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CrossFit Games Open WOD 14.5: Advice from Chris Spealler

A six-time CrossFit vet helps you strategize for the final workout of the 2014 CrossFit Open.
Chris Spealler at the CrossFit Games

And then there were burpees. The fifth and final workout of the 2014 CrossFit Games Open competition was announced last night in San Francisco, and features two movements that many people knew were coming (and dreaded all along): thrusters and burpees. It also features another two words that speak to the spirit of CrossFit competition.

For time.

Six-time CrossFit competitor and Reebok athlete Chris Spealler absolutely called it last week, almost predicting the workout exactly. He has been with you along the way providing insight and advice on attacking an Open competition that has seen a record number of participants, 209,585.

The Workout:

21-18-15-12-9-6-3 reps of:

Thrusters (95 lbs)

MEN’S FITNESS: Well if this isn't just the king of total-body workouts, what's you're impression of 14.5?

Chris Spealler: I think we all knew that thrusters and burpees were coming in some way or another.  This is just straight fitness that is being tested here.  It's going to be a big test mentally for a lot of us, which is one of the best adaptations we can get from CrossFit—the stuff between the ears.   

It seems a recurring theme in this Open is to try break down reps before you feel like you should. What plan of attack do you suggest for this one?

If you excel at these movements I think it's going to be a real test mentally. Not breaking up the reps at all is going to be a battle, but we all know it's possible. If you get easily overwhelmed by them then breaking up the thrusters is a good idea.  Think of taking things in three sets: 7, 7, 7 to get to 21, etc.  Keep the burpees at a steady pace so you can get your hands back on the bar quickly.  

Although this is definitely a total-body burner, the press and burpees could be really taxing on your arms and shoulders. Is there a way to combat/delay the burnout?

Two things to think about if you have concerns of shoulder fatigue: 1.  Jump the bar off your chest when going overhead in the thruster. And 2. If you really start struggling go to your elbows for the burpees when lowering yourself to the ground... slower, but you can keep moving.    

What do you think is a solid time for CrossFitters to take aim at?

I think coming in under 15 minutes is a really great goal for a lot of people out there that have been around for a little while. Under 10 is going to be moving, so hovering around that 15- to 17-minute mark could be a great time to shoot for.   

What's your overall take on the Open this season and how would you say it reflects the growth of the sport?

The Open has always been a challenge for everyone. I think it's more of a fight now than ever to even make it to Regionals. The amount of people competing these days forces us all to show up for every workout. You can't afford to have a bad placing and easily come back from it so you always have to be on your toes. The workouts are still accessible to everyone to throw their hat in the mix, but this last workout is a real challenge. Don't doubt yourself, though. It's what you do in the box every day. You work hard, you stick to it, and you finish the WOD. Have fun and make it count.  


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