October 13, 2017

How To Win a Strength Workout Without Being Strong

This post explains how you can succeed in the Opens even if your strength is not where you want it at yet.

17.3 was a great workout, a simple couplet of chest to bar pull-ups and squat snatches that took most people out of Regionals contention.

Many people who were cruising through the first two weeks of the Opens were stopped dead in their tracks once the snatch weights were announced.

One example is Hunter Mcintyre, the pro obstacle course racer and Broken Skull Ranch champion. Because of his background in long distance obstacle course races he was doing pretty well through the first two weeks and was even in a position to go to Regionals, until 17.3 happened.

Opens Workout 17.3

Hunters scores (Southern California region):

17.1 – 31st

17.2 – 15th

17.3 – 1024th

The snatch is an extremely technical lift and it takes a lot longer to develop strength than it does for conditioning. This is why the strength workouts in the Opens are often the deciding factor between who goes to Regionals and who doesn’t.

The most interesting thing about 17.3 however, is that it allowed you to get a great score through a number of ways and sort of “cheat the system”.

The example I will use here is Games athlete Dakota Rager (Finished 23rd at 2017 Crossfit Games).

The workout was designed to reward the stronger athletes as the weight eventually ended up in the mid 200’s at 245 and 265, but Dakota was able to sort of beat the system with his split times. He was unable to hit any of the snatches at 245 and any of them at 265 which means that he left 62 reps on the table after finishing his first set of pullups in the round of 245lbs.

Even without hitting either of these weights, Rager ended up scoring 65th in his region for the workout and earning himself a spot to Regionals and subsequently the Games. That’s the amazing thing about 17.3, you were able to compete at a high level without being able to match the strength of the top athletes just by being fast.

Many people during that workout were starting off with a slower pace than usual because they were trying to conserve energy for the later rounds where they were going to attempt to hit weights they already knew they couldn’t hit and so they lost a lot of points taking their time.

Dakota Rager played it perfectly, he already knew that he probably wasn’t going to be able to hit the heavier weights so he decided to fly through the earlier rounds and get the fastest split times possible. By choosing this strategy he also had tons of leftover time to attempt the 245 snatches with more energy than the people who came out slow.


You can watch his full 17.3 submission video here:

You may now be thinking that you should focus all of your attention on conditioning and shove strength to the side, but let’s not forget that even though Dakota Rager couldn’t hit 245 or 265 he was still able to consistently and quickly finish his rounds of 225. That extra strength is what separated him from athletes like Hunter Mcintyre who had the work capacity but weren’t yet in the game strength-wise.

Hopefully you’ll have built up your strength enough so that you won’t have to worry about the weights involved, but this is definitely a strategy to think about during the next year’s Opens when that heavy weight workout comes around.

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