CrossFit 20.5 – The Ultimate Strategy Guide for Rx, Scaled, Masters

Written By Ben  |  Open 

Welcome to your fifth and final week of the 2020 CrossFit Open! 

CrossFit 20.5 is here… and so are 40 ring muscle ups. 

(or chest to bar pull-ups, or chin over the bar pull-ups, or jumping C2B - depending if you're a Masters or Scaled athlete). 

Don’t freak out - the 20.5 Strategy Guide is here to save the day. But first, make sure you know your workout: 

20.5 crossfit

CrossFit Open 20.5: General Strategy

There are many ways to approach this workout. Because of (for the first time ever) the option to partition up the reps however you want... this makes strategizing an even bigger key. 

First, I'll repeat what I said in the 20.5 Quick Tips article - in order to set yourself up for success, you have to break up these reps in a way that will allow you to keep moving. 

You should not find yourself standing and staring at the rings, the wall, or the rower.

CrossFit 20.5

Here are pacing and rep breakdown strategies that I would recommend - based on your RMU/Chest to Bar ability level...

CrossFit 20.5: HELP I have ZERO Ring Muscle Ups

Ok - so you're still working on gymnastics. If you're reading this and have zero ring muscle ups... chest to bar pull-ups... OR chin over the bar pull-ups, here's what I would recommend.

  • Sprint through the row, and the wall balls to get the best tiebreak time possible.
  • Hold a pace so that you are not resting during the wall balls
  • With the rest of your time, attempt to get your first RMU, C2B, or Chin over the bar pull-up.

CrossFit 20.5: I MIGHT be able to get a Ring Muscle Up or Two...

If you're one of those athletes who are RIGHT one the edge of getting your first RMU, Chest to bar pull-up, or chin over the bar - or maybe you've managed to get just a few in the past.... here's what I would recommend:

  • At the beginning of the workout - while you're still fresh - use 3-5 minutes to attempt the gymnastics portion.
  • Again, the box drop-in technique is a great way to grab a few reps.
  • After those first few minutes, move to the rowing and wall balls QUICKLY.
  • Reminder: The rowing and wall balls completion time is your tie break score - getting these 200 reps done is still crucial.

CrossFit Open 20.5: Ring Muscle Ups Are My Jam

Already super comfortable with ring muscle ups, chest to bar, or chin over the bar? Fantastic. The key is then deciding how many reps per round you can MAINTAIN, and break the movements up into even sets.

  • Ask yourself, what are the fewest number of sets that I can do without the RMU's getting too difficult?
  • Break it up into rounds that you're comfortable with.
  • DON'T waste time standing around. 

20.5 Examples:
  • 8 Rounds For Time: 5 RMU/C2B/COB, 10 cal row, 15 wall balls 
  • 4 Rounds For Time: 10 RMU/C2B/COB, 20 cal row, 30 wall balls
CrossFit 20.5

Now let's take a look at the CrossFit 20.5 movements - and what I would generally suggest as do's and don'ts...

20.5 CrossFit: Ring Muscle Ups

  • Quick singles are perfectly fine if you need to go this route
  • Try the box drop-in method (in video above)
  • Try the hollow hop-in method
  • Remember the cue 'ceiling to floor' 
  • DON'T start from a head hang

CrossFit 20.5: Wall Balls

CrossFit Open 20.5: Rowing

  • Have the damper set on 5-7
  • Have the straps set so that you can easily get in and out
  • Stay smooth and steady - do not frantically pull and yank
2020 open

CrossFit 20.5: Chin Over The Bar Pull-ups

Scaled athletes... RMU's switch over to chin over the bar bar pull-ups. Great! Tips remain similar, but here's a recap:

  • Try the box drop-in method
  • Singles are fine - use a hollow hop-in if needed
  • DO NOT attempt reps from a dead start

CrossFit 20.5 Masters Athletes: Chest to bar pull-ups

Are you a 55+ Masters Athlete? Then the ring muscle ups are instead chest to bar pull-ups. Similar tips above when it comes to pacing and strategy... here are my general thoughts:

20.5 CrossFit

CrossFit 20.5: Jumping Pull-ups

If you're a masters athlete hitting this workout scaled, depending on your age range, you may move to jumping chest to bar pull-ups. A key here is to USE YOUR LEGS . If you use your arms only, you'll be much less efficient. 

By the way - if you're a Masters Athlete and want Masters-specific coaching from our WODprep Team.... head here to learn more.

CrossFit Open 20.5: Wrapping Up

At the end of the day - enjoy this workout. Have fun, give it your best shot, and then be proud of yourself for completing this 2020 Open season

>>> Missed out on CrossFit 20.4? You can read about that here

Looking for our 2021 Posts? Go to CrossFit Open 21.1 Strategy Guide

    • Hey! The standard says “begin hanging with arms fully extended and your feet off the ground”. So the box drop-in does exactly that. It allows you to start with arms extended, and then the start of the rep is when your feet come off of the box and are off the ground. If you’re having people who are disputing this technique, then simply try the “jump in” method. You’ll need a slightly lower set of rings, but just jump into your hollow body position and start with a strong kip. This is the exact same movement, and it’s what all athletes were doing at the CF Games this year 🙂

  • Hi I can usually hit ring mup doubles when fresh and then singles when I get tired. Thinking of going 2/15/10 and then switching btwn mups and wbs after I finish the 80 cals. Any feedback appreciated!

  • Ben, I am only “fair” at Ring MU. Utilized your “look up, look down” method today and did better than I ever expected–33 RMU! I shared a link to your site with my peeps at the box–thanks!!

  • Masters Rx 55to59
    The strategy in my head is 8 rounds of 5-10-15. My C2B’s will be quick singles. Thanks for the tips!

  • My initial thoughts when I saw the workout, aligned with yours. Did a quick test on wall balls and rowing to estimate my reserve time for chest to bar = about 4 minutes if I go slow. Added the box drop in to the mix and it worked a charm. Allocated max 2 minutes to start chest to bar – got 3 in about 1.5 minutes. Switched to wall balls 15 rowing 10. Ended with little less than 3 minutes to spare and added another 4 chest to bar dropping from the box. Going from the box assisted in getting the right form for a big pull, so most pulls ended up touching way lower than needed. Hope I can transfer that to doing non-box chest to bar. Thank you for the tips, helps a lot.

  • Ben,
    Just got to say your open tips are fantastic!! I knew MU were coming by 20.5 and watched your box drop in technique about a dozen times on Friday afternoon. I’ve been CrossFitting for
    2 1/2yrs and been quite intimidated by the rings. At 20.5 using the box drop in technique I not only did my first ring MU but I ended up completing 9. Much thanks to you and your staff please keep up the amazing work !!

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