Advice on Open Workout 21.1 From Tia-Clair Toomey, PRVN Fitness, and Mayhem Freedom

Tia-Clair Toomey-Orr, Shane Orr, and the crew at Mayhem Freedom discuss how to tackle workout 21.1.

On March 11, 2021, the 2021 CrossFit Open officially kicked off with the announcement of workout 21.1 on the CrossFit Games YouTube channel. The first of three workouts in this year’s Open is fairly simple in nature — it’s just two movements, neither of which require a barbell or weights. However, that doesn’t mean it won’t test grit and form. After all, the name of the workout is “Engine vs. Skill.” 

Workout 21.1 features the commonly seen jump rope movement — the double-under — in a 10-30-60-90-150-210 rep scheme. That’s already a lot of stress on the shoulders. CrossFit Games Director Dave Castro doubled down on testing athletes’ shoulders by pairing those double-unders with a new movement never seen in a CrossFit Open before — wall walks.

Before we get into what wall walks are, the standards for each movement, and tips from the best in the sport, here is the full workout below:

CrossFit Open Rx’d Workout 21.1

For time:

  • One wall walk
  • 10 double-unders
  • Three wall walks
  • 30 double-unders
  • Six wall walks
  • 60 double-unders
  • Nine wall walks
  • 90 double-unders
  • 15 wall walks
  • 150 double-unders
  • 21 wall walks
  • 210 double-unders

15-minute time cap.

Each athlete’s score will be their final time. If an athlete doesn’t finish within the time cap, the total number of reps completed before the time cap.


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CrossFit Open Workout 21.1 Movement Standards

The wall walk is officially making its CrossFit Open debut. To perform a wall walk, lay prone on the floor with your feet against the base of a wall. Then walk your feet up the wall, walking on your hands towards the wall’s base. Once you’ve assumed a handstand position against the wall, reverse the walk back to the starting position. That’s one rep.

Per the CrossFit Open workout 21.1 scorecards, here are the movement standards:

Wall Walks

  • With the athlete lying down, chest and thighs touching the ground, legs fully extended, and feet together and touching the wall, mark a tape line at the top of the athlete’s shoulders. This tape will mark both the start and finish for each rep.
  • Tape a second line that leaves 10 inches of space between the tape’s far edge and the wall. This tape line should be in line with the shoulder tape line.
  • Every rep begins and ends with the athlete lying down, with their chest, feet, and thighs touching the ground.
  • At the start and finish of each rep, both hands must touch the first tape line (fingers touching is OK). Both feet must be touching the ground at the beginning and end of each rep.
  • Both hands must remain on the tape until both feet are on the wall and no longer touching the ground.
  • At the top of the movement, both hands must be touching the 10-inch tape mark before the athlete can descend. Any part of the hand may touch the tape line.
  • On the descent, the feet must remain on the wall until both hands are touching the shoulder tape line.
  • The rep is credited when the athlete returns to the starting position, with both hands touching the first line and their chest, thighs, and feet touching the ground.

Finally, any part of the hand may make contact with the tape line and both feet must be touching the ground before starting the next rep.


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[Related: Tia-Clair Toomey-Orr Wins Her First Bobsled Race]


The movement standard for the double-unders has not changed so it should be fairly routine for returning CrossFit athletes.

  • The rope passes under the feet twice for each jump.
  • The rope must spin forward for the rep to count.
  • Only successful jumps are counted, not attempts.

This movement puts a lot of stress on the shoulders. Fortunately, athletes can take as many breaks as they need at any point during the workout.

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CrossFit Open Workout 21.1 Advice From the Pros

Some of the biggest names and affiliates in the CrossFit space have already taken to their YouTube channels to share the tips and tricks that they think will be the most helpful for athletes taking on workout 21.1. Here’s a roundup of their advice. 

Tia-Clair Toomey-Orr and Shane Orr

Despite having to deal with the struggles of COVID-19 travel restrictions to meet the 2021 CrossFit Open competition standards, the four-time Fittest Woman on Earth® still found the time to share her expertise about workout 21.1 alongside her husband and coach, Shane Orr.

According to Orr’s first reaction to hearing the workout, he immediately identified that it is upper-body intensive — both the wall walks and double-unders are taxing on the shoulders. Orr believes, at least for the reigning CrossFit Games champion, that the better strategy would be to perform the wall walks unbroken and take any needed breaks during the double-unders.

[Related: The Tips You Need to Conquer CrossFit Open Workout 21.1]

Orr also recognizes that the bulk of the workout is towards the end rather than at the start. Therefore, he believes that the pace should be steady out of the gate so as not to exhaust oneself before hitting the bigger rep counts in the back-half of the workout. That slow-and-steady approach is one that he has in common with the team over at Rich Froning‘s CrossFit Mayhem Freedom.

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Mayhem Freedom

Mayhem Freedom wasted no time following 21.1’s announcement to get their tips on the internet to benefit the CrossFit community at large. Mayhem Freedom’s Director of Online Programming Jake Lockert predicts that the workout is difficult enough that athletes who make a dent in the 21 walk walks, but don’t necessarily finish within the time cap, will still likely be in the top 10 percent — which is the threshold needed to qualify for the Quarterfinals. For reference, the third-place finisher at the 2020 CrossFit Games, Kari Pearce, finished 21.1 with an official time of 13:05.

Lockert agrees with Orr to “start out slower than you think.” With an ascending rep scheme combined with adrenaline, there is plenty of time to go faster later in the workout.

For sure, over half the workout is within the 15 and 21 [wall walks].

Even though the higher rep counts for the double-unders are very high — 150 and 210 reps are no joke — Lockert differs from Orr by suggesting those whose technique and cardio are at the level to do so, should consider doing them unbroken. For context, again, Pearce did all of her double-unders nearly unbroken. Lockert says to keep the double-under pace steady and not to rev the engine too fast until you can see the finish line. It seems maintaining a steady heart-rate will be key to finishing within the time cap.

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The Top 10 Percent

The hype is real for the first workout of the 2021 CrossFit Open. After seeing the battle between Kristi Eramo O’Connell and Kari Pearce during the workout announcement, even some of the top CrossFit athletes in the world won’t necessarily finish within the time cap. Per the current Open leaderboard at the time of this article’s publication, only four athletes — including Pearce — completed the workout within the time cap.

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