CrossFit Open Workout 19.5 Strategy Guide

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Today’s post is from coach Ben Dziwulski – head coach at WodPrep. Ben is a CrossFit wizard – check out his advice and courses on all things CrossFit.

CrossFit Open 19.5 is here, our final workout of the (first) 2019 Open. Thrusters are back… and this one is going to burn.

CrossFit Open Workout 19.5 Strategy Guide

20 minutes may seem like a high time cap, but don’t be fooled by what you saw the Games athletes do last night – Open 19.5 is going to take a while to grind through. I expect to see athletes struggle through this one, not to mention, plenty of torn hands (which can potentially be avoided if you watch our hand care video at the bottom of this page).

19.5 CrossFit Open Workout​​​​​:​​

For time: 33-27-21-15-9 Thrusters (95/65 lbs) Chest to Bar Pull-ups 20 minute time cap. If you want to read the 19.5 workout standards, head to the official 2019 CrossFit Games Open website.

Open 19.5 Strategy:

This is a MORE THAN DOUBLE a normal “Fran”.

That’s right, technically a “double Fran” would be 90 reps of Thrusters and 90 reps of pull-ups, but this comes in at a whopping 105 reps each! Realistically, I’m estimating that anyone with a normal Fran time of over 6 minutes will struggle to finish this under the time cap. However, if you follow our pacing suggestions, you might surprise yourself.

Remember this: it’s fine to break up your reps. Everyone will do it. Try your best to not rest very much between smaller sets. The goal of each barbell drop or pull-up bar release is simply to shake it out, take a breath, and get back to grindin’ through those 210 reps.

For what it’s worth, I’ve done a 2:26 non-unbroken Fran time before in a competition. I actually broke the pull-ups twice! Moral of the story: Breaks are OK, just get back on the bar ASAP

CrossFit 19.5: Thruster​​​​s

Stay controlled, stay smooth, and focus on breathing. Try to have a rep scheme figured out ahead of time…. such as:

  • 13-11-9 Thrusters
  • 11 sets of 3 C2B Pull-ups
  • 11-9-7 Thrusters
  • 9 sets of 3 C2B Pull-ups Etc….

When it comes to the Thrusters, it’s also very important to breathe. This sounds silly but you must keep it in mind. It’s going to be very hard to breathe during this workout, as C2B pull-ups tend to limit your natural breathing patterns.

So, be sure to watch this video and focus on getting oxygen during your smooth, controlled thrusters.

C2B Pull-up Key for 19.5: SMALL SETS!

​Personally, I will do no more than 5 reps unbroken throughout the entire workout – even though I can do 40+ C2B unbroken when fresh. It’s not worth burning out early – you’ll crumble.

For many, sets of 3’s or even singles will be MUCH better. DO NOT fall into the trap of feeling good early and hitting big sets. You will pay the price and end up spending way too much time staring at the bar.

Looking for your first C2B reps? Just like the bar muscle ups from last week – I’m suggesting that you utilize the “box drop-in” method to increase your kipping power. Try box drop-in singles and keep moving! (see our full 19.5 strategy video above for details)

CrossFit 19.5: Masters

Masters athletes are also looking at Chest-to-bar pull-ups for the 19.5 workout – so check out our RX tips above, and if you’re in the 55+ division, use the same strategy for your chin-over-bar pull-ups – small sets!

Make sure to check your specific age for the weight requirements for thrusters.

Open 19.5: Scaled

33-27-21-15-9 reps for time of: 65/45 lb. thrusters Jumping pull-ups For jumping pull-ups – use your legs and calves. Remember that it’s chin-over-bar – so for the jumping pull-ups, you only need to get your chin above the bar!

Don’t over-jump, and don’t use a bar that is super high, as both of those things are going to waste a lot of energy.

CrossFit Open 19.5: Pacing/Mindset

It’s a trap!

While many people will start the first set of 33 reps feeling good, coming out with massive unbroken sets – these people will crumble.

If your goal is to come anywhere close to finishing this workout, your job is to stay smooth, controlled, and steady in the beginning, and then finish strong. My prediction is that thousands of athletes will hit a brick wall in the round of 21, and they’ll take more than triple their normal Fran time to finish.

I’d suggest coming out of the gate with about 80-85% effort, maintain this through the set of 21 reps, then start to ramp up the pace. If you can finish at an even faster pace than you started, I predict you’ll have a good score.

Here are some 19.5 mantras to remember in the heat of battle:

Thrusters: “Stick to your reps” (even though it will suck – stick to your thruster rep scheme!) “Breathe” (don’t forget to breathe deliberately during the thrusters) Pull-ups: “Small, fast sets” (In the beginning, resist the urge to do big, unbroken sets. Once you’re tired, convince yourself to hop back on the bar ASAP.)

Open 19.5 Workout Gear:

Weightlifting shoes are a very good idea here, especially if you struggle with thrusters. The high heels will help your squat depth and stability.

Next, if you’re used to using grips while doing pull-ups, use them to avoid ripping at all costs! If you tear your hands in this workout, it will be horrible. I suggest watching this video to help prevent bloody hands.

If you haven’t already, head to to get a 19.5 specific warm-up and recovery video sent to your inbox

Embrace the burn, and have fun with this final workout.