2019 Reebok CrossFit Open 19.5 Strategies
Written By American GAINZ Nutrition with help from Mahmoud Elzayat (future Fittest in Egypt)
2019 CROSSFIT OPEN WORKOUT 19.5 – “Death by CTB Fran”
Directly from the CrossFit Games website:
This workout begins with the barbell on the floor and the athlete standing tall. After the call of “3, 2, 1 … go,” the athlete will perform:
33 Thrusters (95 lbs men & 65 lbs women)
33 Chest-to-bar pull-ups
27 Chest-to-bar pull-ups
21 Chest-to-bar pull-ups
15 Chest-to-bar pull-ups
9 Chest-to-bar pull-ups
The athlete’s score will be the total time it takes to complete the entire workout, or the total number of repetitions completed before the 20-minute time cap.
Stay at 70% and pick your trigger point to finish strong. Fraser was an absolute practitioner on this workout. As a spectator watching the WZA live announcement, we already knew Travis Williams completed the workout in ~8:39. We didn’t know how Travis executed the workout, however having a firm understanding being part of our local American Gainz family here in Texas, it was a safe bet to assume he went for it all and left nothing on the table.
American Gainz Note: Travis is the wild animal of the elite CrossFit community, call it whatever you want, there’s a reason he coined the IG hashtag #iknowthisriskybuttheupsideissogoodimtakingit.
Highlighting the difference in strategies between Mat Fraser & Travis Williams may help guide you. Tracking the athlete in the lead:
Travis 33 Thrusters 49 seconds (Unbroken) Vs. Mat (19-14, 2 Sets)
Travis 33 CTB 1:44 (13-10-5-5, 4 sets) Vs. Mat (19-14, 2 Sets)
Travis 27 Thrusters 2:32 (Unbroken) Vs. Mat (15-12, 2 Sets)
Travis 27 CTB 3:31 (8-7-6-6, 4 sets) Vs. Mat (15-12, 2 Sets)
Travis 21 Thrusters 4:30 (3 sets) Vs. Mat (12-9, 2 Sets)
Matt 21 CTB 5:07 (12-9, 2 Sets) Vs. Travis 5:30 (8-7-6, 3 Sets plus chalking up)
Matt 15 Thrusters 5:40 (Unbroken) Vs. Travis 6:15 (2 sets)
Matt 15 CTB 6:07 (12-3, 2 Sets) Vs. Travis 7:25 (6-5-3-3, 4 Sets w/ extra No-reps)
Matt 9 Thrusters 6:27 (Unbroken) Vs. Travis 7:50 (Unbroken)
Matt 9 CTB ~6:50 (Unbroken) Vs. Travis 8:39 (4-2-2-1, 4 sets)
Conclusion – breaking early and staying disciplined is probably the correct strategy for most. The early rounds for Travis going UB on thrusters taxed his ability to string together larger sets of CTB. With the difference in range of motion for these two athletes, without a doubt Travis has to complete more work over the course of the workout, and all things equal (strength, engine, strategy), Mat should win this workout. HOWEVER, Travis left a lot on the table by attacking so hard so early. Optimizing Travis’s strategy could gain him a minute back, as you can see from the break down, Travis lost just under 2 minutes on the 21-15-9 portion. By giving himself 30 more seconds on the 33-27 rounds, we think he could save a minute on the back end 21-15-9 portion. Then again, if Travis did this, he wouldn’t be the unpredictable beast that he is.
Lungs (it’s not all muscle burn):
This is going to be a lung burner. Think about turning Fran into an endurance-based workout instead of a sprint. It is a couplet of relatively light weight engine-burning thrusters, combined with cruel grip dependent chest to bars.
Given its Fran-like nature, be weary of the “Fran-Trap”, assuming it’s a good idea to go ahead and sprint through the beginning of the workout cause that’s how you always start traditional Fran. This is no longer Fran, think of it as not-Fran.
Minimizing the Rest on CTB is the Key
Ultimately, If you are too focused on fighting through thrusters, your CTBs will not be there when you need them. Travis is notorious for his massive sets of unbroken CTB pull ups, his biggest set in this entire workout was 13. Let it be known, most athletes will spend most their time on this workout staring at the rig. So take more time on thrusters and allocate your red-line effort such that you don’t sacrifice the next round of attack. Meaning; if you die to finish the set of 27 thrusters in 2 sets, then find out the hard way that you can no long butterfly CTB, well at this point, why?
When forming your rep scheme and strategy, your approach needs to allow you to get faster as the workout progresses. Start at 70% capacity and every round, noticeably increase effort a few % points. You most likely will not get faster, but by intentionally increasing perceived effort, you are much more likely to hold pace and stay in the game mentally. As much as it is important not to reach aerobic or grip fatigue early in the workout, it is as important to maintain a solid consistent pace especially on the thrusters. Sticking to ~70% with disciplined rest increasing the pace ever so slightly every set is for sure the best way to attack this workout.
Chances are, this workout is pushing your body and specific muscle groups far beyond what you have been training for. When was the last time you cranked out 105 CTB or 105 Thrusters in your class WOD? Exactly.
Two things to consider, mental toughness & physical pain, know the difference! No doubt during this workout you will find your self in an expanded section of the middle round of traditional Fran (15-15). Any athlete that has ever attempted to break 3-4 minutes in Fran, knows the middle round is the hardest round to optimize, It’s painful. Well imagine this painful round being closer to 50 reps versus 30. Hopefully your pain cave is fully stocked with all the mind numbing tools needed to stay in this fight.
When it comes to accessory gear (belt, knee sleeves, hand protection, etc..) certain items might give you a bit of a comfort edge. We do however see it time and time again, more accessories, more problems; so be mindful of losing seconds on every minute adjusting / tinkering with said gear. Keep the Oly shoes at home for this one, unless you have issues with mobility and truly require the heel. The negative aside from the extra weight, is mostly around the joint jolting in your knees and hips after coming off the pull bar tired.
How can I or a member of my box get injured during 19.5?
Rhabdomyolysis: If there was one Open workout this year that has the potential to cause serious health issues around Rhabdo, this is probably it. The ideal candidates on 19.5 susceptible to Rhabdo are going to be those deciding to make a cameo appearance and just “hop in” to this WOD after some time off a regular workout routine (lacking muscle fiber conditioning for this volume). This is not the WOD to attempt your first day at CrossFit, or your first day back from an extended break. Those who attack 19.5 with the mindset of a typical Fran pace from their glory days, may require an intervention.
Ripping: Don’t Rip, The 2019 Open is almost over, you made it, put it to behind you. Nobody at your place of work, or in your gym wants to hear you talk about the 2019 CrossFit Open after next week, so do yourself a favor and wear hand protection and have back-ups so you aren’t that guy constantly explaining your hand injuries.
In closing we are always impressed with the professionalism exhibited (Mat Fraser, Tia-Clair Toomey, Travis Williams etc..) after these workouts, all smiles, and not flailing on the ground face down hyperventilating. For the rest of us, maybe put a towel down, unless you trust the gym floor 😊 Good Luck!
~American Gainz Nutrition