2023 CrossFit Open Quarterfinals Strategy & Tactics

Written By Charleh Knighton  |  CrossFit, Open 

Quarterfinals are still relatively new to the CrossFit community. If you’re an athlete unfamiliar with the world of high-level qualifiers, then the whole concept can feel quite alien.

The CrossFit Open Quarterfinals are similar to the Open. Still, they are guaranteed much higher skilled movements and much heavier weights. They are far less accessible workouts than seen previously this year - but that’s the idea.

This is the point in the CrossFit season where we’ll see the top 10% of athletes battle it out for the top spots. For some athletes, this is the biggest competition of the year, and they will be aiming for the semi-finals in their location.

You can read more about the workouts and the movement standard in our previous article here. 

Workout 1

Workout 2

Workout 3

Workout 4

Workout 5

CrossFit Open Quarterfinals Strategy & Tactics


What order should I do the CrossFit Quarterfinals workout?

We know that workouts 1 & 2 HAVE to be submitted in the first 24 hours. You can read more about the deadline submissions here. But that’s not to say you have to do them all in order. You can think strategically here, and maximize the most reps.

Here’s what we would recommend: 

Aim to get 3 workouts done on day 1 in the following order;

  • Workout 2, (or Workout 3) Workout 1

Then, hit the final workouts on day 2. Leave the third day for any re-dos.

  • Workout 5, Workout 4

Additional notes:

Make sure you do workout 4 last as it’ll be really hard to do any of the other workouts afterwards. By doing workout 3 on day 1, it will give you the time and rest to do any re-do’s on Sunday. Especially for workouts like number 5.


Quarterfinals Workout 1 Strategy

Workout 1 is super smart. The biggest thing will be - do you know if you’re going to finish this workout; yes or no. There are a lot of bottlenecks that’ll separate the pack, and being certain on what you can and can’t do will massively help with your strategy here.

The handstand walks HAVE to go unbroken, and wow, it’s a long way. Only the top athletes will be able to breeze through this section.

For the total 225 ft, it’ll take between 2.5 minutes up to 6 minutes to complete, and in a 15-minute time cap workout, that’s a lot.

It’s not unreasonable to think that each rep (and this is if you don’t get no repped) will take you 20 seconds each time to complete.

If the handstand walks are going to fatigue you, you’ll need to take extra rest to give you the confidence to go unbroken. You’re going to have to be really focused on your technique and be able to breathe through the handstand walks. This workout comes with a super high cost of failure- it’s better to be safe than sorry.

Practice them before starting the workout to give yourself an idea of what it feels like. Remember, after the front squats, the handstand walks are going to feel even tougher on your midline. Focus on engaging your core and staying in a solid position to combat the fatigue.

Next, onto the front squats: the workout isn’t won here, but knowing what rep range you can consistently and calmly move through will be the winner here. It’ll only get spicy when you hit the 135lbs. Your midline will be shot, and if it’s heavy, then aim to just keep moving. The time cap isn’t long so just chipping away will still put you higher on the leaderboard.

Onto the muscle ups; there are going to be a lot of high-level athletes that won’t be able to finish.

It’ll become a real bottleneck. Plan out how many reps you can hold by constantly jumping back up to the bar. Your triceps are going to hurt, so make sure you break the front squats so that you can do manageable reps.

Finally, in the chest-facing handstand push-ups, you have to do wall walks which is going to add further fatigue to the movement. Thankfully, it’s at the end, so really push it here. If you get to that point (which is a huge win), take a bit longer on the rest to ensure you get quality reps. 

Remember, there’s a huge cost to failure. You want to avoid getting no repped at any point in the workout, so it’s better to take the extra few seconds.


Quarterfinals Workout 2 Strategy

Crossovers. Boy, I hope you’ve been practicing them. If not, you can watch our video here and learn how to nail them overnight.

In this workout, there’s very little strategy to be had here. It really comes down to if you have volume capacity in your arms or not. That being said, by working through the crossovers, you’ll for sure get one more rep than most athletes.

Our top tip is the rope itself. Use a longer rope that’s a little heavy. The heavier the rope is, it’ll open and close better than the super whippy ones.

To win this workout, keep chipping away. Find a pace throughout each movement which you can hold. You don’t want to be redlining.


Quarterfinals Workout 3 Strategy

Be smart on workout 3. You either have or don’t have heavy cleans. 90% of athletes in the quarterfinals are not going to be able to lift this bar, never mind rep it out. Boz is making a statement and separating the pack.

Firstly, if you can, warm up to 275lbs squat for the guys, and 225lbs for the girls. 

If you can, you want to be power cleaning, and then pushing the intensity on the burpee box jumps.

If this weight is challenging, don’t sprint the burpee box jump overs. Keep the heart rate down, and focus on the barbell. This workout will become a barbell workout very quickly as the reps increase, so by keeping your breathing under control, you’ll be able to get more reps in.


Quarterfinals Workout 4 Strategy

What a pairing from Boz. I know many people will hate it, but combining the two core movements (rowing and GHDs) will be a real eye-opener for many athletes. 

With the 1500m row, many athletes will complete this section in a 5 minute - 6 minute range. With the other movements, the top athletes will be looking to do 2.5 rounds in total. For many, you want to pace the workout as if you’re going to complete 1.5 rounds for time.

As we know, we’re most likely going to do the row twice, your core is going to SUCK. Your row technique is going to go out of the window, and trust me, it won’t be your fault. You will want to lean on the row, but instead, your arms and legs will take over. Keep this in mind when trying to hold your row pace.

Your row pace should be around your 2km pace. It will feel fast, and it will hurt the second time around, but finding a speed you can sustain will be the trick to getting as many GHDs in as possible.

On the GHDs, if you’re not used to the volume, then make sure you break the reps up. Your midline will hurt and hinder you on other workouts.

Finally, the v-ups are a new movement to the season but not a new movement to CrossFit. If you look at the standard carefully, they’re not as hard as you first imagine. You don’t need to blast through them. Instead, you can do singles and keep chipping away.

Use the benefit of the rest before you have to hit that rower again. The trick to the v-up is using your upper butt, and keeping your lower back on the ground. You’ll find you’ll be able to keep more balanced and achieve the movement standard more easily.

Note: the movement statement that will catch a number of athletes out is: to complete the rep, both hands must touch both feet and be above your head. For guys, this will be tricky as your legs also need to be fully extended.


Quarterfinals Workout 5 Strategy

Once again, we’re impressed by the clever design. Boz has really worked hard to make the workouts really cool, and we salute him!

The deadlifts are an irrelevant movement to this workout; you don’t need to go nuts on them. You can win this workout by steadily working through them. Note: in the movement standard, gymnastics grips must be flipped around when you pick up the deadlifts. You are not allowed to wear grips when lifting the barbell.

To do well here, it really depends on how good your gymnastics are. At the beginning, you can split the 21s and 15s into two sets. This will allow you to keep your breathing under control and focus on moving through the gymnastics more quickly.

Theoretically you could go unbroken, but if you don’t feel confident in this or don’t have the capacity, the strategy for this workout is deciding what rep ranges work for you and how you can break them up.

The limiters here are the bar muscle-ups and rope climbs. This is where many athletes will be separated, especially in the gymnastics under fatigue.

The fastest athlete will be able to do 9 rope climbs in 2 minutes; however, if you’re not used to that kind of volume, it’ll be very easy to waste a ton of time trying to catch your breath. This will make the rope climbs slow.

The strategy will be to keep your breathing under control and save your grip. Your grip will be tired, and instead of taking huge jumps, take small grabs. Use your legs, and keep climbing your way up. By taking smaller grabs, you’ll overcome the need to rest, plus it will allow you to keep cycling through the rope climbs.


To Summarize

Once again, massive congratulations on making it to the quarterfinals. This is a HUGE achievement.

If you would like more from WODprep, and help you get better at CrossFit, why not check out our online training. We have everything from CompeteMasters track to Classic. There's a program to suit your need.

You can learn more by clicking the link here.

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