The first workout of the 2023 CrossFit Open, 23.1, has been released, officially sounding the klaxon for the start of the competitive season. Unique to CrossFit, this initial stage of the qualification process begins in regular gyms - commonly known as 'boxes' - and even garages, with normal 9-5 athletes like us getting the chance to throw down, submit scores to the global leaderboard, and gauge how they've improved over the months prior.
When you're ready to rock, MH Elite coach and legendary UK CrossFit athlete, Zack George, has broken down how to judge which of the workout options is appropriate to you, the best way to approach each movement and how to warm up correctly to give your best effort.
And if you want some more exclusive advice on the CrossFit Open from our team of coaches, get more insight from George, Faisal Abdalla and Scott Britton here.
Table of Contents
What is CrossFit Open Workout 23.1?
Complete as many reps as possible in 14 minutes of:
40 wall-ball shots
♀ 14-lb ball to 9-ft target, 95-lb cleans
♂ 20-lb ball to 10-ft target, 135-lb cleans
See here for detailed movement standards, scorecards and modified versions.
Zack’s George’s 23.1 Cheat Sheet
‘I love a chipper. It’s a great, old-school CrossFit workout, which is challenging your baseline conditioning and high-volume gymnastics. This one's a good old engine test, which has a built-in limiter depending on your gymnastics capability. Pacing in this will be 100% individual based on both your toes-to-bar and muscle-up capability.’
How to Scale 23.1
‘You need to think about what you want to get out of the Open. Are you motivated by your final placing? Or do you just want to get a great workout?’
Going RX or as Prescribed?
If you want the highest possible placing and are looking to complete all the workouts as prescribed this year, or if you can do at least 5-10 unbroken toes-to-bar (T2B), you should think about going RX. The highest skill element of the workout, those muscle-ups - isn’t until the end, so I wouldn't factor it into your plans too much. It's more a case of dealing with it when you get to it!
If you want a great workout, don’t have at least 1-5 toes-to-bar in the bank and want to compete on the scaled leader board, scale away. Be warned though, this is one of those funny workouts where reducing the complexity of the movement is actually going to increase the intensity, as you won’t have as many opportunities to rest due to gymnastic fatigue. Don't not underestimate the scaled option!
CrossFit Open 23.1: Movements and Pacing
RELAX! This is the very start of the workout and you definitely do not want to come off the rower ultra-fatigued. That said, you won’t win the workout in the row but you could lose it. I'll be thinking that I want to row anywhere from 25-35 strokes a minute with long powerful strokes and controlled breathing, not getting out of a 5/6 out of 10 effort.
NB: Think about your grip here. You’ve got lots of grips left in this workout, so try to hold a relaxed grip on the handle throughout.
Before you do this workout, you should find out what your max unbroken set of toes-to-bar is. You do not want to get anywhere near your max set during the workout. If your max 12 in one go, pick 40-50% of that and look to hit regular sets with as little rest as possible. This might look like sets of 5 with a controlled 20s rest every time.
You do not want to fail any reps, so don’t let yourself get anywhere near the failure point. If you do fail, not only have you wasted a rep, but you will also lose 30-60s as your muscles recover and flush out enough to resume
These should be one or two sets maximum, depending on how fatigued you are from the gymnastics. You can use this as a recovery point, or a time to push the pace. Wallballs have a built-in pace limiter, because of how long it takes for the ball to go up and come down, so I wouldn't stress too much and look to get into a nice, smooth rhythm instead .
A bit of strategy to think about here. If you can't do a muscle-up yet, this might be your final movement. If that’s the case and you want to get your best possible placing, this will be the time to pour it on and get the best tie-break time.
If you watch the elites do this, you’ll see that most people do singles – doing a rep and dropping the bar to the floor from the front rack position. This is a sensible strategy. By dropping the bar, you skip the eccentric load of the movement, so saving your grip and reducing your overall loading for the workout.
If you go for singles, have a strict timing plan. Something like one rep every seven seconds, or, a rhythm plan, like clean, step back left, step back right, step forward and clean.
The big one! The Open gets thousands of people their first-ever muscle-ups. The combination of environment, competition and community sees people do things they never thought they would.
If you don’t already have a muscle-up, my advice would be to 'pull' for longer than you think you should. The longer you can delay your kip, the more efficient you will be. When you do kip, make the turnover decisive and drive your head through. I believe you can do it!
If you’ve already got muscle-ups down, this is about managing workload. The first ten and last ten reps feel completely different. Think about the sets you know you can hold, and don’t underestimate how quickly the fatigue will kick in.
Every single rep of the muscle-ups will get you hundreds, if not thousands of places, so make them count!
How to Warm-up for 23.1
My own warm-ups are specific to me, and some of my hip and ankle issues. But there are general principles that will really help.
Get your heart rate up: Use this as an opportunity to feel out your rowing pace, ideally.
Targeted mobilisation: Ankle, knee, hip, shoulder and hip are all going to get stressed in this workout, so address and always focus on areas in which you have historical tightness or injuries.
Practise the movements in the workout independently, gradually increasing the intensity. This is a good juncture to dial in the rhythm you're going to use at each point.
Once you are all warmed up, work through a modified version of the workout:
- 10 cal row @ pace
- 5 T2b
- 5 Wallballs
- 5 Cleans
- 1 Muscle Up
Don’t waste too much energy here. If you're planning on doing muscle-ups in the workout, or trying to get your first, you don't want to blow it here. Good luck everyone!