March 29, 2014

What Crossfit Open 14.5 is really about

The number of Crossfit movements that make sense for the 200,000 Crossfit Open competitors were dwindling after the first four workouts. The twittersphere was speculating and thrusters and burpees were expected on the menu. What came out however was an unexpected twist:

14.5 is:

For time
21-18-15-12-9-6-3 reps of:
Thrusters (95lb)

For my non-Crossfitter readers, that means 21 thrusters (front squat+push press), 21 burpees (get on ground, get up, hop over the barbell), 18 thrusters, 18 burpees, 15 thrusters, 15 burpees, etc with the last round being 3 reps of each movement. The total is 84 thrusters and 84 burpees.

What was surprising about this workout was that it was for time. We call this a "task-priority" workout in which there is a certain prescribed amount of work to accomplish and you simply go until you finish. This is the 21st Crossfit Open workout and is the first ever to have this format. Up to this point, they've all been AMRAPs (as many reps as possible) within a time cap chosen specifically for each workout. What this means is that you know that when the time runs out, you are safe. There are no more reps, and no more suffering.

As Crossfitters, we generally live within the 8-15 minute time domain in order to achieve a particular dosage. Though 8-15 minutes is the time that the great Crossfitters will take for 14.5, recreational Crossfitters who don't have athletic background prior to Crossfit are more likely to be in the 20-30 minute range for the 14.5 workout. For us, this is a mental test. How much can you minimize rest between sets of thrusters and how much discomfort are you willing push through?

With 14.5, you will grind it out until the end of the workout, or you will give up. There is no other option. However, Crossfitters don't quit. It's not in our culture. We keep going. When the announcements was made that this workout was for time, my jaw dropped. Someone is going to fight through this workout for an hour through untold anguish. Crossfit is about continuing to fight through "the suck." We expect suffering through workouts, and utilize this grit in other aspects of our life.

Greg Glassman, the guy who invented Crossfit, said that the greatest adaptation to Crossfit is between the ears. This mental fortitude gained is a factor in why Crossfit makes us better at everything else we do. Other skills in Crossfit culture include keeping a positive attitude through adversity and the practice of accomplishing what was previously impossible. Only through years of grinding hard work doing Crossfit are impossible Crossfit goals achievable. Crossfit gives me the opportunity to put myself in an uncomfortable place, and to keep going.

14.5 does just that. I'm up to the challenge, are you?


  1. Great take on the 14.5. I dreaded doing this at first glance, to be completely honest. However, later on I saw the genius of this WOD in the sense that it trains you to be strong mentally -- mental fortitude, as you called it. Thanks for this blog entry. It's a welcome encouragement from your side of the world to mine! :)

  2. It seems daunting w/ 84 thrusters (just slightly below a double Fran w/ 45 thrusters), but after doing the WOD, I felt that it wasn't so bad after all. You can always do one more thruster. The length of time in the mental battle seems like a while but it is manageable. You always get to look forward to shorter and shorter sets!