CrossFit Open 17.3: Return of the Barbell

Seems like everyone wanted the barbell and the barbell they got — a heavy one, too.


Well, no more dumbbells for 17.3. Seems like everyone wanted the barbell and the barbell they got — a heavy one, too. After two weeks of deriding cries about the inclusion of dumbbells, they went the way of the sixth Open workout. (Remember in 2011 when there were six Open events?)

With three of the top American CrossFit athletes in the world placed together in a jampacked San Antonio CrossFit box, Dave Castro slyly grabbed a dumbbell as if to announce its inclusion again, paused (of course), then tossed it aside (what a trickster). He then grabbed a piece of chalk and “wrote out” the workout … sort of. Thanks to Rory McKernan and the graphics department for breaking down the movements and weights.


In short, 17.3 included increasing reps of chest-to-bar (C2B) pull-ups and decreasing reps of squat snatches that got heavier the longer the athlete could stay ahead of the time cap. The first eight minutes consisted of three rounds of six reps of C2B and six reps of squat snatches at 95 pounds, then three rounds of seven C2B and five reps of squat snatches at 135 pounds. If the athlete completed those six rounds before the eight-minute limit, then he was given four additional minutes to complete eight reps of C2B and four reps of squat snatches at 185 pounds.

You get the idea: more time, more C2B, less squat snatches, more weight used.

The final bar for men would be set at 265 pounds — something a vast majority of the male athletes who do the Open probably have as a one-rep max clean-and-jerk, not a snatch weight.

For me, the jump from 95 to 135 pounds was going to be the challenge. Not that I’m great at C2B pull-ups, but I can do them. I have snatched 135 before (max is 160), but I generally don’t go that heavy in regular WODs. (That’s 84 percent of my one-rep max if you are scoring at home). I saw from Rory McKernan vs. Adrian Bozman that McKernan won and was doing very methodical one-rep singles on the C2B and dropping every time on the snatches, even at 95. I went with that strategy and it worked fine.

I had come in to help judge for people in the morning classes, and I know that after watching some of my fellow grinders do 17.3, that my dream goal of getting the eight C2B and at least taking a pull on the 185 bar was going to be a real challenge. Adjusted goal was completing round two of the seven C2B and five snatches at 135. The singles for C2B was the way to go for me. I didn’t get tired on those. Even at 95 pounds, the snatches felt heavy. They didn’t cause me trouble, I just found that I had to really take a beat and get set each time to make sure I didn’t “no rep” and waste energy. 

Heading back to the C2B pull-ups was almost a peaceful experience because I felt like there was no pressure for me to get much more work done. I repped out my seven singles and then readied myself for the 135-pound snatches. Keep in mind that this was the heaviest snatch weight for this many reps in a workout. I got through the first set of five and went back, winded, for seven more C2B. With my initial eight minutes coming to an end, I got through two snatches, even though I had to walk forward about 10 steps, almost crashing into another member of our gym in the process. I was able to collect myself and hit one more rep before the time was up.

All in all it was a decent score for me. With two workouts remaining, I have, at 42, been able to complete the first three at the Rx level. While none of us are able to know what the last two weeks will hold, you can probably expect a repeat at some point — hopefully not of 16.5.