Initial Thoughts on 15.5


Open Workout 15.5 Preliminary Thoughts

It’s Decision Time……

Castro came out with a bit of a burner in the form of:

For Time (no time cap):
27 Cal Row
27 Thruster 95#/65#
21 Cal Row
21 Thrusters 95#/65#
15 Cal Row
15 Thrusters 95#/65#
9 Cal Row
9 Thrusters 95#/65#

The decision this week comes in the form of you, the athlete, needing to decide how much you want to hurt. For higher level athletes this workout can, and will, be done unbroken (no drops of the bar). Will it hurt? Absolutely it will hurt. But when it is a “for time” workout with simple movements the winner will be he/she who is willing to push both movements harder who will come out on top.

We saw three great competitors go after this workout this week and we saw three very different styles of athletes that we need to take note of:

  1. Camille Leblanc-Bazinet (finished third tonight): she is a bit shorter, more compact athlete. She has to work quite hard, in comparison to Briggs and Thorisdottir, to push the row pace. She went unbroken on the thrusters and still finished almost 1 minute behind Briggs
  2. Samantha Briggs (won tonight’s workout): She is a slightly taller athlete with a BIG aerobic engine. She can use the levers of her body to move the rower very effectively but she can also maintain good rhythm on the thrusters. She was able to outpace Thorisdottir on the thrusters from round 1 on
  3. Annie Thorisdottir (finished second tonight): She is also a taller athlete but she is also quite long in the limbs so she was struggling a bit more than the other girls to push the thruster pace hard

All 3 women went unbroken on this workout which will be the norm for top athletes but it will absolutely NOT be the norm for the bulk share of the world. So how do you go at this workout?

To read more of how to tackle 15.5 and our preliminary thoughts on Open Workout 15.5 purchase our OPEX Open Prep Guide Here. Included is access to our full webinar and detailed document on how to attack this workout from nutrition and warm up, to making it through and understanding how to best utilize these movements to the best of your ability.

March 28, 2015

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Know your why

As the Open draws to a close, the time comes to take a breath and reflect on the season that you just had (assuming that you won’t be moving onto regionals).

A time of reflection for ALL those who decided to make the Open a priority in their training season.  What was learned about strengths, weaknesses and outright holes in their game. Did their training and commitment to ‘showing up’ over the past year pay off.  That pay off certainly doesn’t have to be in the form of a trip to regionals but did competitors have a fulfilling season that showed progress over the training year?

This time in the season is also a time of reflection for the coaches who coached clients at thousands of affiliates around the world. How did your athletes and clients perform? Your team as an affiliate? What holes were reflected in your programming or your preparation of your clients?

But, WHY did your clients participate in the Open anyway? What did they get out of it? What are they taking away from this experience?

What is THEIR WHY? And, more importantly, as a coach, what is your WHY for encouraging your clients to compete in the Open?

These two questions are two questions that many coaches fail to address, let alone, recognize, when coaching their clients throughout the five-week competition.

There is some statistic this year that goes: 50-60% of Open participants this year were first-time competitors. The Open was their first ‘go’ at the sport of fitness.

While that may sound exciting for the sport…What is that saying about the ‘retention’ of the sport?

Only 40-50% of competitors this year were re-turning to give the Open another go.

What happened to that other 50-60% who competed in the Open last year?

Did they give up? Was the Open ‘not for them’? Did they realize their incapability to keep up with the ‘Joneses’—the top tier of the sport?

After all, who wants to pay $20-bucks to come in 10,000th place in your region—even if they are considered a ‘box beast’ in their home stomping grounds?

The bottom line: CrossFit the sport is not for everyone; nor should it be—and we, as coaches, need to recognize that.

For some underlying reason nowadays, we have reached a point in not only the sport of CrossFit, but CrossFit the fitness program, that in order to make progress, in order to advance, that “I now have to compete” or “I now need to do XYZ challenge.”

The continual need for the ‘next challenge’ (i.e. Paleo challenge, body fat challenge, benchmark challenge, etc.) contributes to the notion that one’s own individual progress is not good enough—that in order to advance forward, they must compare or compete against others. In addition, while the Open (or other competitions and challenges) are most certainly wonderful for those who do want to compete or to test their fitness, it is also a harsh reality for many that there is a distinct separation today in those who are ‘great’ and those who are not at the sport.

One may argue to say that we currently sit at a tipping point in CrossFit, the sport—a point in time today that people are beginning to recognize that they don’t belong in the upper tier.  They can NOT compete with Rich Froning, nor will they be able to.  

And, without proper expectations or a realistic understanding of this fact on the front end, many clients who competed in the Open this year (as in the past couple years) have had to deal with the fact that they are not going to advance to Regionals.

For others who competed in the Open this year (your soccer moms, your Little League coach dads, businessmen and women, your college students, your ‘everyday average Joes’), what was their WHY for competing in the Open? Why did they need to sign up?

Did you, their coach, even ask them? Or did you ‘tell them’ to sign up because it’s just what everyone does?

At OPEX, no matter who the client is, when they tell their coach that they want to compete in the Open this year (or any competition for that matter), we ask them Why?

It’s a simple question—but in order to align your client’s training and programming with their personal goals, it’s crucial to get a clear understanding of what your clients want out of their training (and competition experience).

While you may not be individualizing your programming right now for each individual in your box, what are these clients getting out of competing in the Open for themselves, in their own individual progress, gains, confidence and experience?

Deflated because they cannot do muscle-ups or handstand push-ups and must scale accordingly? Frustrated because they can’t clean and jerk nearly 300 lbs.? Shoulder pain from attempting to snatch repetitively with poor form in order to try to get as close to Froning’s number of reps as possible? Stuck at the 125 lb. bar to clean it, with a current 1 rep max of 115 lbs.?

Whatever the case may be, the Open is not for everyone, and it is important, that we as coaches reflect back on the past five weeks, and potentially re-evaluate how we as coaches can not only motivate, but further help our athletes progress and develop their own game; towards their own goals—inside and outside the gym.

Moral of the story? Ask your clients their goals, their why for doing this thing called fitness; as well as potentially competing, and ask yourself your why in what your role is as a coach in helping them get to their goals (hint: it does not always involve ‘getting everyone to sign up for the Open’).

You will find far greater fulfillment and retention from your clients when they trust that your suggestions are, in fact, aligned with their best interests and not just the best “business interest” of the gym at that moment in time.  It is worth the time and effort into the conversations as those conversations will save a huge amount of heartache and stress later down the road.


Function 3/28/15

Time trial
5000m Row

-Refer to Jan 24th for comparison


Being 3/28/15

Row 250m 75% effort
rest 30sec x 10


Will 3/28/15

RTW 30-40 min
GDS prep – WATCH open prep guide

A. Emom 10 min – Box squat x 1 – building heavy, FEEL fast from box, power focus
B. 8 sets – every 30 sec – Push press x 1 – 185#, build 5#/set
4 sets – every 2 min – AD 20 sec HARD
General, dynamic and specific prep
Open 15.4
AD 15 min cool down


She 3/28/15

1 min bike
1 min FLR
1 min AD
1 min jog
1 min crawl
1 min row
1 min ski
x 6-8
– easy pace

March 27, 2015

opex, opex fitness, formerly opt, exclusive coaching, coaching education, athlete support

Supporting Your Athletes

When you hear the phrase “support your clients”, what thoughts come to mind?

Guidance? Listening? Cheerleading?

Often times ‘support’ can get pinned as a ‘soft-around-the-edges’ kind of term.

However, I beg to differ.

Support isn’t just about cheerleading.  It is about helping somebody build a stronger belief and accountability in themselves.

As coaches, it is imperative that we recognize this.   

Helping athletes define their own personal journeys is why I truly love to coach.  Supporting an athlete’s journey is rewarding as the athlete develops the confidence and awareness of their own potential to go after their highest values not only in fitness and in life.

Developing your athletes’ confidence and awareness, around their own thoughts and actions, can be done through a simple detached coaching method, as follows:

  • Keep EMOTION out of the PLAN. Training and Coaching is not (and should not be) emotional. The more I coach, the more I realize how emotions get in the way of the plan.  Putting a program together is logical and practical not emotional.  The best athletes don’t respond to cheerleading, they already are driven enough, they respond to good leadership and trust.
  • Be Logical. Developing a plan and coaching is logical, cheerleading is emotional. There is a fine balance between both that allows for a coach/athlete relationship to work for the embitterment of the athlete.  Too much emotion (aka cheerleading) doesn’t lead to mentally strong athletes.  Athletes that look for the emotional cries, in my opinion, are in their sport for the wrong reason.  Great Athletes are NOT developed by the loudest coach. Great athletes are driven internally and look for their coach to lay down the MOST logical way to achieve their goal.

Simple? Yes.

Easy? Not always.

Separate emotion from the plan, and keep a clear head in your interactions and coaching up of your athletes.

Support goes much further than cheering your athletes and clients on…be strong.



Function 3/27/15

A. KB front rack walking lunge – 4×6-8/steps – rest 2 min
B. SA DB row – 4×6-8/arm – rest 30 sec btwn sides
For time
200 Single unders
10, 9, 8, 7, 6, 5, 4, 3, 2, 1
KBS – 55/35#
Pushups – hand-release
200 Single unders


Being 3/27/15

Open 15.5
20mins Z1 your choice


Will 3/27/15

AD 30 sec @increasing % effort per set
AD slow spin 30 sec
x 24
– increasing effort every 8 sets
EASY cool down and mobility specific

A. SJ – build to a tough single in 10 min
– then take 85% of A and complete 3 more singles at that weight; rest 2-3 min
3 RFT – increasing effort per round:
9 DL – 225#
9 bar facing burpees
18 CTB pull ups


FT @MAX effort:
15 cal AD
12 bjo – 30″
9 S2OH – 155#


She 3/27/15

GDS prep – Follow specifics on the open prep guide
A. HS – build to 85% in 6 sets
B. Emom 8 min – PC&J x 1 – increasing from 60%, small build, FEEL fast and powerful
Open 15.5
20 min Z1 cool down flush

March 26, 2015

opex, opex fitness, formerly opt, exclusive coaching, npgl, NY rhinos, usaw, crossfit open

Athlete Spotlight; Sarabeth Phillips

15th place in the World during the Open is no easy task.

Sarabeth Phillips currently holds that spot going into the fifth and final week of the Open, after five long years of fighting to be on top.

Marching into the 2015 Games season, the five-time CrossFit Regional athlete and USAW American Open Champion Sarabeth, knew she needed something ‘different’ when it came to her training and programming for her sixth CrossFit Open this year.

Hungry to qualify for the CrossFit Games, after having been around the sport since 2008, she didn’t know exactly what that ‘something different’ entailed until she met OPEX Coach Mike Lee last summer at the NPGL Vegas Combine.

Mike saw the natural athlete Sarabeth was from the get-go, and after talking extensively about her as an athlete, and he goals, Sarabeth said she immediately felt Mike could help her reach her goals.

“And not only help me reach my goals but surpass them and do even more,” Sarabeth said.

She began training with Mike as an Exclusive Coaching client not long after, and this week, she currently sits in 15th place in the World on the CrossFit Games Leaderboard, on the tails of Open Workout 15.4.

“(Since working with Mike) my training, lifestyle and mindset have changed so much in just this short time! I honestly feel like a completely different athlete. He’s helping me become the athlete that I know I’m capable of being. Everything is dialed in and we are continuing to work on that,” Sarabeth said.

Her performance on Open Workout 15.4 speaks for itself alone: a score of 166 reps (into her round of 27 handstand pushups).

“If there was a workout with my name it, this might be it! 166. Super fun. When it was announced I literally screamed and I never get excited about Open workouts usually,” Sarabeth said.

As a former gymnast of 10 years, it’s no wonder she was excited—however, Sarabeth said she also credits Coach Mike’s specific work with her on her metabolic engine. Since she is an ICU nurse and often works the night shift, she said that greatly impacts her work capacity. Nonetheless, Coach Mike’s individualized design programming has helped her work around that.

“As an athlete, night shift is extremely detrimental in all aspects. I was sick throughout the Open and I was not where I needed to be metabolically. So I knew something big had to change.  When I started working with Mike and OPEX, I trusted him fully to tackle all my weaknesses. I dove in head first and let my hard work speak for itself. Aside from training, we have been making sure my work schedule stays the same, my nutrition is on point and I stay feeling great,” Sarabeth said.

While there is one more week left of the Open, Sarabeth confidently says this year has been her best Open to date.

“This year’s Open was the first time I’ve ever felt extremely prepared and ready to take on whatever was thrown my way,” Sarabeth said.

Her advice for other athletes, with high hopes of continuing to improve?

“A coach can make or break you as an athlete, but you have to buy in to what they are doing and trust them 100% each and every day. Lots of things don’t make sense to me at the time but the bigger picture (CrossFit Games) is what I’m focused on and I know Mike has the best plan for me in place. OPEX has changed my life so much and I’m grateful to be working within the system,” Sarabeth said.

Look out for Sarabeth on the Leaderboard in the final week of the Open, as well as her presence in the sport of weightlifting.

“I want to be a National Champion weightlifter, qualify for the Pan Am team for USA and have a chance at the Olympic Trials,” she said.


Function 3/26/15

A. Close-grip bench – 10, 8, 6, 4, 2 – rest 90 seconds
B. Bent barbell row – 8, 8, 8, 8 – rest 90 seconds
C. Weighted chinups – 3RM in 5 sets
D. Powell raise – 3×8/arm – rest 60 seconds
E1. Farmers walk – 3x100ft – no rest
E2. GH hip extension – 3×12-20 – bodyweight – rest 60 seconds


Being 3/26/15



A. SC thruster build to a tough single in 8mins
B. PC TnG 3, 2, 1; rest 2mins
3 sets tough
1 rope climb 15′ legless
5 burpee box jump 20″
AD 20sec tough
rest walk 2-4mins
1 set amrap ring dips
10mins Z1 AD


Will 3/26/15

Rest Day


She 3/26/15

GDS prep – Come into the gym and prep for an open workout, do all general, dynamic and specific rep. Once warm and ready to go, shut it down and go home.

March 25, 2015

Own Your Fear

Jump to 17:25 of this vid and in between the lines of humor there are some great words of wisdom. Two of my mentors have taught me to embrace the struggle:

“Life is hard.”

No sugar coating that with flowery language, just three simple words.

And this sentiment is reflected in the video:

“Whether you fear it or not, disappointment will come. The beauty is that through disappointment you can gain clarity. And with clarity comes conviction and true originality”.


March 24, 2015

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CCP Coach and EC Client; Jesse O’Brien

CCP Coach and OPEX Exclusive Coaching client, Jesse O’Brien, is doing big things in Austin, Texas—starting an OPEX-inspired Remote Coaching business and facility devoted to Individual Design training with a holistic lifestyle approach this year.

Jesse has had a vision of implementing the OPEX individual design model within an entire business structure ever since he completed the five modules as part of the CCP program last year.


March 23, 2015

opex, opex fitness, exclusive coaching, optathalon, personal training scottsdale, formerly opt, james fitzgerlad, crossfit open, 2015 open prep

Finishing the Fight

The end is near.

This week marks the final workout of the 2015 Open; and what a long 5-week process it has been.

Year in and year out, as to be expected with any competition in which you give it ‘your all’, the Open puts a large amount of stress on us physically and mentally.

In turn, many athletes get burnt out before “the end.”

This year, in particular, has challenged some weaknesses for athletes, that may have even invoked frustration—thus, spurring on the desire for it all to ‘end’ even more so.


March 22, 2015

opex, opex fitness, formerly opt, pre workout nutrition, post workout nutrition, exclusive training, personal training, coaching education

Ideal pre/post workout nutrition

 What is the ideal pre and post-workout nutrition?

There is simply no ONE ‘size-fits-all’ prescription for people out there who exercise.

You know why?

Everyone has variation based on:

  • How the workout will feel
  • What their function is for training (i.e. competition, strength or muscle gain, body composition, health and longevity, etc.)
  • What their gender, training age and ability level is
  • The intensity of the session
  • And more…