23.2 – From Cardio Killer to Heavy Weightlifting: How To Do Both Effectively When They’re Just So Different

By Kendra Whittle
Feb 24 2023

23.2 – From Cardio Killer to Heavy Weightlifting: How To Do Both Effectively When They’re Just So Different

When Dave Castro posted his traditional Open workout clue for 23.2, athletes were already mumbling that it might be something to do with shuttle runs. The clue pictured a ladder-type mechanism that resembled a pinball machine, with a ball going back and forth down the mechanism. Back and forth, back and forth. Yeah. Shuttle runs it is.

And wow – shuttle runs! This is actually the first time we’ve seen running in the Open, which is causing half of us to cheer loudly and the other half to groan loudly (I’m cheering). But, my dear beauties, it’s not just shuttle runs…that simply wouldn’t be enough cardio. Oh, no, no. So the Open masterminds said – let’s throw in some burpee pullups too! And, why not, how about a heavy thruster?! And we end up with the couplet and subsequent one rep max that is 23.2



AMRAP – 15 minutes

5 burpee pullups

10 shuttle runs (1 rep = 25 ft. out/25 ft. back)

*Add 5 burpee pullups after every round

Then immediately into…


Five minutes to establish a one-rep max thruster (from the floor)

Of course, it’s CrossFit, so you know they have scaled options for all athletes to come and play – click here to find your level.

The first thing you’ll notice is the time caps for the workouts are similar (14 minutes last week, 15 minutes this week). But that’s where the similarities end. While last week was a laundry list of stuff to get through, this week it’s just two movements in the largest portion of the workout. It’s constant cardio, constant movement, constant up-down up-down with the burpees. The biggest risk will just be gassing out of energy with plenty of time left on the clock, and no designated rest time or movements that will bring down your heart rate (I mean, the 30 power cleans sucked last week, but at least they brought my heart rate down and got my breathing under control). Digging into this week will mean finding a pace (think like a 75-80% effort, not an all-out sprint) and keeping it up for 15 minutes, and then transitioning into a heavy lift. Let’s break it down.

Shuttle Run

Shuttle runs are built to be sprints. Short distance, full-out effort, speed and agility. And yes, some of that will come into play during this workout. But full-out effort is just not an option for 15 minutes of cardio work. Keep a steady pace and resist the urge to go out hard at the starting line – again, it’s tough because that’s JUST. NOT. HOW. SHUTTLE. RUNS. WORK (usually).

My tips are to hop over the line and load your back foot in the shuttle. (Stay low) If you played sports growing up and are familiar with suicides and line running drills, you will feel me on this one! When you stay low you can turn around quicker.
Take a minute to recover before attempting the thruster. No sense in wasting energy to fail an attempt.
Start with a weight pretty close you your max but something you can do when your fatigued (warm up before the workout to this)
Pace yourself but keep moving, even if it’s slow. Don’t stop
Good luck, have fun! Blast a good song!

Alexis madden

Now, if we had all known this workout was coming, we might have added some long aerobic work into our regimes – a couple of 5Ks, some 20 minute rows, staying on the assault bike maybe than the prescribed 2 minutes (which is 2 minutes too long…). But that wouldn’t be the Open. So if you’re concerned about your endurance, work on establishing a pace you can maintain, but also find some ways to make your body more agile.

–        Use a dynamic warm up to get the blood flowing ahead of the workout – jog, jump forward and back/side to side, do knee drives. Don’t rely only on static stretches to get ready.

–        Establish a healthy foot cadence (or stride rate). This will help you move using less energy and will decrease your chances of getting injured. Short, quick strides as opposed to the longer, loping strides you might use in distance running, are the way to go in keeping up speed and keeping up your energy at the same time.

–        Keep good running form. You’ll seriously waste energy by having bad posture. Keep your feet under your hips and feet pointed forward. Tighten your core to protect your back. Bend your elbows to 90-degrees but keep them relaxed.

–        When slowing to turn, keep your center of gravity closer to the ground to help maintain balance and stability.

Burpee Pullups

There’s some good news here – the CrossFit Movement Standards state that burpees can be performed with a step back or a jump back. So there might be a little bit of time to slow down here if you’re getting tired and are concerned about keeping a steady pace.

Do pay attention to the movement standards to make sure every rep counts and to expend the energy you’ll need. There’s no hanging requirement for the pull-up, so you are allowed to jump directly into the finish of the pull-up position or jump to the bar (and there’s nothing that says these have to be strict pullups – kip away!). Also, note that important last step – you have to touch the pullup bar at the top of the burpee to end the movement. Be aware as you’re setting up under bar that’s around 1 foot above your head so you don’t expend unnecessary energy jumping too high to hit the bar.

Burpee pullups are going to fire your lower back thanks to all of the hinging and your biceps getting up over the bar, so make sure your warmup includes movements and stretches that gets those muscle groups ready. Also be cognizant of the fact that fatigue can make your form fall apart in a hurry. Tighten your abs and butt during the entire active part of the burpee to increase your effectiveness, but more importantly to protect your lower back. Careful to control your descent on the pullup portion to avoid tearing your shoulder, similar to the concern we brought up last week with toes to bar.

A typical burpee pace is between 10 and 20 burpees per minute (or one every 3 to 5 seconds). You can probably cut that pace in half to mentally prepare the time you’ll need to take per round.

One Rep Max Thruster

Thrusters are pretty commonplace in the Open, but not like this. You’ll typically see them with a moderate weight for a moderate number of reps. This is a heavy one rep max, following a long lower-body burning cardio sesh.

Start SLOW on these. You have five minutes, use them. Start at a conservative weight for the first lift, a weight that you know you can do. Going too heavy and you’ll run the risk of hyperextending your back when you press the barbell overhead. Pay close attention to your center of balance – grind through your heels and keep your torso upright to avoid falling forward under the heavier weight.

One of the most important things, especially because completing a thruster under heavy weight is hard to do in a fluid motion, is to make sure that you don’t try to do a front squat, pause, and then a push press. That won’t count.

When You’re Done…

Stretch out quads, hips and inner thighs to prevent soreness from running.

Start with this “lazy” hip opening exercise that’s a favorite at my gym – lie down on your back with your feet up against a wall. Allow your back to decompress down on the floor. Inhale, spread your legs as far as they will go comfortably. Place your hands on your inner thighs to deepen your stretch. Breathe. Hold the position for two minutes.

I know, after that kind of a workout…you won’t want to get up until NEXT Friday…

Pretty much sums up my 23.2

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