Open Athletes - if you haven't already, please watch the 19.1 standards video below, and read the workout details here on the CrossFit Games website.  This will ensure that everyone is on the same page with movement standards and expectations (both Rx and scaled) prior to every athlete and judge starting their workout/heat. This one is about as simple as it gets , so it should be smooth sailing for us.  

You'll also need to enter your score on the CrossFit Games website before the submission deadline at 5pm on Monday.  You can still register for the Open up until the 19.1 submission deadline, so if you do the workout this weekend and decide to enter afterwards make sure to have someone judge you so you have an official score.   

As we've covered previously in this post here, we'll be running the Open Workout ("19.1") during rolling heats in all of our Saturday morning classes.  Please sign-up for class in advance and plan on doing the workout AND judging another athlete while in the gym (no, you do not have to be a certified judge who has taken the judges course).  

For those new to Arena Ready please note that these Saturday morning classes will be very different from our usual protocol.  The warm-up will be self-directed and written on the board for you to follow.  Please plan on showing up 10 minutes early for class if possible, so that you can sign-up for a heat time when you arrive and get yourself situated for warming-up.  Among other things, you're going to want to get your shoulders & hips nice and warm, your heart rate elevated, and your blood pumping so that you put yourself in a good position to crush this workout.

19.1 is a great 15-minute AMRAP couplet designed to be simple yet potentially brutal for those who can really rack-up the reps.  Strategy is not all that complicated — you mostly need to know your goal, the pacing required to get you in the neighborhood of that goal, keep the transitions between movements disciplined and quick, and pick a rep scheme and row pacing that suits your capacity.      

AND YES, wear your weightlifting shoes if you have them — they will help for both movements of this workout.

Wall Balls

It should go without saying but moving well will be rewarded and sloppy movement will compound into a nightmare of fatigue here — since the combination of the movements don’t allow same clearance of fatigue as some other "complimentary movement” workouts (think “Diane” or “Fran” where one movement allows a recovery of sorts from the other movement) any deviation from clean, efficient reps will build fatigue in spades as this workout progresses. For most of us, being a little more deliberate pays off more than being a little faster with the reps.

There are 3 categories of athletes for wall balls in this workout:

  1. You will do the wall balls unbroken for the whole workout (or close to it)

  2. You will intentionally break the wall balls 1 time per round (maybe 2 times if needed as fatigue sets in during the later rounds)

  3. You will break the wall balls 3 or more times per round for most of the workout (AKA the wall balls are challenging for you)

If you’re in category 1 then you’re pretty fit (or VERY fit), you’re good at wall balls, and you likely know your abilities well. You’re also going to row fairly “fast” at roughly 80-85% effort from the start. What that means in terms of calories/hour pacing depends on each individual athlete (check the graphic below to help set your expectations and strategy) but the “feeling” of the pace should be approximately your 2K row pacing. Still don’t know what that feels like? It’s a similar exertion level you would use for running a mile for time, give or take.

If you’re in category 2 then the row pacing will need to come down a bit into the 75% effort range (possibly 70% range if you’re “reaching” a little with your wall ball ability). Back off of that 2K pace to start the workout by just a little bit and then try to settle in during rounds 3 and beyond. Remember that rounds 1 and 2 will LIE TO YOU and will let you believe that you can hold an 80-85%+ pace for 15 minutes. I’m here to tell you that I love you, and that you can’t. If you could then you’d be in category #1 instead, and most of us (myself included) are just not at that level at this moment.

If you’re in category 3 then this is a wall ball workout for you, plain and simple. Use the row to try and recover a bit before you get back to the wall balls — meaning don’t “dog” it on the rower but don’t think that pushing the pace fast on the row will help (reserve that for the final 2-ish minutes when you get there). Remember, however, that because we’re using calories here and not meters that if you go too slow it will feel like an eternity before that monitor says 19 — since calories don’t accumulate in a linear fashion the way meters do you want to hold some form of a moderate pace to give yourself “more credit” on the row than just going through the motions would yield. Think measured, smooth, but actively trying — and focus on recovering your breath.

A few other notes on wall balls (although this section sort of turned into a section about rowing LOL):

  • A good starting place is approximately an arms distance away from the upright. If you stand too close you might get some air balls (which don’t count) or some face smashes. Stand too far back and you’ll get pulled forward on the catch. Focus on getting a nice mini-arc on your toss and letting the target give your ball a little bounce back as it comes down.

  • If your shoulders generally fatigue during wall balls consider lowering your hands/arms momentarily while the ball is in the air. No need to do the big swimming arms you see some people do, just bring your hands back down in front of your chin quickly to give your shoulders a quick break from tension on each rep. I would also consider using your upper chest and/or chin as a third point of contact in the front rack position if it feels comfortable for you (practice it in warm-ups if you like).

  • Remember that your judge may also be your friend but he/she does you no favors by “giving” you reps. If they no-rep you because you didn’t get your hips below your knees or the ball didn’t touch the middle of the target then believe them (they’re not workout drunk so their vision is clear and they’re likely right). Correct it quickly and move on, and then thank them afterward for keeping you honest.

Row (Yay!) 

For many of us we'll spend more than half of this workout on the rower.  Which means that knowing your max sustainable rowing pace is key if you're going to get a good score relative to your individual capability (being fit and having a terrible strategy on pacing can render you a score much lower than you deserve).  If you watched Sam Briggs at the announcement you saw one of the fittest humans on the planet (and someone who is literally a lightweight record holder in indoor rowing) nearly achieve 10 total rounds. She easily passed both of the athletes next to her who were bigger, taller, and stronger (and plenty fit) not because of her stature or strength advantage — she simply rowed better, with better technique (thus less suffering) and better pacing.   

Now most of us are not competing at a Games level, so while the Briggs example is not exactly analogous to us the main idea remains the same — your row pace and ability to hold that pace (or even increase it in the last quarter of the workout) will have a big impact on your score, almost regardless of your capability on the wall balls.

So what pace do you use?  Well hopefully you've paid attention to the Cal/Hour number on the monitor during any one of the hundreds of row for calories workouts you've done at Arena Ready (do those Alternating EMOMs with 21, 20, and 18 calories sound familiar now???).  That's the BIG number in the middle of the screen— you know, the one that's constantly changing, and often going down as you get more tired.  Here's a nice chart that gives you the pacing lowdown:   


(Courtesy of our friends at Beyond The Whiteboard)

I'll make it easy for you since we coaches basically know everyone's relative capacity on the rower (and on the wall balls).  Highly competitive "Black level" AR athletes will be gunning for 7-8 total rounds or more.  The "Red level" may generally be in the 6 to 7+ round range, give or take.  The "Gray level" may likely be in that 4 to 5 round range, give or take, dependent on the individual's proficiency with wall balls should they choose to do 19.1 Rx using a 20/14 lbs ball (yes, you should).  The "White level" athletes will likely span the range of 3 to 6 rounds if doing Scaled using a 14/10 lbs ball, with the exception of those who are determined to fight (safely) for an Rx score. These of course are rough approximations to help with the setting of realistic expectations and a strategy in line with those expectations — but by all means please blow those out of the water if you have it in you and can crush it beyond what’s written above. To that end, here’s a helpful pacing chart from our buddy Jeremy “JJ” Jones:  


(Shout out to JJ, former head coach of the NPGL’s San Francisco Fire!!!)

A few notes on rowing:

  • Use the fan/flywheel setting you normally use and don’t overthink it too much. I don’t encourage changes to your routine on game day so unless you’re a tiny person who has been setting the fan to 10 I won’t be saying too much. But remember that the 2K world record was performed using a fan setting of 2, and for about 90% of my workouts I use 3 — so for those of you wondering if jamming it up to 9 or 10 all the time (like you see some people often doing) is helpful I’m here to tell you that often it is not.

  • Don’t mess with the straps. Set the strap at a tension where you can slide your feet in and out quickly during the transitions but that you don’t need to loosen them or tighten them with your hands ever — set them once before the workout starts and then leave them alone. They won’t be completely snug but if you row halfway decent it won’t really matter, and the transition time saved by not fussing with the straps and un-intentionally giving yourself 5, 10, 15 seconds of rest every single round will pay off over multiple rounds (do the math and you can see how you would easily lose a whole minute playing patty cake with the straps every round)

  • JUST GET IT MOVING. You will be temped to do a lot of things other than getting the rower moving but you’re just wasting transition time that could be spent getting the fan/flywheel moving. You can breathe while starting, you can recover by starting slower for a bit, but get moving and start ASAP. Moving slowly is always better than nothing, especially when that nothing is the excuse of “well, I had to adjust the straps and they were being fussy” (see bullet point above)

  • Yes, your judge can and should re-set the monitor for you every round. Remind them nicely.

The Universal MUSTS for EVERYONE Doing the Workout      

1) If even just ONE rep (or several) can be performed safely at Rx then you have the option of spending as much time as needed (up to 15 minutes!) getting as far along in the Rx workout sequence as you can with good mechanics and movement (e.g. you're being safe & smart while trying really, really, really hard).  Remember that even an Rx score of 1 rep ranks higher than every scaled score in the world, so if you can safely fight for that one good rep it may be a battle worth fighting.  If you're not officially entered in the Open then ask a coach on site to help you decide on a reasonable scaling for the workout — it doesn't necessarily need to be one of the exact weights listed by CrossFit HQ for the Open.

2) Be smart and move well.  You know what that means, I don't have to explain that one to you.  The gym will be here tomorrow... will you be?    

3) Cheer for your fellow athletes, and be a good judge.  We do things the right way at Arena Ready — with integrity and to the standards of the competition.  Our movement is clean, our technique is admirable, our effort is 100%, and our members know the difference between intent and accomplishment (e.g. giving your fellow athlete a respectful but deserved no-rep when they're working their ass off but simply didn't accomplish a valid rep).  The spirit of the Open is amazing— there's nothing like the energy and positive family vibe of these 5 weeks.  Many of your buddies will do things they never thought possible, some will fall short of what they wanted and be frustrated for a bit, and others will have experiences on both sides.  But in the end this is our community, and our AR family, and we support each other in success and in failure... knowing that we're all just trying to get better every day.


WOD For 02-23-19:

“Open 19.1”

AMRAP 15 Minutes:

19 Wall Balls @ 20/14 lbs to 10/9 ft

19 Calorie Row

*Scaled workout uses 14/10 lbs to 10/9 ft