March 21, 2014

Dave Castro was wrong about Crossfit Open 14.4

We have a classic Crossfit chipper for our 14.4 Crossfit Open workout. After the workout was announced and Josh Bridges and Scott Panchik put on a show for us, Dave Castro predicted that most people would to get to 180 and then struggle with the muscle ups. That's not going to happen in my box!

14.4 is:

14 minute AMRAP
60 calorie row
50 toes to bar
40 wall balls
30 cleans
20 muscle ups

At the box where I train, a large percentage of the members are relatively new to Crossfit. Our programming is smart and varied, but we skimp a bit on some of the higher skill gymnastic movements, including toes to bar (T2B). Even our best athletes have less exposure to this exercise than they should have. Actually, it came out at a recent competition we hosted at our box that T2B was one movement that the athletes badly needed to work on. We've had T2B programmed a bit this past month, but after seeing some of the scores of the top members at our box, I expect a bloodbath.

It's time to start practicing T2B again. I remember doing 12.3 two years ago and going unbroken on most of the T2B every round of the box jump, push press T2B AMRAP. Not this year. I think it's been a couple years since I've done a decent set of T2B. I've definitely gotten stronger, vastly improved my olympic lifts, and got double unders which were practically non-existent back then, but where did my T2B go!?

I love the Open because it exposes weaknesses. In everyday programming at the box, it's too easy to scale or modify movements that you suck at. The Open doesn't allow it. That's why I do it!

Everyone can row. This is the first point in the WOD where strategy can help your score. I know that the T2B is my weak point, so I kept my rowing at a pace that I could maintain and wouldn't blow me up for the rest of the workout. I wanted to be fresh for the T2B. The first 30 T2B felt pretty good, but I knew that the next 20 would be a fight. I was using a high pull up bar that I had to stretch to reach.

At a certain point, I decided to switch to another that I could easily reach while standing. This meant less time setting up for short sets of T2B, but also that I didn't have the same space to lengthen my body in the kip. Pros and cons, these are the questions for a Crossfitter, high or low pull up bar.

My goal upon seeing the WOD was not to fail T2B and end up staring at the pull up rig. It felt so good when I finished my 50 T2B. I ran across the gym, through the doors of the box, past the main entrance of the building and to the wall ball station. Our ceiling in the gym is too short for 10 foot wall balls, so we go outside.

The wall balls were fun as always. They are a high power output movement and get your heart racing. I love the neurological component. Coordination, agility, accuracy and balance may not be a major factor for the Crossfit Games athletes when doing wall balls, but they definitely show themselves when I'm doing wall balls.

I have to make sure that the wall ball hits the wall at the 10 foot mark rather than doing an arc too high and dropping below the target upon impact with the wall. I need to stay in my heels so that when the wall ball comes crashing back down that it doesn't pull my body forward. I need to ensure that I remain stable at the bottom of my squat and that my hip crease drops below my knees. Who knew throwing a medicine ball in the air could require so many skills!?

I have a sense that a large number of Crossfitters will get stuck at the 30 reps of 135 pound cleans. Though it's not too heavy when you're fresh. After 40 wall balls with the engine revving, your heart pumping at full speed, and your lungs burning, the cleans are a test of mental fortitude. The key is to commit to each rep and to retain good technique. The starting position of the lift is crucial to ensuring efficient movement because 30 cleans at 135 pounds will get heavy FAST!

Muscles ups, oh how we love you! Most Crossfitters can't do them. When the score submission time for 14.4 ends, we'll find out exactly who can and can't get muscle ups. They are an advanced movement that many Crossfitters see as a lifetime goal. Muscle ups in the Open only provide more incentive to get your first one. You have four days of 14.4 to practice and make it happen. Go hang some rings and get it done!

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