19.5 Strategy

What a way to end it.

19.5 is an exciting event for me. First of all, it featured the best (and best looking) commentary team so far of the 2019 Open. Second, although it’s just the old standby of thrusters and pullups, this workout is pushing some limits and adding a serious pacing challenge to a couplet most often presented as a sprint. Third, after years of Open analyses, this is the first time I got to track an athlete who I’m a little familiar with – CrossFit Cowboy and long time Anarchos Athlete Sean Sweeney.

Still no damn 4 mile run, though. Maybe in October!

19.5

33-27-21-15-9 For Time:
Thruster, 95#/65#
Chest-to-Bar Pullup

Analysis & Output Management

1. Split times for each movement are taken when the athlete completes each set. Transitions are therefore accounted for at the beginning of each movement. i.e. the split time for the first round of pullups includes the time it took Sweeney to get from the barbell to the rig and start pulling. 2. During the rounds of 15 chest-to-bar pullups and 9 thrusters the camera moved away from Sweeney, so I was unable to get his split times (he confirmed his rep breaks.) 3. This is all hand timed and imperfect, but sufficient for our purposes.

1. Split times for each movement are taken when the athlete completes each set. Transitions are therefore accounted for at the beginning of each movement. i.e. the split time for the first round of pullups includes the time it took Sweeney to get from the barbell to the rig and start pulling.
2. During the rounds of 15 chest-to-bar pullups and 9 thrusters the camera moved away from Sweeney, so I was unable to get his split times (he confirmed his rep breaks.)
3. This is all hand timed and imperfect, but sufficient for our purposes.

The really telling thing is the rightmost column, Seconds/Rep. The rate of decay is very high. Of course, seconds per rep isn’t what we’re actually measuring – what you’re looking at is a proxy for increasing rest times.

When I spoke to Sean after the workout, his advice was simple: do whatever it takes to keep your rest periods from getting out of control. Our strategy will be aimed at making that happen, by following this maxim, which will be (alongside rest on the clock, not in your head) your primary watchword for 19.5: prioritize the next set, not the current set.

Thruster

Is there any movement so classic CrossFit, or so misery inducing? Perhaps that’s the same question asked twice.

To determine your thruster strategy, begin with determining the number of sets you want to aim at for each round. Then, your task is to determine reps per set, according to our maxim of prioritizing the next set. In a fatigueless vacuum, there would be very little time difference between a breakdown like 18-8-7 and, for example, 12-11-10. These workouts, however, are not conducted inside a fatigueless vaccum (like, at all.) So our task is to weigh the relative value of any possible rep scheme.

As it turns out, there is little to no value added by doing larger sets within the context of this workout, because the set you’re on doesn’t matter: the next set, and how quickly you can get to it, is what counts. So select your reps/set to keep each set as easy as possible while still fitting the sets/round criteria you decided on.

As always, have a plan for how long to rest between sets, and rest..clock..not head…something something. You already know.

Having a plan for increasing rest is important, but easy. If you’re starting with eight second rests, you should know how much you plan to add once you need more. It doesn’t matter if it’s two seconds, four seconds, seven seconds – have a plan and execute it on the clock.

Finally – there is the possibility that you will be more fatigued than you anticipated, and you will be faced with a choice: increase the number of sets you’re using to complete a given round, or increase rest between sets. If you’ve been paying attention so far, you’ll likely already know where I stand: so long as you can keep your rests disciplined, I think it is probably best to throw in another set than force yourself to stick to your original plan. This is not a workout which will fail to punish you for crossing the line – push the pace, but be wary.

Chest-to-Bar Pullup

It almost feels a bit silly to write this section, because the strategy is essentially identical: prioritize the next set, keep your rests controlled on the clock, not in your head. But there are at least a few additional considerations for the chest-to-bar pullup that are worth mentioning.

First off, when determining your sets/round, bear in mind that the cost of breaking the set is significantly lower for chest-to-bar pullups than for thrusters. Mentally and physically, a quick hop back to the pullup bar is easier than picking a barbell, even a light one, back up for the next thruster. As a result, many athletes will find it beneficial to perform significantly smaller/more sets on this movement.

You’ve got to do some soul searching here – if you generally have trouble keeping your rests disciplined, it’s entirely possible for a strategy driven by more and smaller sets to backfire. Every break presents you with an opportunity to stay the course, by consulting the clock and acting accordingly, but also an opportunity to fall off, if you don’t get back in the game when the time comes. If you think that you can stick to the plan even when more of those chances come up, consider smaller sets.

Second, hand care is worth mentioning. This workout contains 105 chest-to-bar pullups in a pretty short timeframe. The easiest way to tank your time is to rip your palm open in the second round. Take a few minutes before the workout to thoroughly wash your hands with gentle soap and warm water. This will help reduce the likelihood of a mid-workout tear derailing your effort.

If you feel you’re on the verge of tearing – delay! Wait a day or two. If your palms go, not only will it wreck your attempt, there’s a very good chance they won’t be meaningfully healed in time for a second go-round, if you choose to take one.

The pain cave will be real on this one (duh.) Going in with a plan to occupy your attention will help you stay focused on the task at hand. Prioritize the next set, rest on the clock, not in your head, add in a dash of suck-it-up-buttercup, and you’ll finish the 2019 Open strong.

Warm-Up

  1. EMOM 15, alternating:

    a) 10 Double Kettlebell Thrusters – light, smooth eccentric, emphasize strong front rack

    b) 10 Tap Swings on Pullup Bar – gradually increase range of swing, keep hands relaxed

    c) 0:45 Row or Assault Bike – slightly escalate intensity each round

  2. Every 0:30 x 5: 0:10 Thrusters, 95#/65#

  3. Every 0:30 x 5: 0:10 Chest-to-Bar Pullups


    Use your rate of fatigue (subjective assessment) on each movement to build a strategy according to the heuristics outlined above.

Jacob