CrossFit Open WOD 17.4 Strategy

We all knew it would happen.  Repeat week.  One of the great things about CrossFit is that is measurable and repeatable.  Each year we have gotten a chance to repeat a past workout to see our progress.  For those that did the open last year, the workout will look familiar as we did it week 4 last year also.  If you don’t remember this workout brings us a chipper with deadlifts, wall-balls, rowing, and handstand push-ups.

Complete as many rounds and reps as possible in 13 minutes of:
55 deadlifts, 225/135 lb.
55 wall-ball shots, 20/14-lb. ball to 10/9-ft. target
55-calorie row
55 handstand push-ups

The workout begins with deadlifts, lots of deadlifts.  Although the weight is not excessive, it’s the same weight used in benchmark workouts such as Diane, there are a lot of reps.  55 reps of deadlifts at this weight, without a breakup of other movements, will be challenging for most.  The key is going to be to stay consistent and take as many small breaks as you need.  Plan to take 5-10 second breaks.  Try to complete as many reps as possible while still being able to take that 5 second break and jump back on the bar.  For some this might be 5 sets of 11.  For others, this might start at sets of 5 and drop to triples or doubles.  Try not to drop to singles.  Picking the bar up each time from a dead stop is inefficient.  However, if you do go to singles, make sure that you drop the bar, take a quick breath and get back into it.  You don’t want to take 5 second breaks between singles.  Try to keep your form throughout the movement.  You want to be able to move the next day.

We all know how bad wall balls are right?  Well these are going to be a little worse than if you were starting fresh.  When you get to the wall-balls it means that you have just spent 55 reps taxing your lower back and glutes.  So you probably aren’t going to go unbroken on the wall-balls.  Once again, find a pace that you can stick with.  There is no doubt about it, these are going to hurt, but you should be able to take a break on the rower.  For movements like this that, that you know you are going to break up into multiple sets, try and start with a higher number of reps and do less each time.  For example, start with 13, then drop 1 rep each time until you get to 55 (13-12-11-10-9).  Mentally this really helps in the middle of a workout to always do less reps than the last set.

No breaks after the wall balls.  Jump right onto the rower.  If you are pulling, you are moving forward and getting closer to that 55 cal, even if it is slow.  Take the first few strokes to get your breath.  This is easier said that done at this stage in the workout, but taking a break before the row isn’t going to make it better and is just going to waste time.  It is going to hurt either way, so you might as well get a better time.  Depending on when you get to the rower will determine your pace.  If you get to the rower with 1 or 2 minutes left, you are going to want to row at a high level of effort.  You aren’t going to be able to get through 55 cal in 2 min, so might as well do as many as cals possible.  If you finish the wall-balls with 4 or 5 minutes left, your goal should be to finish the row and be able to attempt some handstand push-ups.  More than likely you aren’t going to be able to remember these in the heat of the moment, but a pace of 1200 cal/hr will take 2:45, 1000 cal/hr will take 3:18, and 750 cal/hr will take 4:24.  The difference between doing 1000 cal/hr and 750 cal/hr is only 1:06 difference in time, but the difference you will feel getting off the rower will be noticeable.  You don’t want to jump off the rower and be fresh, but you don’t want to get off and not be able to attempt any handstand push-ups.  Pick a pace that is somewhere in between.

If you made it to the handstand push-ups, good job. This is going to be the goal for most of the above average athletes.  Once again, depending on how much time you have remaining will determine how you attack the handstand push-ups.  If you jump off the rower and have less than a minute, it’s time to suck it up and do as many reps as possible.  If you think there is time for 2 sets, break it a rep or 2 short of fatigue on your first set, shake out your arms and get right back on the wall.  If you don’t think you have time for multiple sets, just go for broke and do as many as possible.  If you jump off the rower and have more time for handstand push-ups, remember to break earlier than you think, take small breaks, and get back onto the wall.  Most likely there isn’t going to be a lot of time and there are quite a few reps to do.  Push hard for the time you have remaining

Overall, stay consistent through the first 3 movements.  Push hard on the deadlifts and wall-balls.  No breaks between the wall-ball and the rower.  Row at a pace that is right for depending on where you are in the workout and do as many handstand push-ups as possible.  This is a repeat workout, so push yourself to do better than you did last year and have fun.