March 14, 2014

Everyone is wrong about the Crossfit Open's 14.3

The third workout of the Crossfit Games Open (14.3) is gorgeous. So much so that the masses are complaining. These workouts are clearly the best. If Crossfitters are complaining about Dave Castro's programming, it means one of two things.

1) A weakness has been revealed
2) We are trying something different

I believe that both may be the case for 14.3.

As many reps as possible in 8 minutes:
10 Deadlift (135lb)
15 Box Jumps (24")
15 Deadlift (185)
15 Box Jumps
20 Deadlift (225)
15 Box Jumps
25 Deadlift (275)
15 Box Jumps
30 Deadlift (315)
15 Box Jumps
35 Deadlift (365)
15 Box Jumps

The first complaint I read was that if the load is increasing, then the reps must decrease. Why? I don't see any reason for decreasing reps. If the load is light, then we're not really testing anything. 10 Deadlifts at 135# is simply warming up. 15 Deadlifts at 185# for most Crossfitters can be done unbroken. 225# is the weight used for Diane which includes 21 reps in the first round. Again, nothing new for Crossfitters at Rx weights. There are only 20 of these 225# deadlifts. Yawn!

Ok, 25 reps at 275#, this is where it starts to get exciting. At this weight, I can no longer break them up into big sets. It is a very doable weight, but the pace slows down... single, quick pause, single, quick pause, etc. I ended up with a score of 96 on my first effort on this workout. That means I got through everything and got 6 reps at 275#. The only reason I didn't go further is that the 8 minutes elapsed. I felt good and could have safely continued through the 25 reps at 275# and gone through the box jumps.

I read that the WOD is dangerous.. really?! We never got close to my 1 rep max and even if I do the WOD again, I wouldn't be able to get to the 315# deadlifts, which are still quite doable. The beauty of deadlifts is that you either get the rep, or you don't. If you are failing, then you are stuck. You can't cheat the movement by using bad form. It won't help you get the rep. I believe that you can hurt yourself with any Crossfit movement if you choose to use bad form. The deadlift is not special in this way.

Be aware of your one rep max and what you are capable of. If you've been Crossfitting for a while, you know where the deadlifts are going to get difficult. Leave yourself with some energy when you get to this weight. If box jumps are going to pound on your lower back, do step ups. This is not scaling and is just as fast. I use the box jumps as an opportunity to slow my heart rate. Heavy lifting when your heart is racing is tough.

14.3 is a workout that simply reveals how your body handles heavy deadlifts at high volume. The box jumps are intended to elicit a cardio response to elevate heart rate. Don't blow up on the box jumps. The work here is in getting as many deadlifts as you can at heavy weights. Don't worry about the tie-breaker (time recorded when you finish your last set of box jumps). Think about getting one more rep than your opposition.

This is a deadlift test. Don't freak out! Keep calm and use your glutes.


  1. Totally agree . . . As a 59 year-old who has progressed from a 225 lbs. DL to 400 lbs. in my 1 1/2 years of CrossFit, I loved the fact that we're testing strength here . . . There's nothing dangerous about going up in weight & up in reps . . . You'll stall where you stall & that will tell you exactly how strong you really are . . .

  2. love it. i simply do not understand the fuss... if you are trained and conditioned for this then it is very little risk and it's a fun one. i was able to get to 126 and loved every moment. thanks for your perspective!

  3. @Michael You're inspiring! Keep it up.
    @Raeanne We are Crossfitters, this WOD is safe because we've trained for it. You got 126, that's awesome!