18.5 Strategy + Tips
By Colin Farrell
We almost escaped the 2018 Open without having to do a single thruster. Almost.
Open Workout 18.5 is a repeat from both 2011 (11.6) and 2012 (12.5) and is, in fact, a pretty fun workout. Most athletes not going to the Games or Regionals will hover in the rounds of 12 to 18, which means you’re never on one set for very long. We have a total-body-but-lower-half-dominated barbell movement, the thruster, coupled with a upper-body-dominated pulling movement, the pull-up. And, as we have seen in CrossFit time and again, this combination is highly potent. This workout is crazy short, so time to leave it all on the line.
Things to keep in mind…
Any workout with an ascending rep scheme like this, even workouts as short as 7 minutes, there is a trap. Do not go HAM in the rounds of 3, 6, or 9. These two movements, as mentioned above, are highly potent when coupled together. Whether you’re doing all of these sets unbroken, or maybe breaking them up as I did in the round of 9, please do a little mental check with yourself as you approach the barbell for 9 thruster repetitions. Your heart rate should still be relatively low and you should be able to breath easily with your mouth closed. If your heart is racing and your sucking wind, slow down. Things start to get serious in the round of 12, so you need to keep things in check through the round of 9.
If you are not proficient at C2B pull-ups (yet), trying widening your grip a little bit and mixing it–one palm facing in, the other palm facing out. That will make it easier to both get the necessary height as well as close the gap between chest and bar. If you are butterflying your pull-ups, make sure you are hanging on to chunks of 3+. If you are down to 3 or less, it may be better to switch to a classic gymnastics kip.
As for your thruster, play around while warming up with a wider stance and a wider grip. Make sure it is still comfortable, but widening up will reduce the range a motion a bit. To keep your pace in check, rest for a half second at the top of your thruster. Once locked out overhead, your airways are open and it’s not horrendous to hang out up there. If you try to catch your breath when the bar is in the front rack, your chest cavity will be collapsed do to shoulder position and a 100-lb/65-lb sitting directly over your lungs.
If you never tried it before, I wouldn’t necessarily recommend any “game-day experiments” but using a suicide grip on your thruster will help quite a bit. This means having your thumb behind the barbell with the other four digits. This should make it easier to keep your elbows up through the squat and should make the transition to the overhead press smoother.
What I would have done differently…
Stayed mentally tougher. It’s only 7 minutes, I came off the pull-up bar one too many times in my final round of pull-ups and rested when I shouldn’t have on my last set of thrusters.
Ever since having kids I’ve gone soft. I can’t even watch “Scarface” anymore.
Good luck everyone!