CrossFit Games

What We Can Take Away from 2023 NOBULL CrossFit Games Semifinals Week One

May 22, 2023 by and
Photo Credit: Ava Kitzi
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The first weekend of Semifinals is complete, with five more competitions and two weekends left until we know who all is headed to Madison, WI this summer, to compete at the 2023 NOBULL CrossFit Games. 

This first weekend we witnessed athletes, both individuals and teams, from North America East and Africa take on a grueling set of tests. Since the Semifinal workouts will be the same across all competitions, we broke down takeaways from each event we can learn from after watching them perform.

Test 1 – Cardio bait, hand-over-hand test. 

  • The machines are important in this test, but the separator proved to be the hand-over-hand pull.
  • It took over two minutes for most athletes to complete the hand-over-hand pulls and what makes this the crux of the test, is that someone can be stopped in their tracks by the weight, regardless of their endurance capacity. 
  • It may be wise to pace the cardio in a manner that allows athletes to attack the hand-over-hand pull each round and leave enough in the tank to push the final ski hard. 

Test 2 – It’s all about the rings. 

  • The ring complex of 1 toe-to-ring, 1 muscle-up, 1 ring dip ended up being not so much of a complex since athletes were allowed to hop down between movements. But for those who did the complex unbroken it was taking roughly 41 seconds and paid off. 
  • The ruck added an element to the muscle ups that either stopped the athlete in their tracks or wasn’t much of a bother at all. Proper breaks in-between reps is key if the athlete wants to avoid any no reps.
  • For some, getting to the burpees over the box was a challenge. But once the athlete is there it’s important to push until the time cap to get as many reps as possible. 

Test 3 – Don’t go to failure, smooth is fast.  

  • This test is all about the bench press, as the dumbbells add an element of stability that exposes unilateral imbalances under fatigue. 
  • Don’t forget that that athletes will have done 15 ring muscle ups, 15 ring dips and a whole bunch of burpees in a ruck the day before 55 reps of heavy dumbbell bench press.
  • They may have done Regional Linda in the 2018, but the only movements performed prior was rowing, double unders and running. This may be part of the reason we didn’t see a major bump in performance from five years ago. 
  • Having a break-up strategy is key in this workout to prevent failed reps. In the case that an athlete hits failure, it’s important for competitors to not get caught up in the race of the moment. These dumbbells are heavy and attempting reps too soon after failure will only do more damage. 

Test 4 – Have a plan and play the clock. 

  • The 800-meter run proved to be insignificant for most, as several male athletes snatched 300 pounds and multiple women hit 200 pounds. 
  • There’s no benefit to running hard in Test 4, only fast enough to have enough time for quality attempts on the snatch. 
  • Playing the clock and strategizing is key in this event. Jayson Hopper is the perfect example of this, hitting his final 305 pound snatch at the buzzer, which was good enough for an event win. 

Test 5 – Don’t get a no rep and run fast. 

  • In order to be successful in this test, the snatches need to be touch-and-go and losing three seconds on a no rep can be the difference between several placements on the leaderboard. 
  • Top scores came in around 3 minutes total for the test. With the snatches taking about 20 to 25 seconds, it means the top finishers were running close to a 5 minute per mile pace on the runner. 
  • Athletes should pace the first 800m run and push it on the second one— just a one second difference could mean a placement. 

Test 6 – Pirouettes and seated legless  

  • The seated legless rope climb standard proved to be an issue for some athletes, as some got no reps for not maintaining a legless seated position before getting their hands on or below a tape line. 
  • The handstand pirouettes weren’t an issue for many athletes, many going unbroken, which was taking roughly 27 seconds. 
  • The somewhat new movement of wall-facing handstand pushups wasn’t taxing for some athletes who went unbroken like Will Moorad. But for others a fast dismount and quick sets was key. 

Test 7 – Grip strength and sprint 

  • The athlete needs to approach the bike at an aggressive pace. 
  • It’s important  that athletes hop right onto the rings and go unbroken or that 6-minute time cap will creep up. 
  • Try and get a solid grip on the sandbag to go unbroken on the carry and get right back to the bike. Remember this is the final workout of the weekend and athletes will be gassed, but their willingness to hurt will be key. 

The bottom line: This series of tests is nothing to take light of. Athletes with a clear strategy in mind and who are prepared to make necessary adjustments on the field and execute are likely to prevail.

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