This combo of Thrusters and CTB Pull-ups has been used many times by CrossFit throughout the years of the Open. The amount of total volume in this workout, for the general population, is similar to that of Open WOD 13.5 for the top level athletes. That workout required you to complete 45 reps of each in a 4-min period to move on and get to do another 4-minute period of 45 reps each. Athletes made it into the 12-min range on that workout. Now athletes will be finishing 105 reps of each in 8-9 minutes. Wild times!

It may not come as a surprise that once again, I am promoting a steady, consistent pace with lots of breaks, especially for the general population.  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 continue moving as fatigue accumulates.

Reps 33-27-21-15-9 For Time (20 min cap)

Thrusters (95/65)
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. The wide-range of finish times and strategies also means different energy systems are working. Those that mope around and stare at the bar a lot are not using the same energy systems as the elite who are moving the entire time.

For the top athletes, this workout is like a 1.5 mile run test. For most of the gen pop, this workout will quickly turn into an interval campaign work for 10 seconds and rest for 10-20 seconds. But both approaches require some additional carbs – maybe the night before is best so you don’t come in heavy.

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 your goal finish time.  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 finish around 10 minutes (or under)

You will need to be VERY good at CTB Pull-ups, and have great conditioning. I still strongly believe that you should begin breaking the Thrusters into 3-sets from the beginning. Something like 11’s, then 9’s then 7’s then 8/7 (or 5/5/5) etc..

I advise breaking the CTB similarly, ONLY if you’re REALLY good at CTB. For almost everyone, it makes  more sense to be even more cautious. Remember that breaking sets doesn’t necessarily mean you’re going slower. If done strategically, and rest is time-controlled, breaking often can be significantly more effective in a 8-10 min workout.

Remember it’s not a dead sprint – A 10 min workout, much like a 1.5 mile run, is very much a pacing event.

If your goal is to finish around 16 min (or under)

You will look to keep your Thruster sets broken into around 5 sets for the first few rounds. In the 33-rep round, maybe you do 8-7-7-6-5. This will allow you to keep rest periods short, recover briefly, and keep fatigue lower so you can get through the CTB Pull-ups

If your CTB Pullups are around 20-25 unbroken, you should do no more than 5 reps unbroken at any point in the entire workout.

If your CTB pull-ups unbroken are under 20, you better be doing mostly triples. Just remember that 15-16 min is a really long workout. If it wasn’t such an anaerobic setup for the workout, it could be argued that this time domain for you is an aerobic workout.

Did you know you only need to do 13 reps per minute to finish in 16 minutes? Keep that in mind when you find yourself panicking. Be smart, and choose the steady and REPEATABLE approach.

If your goal is to barely finish or not finish

You only need to complete 10.5 reps every minute to finish this workout. That’s pretty cool to think about. So in calculating total rep time, 10.5 Thrusters takes about 20-25 seconds and 10.5 CTB Pull-ups takes 10-20 seconds (depending on butterfly vs kip). So you only need to “work” for like a third of each minute to finish this workout under the time cap.

When you think about how much you should break stuff, keep in mind that everytime you break, you could rest almost DOUBLE the amount of time you just worked, and still finish this workout…

So, with that engrained in your mind, you should break the CTB into very small manageable sets; Never more than 3 reps, and 1-2 at a time might not be a terrible idea as a means of creating continuous movement.

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.

The Thrusters should be broken into no more than 5-6 reps at a time. If you can manage to do 5-6 reps and then rest for 15 seconds, and keep that approach, you’re gonna be just fine. You must avoid large sets that create deep inroads into your fatigue and impact your ability to stay on pace!

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 length workout. There is no sprinting. All 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.