I actually did not see this coming. I thought to myself, “I know we’ve never had an Open without double unders, but I just don’t know if they’re a week five movement. I don’t think they have the kick.”

Sometimes I’m a real idiot, but hopefully I can still help you get through 17.5

Output Management

Today’s strategy post is a bit different. This is a relatively simple workout, and the most important advice will come from the analysis of Sigmundsdottir’s performance, rather than the subsequent recommendations.

I more or less flipped a coin to pick which athlete to follow, but I’m glad I ended up tracking Sigmundsdottir, as I think her performance tells an important story, which we can flesh out to our advantage.

Round Thruster Double Under
1 14.6 22.59
2 16.81 21.96
3 16.3 24.02
4 17.01 25.5
5 17.73 22.33
6 19.86 23.02
7 18.58 23.23
8 18.66 24.07
9 18.79 21.53
10 17.26 0:40
Mean 17.8* 23.1*
Final 6:56.2

Split times include the transition into the movement, i.e. I stopped the clock on thrusters when Sigmundsdottir completed the 9th rep so that her double under time includes the transition from the bar to the rope, and vice versa. This is why the first round of thrusters is so much faster than the rest.
*Mean splits do not include first round of thrusters or tenth round of double unders.

As one would expect, Sigmundsdottir’s pace was quite consistent, showing slight and gradual degradation in the thrusters and a very slight undulation in double unders with no real degradation – until a massive dropoff in the final round.

Understanding that dropoff is important. From the outside looking in, what appears to have happened is this: Sigmundsdottir picks up the bar for the final round of thrusters and realizes she is now neck-and-neck with Davidsdottir. She speeds up her thrusters in order to gain an edge. She succeeds – by my timing, it’s the fastest her thrusters were since round four taking a little over a second and a half off of the previous round, and about a half second off her average.

But, there is a cost. She gets back to the rope, and after nine near perfect rounds, has several misses. She comes in 17 seconds over her average split time, for an improvement of only a second and a half.

I am making a few key assumptions in my assessment:

(1) That Sigmundsdottir intentionally pushed the pace on the last round of thrusters to gain a lead on Davidsdottir.

(2) That the faster pace on thrusters was a major contributor to the decrease in pace on the subsequent double unders, rather than it being a relatively minor contributor compared to trying to push the pace on the double unders.

I think (1) is a very reasonable assumption, and while (2) is slightly less strong, I believe it illustrates the point I’m trying to make regardless of which movement ultimately led to the breakdown of her double unders: the point is that an attempt to sprint, even in the final round, will bite you in the ass.

The reasons are threefold. First, neither movement is particularly conducive to fast pacing. You’re just not going to increase your per rep speed by that much, no matter how hard you try. Second, the attempt to do so will result in an exponential increase in fatigue. Third, the increase in fatigue correlates with a much higher chance of missing on the double unders – and this is the mistake we cannot afford.

I had one of my athletes perform a quick test to illustrate the combined futility/risk of sprinting the double unders. He performed two sets of 35 double unders. The first set was done at his normal “working” pace, fast but smooth, no sprint, and the second was a max effort. Both sets started at a heart rate of 97. The first set took 19 seconds, brought his heart rate to 137. The second set took 17 seconds, and brought his heart rate to 147.

Two seconds faster, a difference of 10 beats per minute – and that’s one set. In short, the risk is high, and the reward is low. The best bet is to move at a challenging but sustainable pace for the duration of the event – even the final round.

Thruster: The goal here is to go unbroken, and athletes of intermediate level and above should be able to do this without trouble. If you cannot go unbroken, I would suggest that you use lockout speed as your guide: if you sense that you’re going to have to squeeze the rep out at the top, terminate the set prior to that happening.

Double Under: Unbroken, fast but smooth pace. If you’re going to have to break these up, break the set before you have to. Often, missing double unders occurs subsequent to a sharp increase in fatigue in the shoulders and forearms, and elevated respiratory and heart rates. If you already know you’re going to have to break your sets, do it at your own behest, not when your body forces you to.

Technical Considerations

Thruster: When performing light thrusters at a relatively fast pace, it can be extremely easy to short your lockout. In my experience, there are three places this is most likely to happen: the entire first set (you’re fresh and trying to go quickly), the first rep of every set (you’re trying to find a rhythm), and the last rep of every set (you’re already thinking about the next movement. For this whole workout, but especially at these points, make it your mission to lock every rep clearly, if quickly. You don’t have to pause at the top, but make sure your judge is totally certain that every rep is good, This is especially important on the final rep of each set, because it is quite likely that you will drop the bar before you figure out that the rep didn’t count.

Double Under: Shoulders, chest, and arms relaxed. Stay tall, focus on breathing. If you get to a point where you’re totally out of control of your breath, that’s a good sign that you’re going to fast.

The way you drop the rope matters here. Letting go of it while it’s still in the air is a big mistake. If your judge didn’t count your last rep, the rope is now out of your hands. And if you release the rope while it’s moving, it’s likely to fall in an unpredictable place and position. Instead, upon completing the final double under, wait until the rope is lying on the ground unmoving, and then drop the handles straight down from arm’s length.

Finally, double unders are a difficult movement to judge and count. Have your judge watch a few sets of 15-20 during your warm-up and count them, to make sure you’re on the same page. If they’re way off, get a new judge – this workout presents three hundred and fifty opportunities for poor judging to mess you up. Don’t let that happen.

Other Notes

Set-Up: Obviously you want the rope and the bar close together, but always be aware that if you’re too close and at the wrong angle, you could end up catching the barbell and messing up your double unders. I would suggest performing the double unders profile to your barbell, i.e. whichever way you’re facing when you do your thrusters, you should step back a couple of feet and turn 90 degrees to do your double unders, so that your shoulder, rather than your chest or back, is facing the barbell.

Obligatory: Read and reread the standards. Go over them with your judge. Charge your batteries, empty your memory cards, make sure people know when and where you’re filming, etc.


1) Assault Bike 10 Minutes @ 6

2) 3 Sets:
40 Single Unders + 10-15 Double Unders
10 Goblet Squats w/Pause, 24kg/16kg
5 Kettlebell Push Press/side, 24kg/16kg, pause final rep at top for 5 seconds

3) EMOM 8, alternating:
a) 6-7-8-9 Thruster, 95#/65# (add one rep each set)
b) 20-25-30-35 Double Unders (add five reps each set)

4) Assault Bike 0:10 @ 9/0:50 Rest/0:10 @ 9

Rest 2-3 minutes, and kick 17.5 in the teeth.

CrossFit Games Open Workout 17.5

10 Rounds For Time:
9 Thrusters, 95#/65#
35 Double Unders

Post results to comments.


If you’re a TZ Strength athlete and want your programming to continue uninterrupted, or if you’re ready to become a TZ Strength athlete and want to make sure you get started on Day 1 of the off-season or Regionals prep, make sure to go here and get in touch with us today!

By | 2017-03-24T03:09:33+00:00 March 24th, 2017|0 Comments