CrossFit Open 17.1: Dumbbell Debut

Dave Castro warned everyone they were going to need to have dumbbells for the 2017 Open.


So Dave Castro told everyone they were going to need to have dumbbells for the 2017 Open. And then, like a crazy person, he programmed a workout with dumbbells in it.

Who does that?


As we all watched this one go down in Canada and France, one thought came to my mind that was a little unsettling: I had never actually snatched a 50-pound dumbbell over my head. My box had purchased some 50’s and 35’s after the warning from Castro, and like a good coach, our head trainer had been programming both alternating dumbbell snatches and one-arm dumbbell thrusters for a couple of weeks. But during that time, in an effort to not possibly hurt myself going into the Open (hey, I’m 42, it’s always a risk), I had been scaling by using the 35-pound weight.

Like most of the Open announcements, the athletes made it look manageable. I think most of the community views these workouts in two ways: “Dude, this is going to suuuuuuck,” or “I’ve lifted that much before, it can’t be that hard.” What I started to notice in the past couple of years is that it’s fun to watch the Games athletes do the original workout as a kind of show (think of watching the NFL, then going to play football with your friends at the park, not the same). But seeing Adrian Bozman go all in and collapse at the end just to beat the time cap and seeing Rory McKernan not even finish really put 17.1 in perspective for me.

Coach Greg Glassman said, “Men will die for points.” This is never more obvious than during the Open. I rarely Rx workouts anymore, but during these five weeks, my philosophy is: “If I CAN do the Rx, I should do the Rx.” Partially that is ego and partially that is the statistical truth that as soon as I do one Rx rep, I’ve just beaten every person in the world who did it scaled.

With the decision to do the prescribed version already made, I went in and helped count reps for some of my fellow grinders. Even before I arrived on Friday morning, I had a very clear idea I was not going to finish. After watching the Rxers from the 5 a.m. class take a run at it, I was further assured of this reality. My two concerns were: I didn’t want to get the worst score in the entire gym, but if I did it scaled, I wasn’t sure whether I could finish the whole thing in time. To me, the second was worse, so I stuck with my original decision.

I went in on Saturday and worked on building up to the 50-pound dumbbell, which to my surprise didn’t feel as heavy as I built it up to be. I had been reading about and talking to enough people who had completed 17.1 that too many people were focused on the dumbbell and not enough people were focused on burpee box jump-overs. These were going to be the real burner.

My goal going in was to complete all of the 40 snatches, if I could. I made sure to maintain a steady pace, and I broke all the snatches into sets of 10 and the box jumps into sets of five, stepping down on the backside of the box each time as to not exert extra energy by hopping down.

I was right, the burpee box jump-overs were brutal. Surprisingly, I was able to rest a little on the snatches and keep my pacing. Although it wasn’t a good score in most people’s eyes, I was able to reach my goal of completing the 40 snatches, and I even got seven burpees done before the time cap.

With one Open workout down, my hope is that burpees are done for the next month, but I’m still waiting for my old enemy “the thruster” to show up. Hopefully, that will be sooner rather than later so we can just get those out of the way.

How did your 17.1 go? Share your stories in the comments.