The 16.2 WoD: Goal Reps, Tips, and Safety

CrossFit athletes perform pull-ups on a large pull-up rig in a CrossFit warehouse gym.
Getty Images / MoMo Productions.

The CrossFit Open is notoriously difficult, but some Open workouts have made their name as the toughest of the bunch. When CrossFit HQ live broadcasted Open Workout 16.2 on March 3, 2016, CrossFitters all over the world—elite competitors, intermediate athletes, and novices alike—were stunned at the complexity and difficulty of this WoD. 

Luckily, CrossFit had introduced official scaled versions of the Open workouts in 2015 to make the CrossFit Open more accessible to athletes of all fitness levels. Still, the scaled version is tough. 

Open Workout 16.2 was repeated during the 2019 CrossFit Open as Open Workout 19.2. 

The 16.2 Open WoD is one of the most complex CrossFit workouts in terms of structure. While it only consists of three movements, the individual time segments within the 20-minute AMRAP can feel complicated and intimidating. 

The 16.2 Open Workout is as follows:

AMRAP in 20 minutes

Continue until 4 minutes:

  • 25 Toes-to-Bars
  • 50 Double-Unders
  • 15 Squat Cleans (135/85 lb)

If completed before 4 minutes, continue until 8 minutes:

  • 25 Toes-to-Bars
  • 50 Double-Unders
  • 13 Squat Cleans (185/115 lb)

If completed before 8 minutes, continue until 12 minutes:

  • 25 Toes-to-Bars
  • 50 Double-Unders
  • 11 Squat Cleans (225/145 lb)

If completed before 12 minutes, continue until 16 minutes:

  • 25 Toes-to-Bars
  • 50 Double-Unders
  • 9 Squat Cleans (275/175 lb)

If completed before 16 minutes, continue until 20 minutes:

  • 25 Toes-to-Bars
  • 50 Double-Unders
  • 7 Squat Cleans (315/205 lb)

Though it looks confusing, when broken down, it’s simply five rounds of 25 toes-to-bar, 50 double-unders, and squat cleans. The squat cleans are the only movement in the workout that changes in weight or reps.

The 16.2 WoD

Also Known As: “Open Workout 16.2” or “16.2 Open Workout”

Score: Your score is total reps; the tiebreak is the time at which you complete your last set of double-unders.

Equipment Needed: barbell, bumper plates, jump rope, pull-up bar or rig

Level: The 16.2 Open Workout is advanced, but can be modified to suit a beginner’s fitness level. There is also an official scaled version of 16.2.

Benefits

Open Workout 16.2 is not unique in the movements, but it is unique in its structure, and that’s where the difficulty—and ensuing benefits—come from. Here’s how Open Workout 16.2 can improve your speed, stamina, strength, and gymnastics skills among the very important mental skill of power under pressure. 

Speed

To progress past the first four-minute AMRAP in 16.2, you have to move fast. As you get increasingly tired and as the squat clean weight gets heavier, you must continue to move quickly, or you’ll time out and not finish the workout. 

Stamina

Even though it might seem like there are four miniature AMRAPs in the 16.2 WoD, it’s really just one tough 20-minute workout, which is a lifetime in the CrossFit world. During 16.2 you have to keep moving for the full 20 minutes, which will be a true test of your stamina. 

Strength

The squat clean weights start out at a moderate weight for the intermediate CrossFit athlete, but it doesn’t take long for the weight to get staggeringly heavy. The final weights—if you make it to the last four-minute section—are 315 pounds for men and 205 pounds for women. 

Gymnastics Skills

Toes-to-bars are one of the more advanced gymnastics skills in CrossFit, and one of the most coveted: The first toes-to-bar is a celebration-worthy achievement for beginner CrossFitters. There are a total of 125 toes-to-bars in Open Workout 16.2, offering plenty of practice to hone your gymnastics skills.

Power Under Pressure

Nearly all CrossFit workouts have time caps, but in Open Workout 16.2, you’ll face five time caps within one overarching time cap. This pressure can push many CrossFitters out of their element. It’s important to know how to perform under pressure if you want to do CrossFit (or want to advance in CrossFit), and the 16.2 WoD is good practice for executing power under pressure. 

Step-by-Step Instructions

For 16.2, you’ll need a barbell, bumper plates, a pull-up bar or rig (CrossFit gyms usually have rigs), and a jump rope (a speed rope, like these from Rogue Fitness). If you’re doing the 16.2 WOD in a CrossFit class or during a competition with heats, make sure to claim your spot on the pull-up rig before you start. 

Load your barbell with the first weight (135 pounds for men; 85 pounds for women) and stack the other plates you’ll need on either side of your barbell — just make sure they won’t get in the way of your squat cleans. Lay your jump rope out near your barbell. 

How To Do Toes-to-Bars

Toes-to-bars are a dynamic core movement that requires great body awareness, coordination, core strength, and mobility in the shoulders and upper spine. You can do strict toes-to-bar or kipping toes-to-bar, but because the 16.2 WOD uses kipping toes-to-bar, this tutorial will cover the kipping version. 

  1. Hang from the bar with a full grip—make sure your entire hand and thumb wrap around the bar. Your hands should be just wider than shoulder-distance apart. 
  2. Engage your core, contract your lats, and squeeze your buttocks so that your body moves into a “hollow” position. It should feel as if you are lying face-up on the ground with just your lower back pressing into the floor. 
  3. Swing into the “arch” position. Your chest should puff forward, your back should arch (but not hyperextend), and your legs should extend behind you. Think about squeezing your buttocks as tightly as possible to extend your hips as far out as you can—like doing a backbend on the floor. 
  4. Build momentum by returning to the hollow position. This movement—going from the hollow to the arch and back to the hollow—constitutes one kip. Kip as many times as you need to in order to gain momentum.
  5. When you’re ready, pull your body into a knees-to-elbow position. As you’re swinging back into your kip, contract your ab muscles, and bring your knees toward your elbows. 
  6. Once your knees touch (or get very close to) your elbows, kick your feet up to touch the bar. 
  7. Let your legs drop straight down. You can drop off of the bar, or go into another kip to start another rep of toes-to-bar. 

Here's a video tutorial on how to correctly perform kipping toes-to-bar.

How To Do Double-Unders

Double-unders are an advanced jump rope movement that involves swinging the rope under your feet twice, rather than once, during the same jump. This skill takes most CrossFit athletes months or even years to master. To do double-unders, you should first master single-unders—regular jump-roping. As you progress to double-unders, keep these key components of the movement in mind: 

  1. Avoid the “donkey kick”—keep your legs mostly straight during the jump.
  2. Jump higher than you would for regular jump-roping.
  3. Keep your arms down by your sides; most of the power should come from your forearms and wrists. 
  4. Jump as soon as you flick your wrists downward.

Check out this video tutorial on how to correctly perform double-unders.

How To Do Squat Cleans

Squat cleans are a variation of the power clean, an Olympic lift commonly seen in CrossFit WoDs. To perform a squat clean, follow the exact steps to complete a power clean, but note one crucial difference: Instead of catching the barbell in a quarter-squat, catch the barbell in a full squat, and then stand back up with the barbell in the front-rack position (essentially performing a front squat). 

Common Mistakes

There’s room for error in any CrossFit workout. Open Workout 16.2 has a particularly large set of potential mistakes due to the advanced level of all three movements that make up the WoD. Be aware of (and try not to make) the following mistakes while performing Open Workout 16.2.

Toes-to-Bar Mistakes

Improper kip: The kip is how you gather the momentum necessary to propel your toes to the bar. If you aren’t arching or hollowing correctly, or your rhythm is off, you may not be able to string toes-to-bars together. 

Toes not touching the bar: This requirement is literally the name of the movement: Your toes actually have to touch the bar for your reps to count. It’s not a big deal in a typical CrossFit class workout, but if you ever plan to do CrossFit competitions (local or more advanced), it’s good to practice the correct way.

Double-Under Mistakes

The donkey kick: This common mistake happens when you bend your knees too much during the jump. Many beginners do this because they think it’ll create more space for the rope to go under the feet, but it really just makes it harder to get into an efficient rhythm. While performing double-unders, your knees should remain almost straight—bent just enough to absorb shock when you land. 

Flailing your arms: Just like the donkey kick, this mistake arises from good intentions: Beginner CrossFit athletes think that making large circles with their arms will make the rope move faster. It’s quite the opposite, in fact. Keep your arms close to your body with your elbows almost fully extended, and initiate the movement from your wrists. 

Squat Clean Mistakes

Squat cleans gone wrong can end in a slew of injuries, namely sprains and strains. Good form is imperative to safe and efficient squat cleans — learn more about common mistakes in the clean.

Modifications and Variations

Technically, CrossFit Open workouts must be performed as written, whether you choose to do the RX version or the scaled version—chances are, if you can’t perform the prescribed version as written, your CrossFit trainer will have you perform Scaled 16.2 Open Workout, below.

The 16.2 WoD — Scaled Version

As many reps as possible in 20 minutes.

Continue until 4 minutes:

  • 25 Hanging Knee Raises
  • 50 Single Unders
  • 15 Squat Cleans, 95/55 lbs

If completed before 4 minutes, continue until 8 minutes:

  • 25 Hanging Knee Raises
  • 50 Single Unders
  • 13 Squat Cleans, 115/75 lbs

If completed before 8 minutes, continue until 12 minutes:

  • 25 Hanging Knee Raises
  • 50 Single Unders
  • 11 Squat Cleans, 135/95 lbs

If completed before 12 minutes, continue until 16 minutes:

  • 25 Hanging Knee Raises
  • 50 Single Unders
  • 9 Squat Cleans, 155/115 lbs

If completed before 16 minutes, continue until 20 minutes:

  • 25 Hanging Knee Raises
  • 50 Single Unders
  • 7 Squat Cleans, 185/135 lbs

However, if you're just doing the workout as part of a normal CrossFit class (not as a competition or part of the Open), you can ask your trainer for individual modifications. For example, if you can do toes-to-bars and lift the RX weights for the squat cleans, but you can't do double-unders, you can get more of a challenge by only modifying the toes-to-bars and leaving the rest as written.

Safety and Precautions

It's important to take a few precautions before performing this challenging WoD.

Mobilize Your Shoulders and Hips

Open Workout 16.2 is heavy on the hips and shoulders, so take some time pre-WoD to loosen up your joints. Complete a thorough general warm-up of light cardio and dynamic stretching followed a specific warm-up that includes barbell work.

Practice Squat Cleans

You should never go into a CrossFit workout without practicing the movements first. You may want to do a few practice reps of toes-to-bars and double-unders, too, but squat cleans are the most technical and have more potential for injury, so make sure to practice thoroughly and slowly build up your weight — never just throw on the weight you plan to use for the WoD without warming up.

Work With a Trainer on Unfamiliar Movements

If you’re a beginner at any of the movements in Open WoD 16.2, ask a certified CrossFit trainer for help. It can feel scary to ask for help in an energetic CrossFit gym full of great athletes, but your trainer is there for a reason: to help people who need help. It’s always better to ask and receive proper instruction than to stay quiet and risk an injury.

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