Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Thoughts on CrossFit Open Sectionals WOD #11.5

how I expect to feel after this workout
AMRAP in 20 minutes:
5 power cleans, 145#/100#
10 toes to bar
15 wallballs, 20# to 10'/14# to 9'

Another WOD, another AMRAP. Seems like HQ is staying consistent on allowing the most number of people to stay in competition. Just like the last few WODs though, the second movement is one that may present a problem for some athletes. This one is going to be a burner and like the picture says, I expect to be toast after this one. 

Five power cleans at a moderate weight. Certainly not heavy, but not light either. Technically these do NOT have to be power cleans; if this is near your max, you can squat clean it. The standard is that the bar must start on the floor and end standing completely straight up with elbows slightly in front of the bar in a rack position. Stronger athletes will be able to string two or all five cleans, but make sure not to bounce off the floor as this will result in a "no rep." Form is key here, especially in the later rounds. Pop that hip open and let the posterior chain do the work, not your arms! At the top, you can save yourself some time by not going into a full rack position with triceps parallel to the ground; instead, get elbows around enough to count and then move onto the next rep. You may drop the bar after each rep, but the bar must not be moving at the bottom.

Exactly how it sounds. Hang from the pull up bar with straight arms, start with both feet behind your body and then swing them up to touch the pull up bar either with the tops of your feet, actual toes, or soles of your feet. Both feet must be touching the bar at the same time. You may string these, but your feet have to come behind your body. Arms may bend, but only after you have straight arms at the bottom. Most proficient athletes will string these and use a kipping motion to get several or all in a row. Others who may struggle with this movement will have to do their best to get one! For those that don't know what this movement is and are also wondering what CrossFitters do for "abs," I suggest you give a set of these a try!

Standard weights and heights, there should be no surprise here. Squat must be below parallel before the start of the movement and ball must TOUCH at or above the designated height. The ball may NOT be caught off the bounce; you may either catch it and start your next wall ball OR you have to let it drop and make sure it is not bouncing before you pick it up. Since it has to touch the wall at 10ft. or 9ft., essentially this means the middle of the ball will be touching the line. (since the medicine ball is a sphere and the point closest to the wall will be perpendicular to the wall; in other words, the top of the ball will never touch the wall) What this means is that for those athletes whose normal standard is entire ball OVER the line, this is a bit easier movement, since the standard calls for only the ball to touch AT or ABOVE the line. Don't make more work for yourself if you don't have to, but also make sure you don't waste a rep by shorting it. This also means that even if you throw the ball 15ft. in the air, it will not count unless it touches the wall. Those with depth issues; you CANNOT use a box or ball to check depth, as this will aid in the push off/bounce at the bottom. Use a good judge that can give you good feedback. 

20 minutes is a LONG time for this WOD. The first few rounds could potentially go by very quickly, but why rush and burnout? Take it slow and steady, trying to string each section of the WOD. See below for why. 

Looking at it big picture, this WOD focuses on the following body movements:

pulling with posterior chain (hamstrings/glutes/erectors)
pulling with midline/abs
pushing with glutes/hamstrings

In other words, your "core" is going to take a beating. 

Assuming you got at least one rep in the 5min. AMRAP of 165#/110# squat clean to overhead WOD, you can do at least one rep here. Ideally you'll want to string the cleans and at five reps, this should be doable at least for the first few rounds. Take a deep breathe and hold it, and power through those cleans. 
Toes to bar will deteriorate the fastest, no matter what the skill level. Local muscular failure will occur anywhere from 3rd to 5th round for fairly fit athletes; sooner for others. Technique in kipping will be paramount in order to string t2b. Make sure you hit the feet every rep, as a miss will be costly. I can easily see people going to singles or doubles of these in later rounds. 
Wall balls are literally a pain in the butt and your glutes and lungs will be firing from these. Again, stringing will be ideal and breaking them up into sets of 10/5, 8/7, 5/5/5 will be used by many. 
Breathing is important in this long workout. A quick deep breathe in before each clean might be one strategy, or holding your breath for all five could be another. During toes to bar and wall balls, it will be important to keep a nice, steady, even breath. If you've never practiced belly breathing (breathing not just to the lungs, but all the way down into the belly), then you might want to experiment before this WOD. 
Grip is going to surprise people I think. The grip from t2b will fatigue and you will feel it on the cleans. Try to keep a looser grip on the t2b instead of a death grip. I think this will help you in the long run. You may tape to prevent rips, this might be a good idea since the t2b is a big swinging motion. 

This is not a WOD I can see many people doing twice within a few days, simply because of the toes to bar. I've seen many people need at least a few days to recover. Warming up thoroughly and stretching before AND after the WOD will help this recovery, especially any hip openers, glute stretches, and midline stretches. Massages and ice are your friend after this workout! 

20 minutes is a long time. There will be some folks who will have a score of 5 from the cleans and I'm not sure how they plan on spending the next 19-18 minutes of the WOD. Hopefully they can muster up the momentum and technique to get at least a few toes to bar. (Lean back and REACH with those piggies! Use a kip similar to a pull up) For those with t2b, I would expect coming out of the gate pretty nice, but then coming to a screeching halt around rounds 4-7 because of muscle fatigue. Those that can't handle the cleans will lose time there as well, especially if they are heavy enough to be treated as max efforts later in the workout. A full round of this is 30 repetitions and a quick round would take about 45 seconds. I predict firebreathers and top scores will be in the 14-15 rounds for both men and women. Those that will come out on top are those who can handle the 145/100 weight well, that have the gymnastic prowess and technique to keep moving on those toes to bar, and the lungs to get those wall balls done. 

Other thoughts, especially from those who have tried it? 

coming next...WOD 11.6 (AMRAP in 7 minutes of thrusters and c2b pull ups)


  1. I always look forward to your awesome analysis of the WOD. Very insightful :)

  2. I think your analysis is pretty good! I also think the workout will affect athletes differently depending on their strengths and weaknesses. I feel as though I've been a little lucky here in that I'll feel comfortable on the cleans (11.4- 19 rounds) and I do toes-to-bar much more often than usual (twice a week, sets of 20). I'll know after the workout tonight what's the hardest for me personally but I have a feeling it's going to be the wall ball (~7:30 "Karen")

  3. Great post Chris. Your write ups are part of my pre-WOD mental warm up!

    Sam B.


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