CrossFit® Open 18.1 – The Complete Strategy Guide (Scaled, Masters, and Rx)

Written By Ben  |  Open 

Crossfit Games Open 18.1
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 2018 CrossFit Open Tips

The 2018 CrossFit® Open is finally underway! This is an especially exciting and busy time of year for functional fitness athletes. Over the next five weeks, there will be a lot of discussion on strategy and performance. WODprep aims to be that go-to resource for all things Open related, starting with your 18.1 strategy. If you want to “RX” more and improve your scores - we’ve got you covered.

Rookies: If this is your first year participating in the Open, we encourage you to prioritize FUN! So while you read, watch, or listen to our content on how to perform better, learn to fall in love with the process. With any luck, we’ll see you here again next year, itching for validation for all of the training you’ve put in. Don’t sweat the roadblocks. Don’t sweat that you might need to scale. Embrace it.

Vets: For returning Open competitors, participating annually is a great way to see how you’re improving among a larger data set. It’s easy to feel confident when you’re lapping your classmates in an 18 minute AMRAP. It’s also short-sighted to feel down about a classmate finally hitting a body weight snatch before you (even though you started around the same time). Seeing how much you improved over a year among 300,000+ athletes is much more indicative of growth versus comparing yourself daily to the  people at your box or Instagram feed.

Without further adieu, let’s get into the real reason you’re here:

Here’s WODprep's 18.1 Strategy Guide!

18.1 CrossFit® Open Workout

20 minute AMRAP


  • 8 Toes to Bar
  • 10 HPC --> OH w/ DB (50/35)
  • Calorie Row (14/12)


  • 8 Hanging Knee Raise
  • 10 HPC --> OH w/ DB (35/20)
  • Calorie Row (14/12)


  • 8 TTB / Hanging Knee Raise*
  • 10 HPC --> OH w/ DB*
  • Calorie Row (14/12)

*Dependent on age group

For a complete standards guide, please visit

CrossFit® 18.1 Strategy Keys:

1. Pacing

2. Grip

3. Transitions

Most people should try this RX'd, even if you struggle with TTB (tips for getting your first rep are in the video).

Below is our official, full-length strategy video, be sure to check it out to maximize your workout:

Breathing & Pacing

  • Stay moving! Keep rest between movements to a minimum. If you catch yourself stalling, convince yourself to start the next rep. Just one is usually enough to build momentum!
  • If you’re going to break, do so on the TTB only - try not to put the dumbbell down once you pick it up, or at least hit 5 reps at a time and rest during the arm transition Work through the rower at the same pace throughout.
  • Set up your station linearly. Rig → DB → Rower. Walk Forward, GO!, Repeat.
  • Treat this as an “2-MOM”, “3-MOM”, “4-MOM”... Try to finish a round every 2,3, or 4 minutes and keep that pace throughout the workout.
  • 20 minutes is a long time. Slow and steady wins the race.
  • The movement that will likely break down first is TTB. Have a plan in place for breaking up the reps before resorting to singles OR stick with singles from the very beginning.
  • Example: 8, 6/2, 5/3, 4/4, 2's, 1's. Don’t do 8 unbroken if you will end up having to do singles the next round. Stay consistent. Make your way down the negative splits gradually.
toes to bar CrossFit Open Workout 18.1

Mindset for 18.1 - CrossFit® Open

  • Stay steady, stay smooth, keep breathing.
  • You can't win this workout in the first six minutes, but you can definitely lose it.
  • The burn will be over - don’t dwell on it!
  • Finish strong: athletes who can keep their composure for the first 16 minutes, then push hard for the last 4, will get great scores.

CrossFit® Open 18.1 Movement Tips

Toes To Bar

  • It’s okay to do small sets, even singles, to save yourself from fatigue.
  • Use a low bar so you don't waste lots of energy.
  • Use "hollow hop in" or "box drop in" to help utilize momentum.
  • Avoid the death swing!

(We talk about these tips and more in our 8-week coaching program, Toes To Bar Transformed. Check it out if you're ready to finally unlock TTB - it’s helped a ton of athletes change their TTB game.)

Dumbbell Hang Clean & Jerk

  • Standards are tricky, check them out first.
  • Lock out your hips before jumping into your first rep (deadlift the DB).
  • "Kettlebell Style" seems to be best - use your empty hand for momentum on the clean.
  • You can try hook gripping to save your forearms, but depends on the DBs used.
  • DO NOT rest during the hang...
  • Breaking 5/5 is okay. Don't get caught up in saving 1 second by having the ultimate super cool mid-air transition.


  • Don't overthink it. Get in and out of the rower with control, and stop freaking out about straps (keep them semi loose to slip in and out of).
  • Transitions are key - get on and start pulling, don't dwell in your sorrow.
  • Pull long and strong, not quick and choppy
  • Drive with the legs. Extend the hips. Pull strong with your arms, relax your grip. Proud back. Big breaths.

Gear Guide

Hand Protection/ Grip

  • You can wear gymnastic grips OR double tape the bar, but not both! We suggesting taping the bar, as gymnastic grips will cause fatigue when holding the DB.

Wrist Wraps

  • If you’re using gymnastic grips, wrist wraps might be overkill. 
  • If you’ve never used them, you won’t need them now. 
  • If you are used to them, stick to your comfort zone.

Additional Resources:

Before You Leave...

Thanks for reading our CrossFit® Open 18.1 Strategy Guide. We look forward to seeing you again next week. Before you go, we ask that you do three things:

  1. Leave a comment after hitting 18.1 - What were your takeaways? What was easy, hard? If you did it again, how would you do it differently? We encourage you to be specific and long-winded 😉
  2. Please share our CrossFit Open 18.1 Strategy Guide with a friend (sharing is caring). If you aren’t signed up for our Open emails (which contain bonus tips like a specific warm-up video) - you should do that here.
  3. To aid with your recovery and support the WODprep team, grab yourself a WODprep Massage Ball Set. (They are 18% off during the Open Season only!)

Disclaimer: WODprep is not affiliated with CrossFit® We are an independent group of functional fitness athletes trying to help other people like us perform better in their WODs and everyday lives. 

  • Not bad. Rx’d it. Against all my wishes and expectations going in. Peer pressure got me.

    I think i stepped on the gas a little late. (~16 min). Or i went too slow for the first 16. Either way. I ddnt feel DEAD after.

    Hook grip saved me on DB.

    I was able to keep 1000 cal/hr. And u/b ttb.
    Which were my only goals.

    I put (dropped) db down twice.

    Final score. 274.

  • Awesome, great idea to do such a guide so fast, good job!
    What I’d love to see is recommendations what you should to “have” to do it RX.. Sure, it’s different from person to person, but still. 🙂 Examples: Do it RX if you have: 8 unbroken TTB, 8 DB-thingys, or something like that. 🙂 (numbers are made up)

    • If you can get through at least a couple rounds over the course of 20 minutes, I’d suggest RX-ing this workout. I love watching athletes overcome their fears of TTB or slightly heavy weight when they realize they CAN do it.

      This particular workout I’m not seeing a major risk for injury, so I’m comfortable suggesting RX for more people than usual 🙂

  • I did it today and did really well with the single toe to bar. I had problems on the dumbbells as my right side is a lot stronger than the left so struggled a lot with strength, coordination and stability which slowed me down. Are there any tips to deal with a weaker side that is slowing you down. This is worse than 17.1 for me as there is less momentum from the shoulder than the floor.

    • Thanks for sharing, Nick!

      When it comes to instability on one side, you definitely aren’t alone. I would suggest STARTING each round with the weak side so that you can use your “freshness” and have extra stability. Most people will start with their strong side, get tired, and then the weak side will feel even weaker!

      Hope this helps. 🙂

      • Thanks Ben. I wish I’d kept up with the wodpep shoulder rom course as those shoulder stability exercise would have helped. But found it hard to keep up when trying to address hitting all the other skills I couldn’t do. I managed almost 5 rounds and hoping to do better in the repeat. Just one other point, my coach recommended that I break the dumbbells into 3 reps at a time to reduce the load. I’m not sure if this helped/hindered, as I had to do multiple deadlifts. Any thoughts on this.

    • Nope! Never hook grip a pull-up bar movement with your thumb UNDER your fingers. You can use what some call a “gymnastic hook grip” where you have your thumb OVER your pointer and middle finger while around the bar.

  • I found it super grippy. . .I do think hook gripping the DB and gymnastic hook gripping the bar for TTB helped. Off-side hang PC and jerk was just a little wiggy. Broke the TTB into 4 from the start with 3 sec break. Worked fine. 260 reps (M, 45-49 years ancient). Does feel like the real issue is what to nail your row to. Think I coulda done another round with a little more discipline there. The fight against entropy continues!

  • These strategies are the best! I’ve made just as explained and it worked so so well!
    Thanks for the tips, they were gold to me!

    • Hi Chantel – it’s not specified in the movement standards on the Crossfit Open website… we advised a similar technique last year for BMU’s – only if necessary.

  • Very nice tips for the workout man, I definitely agree that the key is the pace and the last five or four minutes make the difference.

    I did it today, it was a fun workout! I decided to divide the t2b in 4/4 without rest, just get off the bar and go back up, but I may need to do the t2b unbroken. My problem is that I know that eventually (at some point) I would need to break it.

  • Masters 60+ – TTB killed my workout…..just not proficient at them yet…i used the Dumbell portion as a little bit of recovery it was easy for me. Row was hard for me to gauge pace…..I will be doing the workout again.

  • Thanks for the great tips and strategies! I did 18.1 early this morning (just before you released your guide!) – scaled it since it was my first ever Open WOD. Our coaches had very similar advice about pacing and transitions and it was SO helpful.

    Knee raises unbroken until rounds 10, 11 – then 4/4
    Did not drop the bloody DB. Remember to pause at the hang and lock everything out when full overhead – it’s tempting to be a little lazy in the last 5 min. Don’t get no-repped.
    Thought of the row as active recovery, kept the pace at 950-100 cal/h all the way. I think that helped getting back on the bar.
    296 reps. Totally happy.

    Can’t wait for next week.

  • Thanks for the tips Ben! I did 18.1 this morning before reading them, but I think they are right on. I have a hard time getting in my head and giving up when I see the clock during long amraps. But, this time instead of focusing on how much time was left (which is always an eternity), I focused on keeping each round under the 2 minute emom mark. Also, I treated the DB like a KB for the hang clean, using my other arm in the air for momentum.

    • That’s an awesome strategy Christina – I’m hoping to do it again also treating it like an E2MOM – hope you enjoyed it 😉

  • Stringing TTB together has been a struggle so I went with quick singles right from the get go. Worked great and I didn’t have any no reps or extra time spent hanging on the bar! Thanks for the tips! I picked up the pace with the dumbbell and didn’t set it down then got moving on the rower. Kept my pace throughout the workout and stuck to my game plan! Met my goal of 8 rounds. 🙂

  • Thanks Ben. Masters 60+ men. The TTB were my downfall. Could have done dumbbells all day. Fatigued at rowing. Your tips were great. I’ll practice TTB all year. Also muscle ups and chest to bar.. it was immense fun

  • I watched the strategy video last night after my first attempt of 18.1, and redid the WOD this morning. Thanks to the tips about transitioning, and resting DB on the shoulder rather than at hang position, I improved my score by 13 reps (both attempts RX’d). Great stuff! Thanks!

  • Almost 66 and my 3rd year doing the open! Have loved these tips and videos from the start! I’m doing “take 2” today. My first attempt resulted in 252 points And the goal today is to get 9 full rounds….a goal of 17 more reps. I’ve had some foot issues this year (still have) so was happy this workout doesn’t hurt them!

  • Did 18.1 scaled; your prep video was a big help. I did it twice and improved by 18 reps the second time, exceeding my goal. The two things that I changed to get the better score: commit to a goal on the rower I knew I could hit (1000 cals/hr in my case) and stick to it no matter what; and take no breaks for water or panting, just try to keep breathing.

  • Good tips, ~2 year ago my score was 156 reps, for male / 50-55 age group and body weight 136 lbs, so the DB HPC-Jerks were the hardest part. Since then I have worked on improving my overhead pressing, at the cost of T2B will repeat it tonight I hope/aiming to at least hit 250.

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