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A look back at 18.1, the first workout of the 2018 Open

As the dust settles on the first week of the 2018 Open we look back on 18.1 to see what we can learn from the workout.

18.1 saw athletes face a fiery AMRAP that paired toes-to-bar and calorie rowing with a new movement for the competition – dumbbell hang clean and jerk. While fairly light for proficient athletes, the dumbbell portion of the workout proved testing in its unusualness. Unilateral movements, such as the dumbbell hang clean and jerk, are fairly uncommon in most mainstream programming and are more typical of warm-ups than workouts.  

A punishing ride

Athletes that neglected to work on imbalances and single-arm stability in the lead up to the Open were hence at risk of a punishing ride during 18.1. Most seemed to get more comfortable with the movement after a few rounds, however, lack of familiarity with the exercise may have brought about costly time losses or demanded exhausting re-attempts. Eventual winner of 18.1 on the women’s side, Sam Briggs, suffered several no reps in the opening rounds of her live Open throwdown but rectified these in a second attempt where she posted a whopping 452 reps.

The dumbbell seems to be an increasingly popular feature of Open workouts with both 17.1 and 17.2 containing significant dumbbell work. It’s not unlikely that we will see the dumbbell feature again this year, either in a familiar movement such as the dumbbell snatch or even in another novel exercise such as a dumbbell thruster.

Whichever the case, 18.1 suggests practice and familiarity are key to making the most of these movements – you might want to consider playing around with a dumbbell in the next few weeks (just remember the new standards for the dumbbell snatch introduced this year that ban hand-to-hand transitions above eye level).

As for toes-to-bar and calorie row, these movements are fairly typical for the Open, having both featured for the last 5 years. The shorter rep scale on the toes-to-bar may have come as a relief to some athletes reflecting on previous years; the 8 rep per round quota of 18.1 allowing many proficient athletes to go unbroken across most rounds.

Pushing too early however came at a cost for those who couldn’t sustain the movement and hit muscle fatigue early on. A broad lesson from 18.1 might be the need to maintain a disciplined pacing strategy in longer workouts, especially where a movement such as toes-to-bar, which can become extremely difficult once fatigued, is involved.


The rower probably served as the greatest time consuming component of the workout for those comfortable enough with the other two movements. Beyond technical elements and transition styles it seemed to be a case of just holding on for the 12/14 calories. Ultimately the head played as big a role in this portion than any amount of technique for most athletes.  

In whole 18.1 was a deceptive workout that snuck up on athletes midway into the AMRAP. A single round of the AMRAP was very manageable, but the accumulative effect of 20 minutes continuous work had even the best athletes panting hard.


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