Crossfit WOD

Crossfit Open 17.5 — Improve Your Time By 90 Seconds?

Written by Jack


Remember Crossfit Open Workout 17.5? How’d you like to improve your score the next time you have at it? (After all, it could be the next Open “repeat” workout, right?)

OK, so I can’t guarantee 90 seconds. However I reckon it’s safe to say you’ll get a significant performance boost from implementing this one simple strategy…

In my case, it improved my 17.5 time by a whopping 90 seconds. AND I wasn’t half as wiped out the second time even though I got a way better result. So…

What’s this magic strategy? Well, we’ve talked about it lots around here. So you may not be surprised to hear…

“Slow Is Smooth… And Smooth Is Fast…”

Yep. My second run through this workout I just made sure to go slow and smooth.

In case you’ve blocked it from your memory… here’s a reminder of what Crossfit Open Workout 17.5 is:

10 Rounds For Time Of:

  • 9 Thrusters (95 lbs for men / 65 lbs for women)
  • 35 Double Unders

Here’s exactly how I tackled it…

First of all, I broke the Thrusters into 5 and 4 right from the first set. This felt weird because a set of 5 is so far below my capacity. But the whole idea was to make sure I stayed FAR from the infamous Red Line throughout the workout.

As a result, the Thrusters remained pretty easy right to the end. By comparison, the first time I did the workout I started out not breaking up the thrusters. Then I ended up doing excruciating sets of 2 and 3 by the bitter end…

I also tried to manage my transitions and rest so that I felt strong and ready every time I picked up the bar or the rope. But at the same time make sure I picked back up just a second or two BEFORE I really wanted to. To be honest…

I actually could have shaved another 15 to 20 seconds off this latest attempt because I ended up being TOO conservative during those transitions.

Another subtle trick I used for the Thrusters was to make sure that I used the full extension to take a mini break. There’s a moment at the top when you can actually relax and start your next breath. Taking advantage of that instead of rushing into your next rep makes a HUGE difference in your cumulative fatigue.

Next… I went WAY slower on my Double Unders than I’m capable of. DUs are one of my strengths, so I can actually go pretty darn fast. But the name of the game was making sure I stayed far away from redlining. So I really had to discipline myself to keep the pace down.

It’s as simple as that. And the result took me from a score of 14:48 in the Open to a new PR of 13:10 on my second try. And the crazy thing is, during the first run through this workout I seriously considered quitting several times. I just wanted to stop and roll around on the floor in a fetal position. And when I finished I writhed around and gasped like a fish out of water for at least 5 minutes.

Yet on my second — faster — attemp I finished, took a knee for about 20 seconds, got up and walked around, and then went into the next part of my workout. No drama. No big deal. Amazing.

Sure… I may have been a bit fitter. It was a few months later. But more than anything it was strategy. No matter how fit you are, if you don’t have the right game plan for a workout you won’t be able to EXPRESS that fitness.

I can’t overstate the importance of getting to know your pace for different movements and different time domains. That one single thing will skyrocket your performance overnight. One of the easiest ways to do it is to start “guesstimating” before every workout. Try to figure out how long each movement will take, how long your transitions will be, and what you think your score will be. Then compare when your done. Make some notes in your training journal on how well your guesses were.

About the author


My grandfather gave me my start in fitness. He said he just wanted to keep me out of trouble. But he shaped the person and the coach I am today. Sport quickly became the center of my life.

I competed in Laser Class sailing at an international level, as well as skiing, football, hockey and more. My first coaching passion was alpine skiing where I spent 20 years as a coach, instructor and ski school director.

But my greatest passion has always been helping people get fit. I’ve devoted my life to study and intense personal practice. I’m a firm believer in practicing what I preach, and in testing my theories on myself. I’m obsessed with the world of health, fitness and nutrition.

Then a few years back I stumbled — grudgingly — on Crossfit. To be honest I started out as a “hater” who believed the negative hype. But after giving it a try, I became increasingly hooked. I dabbled for a couple years, and then in the Spring of 2016 I really started taking it seriously.

I now consider myself a Crossfit Masters Athlete. I’m immersed in it completely. And I want to share my journey here at Smooth Is Fast.

NCSA-CPT, NCCP 3, CSIA Lvl 4 Course Conductor, CSCF 3,
Biosignature Certified, MAT Lower Body Certified, AKC Certified Coach

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