October 10th marks the start of the 2020 CrossFit Open and 5 consecutive weeks of Saturday morning BBQ/potluck events at CrossFit Empower.  This year there will be a worldwide affiliate leader board and your score will contribute to our ranking so we’re hoping you will register and represent!

This Saturday WOD Father’s passion project, the High-Performance training group will begin prep for the Open.  If you’re planning to compete you might be interested in getting a glimpse of what we’ll be working on.

Saturday we will be tackling CrossFit Open WOD 18.5:

7 minute time cap:
3 Thrusters @65/95#
3 C2B Pull Ups
6 Thrusters @65/95#
6 C2B Pull Ups
9 Thrusters @65/95#
9 C2B Pull Ups
and so on…

We will not be doing this for speed or to beat our 2018 score but to practice establishing a sustainable pace that our athletes can replicate consistently on any given day.  Once you know your manageable sets and pacing you can self-manage in workouts so that you do not over extend and burn out in the adrenaline-fueled excitement of competition.

Friday night, our High Performance athletes are assigned the homework of lying in bed visualizing Saturday’s WOD, going through it step-by-step until they fall asleep:

Imagine it from the very start, hear the count down:  CrossFit Open WOD 18.5, 3, 2, 1, Go!

DO NOT race to the bar.  This WOD is NOT won in the first set.  Or the second set.  In fact, it isn’t won in the first 4 minutes.  It’s not about who has the lead through the first half of the workout, it’s about who can hold it together in the last 3 minutes.  So speed at the start is less important than efficiency.  The more efficient you are in the early going, the more energy you conserve for the closing minutes.  To maximize efficiency you need to slow down and execute each rep with deliberate precision.

Squat clean the barbell.  Picture yourself receiving the bar with your weight balanced solidly in your heels.  If you’re slightly off balance with weight in your toes, shift subtly BEFORE you start to thrust the bar overhead so you stay on balance.  Get your head through and pause half a second with the bar overhead to take a good breath in, then descend into rep two.  Breath again at the top and repeat staying in balance for every rep, making sure you get a clean lock out ears ahead of the bar each rep.  In these early sets you can hold the bar in your hands.   After rep three, put the bar down carefully.  Do not drop it, do not throw it, place it deliberately ready for your next set.  Do not rush.

Take three good, calming breaths as you travel from barbell to pull up bar.  Don’t stop to chalk, you did that before the workout, you do not need to chalk again.  When you reach the bar, do not hesitate, jump up and get a firm but not over-tight grip.  Don’t force the rep, get a good beat swing exhaling at the top as your chest contacts the bar.  Push away inhaling on the downswing as gravity carries you through your arc.  Bigger swings are slower but allow you to breath better.  Rebound from the bottom using that effective swing to be as effortless as possible.  Exhale at the top and push away letting yourself relax into the downswing as you take another big breath in.  Repeat for rep three.  Drop off the bar and take three big breaths focusing on exhaling the build up of carbon dioxide in your lungs as you return to your barbell.

Do not wait until you are comfortable, after three steps do not hesitate, just squat clean the barbell and get into your thruster breathing rhythm.  Slow it down if you need to, just focus on breathing.  It is uncomfortable but as long as you’re breathing, you can keep moving.

When You Get Tired
Eventually your heart rate will threaten to get away from you, for me it happens in the  set of nines.  Reps one through six go smoothly as described but by rep six my breathing and heart rate get a bit chaotic.  You will be tempted to put down the barbell but don’t.  At this point stop pausing with the bar overhead.  Your shoulders are burning so bring it down to the rack position and pause here to rest instead taking a second breath if necessary before performing rep seven.  Repeat in this manner for reps eight and nine, pausing for a full second in the rack position to breath between reps, bar supported in the rack position so your shoulders  can recover a bit.

Breaking Up Sets
Eventually you will need to break up your thruster and chest-to-bar sets but how do you know when?  I recommend the rule of thirds.  For example, I know that I can do 30 consecutive thrusters at the RX’d 95lbs.  Therefore in WODs, my sets should remain close to one third this number (10 reps) without exceeding it.  This means I will go unbroken through the sets of three, six and nine but will start breaking up the sets at twelve (7+5), hereafter I will also break sets into thirds so fifteen will be 6+5+4, eighteen will be 7+6+5, etc.  The descending sets will allow you to front load the beginning of the set when you’re fresh and leave you fewer reps remaining at the end of the set when you are tired.  You may find it helpful to write out your sets on a whiteboard and wipe them off as you complete them.

The critical factor when breaking up sets is to never allow yourself to get comfortable.  Allow yourself no more than three big breaths between sets then pick up the barbell and do the next set.  You won’t feel ready.  Do it anyway.  It will require grit and discipline.  Visualize this discomfort, mentally prepare yourself for this battle.

Create a similar plan for the pull ups.  What is the largest set of chest-to-bars you can perform without losing your kipping rhythm?  For me, it is about fifteen.  That means my sets need to be no greater than five and I will start breaking them up in the round of six (4+2) and use thirds by the set of nine (4+3+2) past twelve (5+4+3) I will need to break my pull ups up into more than three sets so fifteen becomes 5+4+3+3 and so on.  Again, only allow yourself three good breaths between sets.

If you’re not sure what your max sets of thrusters and C2B are, Friday’s make up day offers a chance to test them.  Don’t do too much and tire yourself out for Saturday, just try to get an accurate read on your capacity.

Then Friday night as you lie in bed, visualize the 7 minute WOD: be realistic, do not set yourself unattainable goals, think minute-by-minute how much work you can actually achieve at your current fitness level.  Don’t worry about the outcome, focus on the process.  Go through step-by-step focusing on your form, your pacing, your breathing, your sets, your breaks, the discomfort and your calm, deliberate approach.  Visualize how challenging those last minutes will be and how you will bear down, grit your teeth and tough them out.