As the 2023 CrossFit Open comes to a close, the Director of the CrossFit Games, Adrian Bozman, filled in what was missing from the season’s first stage of competition. We’ve seen a repeat event for 14.4 for 23.1 that, for most people, was a chipper consisting of rowing and ring muscle-ups. That was followed by 23.2 — a two-part, two-score metabolic engine test paired with a one-rep max strength test.
The final test of the 2023 Open was a time cap extension threshold event that tested shoulder strength and technical prowess of wall walks, handstand push-ups, double-unders, and snatches. The 23.3 live announcement saw 2022 CrossFit Games runner-up Mal O’Brien against 2022 CrossFit Games fourth-place finisher Danielle Brandon. Owner of CrossFit Omaha Stacy Tovar read the final workout of the 2023 CrossFit Open:
[Related: “I’m Out”: Kristi O’Connell Retires as One of the Best CrossFit Athletes in United States History]
It’s a Six-Minute Event For Most
Workout 23.3 is an increasing gymnastics movement paired with an increasingly weighted technical lift with some double-under distraction in between. After watching Mal O’Brien destroy the workout in a time of 7:56, this event can be broken down into three different groups of people:
- General CrossFit community members
- Higher-end competitors
- Elite-level athletes
The general CrossFit community members will see this as a six-minute event. We have seen wall walks in the last two CrossFit Opens; a total of 10 reps will be relatively easy for the masses. Double-unders have been in almost every single Open since its inception. The workout ends with a varied version of Isabel (30 snatches at 135 pounds for men and 95 pounds for women). Looking at the totality of the volume, it’s 10 wall walks, 100 double-unders, and 28 snatches in six minutes. No easy task for most!
[Related: Community Gyms Coalition Launches “Fitness Is Essential” Campaign]
Elite Athletes Will Be Tested On the Final Snatches
Those that can make it out of those first two rounds get to show why they are higher-end competitors. Round three starts with 20 strict handstand push-ups. Most will be spectators for this. Some might get a handful of reps, which will be their test. Elite athletes will be tested with the third round of snatches of increased weight for nine reps.
Banking time in earlier rounds by the elite athletes is necessary. Those who do get one more round of 20 strict handstand push-ups, 50 double-unders, and six snatches at 225 pounds for men and 155 pounds for women. With only three minutes in the final round, the top of the leaderboard will be separated by those final snatch reps.
Below are tips for how to attack each of the movements comprising Workout 23.3:
The wall walk has been in the last two Opens, so most are well-equipped and experienced with the movement. Efficiency is critical to save strength and support the shoulders for later rounds.
Before starting the wall walks, raise your chest and lock out the arms to stack your weight over the joints. From there, take a big step with one leg as high as possible. Then follow that with the trailing leg. Walk your hands back to the second tape line so that one hand touches the line. With the following hand, bring it back to the tape, touching and returning it farther up the mat.
The standard requires both hands to touch the tape, but that doesn’t mean that you need to hold that position for any length of time. Tap dancing the hands on-and-off the tape will save time and tension on the shoulders.
[Related: Graciano Rubio Locks Out a 405-Pound Thruster In Prep for CrossFit Open Workout 23.2]
Ensure the feet stay on the wall until both hands are on the start tape line. Depending on your ability, rhythmically step down and back up. You could also do a free slide of the feet down the wall to the floor once the hands are on the tape line.
Double-unders can be frustrating, so stay relaxed. Don’t try to make them the fastest double-unders ever. We aren’t speed roping. The number of double-unders is relatively small, so use that as a recovery stage rather than a race. For most, racing double-unders ups the heart rate, adding tension in the shoulders. The shoulders need to remain relaxed during this time, or they will give out on the handstand push-ups and snatches.
If you aren’t strong at double-unders, do singles and reset each one. Many will try to do a series of single-under, single-under, and double-under, meaning they jump three times for each counted rep. It saves time, energy, and calf discomfort.
The weightlifting segment of this event is increasing weight for our most technical lift, the snatch. It starts light, then moderate, then moderately heavy, then heavy. Capacity is what matters here. Just because one can do 15 reps unbroken in the first wave doesn’t mean that one should do the first reps unbroken.
Break up the lighter-weight snatches into three sets. Give yourself a regimented and calculated rest time so that you stay on track with the short six-minute time frame. This might feel too easy to take this many breaks, but the gatekeeper to escape the six-minute window is 12 snatches. Ensure you have enough gas in the tank to get through them.
The set of 12 snatches of the second weight can either be done in small groups of two to three or as fast singles. Doing small sets means no disengaging from the barbell to walk around, drink water, and chalk up. Have a regimented count and get back to the barbell.
For fast singles, stay on task for all 12 reps. Once you get your rep and drop the barbell to the ground, immediately set up to pull the barbell again. Not lowering the barbell to the ground saves energy.
The set of nine reps is a large split between the elite-level athletes and the higher-end competitors. Explosiveness with the hips is crucial to get the bar high enough to stabilize the shoulders underneath the weight. It may be worthwhile to take a practice rep at the weight to get used to the 50/30-pound jump for men and women, respectively.
The set of six reps is the raise for elite-level athletes. Strong weightlifters should hit quick touch-and-go reps without disengaging from the barbell. Those who opt for singles should minimize the amount of rest they have between each rep.
The lifting reps are the second most expensive reps to mess up. If you miss a lift due to rushing, you wasted the setup time, the execution time, the drop time, and the recovery needed to start again. It’s better to take an extra 10 seconds of rest than to waste 50 seconds on missed reps. Be explosive, be confident.
The handstand push-up is back with a new standard that athletes must be aware of. There is no box or strange measurements from your middle knuckle to the end of your elbow, or wrist notch, or anything like that. The standard is a 30-inch by two-inch piece of tape set 10 inches from the wall. The only rule is that some part of the hand must touch some part of the tape the whole time. The feet must start on the wall at the beginning of the rep and end on the wall at the end of the rep. The feet must stay inside the width of the hands.
For some, this will be an uncomfortable standard for lack of experience. However, it is nice that this standard naturally stacks the joints so that the lockout involves less energy than leaning into the wall and taxing the midline. If you are ever overextended, push your backside away from the wall or risk a no-rep. Body awareness and positioning are extremely important.
People often don’t respect handstand push-ups enough. Everybody will feel good initially, do too many reps out of the gate, fall into the trap of strict gymnastic movements, and be unable to do any more reps. Managing fatigue is a priority.
If you are a ninja at handstand push-ups, this is the opportunity to store time for the snatches. That doesn’t mean do 20 unbroken reps, but if you can, that will shave 30 seconds to a minute compared to those that have to break it up. If you are more standard, then small sets with short rest are the ticket. Think about capacity and recovery.
The End of the 2023 Open
As always, the Open is filled with opportunities to find where you need to improve. One of CrossFit’s ethos is to always work on your weaknesses. If there were movements you were not excited about or discontented by your results, take action to remedy them for the next time.
For those using the Open as their annual test, there is ample time to prepare for 2024’s test. For those who qualify as the top 10 percent worldwide for the Quarterfinals, talk to your coach about potential quick fixes to remedy your weaknesses. Relish that you qualified from the world’s largest online qualifiers and are competing in the next stage against athletes vying for spots at the CrossFit Games. Good luck in 23.3!
Featured image: @daniellebrandon7 on Instagram