We’ve made it to the last week in the Open! Today I am going to break down all the strategy and necessary considerations for Open WOD 18.5 / Open WOD 11.6 / Open WOD 12.5. I have completed this workout at least six times since it first came out in 2011, and I have tried almost every strategy out there. I have also watched and coached hundreds of others through this workout. I definitely have some thoughts here! 

It may not come as a surprise that once again, I am promoting a steady, consistent pace with lots of breaks. Especially as the reps climb, the sets must be broken into manageable parts to ensure sustainability. The thruster movement is mostly about desire, but the CTB Pull-ups are about your physical ability to handle a high volume of reps under a massive level of fatigue. Your proficiency and strategy on this movement will be the main components that effect your ability to get into the higher rep rounds.

AMRAP 7 min
Reps 3-6-9-12-15 etc…

Thrusters (100/65)
CTB Pullups


This is a workout where you don’t want to be weighed down too much. Definitely avoid fats close to the workout, and don’t eat anything solid too close to game time. Just like prior weeks, some liquid protein and carbs would work well 90 minutes prior.

But you DO want to make sure you have your glycogen stores filled. This workout is the same time realm as running a mile, which is one of the most painful distances. It is a balanced combination of aerobic and glycolytic energy systems.  Fasted is not a terrible option, but if you plan to do it this way, you should absolutely load up on some additional starchy carbs the night before. Even those that are performing mid-day or evening should have a few extra carbs the night before. Finally, make sure to eat a hearty meal afterwards to aid in the recovery process.

Initial Preparation and Warm-up:

It will be vital to raise the heart rate prior to the workout. You will want to perform a combination of general warm-up, movement specific warm-up, and finally a couple interval pieces to elevate the heart rate.

1. General steady state cyclical work, until a light sweat forms. This will generally be about 10 minutes of light movement. The rower works well because it involves a similar leg drive to that of the thruster, and also warms up the pulling muscles for the CTB Pullups.

2. Movement-specific prep includes mobility work and light movement performed with increasing range of motion:

Upper Body

Foam roll and lacrosse balling the lats, shoulder girdle and pecs
Band Pull-Aparts and Face Pulls, as well as other banded shoulder and lat stretches
PVC Pass-throughs
PVC OHS, OH Lunges, back-rack thrusters etc…
Ring Rows, Kip swings, maybe a few strict pull-ups

***Make sure to warmup your wrists very well. If the bar can sit directly on the shoulders, you will save a lot of energy compared to trying to support the bar with your hands.

Glutes and Lower Body

Groiner stretch
Banded hip stretches, monster walks
Glute Bridges
Knee Jumps
Broad Jumps
Kettlebell squat sit
Russian KBS

3. For CNS potentiation, work quickly up to a heavy single for squat clean thruster. Keep volume low, performing mostly single reps. This will help the weight feel lighter during the workout, as well as warmup the same muscles you will be using during the workout itself.

4. Movement and transition practice:

2 Rounds (rest 2 min) Repeat 2 Rounds:

3-4 Thrusters
3-4 CTB Pull-ups

The Workout Strategy / Pacing:

The recommendations will be based on which round you intend to achieve within the ascending rep sequence. As a general rule of thumb, you will ALWAYS want to break your CTB Pull-up sets a few reps prior to the “really difficult rep,” so that you can recover quickly and get back on the bar sooner.

If your goal is to get into the 12’s – You should break the CTB into very small manageable sets. For many of you, this may mean triples, and possibly even singles. For those that struggle to link over 10 reps of CTB Pullups unbroken, I am a huge proponent of fast singles. One single rep every 6 seconds is the same as doing 3 reps unbroken and then resting 10-12 seconds. To finish the 12-round, you need to complete 30 CTB Pull-ups. With one every 6 seconds, that’s only 3 minutes of work. That leaves you plenty of time to get even further than you thought…

The thrusters should be broken briefly in the 9-round, just to ensure that you are not too fatigued or rest excessively heading into the next set of Pullups. The 12-round of thrusters should absolutely be broken into 3 sets of 4 reps, because the fatigue will be high at this point, and the pullups need to be made without delay as the clock winds down.

If your goal is to get into the 15’s – You will need a slightly more aggressive approach, but not significantly so. You will want to make sets of 2-4 reps on the CTB Pull-ups, never performing more than 4 reps at once, although you may opt to do the set of 6 reps unbroken, which is fine if you are capable of performing 15+ CTB pullups in a row. Otherwise split 6 into 3/3, and move on.

The thrusters should be broken in the 9-round 5/4, and the 12 round 4/4/4 or 6/6. If the thruster weight is really light for you, take the aggressive approach. This is all to protect your CTB Pull-ups and make sure you don’t take excessive rest while accumulating these reps.

If your goal is to get into the 18’s – You will look to keep 5-6 reps on each set of each movement after completing the 9-round unbroken (at least for the thruster). If your CTB Pullups are 20+ unbroken, you could do the 9 unbroken, otherwise, quick break 5/4 is a better idea.

Once you get into the 12’s, both movements should be broken 6/6. Complete the 15-round as 5/5/5 or 6/5/4. The 18-round is probably just GO TIME at this point, and strategy is thrown out the window. But, if you think you’ll make it back to the CTB Pullups, I would definitely break that thruster, and leave yourself some energy to attack a big set of pullups before the clock runs out.

If your goal is to get into the 21’s (or beyond) – You will need to be VERY good at CTB Pull-ups, and have great conditioning. I still strongly believe that you should begin breaking both movements in the 15-round. If you hope to just creep into the 21-round, you should take a very quick break in the 12-round. This will keep you sustainable into the later rounds. Regarding the 15-round, I am less concerned whether it is broken once as 8/7, or twice as 5/5/5. You will need to know yourself and what you are capable of with these two movements. The same applies in the 18 and 21 rounds, just depends on how you feel and how much time is left on the clock.

Breathing during movements – You must maintain composure through the Thrusters. Make sure to take a split second to breathe at the top of each rep, when your body is the most receptive to oxygen. This will keep you from becoming frazzled and losing your head. Also focus on quick shallow breaths during the breaks between CTB sets.

Final Thoughts – Remember that is a “mile-run” length workout. There is no sprinting. Even unbroken sets must be performed in a sustainable manner. Composure is key, and you must stay just shy of the redline until you’re in the final minute of work.