice:

  • From the hilarious and wise Coach Eric of CrossFit Currie Barracks/CrossFit Sunalta (check the link for an extensive warm-up and tips): spend time in your warm-up actually getting warm and super mobilized, breath, have a work:rest plan, and know your capabilities.
  • From the very thorough WOD Superstore blog: “YOU DECIDE WHEN TO BREAK… DON’T LET THE WORKOUT DECIDE FOR YOU.” And have a backup plan for if things go sideways.  Don’t wear your lifters.
  • From Breaking Muscle: focus on a very reasonable pace for the first five rounds – this will ensure you have the gas in the tank to survive the next five rounds.  Don’t let missed DU reps get in your head: take a breath, and get back at it.

I hope you’ve enjoyed these “Tips & Tricks” posts the past five weeks – thanks for checking in!  Keep it on the DL, but I might attempt 17.5 tonight after work… I’ll be back with a recap next week!

Enjoy 17.5 and let me know how it goes for you!


16.2 Accomplished

leo 16.2 open

This weekend’s Open lessons for 16.2 include:

  • Four (4) minutes is a very brief period of time. It goes incredibly fast actually.
  • I’m still not that great at toes-to-bar (T2B) and double unders (DU).
  • The best part of CrossFit is the community.
  • Don’t do five deadlifts at your one rep max weight on Wednesday before 16.2.

When I schemed and plotted for 16.2, I only worried about how heavy those 115# cleans on the second round would be. In my very wild imagination, I pictured myself nimbly flying through the toes-to-bar unbroken, then grabbing my rope and skipping through the double unders with astonishing ease.

I would be a vision to behold.  My true athleticism would shine.  Other athletes would marvel at my endurance, my technique, my brute strength.  My invitation to Regionals, penned by Dave Castro himself, was imminent.

i was wrong meme

After hurting my back on Wednesday, and worrying that I’d done a bit of damage, I made an appointment to see a chiropractor on Saturday morning. The appointment went well, and her opinion was that I’d strained some muscles in my back but nothing more serious thankfully.  She advised taking it easy, but as a fellow crossfitter, knew that 16.2 was looming in my mind.  Again, she recommended taking it easy so my back could heal, and doing a very thorough warm-up beforehand if I insisted on competing.

Meg and I went for a walk later in the day, and at first I had my mind set on doing the scaled version (lighter cleans = less pressure on my back). But Meg knows me well, and reasoned that if I did scaled, I’d do more rounds, and therefore more cleans.  By the end of our walk, I’d realized the best choice was to do 16.2 RX since the likelihood I’d do a lot of (heavy) cleans was slim.

Meg and I were in the first heat on Sunday. I was there extra early to warm up, and by the time I was in position to start, I had sweat dripping down my back.  Here’s how 16.2 went down:

  • I struggled for approximately three minutes to get 25 double unders. Several no-reps. Frustration mounting.
  • After flailing around for 45 seconds, I managed to get 50 double unders.
  • In the remaining 15 seconds, I got three cleans – thanks to my judge/friend Colin’s encouragement right up until the end.

Score: 78

Sentiment: Humbled

you didn't see anything

The good news is that I have a 16.2 score to post. Also, my back didn’t hurt when I did the cleans.  And I’ve already accomplished my goal of doing two RX Open WODs this season – who would have thought?

(There really is no bad news. I was just glad to compete on Sunday.)

I spend the rest of the day spectating, cheering, and judging. Turns out, I really like judging!  Meg was unhappy with her score from our heat, so she went at the end of the day and nearly doubled her original score.  I was so proud!

The trick with 16.2 is “two times the charm” I think. Everyone who did the WOD twice got a better score the second time.  Except that crazy RX athlete in the States who did it once in almost 15 minutes flat.  She’s just nuts.

After all the excitement of the weekend, and walking nearly 35,000 steps between Saturday and Sunday, I was exhausted. The weekend fairly flew by yet again!  I’ve got another chiro appointment tonight (turns out I might be a chiro junkie) and hopefully she’ll say I’m on the mend.  I haven’t had a true workout since Wednesday!  Looking forward to getting back to the usual routine.

Enjoy the week!

Tips & Tricks: Open 16.2

Anyone else watch the CrossFit Games Open 16.2 announcement last night?  Anyone?


open 16.2 crossfit

Dana, Wade, Meg, and I tuned in to the online stream to watch, and had to laugh at Castro all bundled up like it was -40.  The athletes certainly looked warm enough by the end!  That’s what 20 minutes of that utter nonsense will get you.


As I mentioned last week, I’m a pretty middle-of-the-pack athlete.  My ultimate goal for the 2016 Open is to do two WODs RX, but of course there’s always a curve ball in every announcement that makes an average crossfitter like me think: “scaled or RX?” Last week, I chose RX and it was awesome because it pushed me to do chest-to-bar pull-ups, which previously I couldn’t do at all.

Earlier this week, I was being a bit arrogant with deadlifts so my back is pretty tight still today.  I’m glad I’m not doing 16.2 until Sunday so I have a few more days to recover.

For 16.2, on a good day, I can string some toes-to-bar (T2B) and double-unders (DU) together.  I LOVE squat cleans so that part isn’t an issue.  Let’s pray that Sunday’s a good day so I can RX no problem!  My goal for 16.2 is to get through 2 rounds.  I know if I can get through the T2B and DU reps relatively quickly, the cleans will be the smooth, confidence-building portion. (Don’t quote me on that…) I’m also hoping that I can get through the first round before 4 minutes is up so I can use that “extra” time for the second round.


Here is my weekly roundup of 16.2-related advice for strategizing, plus some interesting crossfit-related reads. Enjoy!

  • Coach Eric from my box, CrossFit Sunalta, thinks 16.2 is one of the “coolest Open WODs yet.”   He writes a very thorough analysis and warm-up every week.  This week, he highlights keeping your breathing under control, knowing your limits (like when to break up T2B), and doing singles for the cleans.
  • Tabata Times has a great analysis every week too.  This week’s article has advice for different skill levels, which is awesome.  For folks like me, they simply advise: “f*^#ing move” because time’s going to fly by.
  • This blogger has already tested 16.2 and there’s some great notes for the rest of us.  The best piece of advice: “During the cleans do not step away from the bar! Do not go walking around like an animal in pain! Do not let your feet move! “
  • This roundup of advice really emphasizes protecting your lower back – do some thorough lower back/glute mobility and warming up beforehand, and drop the bar from the top.
  • And more emphasis on protecting your low back – essentially, if you’re not planning a trip to Regionals, be humble and prioritze your back’s wellbeing.  Ensure your form is spot-on for your cleans.
  • More great advice this week from blogger 7 Diet Meals: get help loading more plates on your bar, and go unbroken on DU if they’re in your wheelhouse.
  • Breaking Muscle’s article is a bit sassy, but it has a few solid points on the Open in general, such as: “be the community you always speak about.” Help out your box if you can.  I didn’t judge last year and I feel like I really missed out. I’m making up for it this year!

What do you think of 16.2?  Does it play to your strengths or weaknesses?  Let me know how it goes for you!