10 Fantastic 21.3 CrossFit (and 21.4!) Open Tips

Written By Ben  |  CrossFit, Open 

Welp, leave it to Dave Castro to throw a curveball on the last workout of the 2021 CrossFit Open. For the 21.3 and 21.4 CrossFit Open workouts, we’re going to need a ton of strategy to tackle this double-header to the best of our abilities.

Before reading further, I highly suggest checking out our CrossFit Open Workouts 21.3 and 21.4 announcement article once more. Since this is a double-header, there are A LOT of ways to attack this week’s workouts with strategy.

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My Top 21.3 and 21.4 CrossFit Open Workout Tips

We’ve broken down our CrossFit Open 21.3 and 21.4 strategy and tips article into two different sections. We’ll first discuss tips for CrossFit Open Workout 21.3, then move into CrossFit Open Workout 21.4.

One thing I want to make abundantly clear now is to make sure you check the rules for your workouts and division. This week’s double-header workouts have a lot of rules attached to them so we have to make sure we’re clear on them before we embark on these workouts.

7 Killer 21.3 CrossFit Open Tips

There’s a lot to take in with Open Workout 21.3 and I’ve put together seven awesome tips in this section to help you get your best score and prep for 21.4 accordingly.

1. Wear Equipment In 21.3

Right off the bat, when diving into CrossFit Open Workout 21.3 we have to prep ourselves mentally and physically to lift heavy in 21.4. This being said, it can be a really smart idea to wear your gear through this portion of the workout in anticipation for 21.4.

My advice is to have already on your knee sleeves, weightlifting shoes, and gymnastics grips on as you take on 21.3. This way when you finish the workout you don’t have to waste any of your 7-minutes putting on gear. When we only have 7-minutes to work up to max loading in a barbell complex, then every second counts.

2. Mind Your Hands

Speaking of gymnastics grips, another important factor to consider in 21.3 is how your hands hold up. With the toes-to-bar, chest-to-bar pull-ups, and bar muscle-ups, your hands and grip are going to take a serious beating.

I would HIGHLY suggest wearing gymnastics grips in 21.3 to limit rips which can seriously decrease your grip performance for 21.4. The last thing we want is to get to heavy grip-tasking barbell work with a big new rip on our palm.

3. Break Up the Bar Work As You Need

For a majority of athletes, the bar muscle-ups are going to be by far the most difficult part of 21.3. If you’re feeling gassed at this point of the workout, then I’d highly suggest attacking the 30 bar muscle-ups with smaller sets.

By performing a few muscle-ups at a time, or even single muscle-ups, we can take a few seconds to breathe and rest, then jump back up on the bar. This will be far more productive than missing reps due to fatigue accumulation which can throw off your bar muscle-up technique and flow. Plus, we’ll log a better score this way.

4. Check your Setup

One of the rules for Open Workout 21.3 is to make sure your barbell is at least 8-feet away from your rig. That being said, make sure you’re marking this BEFORE you start the workout. We’ve included the visual that CrossFit Games have provided from their rule sheet below.

If you’re working out at home, then you’ll have to be extra careful that your home gym setup aligns with this rule.

5. Know Where Your Tiebreak Is

There’s no denying the complexity of 21.3, and the idea of knowing where your tiebreak is can be incredibly useful for helping you place better. For example, let’s say the front squats, thrusters, toes-to-bar, and chest-to-bar pull-ups are no problem for you, but you know bar muscle-ups are your kryptonite. If this you, then you can try something like the following.

Perform the first two rounds as fast as possible to get your best tiebreak score, then on the bar muscle-up round take your time on the front squats and work to get any amount of reps possible for you in the bar muscle-ups, and use the remaining time until the time cap to rest and warm-up.

Since, in this example, the bar muscle-ups will naturally cap this round for you it’s important to build the best score possible in the first two rounds for tie break purposes, then work to get any amount of the movement that you struggle with so you can be competitive with others who got stuck on the same section.

6. Open Magic Is Real, Don’t Give Up On Gymnastics

If toes-to-bar or chest-to-bar pull-ups are going to bring you to a standstill during this workout, I have some awesome tips and drills for getting your first ever toes-to-bar or chest-to-bar pull-up.

In the video below, I take you through two of my favorite methods for getting your first ever toes-to-bar and chest-to-bar pull. These two methods include:

  1. The ‘box drop in’
  2. The ‘hollow hop in’

These have both have helped thousands of athletes get that first rep during Open Magic. These tips work for ALL kipping gymnastic work, including bar muscle-ups, too.

7. Warm-Up Like a Champ

My last tip for 21.3 (and 21.4, technically) is to warm-up the areas properly that you’ll need for both workouts. This would mean making sure you can hit adequate depth in your squat movement pattern, opening the shoulders for the pull-up work, and doing things like elbow pass-throughs for your front rack mobility.

Remember, there will be a lot of carry over from front squats, thrusters, and the barbell-complex, so spend time prepping the muscles involved in all of these accordingly!

3 Best 21.4 CrossFit Open Tips

After you’ve built the best score possible in 21.3, now it’s time to have fun with a heavy barbell. I have three CrossFit Open Workout 21.4 tips to help you out.

1. Warm-Up With Strategy

Since we only have a 7-minute time cap in 21.4, we need to be strategic with our opening weight. If our opening weight is too light, then we’ll be wasting time and energy, and if it’s too heavy, then we’ll obviously cut our potential short due to zapping our energy early on.

We recommend opening 21.4 with a weight that’s around 70-75% of your clean & jerk 1-rep max. This will often be a weight that will be competitive with your similarly skilled peers and it will help you gauge your next jump. Plus, now that you’re on the board, you can start to really send the next few attempts and jumps.

2. Rest After Your Attempts

It’s a 7-minute time cap in 21.4 and most of us are going to be fairly fatigued already. This is a recipe for disaster when it comes to rushing our movements.

After you’ve hit your opening weight (70-75% of your 1-RM), load your next attempt, then take a small dedicated amount of time to breathe and re-calibrate your focus. With barbell complexes, rushing is the death of increasing weight and hitting successful reps.

When we rush, we forget technique, and very rarely can we power through barbell complexes without some level of adequate form and movement mechanics. Note, you’ll need to scale your rest time accordingly based on how much time they have left in their 7-minutes.

3. Plot Out Your “Ideal” Second Attempt Before 21.4

In 21.4, we have to load our own bars. That being said, after we’ve noted the weight we’ll be opening with for 21.4, it’s a good idea to have a “probable” second attempt already in your head.

Doing this can be incredibly useful as it will help you navigate the plates you’ll need to load. If we’re rushing without an idea of the weight we want to take after our opener, then we’ll spend more time fiddling around with plates trying to calibrate our barbell.

My Takeaway Thoughts

This is by far one of the most complex and nuanced CrossFit Open workouts we’ve ever seen. That can be both a great and bad thing depending on how well you’re prepped for this workout.

My biggest piece of advice for 21.3 and 21.4 is knowing your strengths and assessing where you’ll excel the most before the workout. If you can do this, then you can better position yourself for tiebreaks and earn the best score possible.

Follow for real-time tips and updates for the 2021 CrossFit Open




Useful Links


Announcement Article – CrossFit Open Workouts 21.3 and 21.4

YouTube Video – CrossFit Open Workout 21.2 – Full Strategy Guide
Blog Post – CrossFit Open Workout 21.2 Announced (All Workouts)
Blog Post – 4 Steps to Nail Your Open Workout 21.2 Video Submission

Blog Post – CrossFit Open Workout 21.1 (All Workout Types)
Blog Post – 3 Killer Strategies for CrossFit Open Workout 21.1
Blog Post – Tips and Strategies to Master the Wall Walk in CrossFit Open 21.1
YouTube Video – CrossFit Open Workout 21.1 – Full Strategy Guide

Get my FREE Strategy Guides delivered to your inbox every week!
2020 CrossFit Open details (if you’d like to compare this year to the 2020 Open)
WODprep’s Open Practice Workouts
Blog Post – 5 Reasons You Don’t Want to Miss The 2021 CrossFit Open
Blog Post – The CrossFit Open: All You Need to Know

  • Great starts! What I’d love to see addressed is, how does your 21.4 strategy change based on whether you can or can’t do BMUs? I can’t, so I’ll have a lot more rest, and a lot less taxing work on the arms (and 15 fewer thrusters to do), so I’m guessing I’m a lot less likely to fail well short of my PR (like poor Elijah Muhammad. Should I assume my PR is a no-go immediately on the heels of a workout like 21.3, or should I assume it’s a reasonable goal?

  • Hi Ben, thanks for all your great tips again this year. This is my fifth open and i was lucky enough to get in touch with wodprep from year 1. Looking forward to see you next year

    Muchos gracias from the Netherlands!

    Ruud Jonkman

  • Ben, this is my first open (started crossfit 4 mos ago) and your tips are awesome and have helped me so much. I actually hit the rx workout for 21.2. Question for 21.3…are you saying we can use the box to drop in for toes to bar and chest to bar during the workout? I have only done 1 toes to bar ever so my personal goal is to get this RX and do at least a few toes to bar. Thank you for the great info!!

  • I decided to Rx the 21.3 open workout. Had never been successful with any toes to bar. Watched your video, was able to do 19! Thanks so much

  • Got my first TTB !!! Got 3 in WOD . In almost 4 years at the box and 54 years old thought I’d never get it

  • So I’m in the woman’s master 60-64. I bought some of your classes and have made it through most of ties to bars albeit I really should of done shoulder rom first as that is one of my hold backs. Anyway, my T2B were much better for this and some carry over to pullups although kipping is still a work in progress. The overall point is that I got 11 chest to bars. I have been working for a long time with frustration of high enough just not touching the bar. Skills in T2B helped me get some C2B before this open. I retire from work this year and hope to implement more of your classes as I will have more time. This was a crazy open as I broke my big toe during 21.1(don’t ask! But I did get through a few rds before that)

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