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March 25, 2016

CrossFit Open 16.5 Live Announcement Recap + Tips

Written by Damect Dominguez

The final live announcement of the 2016 Open took place on the hallowed grounds of the Ranch in Aromas, CA—the site of the inaugural CrossFit Games in 2007. For this momentous occasion, CrossFit rounded three of the best male athletes in the sport: Rich Froning, Ben Smith, and Mat Fraser. Everyone was expecting something special, yet it was a bit of a surprise (though no less entertaining) when Dave Castro (Director of the CrossFit Games) revealed the details of 16.5:

21-18-15-12-9-6-3 reps for time of:
Bar-facing burpees

Men use 95 lb.
Women use 65 lb.

Scaled (Scaled Men, Scaled Masters Men 40-44, Scaled Masters Men 45-49, Scaled Masters Men 50-54, Scaled Women, Scaled Masters Women 40-44, Scaled Masters Women 45-49, Scaled Masters Women 50-54)
21-18-15-12-9-6-3 reps for time of:

Men use 65 lb.
Women use 45 lb.

On the burpees, the athlete must take off with two feet and land with two feet as they clear the barbell.

Froning vs. Fraser vs. Smith
All three men set off a lightning-quick pace, but it was 2015 Men’s champion Smith who moved fastest, clearing the 21 thrusters in 32 seconds. Froning was a second behind Smith, with Fraser a couple of seconds back in third. Yet Fraser made up a lot of ground during the subsequent burpees, performing a half jump on ever burpee over the bar so he didn’t have to turn fully around before dropping to the ground. Fraser moved to the round of 18 in 1st at the 1:48 mark, and hit the afterburners. While Smith made an error dropping the bar at the 15th thruster instead of the 18th and Froning trying to keep pace with the two-time 2nd place Games finisher, Fraser began to build a substantial lead. At the start of the round of 12, Fraser was 15 seconds ahead of Froning. Yet, the seasoned CrossFit fan will know that this is Froning’s style: let the other athletes push hard at the beginning, then slowly reign them in and blow by them. It’s a strategy that’s served him well over the years, to the tune of four individual CrossFit championships and no defeats when performing a live Open announcement workout. So, one would naturally assume that he would make up the deficit and eventually pass Fraser.

But it was not to be.

In fact, Fraser, perhaps with a point to prove after finishing 2nd at the Games last year, built on his lead, eventually completing the workout in 8:06 to seal his first live Open announcement victory.

16.5 Live Announcement Results
1. Mat Fraser : 8:06.7 (14.5 Result: 8:18)
2.Rich Froning: 8:41.00 (14.5 Result: 8:26)
3.Ben Smith: 9:06.80 (14.5 Result: 9:16)

Is the sky falling? Not only did Froning fail to win a live announcement workout for the first time ever, but he was the also the only athlete who failed to improve on his score from 2014. And perhaps an indicator of Fraser’s intentions for the 2016 season…

Oh, and before we move on to the tips, you should know that Dave Castro gave 16.5 a shot right after the live announcement ended. He finished in 18:13.

16.5 tips
Steady on the thrusters
The weight for the thrusters is light, but you want to find the urge to go HAM straight out of the gate on this one. There’s a lot of work that needs to get done, and you don’t want to get burnt out in the very first round. When you approach round 9, that’s when you get start to empty the tank with the finish line in sight.

Efficiency on the thrusters is key
Use your legs to pop the bar off your shoulders when you drive up so your arms don’t have to do as much work to get the bar overhead. Bar path is critical—keep the bar close to your body to create the most efficient line of movement. Rest with the bar overhead—not in the front rack! Don’t spend ages locked out overhead—instead, move with a cadence, taking one second or two at the top to exhale and inhale before moving straight into your second rep. For more tips on thruster efficiency, check out our article on this very topic.

Don’t stop burpeeing
The burpees, for a lot of athletes, are going to be what makes the workout for them—or what breaks it. Long breaks and stoppages are to be avoided at all costs. Slow the pace if you have to, but don’t stop moving!

In addition, strip away the fat from your burpees. What I mean by that is drop for your burpee as close to the bar as possible so you don’t have to perform an extra hop before jumping over it. You can also try turning in mid air so that when you land you’re already facing your bar for the next rep, though that can be difficult to maintain in the midst of the pain that 16.4 will induce. More tips on burpee techniques can be found here.

Don’t forget to breathe!
Your heart rate is going to jump and stay elevated throughout this workout, so it’s important to try and get as many full breaths as you can to deliver oxygen to your screaming muscles (screaming in pain).

Watch Matt Fraser, Ben Smith and Rich Froning take on 16.5 during the live announcment

About Damect Dominguez

Co-founder of BoxLife Magazine. Author: Training Day: 400+ Workouts to Incorporate in Your Training.

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