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Author: Mike Warkentin

A muscular man in a tank top exhibits mental toughness as he grinds through a set of barbell burpees in Open Workout 19.4.

Mental toughness: the thing that separates two equally fit athletes.

CrossFit Games Open Workout 19.5 is for all athletes a test of will power. 

For top athletes who can do unbroken or large sets of thrusters, it will be question of finding the will to move quickly and do the reps despite the burning. Those who will need to break things up regularly must find the will to step back to the bar maybe 100 times in 20 minutes. That takes commitment.

Last week, we wrote about how 19.4 was loaded with intensity. 19.5 has a measure of that because thrusters and pull-ups are great for generating power, but 105 thrusters and 105 chest-to-bar pull-ups significantly reduce the intensity and ensure everyone will be taking breaks. This isn’t a straight-up Fran, in which athletes can go unbroken on everything and post 2:00 times. 

No, this is a mental test.

19.5 is all about mental toughness.

A black and white closeup photo of a bearded man in a knitted cap setting his mind before a workout that will challenge mental toughness.
What goes through your mind at moments like these?

Mental Toughness: I Can, I Will

In recent years, the Open has more often than not concluded with challenges that test your will. Every Open workout makes people a little nervous, and every workout tests resolve. But longer tests for time don’t allow you the escape route that’s available when the workout is for reps. 19.5 has a time cap, but at 20 minutes, you can be certain you’ll be talking to yourself quite a bit.

We’ve done lots of workouts like this during the year. In fact, we’ve done some that are longer. I recall many Friday monster mashes and lots of 5-round workouts where the end seemed so far away. With a huge number of reps in front of you, it’s very easy to feel overwhelmed and beaten. That’s when the inner monologue starts:

“I can’t do 105 pull-ups.”

“I’ll never finish.”

“I can’t do this.”

“I’ll rest a little longer and wait for the time cap.”

But it’s in this type of workout that you have a chance to improve your mental fitness. You’ll improve physical fitness, too, but the real gains in 19.5 will be made in the brain.

That’s no mistake. CrossFit Founder Greg Glassman has long said the greatest adaptation to CrossFit might be in the mind, and he’s also said he’s proudest of the workout Fran, his most famous creation. So 19.5 is a significantly more difficult version of Fran, and you have a chance to improve your mental toughness.

Under the eyes of the judge wearing a large furry hat, a woman in a tank top grimaces at the bottom of a barbell thruster.
It would be easier to quit. But your goals are worth the effort.

One Rep at a Time

It’s a cliché, but the secret to this workout is to break it up into a series of winnable battles. For some, every rep will be a battle, and it’s important to keep you mind only on the task directly in front of you.

I’d encourage everyone to set realistic, measurable goals. Here are a few:

Do the set of 33 reps in 5 sets.

Rest a maximum of 15 seconds between sets.

Break the pull-ups into singles right from the start to avoid failing later.

Stuff like that. The exact goals will vary from person to person. Crystal said that when she attempts this workout after the Open, she’ll try for 33 unbroken thrusters because that’s an area of strength for her. She’ll also break up the pull-ups into 5s no matter how good she feels in the first set. That’s smart, and it’s realistic.

Setting realistic goals ensures you avoid that tidal wave of failure you feel when you make a mistake. And it allows you to set up a series of wins that build momentum. That’s what’s needed here: momentum.

The old saying holds true: The journey of a thousand miles starts with a single rep. Or was it a single step? Either way, it’s true. You have 210 reps in front of you. They’re hard reps. You’ll get to enjoy the dark hole at the bottom of a thruster 105 times. And 105 times you’ll get to make that squishy face you make when you give the last bit of effort required to bring chest to bar.

An athletic female performs a supinated grip pull-up at a CrossFit gym.
Keep pulling in 19.5. One rep at a time!

Master Your Mind

A lot of negative thoughts will pop up in 19.5. Some are probably popping up already. But you’d do well to accept that they’re present, then replace them with more powerful thoughts. Develop mental toughness.

I can.

I will.

I’m tired, but I will keep going.

I’ll do one more rep.

I’m not going to quit.

Forget about carefully laid plans. Forget about knee sleeves and pre-workout supplements. Forget about your favourite pull-up bar or your lucky barbell. Forget about music.

Forget about all of that. 

For 20 minutes, you get to talk to yourself.  You can choose to cultivate hope or despair. You can choose to feel beaten or to feel unbeatable. You can choose to say “quit” or “keep going.”

So what will you say in Minute 12, when the end seems so far away?

Make that decision now. 

And if you choose wisely, you’ll feel like a victorious warrior when the clock hits 20:00.

Read “Reflections on Mirrors”

The theme for the evening: Beach Night! Spring is in the air, so we’re bringing back a favorite theme from last year’s #204Open.

All regular classes will be cancelled for the evening—please sign in for the CrossFit Games Open WOD.

Current Score: Müscle Crüe 176 – Iron Madams 155

Thank you to everyone who posted to Instagram, Facebook and Google!

Best costume: Bob

Top Rx Scores: Damon, Jen

Top Scaled Scores: Cheryl, James

Week 5 Scoring Opportunities – More Points Available! TBA

15 points – Spend 3 minutes with Mike after your workout on Friday night.

10 points – Post an outside-the-gym squat picture to Instagram with the #204Open hasgtag. 

Watch “The Chachi McGee Meltdown: A 204-MZ Report!”

Strict Press 3-3-3-3

Push Press 2-2-2-2

Split Jerk 1-1-1-1

Rest 2 minutes between all sets

Airway to Heaven

For time:
15 burpees
100-ft. sled sprint
300-m row

A man wearing a white and red headband pulls under a snatch with intensity in CrossFit Open Workout 19.4.

Intensity: it brings results, and we try to make it a part of every workout.

But intensity burns, and the body doesn’t really want it.

The brain loves intensity. It knows that pushing just past the comfort zone will bring improved fitness and health, and it’s willing to put up with some brief discomfort to earn the reward.

It can be very hard to bump people out of a comfortable fitness rut. Running the same distance at the same pace every day becomes easier and easier as the body adapts. But running that distance won’t improve fitness. You’ve got to run faster or farther. Or both.

Open Workout 19.4 got people out of the comfort zone twice through a clever combination that created intensity. It’s actually one of my favourite Open workouts of all time.

A woman's face shows intensity as she presses to lock out a bar muscle-up in CrossFit Games Open Workout 19.4.
Everyone wanted time on the pull-up bar!

Intensity in Two Servings

The workout’s first couplet was simple and something just about everyone could complete under 9:00. But to earn more time for the second part, you had to push through Part 1 as fast as possible. Offering just small-ish numbers of snatches and burpees, the workout gave you an opportunity to try for unbroken sets on a light bar before pushing yourself to keep moving on the burpees.

By itself, the workout would have given people a chance to slip into a comfortable pace. Those who have the intrinsic ability to push themselves hard would have done so, but others would have felt less urgency to keep moving.

But in 19.4, everyone wanted a chance to play with the second workout—either to try and perform a gymnastics skill for the first time or to show their gymnastics skill.

So I saw people push really, really hard on Part 1 even though some risked being unable to recover for Part 2. But the three-minute rest turned out to be just enough. It wasn’t enough to leave you totally fresh, but it was enough that you felt recharged for the second challenge.

Read our analysis of Workout 19.3

The Takeaway

For programmers and coaches, 19.4 is a good example of how to set up a workout to create intensity. Short, light couplets are always a good idea, and intervals can help athletes learn to push because they know programmed rest is coming. 

For athletes, it’s worth remembering that you’re capable of movement even when you aren’t fresh. You might want to rest, but you don’t need to rest. 19.4 forced you to move and taste intensity, but you’ll get opportunities to do that in our regular classes.

In upcoming workouts, rest one breath less, pick up the bar 2 seconds sooner, do one extra rep in every set, or push the pace just a little bit. We’re not talking about dramatic increases in intensity. Just small steps outside the comfort zone.

That’s where the magic happens.

A hand grips a wooden pickleball paddle and bounces a white whiffle ball upward in front of a black background.

Pickleball injuries can be avoided, and fitness is the best way to do it.

Common pickleball injuries include muscle strains and knee and ankle sprains. The good news is that you can reduce the risk dramatically with fitness training. 

Injuries are common when people start doing any activity following a period of inactivity. Imagine lunging for a ball when you haven’t performed a lunge in years and aren’t used to moving quickly. Injuries can also occur due to overuse or repetitive strain. Think of constantly using one side of the body to swing a pickleball paddle without training the opposite side of the body for balance.

Our Legends fitness program for people over 50 is perfect for preventing pickleball injuries. We train the entire body to build up overall fitness, and by increasing the strength of your muscles, your joints are protected. 

To prevent injuries to the ankles, knees and hips, we use a number of lower-body exercise, but one is superior to all the others: the squat.

Click here to learn more about how our program helps pickleball players! 

Prevent Pickleball Injuries With Squats

A properly performed squat builds strength in the entire leg and creates stability around each joint. Proper performance of the squat leads to increased range of motion (flexibility) and improved movement mechanics in sport. To say it another way, if you can squat properly in the gym, you’ll be much more prepared for athletic movement in sport. For example, if you lunge to swing at a ball, your strong leg muscles will stabilize you, protect your joints and provide a foundation for your swing,

The squat works many muscle groups in the lower body: the quadriceps, hamstrings, glutes and even calves. With appropriate loads, the squat also improves core strength.

An older woman in black pants and a blue top performs squats as part of a program that can prevent pickleball injuries.
This is a beautiful squat! Note that the hips are lower than the knees, and the lumbar curve of the back is visible.

How to Squat

If you have not squatted in a long time, please perform your squats near a stable object you can use for support if you lose your balance. Some people will perform squats to a stable chair as they build strength. You should not feel any joint pain as you squat, though your muscles might feel like they’re working.

Here are the steps:

1. Put your feet at shoulder width with your toes turned out slightly.

2. Slowly send your hips back and down. Avoid the tendency to send the knees forward like a back catcher in baseball. Send the hips back and down.

3. Make sure that your knees are moving directly in line with your ankles. If they start to roll inward, actively push them back in line with your ankles.

4. Try your best to keep your chest upright. For many people, this is a challenge at first. Do your best to sit tall. In a perfect squat, the lumbar curve in the back is maintained just as it is when standing tall. For some people, it helps to squat with the arms extended in front.

5. Descend until your hips are slightly below the top of your knees unless you are too weak to do so. If so, stop short of full range of motion, but make it a goal to squat just a little bit lower next time. When you squat to full depth, you engage more muscles that stabilize the knees. 

6. Stand up.

Here’s a video demonstration:

And here’s a link to a woman performing squats from a chair: CrossFit.com

Without knowing anything about you, it’s hard to tell you how many squats to perform. Those who haven’t squatted might be tired after a single rep, while others might not be tired after 10. Other will need to add some weight to build strength.

The important part now is just learning how to squat properly, so practice every day—even when you rise from seated after dinner! If you do, your leg strength will increase dramatically, which will improve your speed, power and agility. More than anything else, you’ll dramatically reduce your chances of injury and joint pain, leaving you free to enjoy pickleball.

If you’d like to learn more about how our program can help you or someone you know, click the button below!

Book a Free Consultation

Deadlift 5-5-3-3-2-2-1-1

Rest as needed between sets

EMOM x 5 sets:

Minute one: 16 alternating single arm KB/DB thrusters

Minute two: 16 alternating single arm DB/KB dead stop gorilla rows

Minute three:16 alternating curtsy lunges

*Athletes will hold 2 Kb’s or DB’s during the thrusters and the rows

 

Check out some out some of the pics from Formal Night!

A shirtless man with blue physio tape on his shoulder lies writhing on black mats after completing Open Workout 19.1.

Remember our Week 4 scoring opportunities:

7 points: Click here to post a Google review for CrossFit 204

10 points: On Instagram, post a picture of yourself doing a burpee in your workplace with the hashtag #204Open. If you are retired or work from home, do a burpee for a friend!

Feel free to post a review or a burpee pic even if you aren’t signed up for the #204Open. We’d appreciate it!

Open Workout 19.4

3 rounds of:
10 snatches (95/65 lb.)
12 bar-facing burpees

Rest 3 minutes

3 rounds of:
10 bar muscle-ups
12 bar-facing burpees

Time cap: 12 minutes (including rest)