Zack George Shares His Tips & Tactics

The third and final workout of the 2023 CrossFit Open, 23.3, has been released and it’s a tricky one. Unique to CrossFit, this initial stage of the qualification process begins in regular gyms – commonly known as ‘boxes’ – and even garages, with normal 9-5 athletes like us getting the chance to throw down, submit scores to the global leaderboard, and gauge how they’ve improved over the months prior.

With two rounds of wall walks, double-unders and barbell snatches (the weight on the barbell increasing and the reps decreasing for the second round), you have six minutes to finish. But if you do, you unlock a third round, this time of strict handstand push-ups, double-unders and snatches at a third weight, again with the reps going down. Get through that in the three extra minutes and you unlock the fourth and last round, again with handstand push-ups and snatches at a final and really heavy weight.

That sound like a lot. Rest assured that for the vast majority of us, this is a six-minute sprint to get as much work done as possible in that first time cap. Whatever your level of ability, MH Elite coach and legendary UK CrossFit athlete, Zack George, has broken down how to judge which of the workout options is appropriate to you, the best way to approach each movement and how to warm up correctly to put your best foot forward .

If you want to learn more about CrossFit before you grab your gym back, check out our full explainer feature here. And if you want some more exclusive advice on the CrossFit Open from our team of coaches, get more insight from George, Faisal Abdalla and Scott Britton here.


What is CrossFit Open Workout 23.3?

Starting with a 6-minute time cap, complete as many reps as possible of:

  • 5 wall walks
  • 50 double-unders
  • 15 snatches (weight 1)
  • 5 wall walks
  • 50 double-unders
  • 12 snatches (weight 2

    If completed before the 6-minute time cap, add 3 minutes to the time cap and complete:

    • 20 strict handstand push-ups
    • 50 double-unders
    • 9 snatches (weight 3)

      If completed before the 9-minute time cap, add 3 minutes to the time cap and complete:

      • 20 strict handstand push-ups
      • 50 double-unders
      • 6 snatches (weight 4)

        Weights:
        ♀ 65 lb, 95 lb, 125 lb, 155 lb
        ♂ 95 lb, 135 lb, 185 lb, 225 lb

        Zack’s George’s 23.3 Cheat Sheet

        This is a very shoulder-heavy workout, so decent efficiency in all movements is going to be key. It is also a high-skill workout, which means it won’t necessarily come down to your general fitness, but instead it’s about performing those movements under fatigue. Having a game plan will be very important!

        How to Scale 23.3

        The main things to consider when deciding to go scaled or RX is: do you have wall walks and double-unders? As they are the first two movements, it will be very tough if you aren’t proficient in them.

        Going RX or as Prescribed?

        For lots of people, it may just be a six-minute workout that will consist of trying to string together your first set up 20-plus double unders and therefore it will be tough to get to the next stage. If that’s what you want from the workout – or you’ve done the everything as prescribed the last two weeks – then choose the RX version.

        Going Scaled?

        However, if you want more of a test for your fitness, get through to the next round and see how long you can go for, scaled is the better option for you. The wall walk standard is easier, you’ll do single unders with the skipping rope and the barbell weights are lighter. If you unlock the extra time, hand-release press-ups take the place of going upside down.

        CrossFit Open 23.3: Movements and Pacing

        A rule to play by for all the movements is: do not miss a rep! The time caps within the workout do not allow for many mistakes. Although you need to be fast to progress to each stage, take the necessary tactical breaks in reps to avoid this.

        Wall Walks

        For the wall walks, smooth is fast. If you need to rest between reps, put your hands out to the side or down by your side, so you’re fully resting your shoulders.

        Snatches

        When snatching, use your legs as much as possible to generate the power and further save your shoulders. Even if you can do all the first weight unbroken, it may be sensible to tactically break the set, to avoid fatiguing yourself too early on.

        Heavy Snatches

        As the weights increase and if they are heavy for you, single reps will be the sensible choice. Releasing your hook grip at the top of each rep will also reduce some tension throughout your arms

        Handstand Push-Ups

        If you get this far, you definitely don’t want to fail a rep on the handstand push ups. Stay clear of failure, unless you’re rounding off a set.

          How to Warm-up for 23.3

          It’s vital to unlock your overhead position for the wall walks, snatches and handstand push ups. A great stretch for this is placing your hands on a box or bench whilst kneeling and allowing your head to fall below your shoulders.

          You’ll need to prep your shoulders but not overly fatigue them. You need them to be as fresh as possible, while still being warm and ready. This can involve some plank shoulder taps and pike handstand push ups.

          Prep your posterior chain before getting into your snatches with some good mornings or Romanian deadlifts. Then use the following to get your heart rate up so you’re ready to hit the workout hard. Finish strong everyone.

            3 minute Assault / Echo / C2 Bike increasing effort from 4 to 8/10. Then;

            • 1 Wall Walk
            • 15 Double Unders
            • 3 Snatch @ 1st weight
            • 1 Wall Walk
            • 15 Double Unders
            • 1-2 Snatch @ 2nd weight

              zack george


              What is CrossFit Open Workout 23.2?

              23.2A:

              Complete as many reps as possible in 15 minutes of:

              • 5 burpee pull-ups
              • 10 shuttle runs (1 rep = 25 ft out/25 ft back)
              • *Add 5 burpee pull-ups after each round

                  23.2B:

                  Immediately following 23.2A, athletes will have 5 minutes to establish:

                  • 1-rep-max thruster (from the floor)

                    See here for detailed movement standards, scorecards and modified versions.

                    Zack’s George’s 23.2 Cheat Sheet

                    Although the first part of this workout is two movements, the burpee pull-up is the dominant exercise and will be the most challenging. 15 minutes is a long time duration for a CrossFit workout, so you will need to find a rhythm with your running and chip away at a sustainable pace on the burpee pull-ups. That means a pace relevant to your personal gymnastic ability. Be honest with yourself!

                    Having a lift as the second part is nothing new for an Open workout and you will need to think about what you are realistically going to be able to lift under fatigue.

                    How to Scale 23.2

                    I like that this workout is very similar for both RX and Scaled divisions. The scaled version only removes the pull-up portion of that movement, with burpees to a target. You need to think about what you want to get out of the Open. Are you motivated by your final placing? Or do you just want to get a great workout.

                    Going RX or as Prescribed?

                    If you are on the fence, as you only have a handful of burpee pull-ups and are worried about the bigger sets in the ascending ladder, think about what is going to make you feel most accomplished at the end of the workout. If you want to test yourself, go for the RX version. I bet you’ll surprise yourself!

                    Going Scaled?

                    If you want to get a higher rep score and really push yourself aerobically, then taking out the pull-up makes this much less of a challenge of gymnastic strength. You can always come back to the workout in a few months to see if you’ve progressed to the RX version.

                    CrossFit Open 23.2: Movements and Pacing

                    Burpee Pull-Up

                    If you know you will find the pull-ups challenging, make sure you are as efficient as possible from the get go. Use a kip swing and also be aware that you can use a chin-up or mixed grip to make things a bit easier. Or you can switch between them to vary the muscles that are getting fatigued.

                    If you are a pull-up ninja then jumping up to the bar less and performing them more like a strict pull-up with a hop-up will be more muscularly taxing. But it will be quicker.

                    Shuttle Run

                    If you find the pull-ups difficult then there’s no need in to tire yourself out by sprinting the shuttle runs. Use this time as recovery and to shake out your arms, ready to get back to the bar. Each rep is counted as there and back (like a shuttle!) so make sure you’re counting them right.

                    Be efficient in your shuttle runs! I’d alternate what hand touches the ground each length, as well as which way you turn your body to avoid overusing one side. It will give you something to concentrate on other than the floor, too!

                    Max Thruster

                    You have two options for the thruster: either a power clean, taking a second to brace and going into the thruster, or performing a cluster – a squat clean straight into a thruster. The latter is more efficient, as you can get momentum from the clean but is more technically challenging.

                    Five minutes is not a lot of time, and it will feel even tighter when you’re tired from the 15 minute AMRAP. So, make every lift count and don’t go in too quickly with two lifts back to back and end up failing.

                    Finally, don’t completely destroy yourself on the first part and not be able to lift the barbell in the second section!

                    How to Warm-up for 23.2

                    Whichever division you choose, the volume of shuttle runs combined with the burpees means lots of back flexion, so it is really important to warm up this area properly. I’d start off with some mobility, such as inch worms and alternating between a downward facing dog and a cobra position. Also begin to prepare your body for pull ups with a dead hang, some scapular pull ups and some kip swings.

                    You will need to fully prep and build up the weight on your thruster before you start Part A. Spend some time mobilising your hips with some squat-to-stands, 90/90 hip rolls and loosening up your front-rack position with a PVC pipe or barbell. Once you’ve done this, start warming up with the bar, performing some front squats, strict press, push press and then thrusters.

                    You are only going to get a few attempts at a thruster in the workout, so you want to make sure you start with a weight you will definitely hit. Warm up to this weight beforehand, then have a second weight you think you might be able to hit, as well as one that will likely be very challenging. You never know what can happen in the magic of the Open!

                    Following that, it’s time to get your heart rate up and ready for the AMRAP. I’d use a machine to do this – an air bike is probably best, as it will get both your lower body and upper body warm without fatiguing your pull too much. You want to save that for the burpee pull ups.

                    • 3 Rounds @ increasing pace:
                    • 8-12 Cal Assault Bike
                    • 1-3 Burpee Pull Ups

                    • 2 Shuttle Runs

                      Good luck and go smash it!


                      zack george


                      CrossFit Open Workout 23.1: Zack George Shares His Tips, Tactics & Tricks

                      Make a plan to nail the first workout of the 2023 CrossFit Open, whatever your level, with the advice of top CrossFit athlete Zack George

                      What is CrossFit Open Workout 23.1?

                      Complete as many reps as possible in 14 minutes of:

                      60-calorie row
                      50 toes-to-bars
                      40 wall-ball shots
                      30 cleans
                      20 muscle-ups

                      14-lb ball to 9-ft target, 95-lb cleans
                      20-lb ball to 10-ft target, 135-lb cleans

                      See here for detailed movement standards, scorecards and modified versions.

                      Zack’s George’s 23.1 Cheat Sheet

                      I love a chipper. It’s a great, old-school CrossFit workout, which is challenging your baseline conditioning and high-volume gymnastics. This one’s a good old engine test, which has a built-in limiter depending on your gymnastics capability. Pacing in this will be 100% individual based on both your toes-to-bar and muscle-up capability.’

                      How to Scale 23.1

                      ‘You need to think about what you want to get out of the Open. Are you motivated by your final placing? Or do you just want to get a great workout?’

                      Going RX or as Prescribed?

                      If you want the highest possible placing and are looking to complete all the workouts as prescribed this year, or if you can do at least 5-10 unbroken toes-to-bar (T2B), you should think about going RX. The highest skill element of the workout, those muscle-ups – isn’t until the end, so I wouldn’t factor it into your plans too much. It’s more a case of dealing with it when you get to it!

                      Going Scaled?

                      If you want a great workout, don’t have at least 1-5 toes-to-bar in the bank and want to compete on the scaled leader board, scale away. Be warned though, this is one of those funny workouts where reducing the complexity of the movement is actually going to increase the intensity, as you won’t have as many opportunities to rest due to gymnastic fatigue. Don’t not underestimate the scaled option!

                      CrossFit Open 23.1: Movements and Pacing

                      The Row

                      RELAX! This is the very start of the workout and you definitely do not want to come off the rower ultra-fatigued. That said, you won’t win the workout in the row but you could lose it. I’ll be thinking that I want to row anywhere from 25-35 strokes a minute with long powerful strokes and controlled breathing, not getting out of a 5/6 out of 10 effort.

                      NB: Think about your grip here. You’ve got lots of grips left in this workout, so try to hold a relaxed grip on the handle throughout.

                      Toes-to-Bar

                      Before you do this workout, you should find out what your max unbroken set of toes-to-bar is. You do not want to get anywhere near your max set during the workout. If your max 12 in one go, pick 40-50% of that and look to hit regular sets with as little rest as possible. This might look like sets of 5 with a controlled 20s rest every time.

                      You do not want to fail any reps, so don’t let yourself get anywhere near the failure point. If you do fail, not only have you wasted a rep, but you will also lose 30-60s as your muscles recover and flush out enough to resume

                      Wallballs

                      These should be one or two sets maximum, depending on how fatigued you are from the gymnastics. You can use this as a recovery point, or a time to push the pace. Wallballs have a built-in pace limiter, because of how long it takes for the ball to go up and come down, so I wouldn’t stress too much and look to get into a nice, smooth rhythm instead .

                      Cleans

                      A bit of strategy to think about here. If you can’t do a muscle-up yet, this might be your final movement. If that’s the case and you want to get your best possible placing, this will be the time to pour it on and get the best tie-break time.

                      If you watch the elites do this, you’ll see that most people do singles – doing a rep and dropping the bar to the floor from the front rack position. This is a sensible strategy. By dropping the bar, you skip the eccentric load of the movement, so saving your grip and reducing your overall loading for the workout.

                      If you go for singles, have a strict timing plan. Something like one rep every seven seconds, or, a rhythm plan, like clean, step back left, step back right, step forward and clean.

                      Muscle-ups

                      The big one! The Open gets thousands of people their first-ever muscle-ups. The combination of environment, competition and community sees people do things they never thought they would.

                      If you don’t already have a muscle-up, my advice would be to ‘pull’ for longer than you think you should. The longer you can delay your kip, the more efficient you will be. When you do kip, make the turnover decisive and drive your head through. I believe you can do it!

                      If you’ve already got muscle-ups down, this is about managing workload. The first ten and last ten reps feel completely different. Think about the sets you know you can hold, and don’t underestimate how quickly the fatigue will kick in.

                      Every single rep of the muscle-ups will get you hundreds, if not thousands of places, so make them count!

                      How to Warm-up for 23.1

                      My own warm-ups are specific to me, and some of my hip and ankle issues. But there are general principles that will really help.

                      Get your heart rate up: Use this as an opportunity to feel out your rowing pace, ideally.

                      Targeted mobilisation: Ankle, knee, hip, shoulder and hip are all going to get stressed in this workout, so address and always focus on areas in which you have historical tightness or injuries.

                      Practise the movements in the workout independently, gradually increasing the intensity. This is a good juncture to dial in the rhythm you’re going to use at each point.

                      Once you are all warmed up, work through a modified version of the workout:

                      • 10 cal row @ pace
                      • 5 T2b
                      • 5 Wallballs
                      • 5 Cleans
                      • 1 Muscle Up

                        Don’t waste too much energy here. If you’re planning on doing muscle-ups in the workout, or trying to get your first, you don’t want to blow it here. Good luck everyone!