Category Archives: How To

15.5 Row and Thruster Strategy for the CrossFit Games Open Final Workout

Camille, Sam “The Brute” Briggs, and “Ïceland” Annie went head-to-head on this already and taught us a lot in their performance.  Here’s the take-away:

  1. ~2K row in time and physical demand
    1. Have to be able to handle Fran weight with ease
      1. If not, break up or scale the thrusters
    2. The option to drop the bar on thrusters makes it mentally challenging, so…
  2. Unbroken thrusters if you can
  3. Sam wasn’t the fastest off the first row…  PACE from the 27s
  • Math Ahead!!  Because the time frame is so similar to a 2K row and I want to pace at about 90% from the start, I’m going to
    • take my 2K row 500m split time (1:44), divide by .9, and get my ideal starting pace.
    • Then I’ll practice pulling for calories, with a 1 second, explosive drive and a 2 second relaxed return to the catch while maintaining this 1:56 pace
    • I’ll probably only practice a couple sets of 10-12 to save my legs.

Also important on the row:

  • SAVE THE QUADS!  you need them to thruster
    • Hinge the hip on the return to load the hamstrings
    • Keep some distance between butt and heels at the catch
    • Drive through the heels
    • consider wearing weightlifting shoes
  • Open the straps up just enough
    •  Push the tab up to get enough space so you can get back into the feet easily
    • Lift the feet up 1 at a time to release the heel before you try to pull the foot out
    • Grab both straps and tighten down in one motion and DON’T EVEN BOTHER TIGHTENING THEM ALL THE WAY!!!
      • Just get your feet in and get the handle while you’re there
      • Give away nothing on the transition

Thrusters and Finishing this thing:

  • If you have to break the thrusters, only break the first (or first 2) sets.
    •  15+12 if it’s “nuthin’ but a peanut” then 14+7 OR 9+9+9, then 7+7+7
    • The 15s and 9s will be death, but once you’re there, all you have to do is finish
      • You CAN!  Convince yourself.
      • FINISH!
    • Stay at the bar, count down, go again!

Get some!

I don’t have a pull-up… yet.

Very good!  If that’s how you say it, you know that it’s not a matter of “can’t do a pull-up”.  It’s not impossible for you.

You can. You will.

How to get there:

Keep trying.  Everyone starts somewhere and I started with a Cindy score of 4 and a CFWU that included 6 pull-ups because that was all I could do.  But, I just kept getting 6 until I got 7 and so on.  It took some work to make the CFWU my WU.
Own that thing!


Make sure you’re doing it right.  There’s an order to a good pull-up.  First, you pull your shoulders down away from your ears.  Next, pull your elbows down near your sides using your big lat muscles.  Finally, pull your chin over the bar (easiest if your elbows stay tight to you).

Do the negatives.  8th grade… my older brother busted my chops because I couldn’t do a pull-up or a strict push-up, but he also showed me how to do a negative and I did them (just 3 a day).
By the end of summer, I was hitting 12 strict consecutive.  Negatives tell your body to get strong enough to move a heavier load, but can also cause severe soreness.


body straight - chest to bar (chin is up)

Work the progression from multiple angles.  Some people ask what “the best way” to get a pull-up is.  The best way is to make sure you’re using multiple approaches.  Banded assistance will give you the assistance you need at the bottom (sometimes more than what you need), but not at the top, jumping pull-ups done right are similar in nature.  Neither build your ability to scapulate, which is also called an active shoulder for the pull-up in CrossFit.  A great way to do this is by performing ring rows.

Pull/Press Shoulder Positions


Give as little help as needed

Get a friend to help (as little as possible).
Sometimes, it’s mostly mental and having someone touch your ankles (or goose
your bum) may get your chin over that bar until you get strong enough to do it
on your own.

What’s the Frequency, Kenneth!  If you’re in once a
week, forget it!  You have to be hitting these moves almost daily for your
body to adapt.  At least 3x/week is a good start.