Top CrossFit Open 23.3 Strategies & Tactics

Written By Charleh Knighton  |  CrossFit, The Open 

What an announcement! Mal O’Brien coming in hot and showing the world how it’s done. The final event for the CrossFit Open 23.3 Workout is an exciting 3 part test with time cap cutoffs that will see many athletes not completing the workout as prescribed. This is not the first time we’ve seen this style of workout and by now, we should be expecting it.

Be sure to sign up to receive our free open strategy guides straight to your inbox! As well as our posted blogs, you’ll get exclusive content that consists of additional strategies and tips that we develop throughout the weekend, mental prep notes, and bonus content for the scaled divisions!

First, you need to make sure you warm up well for the snatches and gymnastic movements to reduce the risk of injury. The barbell is going to get heavy for most athletes and be taxing on the shoulders. 

In this article, we’ll take you through everything you need to know to absolutely smash this workout. If you’re a scaled or master athlete, we’ll be sharing more information here.

Before you continue reading, make sure you’ve checked out the workout and the standards from our previous article here.


Strategy for 23.3 Open Workout

If you’re looking at this workout, and thinking to yourself:

“Wow, I don’t think I can do much of this!”

... Then continue reading to the end to discover our coaching tips that will give you the confidence you’re seeking.

But first, if you’re looking at 23.3 and thinking:

“Yes, I can do everything as prescribed, how can I crush this?”

Then these are the tactics and strategies for you.


How To Nail The Pace Of 23.3 Open Workout

If all the skills are doable for you, then these are the things you want to consider. (And if not, keep reading the next sections).

6 minutes is not a long time. You can only go fast in this workout. However, there are a few pointers that’ll help get the “right” pace for this workout.

Just going “all out” simply won’t cut it. 

There are 2 spots I want you to pay attention to: wall walks and the second set of snatches.

In your first section of wall walks, you want to aim to have this completed fast, ideally in under a minute. (This will be achievable even if it takes you 10 seconds per wall walk.)

This is where you’ll find out how well you’ve trained this year and whether you’ve practiced wall walks enough...

Fast forward. The second spot to pay attention to is the second set of snatches.

When you get to the second barbell weight, you need to move quickly here. However, if that barbell is heavy, and it will be for most, then this will be the primary workout for you. 

At this point in the workout, your triceps are going to be lit so make sure you nail the pace here. The snatches aren’t a sprint. You just have to choose a pace that you can consistently hold and for that reason we recommend singles.

The ultimate goal here is to get to the next round, and with a 6 minute time cap, there won’t be much time left on the clock. Make sure your judge is calling out the times so you know where you need to push it. This should be a sprint to the finish line and leave nothing in the tank if it gets you to the next round.

Pro tip: Make sure you download our breathing guide before hitting this workout. You can do so here.


How To Crush The Wall Walks In The 23.3 Open Workout 

By now, wall walks for RX should be a non-factor. As long as you don’t slow down and keep breathing throughout the movement, this should not be where you get held back.

With only 10 reps in total for the whole workout, ensure you understand the standards beforehand, and warm up your shoulders. The hard part is yet to come.

Here’s the key information you need to know from the standards:

The start and finish lines should be marked with tape.

The tape's edge that is CLOSEST to the wall is where you should measure from. The measurement for women is 55 inches from the wall to the measuring tape. The distance is 60 inches for guys. 

The beginning and end of each repeat will be on this first line. Tape a second line such that it is separated from the wall by 10 inches on both sides. The tape line must be 30 inches long and no wider than 2 inches when it is positioned 10 inches from the wall.

Pro tip: Any part of the hand can touch the tape, so use your thumb on the corner of the tape to complete your rep. This will save you time.


How To Nail The Strict Handstand Push Ups In The 23.3 Open Workout

The standard is challenging for the HSPU.

The box is narrow and will really test your strict handstand push up form. The box used to be 40 inches, which could put many people right at the edge. Now it's only 30 inches. And the tape line is 10 inches from the wall.

The feet may be no wider than the width of the hands at any point.

And no other part of your body can touch the wall except your heels.

By the time you reach the handstand push ups, your arms will feel pretty tired, so going in on rep schemes that you typically do when fresh simply won’t work. If you normally go sets of 5, scale it down to 2 or 3 reps. You’re better to keep moving and not stop than to be waiting for a long time. Remember the workout is still short, so there isn’t much time to play with.

Pro tip: Your feet can come off the wall during the handstand push up but must finish on the wall.


How To Get “Faster” Double Unders In The 23.3 Open Workout

Slow is fast, and fast is slow.

If you try and “rush” your double unders, you’ll find you’ll trip more and cost you dearly. By having to reset the jump rope each time to start the double under movement, you're going to lose valuable seconds on the clock.

The goal here is to go 50 unbroken each round. To do this, concentrate on a pace you can hold unbroken, keeping your elbows in and down the side of your body and making sure that you jump high enough.

The double unders is where you’ll be able to “rest”. This makes the breathing part important. Breathe normally as you jump and you’ll find that you’ll become more relaxed and conserve your energy for the snatches.

Pro tip: Make sure you’re shaking your arms out at any possible opportunity to keep the blood flowing as they continue to get more tired.


How To Cycle Through The Snatches In The 23.3 Open Workout

Let’s say it again. Your shoulders are going to be really tired. Thankfully, any snatches are allowed, but that’s not to say you can “grip it and rip it.”

In any normal workout, you might typically do muscle snatches. But not in this case. Power or no-contact power snatches are the way forward here.

If you’re looking to finish the snatches between 1:30 - 1:45, then hitting the bar every 6-9 seconds per single rep will achieve this. By my calculation, there’s no time to stop, so make sure you keep moving.

Finally, there are 4 weight changes in the total workout. There really isn’t any time to be changing the barbell yourself. You can have multiple barbells set up if you don’t have anybody to help load.

Make sure you get your judge plus partner/friend to change the weights for you as you take a break. This is your opportunity to get your heart rate back to a “reasonable” level before attacking the next round.

Pro tip: 90% of people won’t make it to the last bar. But if your PR is close to the top weight, then go for it. Even if you get one, you’ll automatically jump up the leaderboard so you might as well go for it and celebrate the win.
crossfit benchmark workout annie double unders

Overcoming Your “Limiting Factor”

To get the best strategy for you, it really does depend on what your limiting factor is. 

We’ve broken down the best tip for each movement that could potentially hold you back:

  1. Double Unders
  2. Weight of the Barbell
  3. Handstand Push Ups


If double unders are going to hold you back in 23.3 Open Workout...

Whether you’re brand new to CrossFit or have been training for a while, we can all agree on one thing: double unders are not an easy skill to learn, and they are REALLY frustrating. 

Nailing double unders isn’t for the faint of heart and you won’t just learn them overnight.

But first, let’s take a look at a few important keys for mastering double unders: 

  1. Correct jump height
  2. Spinning the rope in a controlled manner
  3. Keeping your arms down by your side

We break down double under progressions on our YouTube channel here. Watch more to learn how you can crush them in this workout.

Here are the two main progressions to practice before attacking this workout.


Power Jumping:

A key to mastering double under timing is learning the correct kind of jump. While this may seem obvious, it’s important. 

No rope, just your body. Practice the ‘power jump’ which is a higher jump than a regular single under jump. 

Power jumping also involves learning the ability to absorb the landing correctly, so that you can then easily rebound into the next jump.

Practice power jumps to get familiar and comfortable with the motion of not pausing between each jump. This will help you to learn what the correct jump height is for you.


Penguin Claps:

You don’t need a rope for this one. Start by doing the power jumps mentioned earlier (big jumps) and then use your hands to pat the sides of your hips, twice while you’re in the air. 

This helps you learn the cadence needed for when you do start using your rope and keeping your arms close to the sides of your body.

BONUS TIP: it might not be your double unders technique that’s holding you back. It could be your jump rope! Here’s an article we’ve written previously about how you can find the perfect fit for you.


If the weight of the barbell is going to hold you back in 23.3 Open Workout...

If you want to get better at the snatch, read on for an excellent progression that you can practice in open gym. You can repeat this session over and over again, increasing the load whenever it starts to feel really comfortable. However, as the 23.3 workout is already happening, here are a few things that can be done that will definitely get you a better score.


Snatch Grip Strict Press:
Get The Shoulders Moving

Start by placing the bar on your shoulders, holding it with your standard snatch grip, and keeping your elbows tucked under the bar. 

Press the bar up until your arms are fully extended and your armpits are pointing forward without using your legs. The bar should end over the base of your neck (not in front of or behind your body).

This drill helps you to dial in that overhead position in standing before you add in anything dynamic. You create a strong and stable overhead position when you focus on facing your armpits forward. 


Snatch Balance:
Get The Legs (And Body) Moving

Start by placing the bar on your shoulders, holding it with your standard snatch grip, and keeping your elbows tucked under the bar. 

Now dip, raise the bar with extended hips and knees, and then lower your body to grasp the bar in the power position. As you receive the bar, wait for a moment to become comfortable in this posture and make sure the bar is balanced.

This drill is excellent for learning how to move ourselves under the bar and work on a stable receiving position without the added complications of the pull and the turnover. It’s also a great one to help get over fear of diving under a heavy barbell at speed!

BONUS TIP: For a full snatch warm-up, make sure to watch our YouTube video here.


If strict handstand push ups are going to hold you back in 23.3 Open Workout...

Now let's dig into the nitty gritty about the strict handstand push up. Here are a couple of tips to help you improve your performance.

The biggest and most important aspect of strict handstand push ups is to touch and go at the bottom. A common trap many athletes fall into is where they relax at the bottom of the rep, but they don't realize that they're losing tension in their shoulders. 

When you do strict handstand push ups, if you relax with your head on the floor, you're losing all of the tension in your shoulders to get you out of the bottom.

Here are the 5 drills for strict hand push ups you can practice before attacking 23.3 Open Workout:

  • Seated DB Presses
  • Box HSPU
  • Kick ups
  • Wall Holds
  • Shoulder R.O.M

BONUS TIP: Make sure to watch our handstand push up playlist on YouTube to overcome your limiting factor.


To Summarize 23.3 Open Workout

This workout is going to be tough and most athletes won’t even complete it. That’s ok. This is a highly skilled workout that will challenge you and give you a target to attack for next year.

Make sure you save your grip, warm up your shoulders and make the most of Friday Night Lights. The Open is about having fun and seeing how far you can push yourself. This is a spring to get the heart going so do your best. 

Feel proud of your achievements from the past workouts. Let us know in the comments below if you got a PR or if you surpassed your own expectations.


The only links you need for the 2023 CrossFit Open:

23.3

Blog: 23.3 Open Announcement: How To Watch It

Blog: 23.3 Open Workouts & Standards

Blog: 23.3 Open Strategies and Tactics

Blog: 23.3 Open Strategies for Scaled and Masters Athletes

Blog: 23.3 Open Strategy Re-do


23.2

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


23.1

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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