CrossFit Open 23.1 Strategy & Tips To Get Your Best Time

Written By Charleh Knighton  |  The Open 

The CrossFit Open 23.1 workout was announced and wow, was that a surprise. No one could have predicted that. Ring muscle ups coming straight out of the gates in workout one.

The standards are a little different from previous years, so we'll want to strategize how we can efficiently hit this workout to get our best time possible.

In this article we’ll go over tips and strategies on how to pace this workout, and how to efficiently move through the toes-to-bar, wall balls, cleans and ring muscle ups while getting you the best possible time.

With 5 movements to perform in order to complete 23.1 Open, this workout will give a good beating on your shoulders and hips.

Make sure you get to the gym early and get a good warm up in. You'll want to hit the ground running (rowing) with this workout.

Tips On How To Pace The Row In 23.1

Pacing appropriately will be your secret sauce for getting your absolute best time on this workout!

If this isn't your first Open, then you know it's a right of passage to blow out too early on at least one of the workouts.

However, you will never make that mistake twice. Here's how you will not only avoid it, but crush the pacing.

Don’t Blow Out Of The Starting Gate

If you go as fast as you possibly can at the start you will definitely hit a “red line” in this workout. That is the last thing you want to do! This workout isn't won on the row. There's still 4 movements to go, some of which are advanced skilled. They will most certainly get in the way of many athlete's game plan, and you can use this to your advantage.

This workout is 14 minutes long, so setting the pace is crucial here. For more experience athletes, you want to be hitting between your 1k or 2k row pace. Ideally, you want to comfortably come off the rower and be able to hit the toes-to-bar with no issues.

At no point in this workout should you be taking a rest, especially on the rowing. The goal is to be constantly moving through. If you feel like you’re wanting to take a rest, then you should slow your pace down to a manageable level.

Watch Your Grip

For most people, the toes-to-bar will be the biggest “limiter”. By limiter we mean that this exercise will take the most of the athlete, taking a disproportionately long amount of time or fatiguing them the most. To give ourselves the best possible chance at chipping away through those reps, the best strategy is to watch your grip on the rower.

If you feel like you're nailing the pace, then your grip is your next focus. Have a looser grip on the rower handle than you would normally. If you put too much tension through your wrists and forearms, you're going to put yourself at a disadvantage when you jump back up onto the rig.

Strategy For Efficient T2B In 23.1

50 toe-to-bar is a lot. That's a lot of volume.

Even for the best athletes, breaking the reps up into small chunks will be crucial. Only the likes of Laura Horvath will be killing it with an all time record score and have the ability to do two sets of 30 and 20.

It's easy to fall into the trap and think sets of 10 will be ok, but this would be ambitious thinking. Go smaller sets than you think. The game here is consistency.

If you're already down to the desperate singles, then you know it's bad. 

If toes-to-bar aren't your jam, and 5 reps fresh is your max, then go singles straight away. Being able to jump up, rep one out, jump back down and consistently repeat this will get you further ahead than most athletes.

We wrote some tips on how to get your first toe-to-bar which you can watch on our YouTube here.

By this point in the workout, your midline is going to be feeling the fatigue, so watch out when you hit the wall balls. This is a core workout from start to finish, and you've still got a long way to go.

How To Avoid "Gassing Out" On The Wall Ball Shots in 23.1

So the written standards of a wall ball are: you need to start below parallel in a squat, holding on to the wall ball, and then you must make contact with the ball above the target.

  1. The Set Up
    Start with your feet in the squat position, with your feet shoulder width apart and rather than holding a barbell, hold the ball -ready to throw. Hip crease must go below the top of your knee to count as a rep.
  2. Save your arms! Use the clearing stroke technique
    After you have thrown the ball, rather than leaving your arms in the air - bring them out, down and around, back ready to catch the ball before going into the squat position to start the movement again.

    This will massively increase your efficiency and save your arms from fatigue. You're going to need them for the next two movements after all!

    Check out how it looks on our Ultimate Wall Ball YouTube video here.
  3. Slow is fast, fast is slow
    40 wall balls fresh might sound alright, but you won't be feeling too great at this point. You want to stay away from failure and rather chipping away at those reps. Try sets of 10 (or less) with small rests. The moment you begin to stop and stare at the ball is the moment you know you've lost. You have to keep moving.
  4. Breathe
    Just like the rowing, you want to be breathing in and out with every rep. When you throw the ball, you want to be breathing out and breathing in on the catch. This will help you to regulate your pacing and avoid gassing out.

Cycle Through The Cleans Like A Pro

The cleans should be completed in singles. This weight shouldn’t be too heavy at 95lbs (females) and 135lbs (males) if you’re in the proper division. That's doesn't mean to say you should be redlining here, you don’t want to push these hard. We know from experience that even the pro's will be going singles - that's the quickest way to cycle through those reps.

If the cleans are heavier for you, you should take your time and ensure you keep moving. Don't allow yourself to stop. You will feel tired. It will hurt. Stopping and staring at the bar will just eat up too much time. 

For many athletes, it's unlikely that you'll reach the ring muscle ups (that's if you have them), and there is a tie-breaker score. That's the real goal here. How far can you get through the cleans and get one more rep on another athlete.

You're Not Getting Your First Ring Muscle Up Today - Here's Why

Getting your first muscle up in the Open is an incredible feeling and for many, it's the push we've needed to get that first rep. Typically, ring and bar muscle ups only appear in the later workout. However, CrossFit HQ are mixing it up and bringing the big guns out in the first workout for 2023.

That being said, if you haven't already got ring muscle ups and you do reach the rings in this workout - let's go! Don't just stand there staring up at the rings. Make the most of the opportunity and see if you can hit it.

Before you do, you may want to read our article on ring muscle up progressions.

Now, congratulations if you've made it to the last movement on 23.1. You're automatically in the top percentage of athletes. 

It's likely that you'll have about 1 minute left to get as many reps as possible on the muscle ups. You will be tired. You've just done a ton of working out so singles are good.

Again, it's all about consistency. You'll be in a position where no reps will be costly and highly likely to happen so focus on good form with rep.

That means, getting a good hip drive, speed as you "sit up" and ensuring you complete the rep in the full extension, lock out position after the dip.

Overall we really like this workout! Please let us know in the comments below if you used any of these strategies in your workout and how you did!

The only links you need for the 2023 CrossFit Open:


Blog: 23.2 Open Announcement: How To Watch It

Blog: 23.2 Open Workouts & Standards

Blog: 23.2 Open Strategies and Tactics

Blog: 23.2 Open Strategies for Scaled and Masters Athletes

Blog: 23.2 Open Strategy Re-do


Blog: CrossFit Open 23.1 Workout & Standards

Blog: CrossFit Open 23.1 Strategy & Tips

YouTube Video: CrossFit Open 23.1 Strategy & Tips

YouTube Video: CrossFit Open: 5 Stages of 23.1

CrossFit Season

Blog: Our Workout Predictions for the CrossFit Open Season 2023

Blog: 2023 CrossFit Season Changes You Can Expect

Blog: Top Tips for 2023 CrossFit Season

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