Tips for CrossFit Open 13.2

I had a few people asking me for some strategies before 13.1, so I said I would try to do a blog for 13.2. Just remember your asking a guy who got stuck at the 135lbs snatch!

In my opinion box jumps are the most important exercise in 13.2. After doing a few calculations box jumps make up just over 50% of the total workout time for most athletes. After watching the videos of Julie Foucher, Lindsey Valenzuela and Annie Thorisdottir it becomes more apparent that this movement is critical.

I calculated the total time of each athlete performing 9 rounds of box jumps. I calculated 9 sets because that’s how many Julie completed in comparison to Annie’s 12 sets and 11 sets for Lindsay. Based on my observations Julie probably would have performed much better if she was competing against another athlete. Her final set of box jumps were her fastest at 33.13 seconds, whereas Annie and Lindsay fastest set was right off the start (21.0 & 23.16).  I know some of you will say Julie Foucher has a lower limb injury – it simply magnifies the importance of the box jump.

Here are a few interesting observations:

Overall Time for 9 Sets of

Box Jumps:

Annie – 3 minutes 47 seconds
Lindsay – 4 minutes 4 seconds
Julie – 5 minutes 20 seconds

Fastest 15 reps were completed in:

Annie –  21.0 seconds (round #1)
Lindsay – 23.16 seconds (round #1)
Julie – 33.13 seconds (round #9)

Why did Annie dominate 13.2? Well if I were to strictly analyze the box jump and the biomechanics of the movement I would argue that Annie had much better mobility in her ankles, which translates to benefits on take off and landing. I took a quick look at the degrees of ankle flexion between the three athletes.  This is by no way entirely accurate as it was quite the process to analyze it on a slow motion camera!  As you can probably already guess Annie had the best motion.

Most importantly, limited ankle mobility (restricted dorsiflexion) forces early heel raise when jumping on to the box. Raising your heels early will increase the load on quadriceps, calves and plantar foot. This then decreases force coming from glutes and hamstring, which should be the prime movers in this exercise.

Full Ankle Mobility = Full Force from Glutes and Hamstrings

I realize there are factors affecting the biomechanics of the box jump, but I think factors such as rhythm, arm drive and control of body in flight can probably be positively related to improved ankle mobility.

I should also note one factor not  related to the mechanics of the movement that is important is the positioning of the equipment (bar & box).

My suggestions to any athlete competing in 13.2: If you think you have restricted ankle mobility perform a soleus stretch and compare it to your teammates.  If this motion is restricted  do foam rolling, stretching and mobility work in the days before you compete.

Warm-Up Considerations

Every year you hear about an athlete rupturing their achilles tendon.

I would avoid foam rolling and stretching in your pre-event warm up to the lower leg.  I do a lot of work with sprinters and this is one area of the body that I never perform soft tissue work immediately before an event.  This tendon needs to remain stiff.  Here is a nice research study from a good friend discussing tendon stiffness.

My recommendations in your pre-event warm-up is to include activation exercises.  1) Glute activation exercises will help prevent the movement from becoming quadricep dominant.  2) Eccentric Heel Drops will help prepare the lower leg for when it makes contact will the ground eccentrically.

-Mike

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Kurt
Guest

Good article. Definitely a different perspective than some of the so called experts. Problem is 99% of Crossfit athletes have terrible mechanics (okay partly due to performing so many reps at high speeds). Proper activating is foreign to CF athletes.

Brad
Guest

Awesome tips! I’ll be doing 13.2 this weekend and I will start doing these warm up tips to prepare. I usually stretch my calves before doing box jumps thinking it would help keep my calves from tightening up. Would doing ankle mobs be a good idea as well?

mike booth
Guest

Focussing on mobilization in your warm-up is probably more beneficial than doing stretches. My personal opinion is to avoid stretches right before competing. I would only stretch/foam roll if something felt extremely tight. If i were to do any stretches/foam rolling I would follow it up with eccentric heel drops.

Mike booth
Guest

Kurt – well I think part of the problem with neglect toward activation exercises is there can be so many critical movement in a WOD. But for this workout they really make it easy. The posterior chain should be pretty jacked up after 13.2 if an athlete is in good health 😉

Joe
Guest

Good tips! I did the workout yesterday morning my quads are killing me!

Mike Booth
Guest

Yeah all that eccentric loading on the quadriceps will do that to you! They’ve done a ton a research on athletes running downhill. I can’t find the study but I seem to remember years back they had a bunch of athletes perform one heavy session of eccentric loading, that session was enough to condition the athlete for subsequent workouts months later. Think back to last years CrossFit Games at Camp Pendleton. If I were a hardcore CrossFit I would do it least one eccentric quadricep loading workout.

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