Coaching Roundtable CrossFit Open 14.4: Tips and Advice

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Brian MacKenzie: Athlete Cell and CrossFit Endurance

14.4 is a paced monster… If you don’t have MUs it’s a full blown sprint lactic burner. Understanding your  80-90% effort (higher level athletes) / 75-80% effort (more novice athletes) is key on the erg. Converting this effort to Calories will save your tail by the time the wall balls show up. So use the 7’s from Erin Cafaro and then do a 3 x 2 min efforts finding that intensity above and converting to calories. Keep a loose grip on the erg as your arms and forearms will give out before anything else in this WOD.

Spend time opening up shoulders and shoulder prep work. Arm circles etc… Total warm up should be about 30 minutes. Open up hips and ankles a bit to elevate any stalling for Wall Ball and cleans.

Do a couple 2 min efforts that involve a combo of all of these exercises. Then rest for a 3-5 min interval before starting WOD.

Once through the erg, break up to t2b in 10’s or 5’s so as not to blow up. Once you have fallen apart on t2b, it’s a vicious cycle to finish and we don’t want that.

Pace out the WB accordingly. If you can handle 20 no problem, we suggest 20 followed by 10 and another 10.

The 30 Cleans should be strung together as tightly as possible. That means if you need 3 breaths before you pick the bar back up, then take 3. If you need 1, take 1 and keep moving.

Muscle ups will break you quickly if you a) don’t get your hips high on the kip and b) come down slowly from the top. If you know this is where your WOD will end, string as many as possible together. But know your limit — don’t blow up so much you can’t get back up again.

And have fun!

Ken Crowder and Paul Klein: CrossFit 77


For a thorough warm-up plan with videos, click here:


Beginner Strategy Tips

  • No muscle ups
  • Struggles with consecutive toes to bar
  • Cleans may be heavy
  • Goal 110 reps

If you are here the biggest focus should be to get off the rower relatively fresh so that you are at your absolute best during the toes to bar.
Pitfall to avoid – If your 1 set max of toes to bar is 5, DO NOT start with a set of 5! The best plan of action here is 50 singles with no missed reps. Missing reps will crush your spirits and waste precious time! You will have 10-11 minutes to get 50 toes to bar so 50 solid singles is better than 40 reps and 30 no reps!
Have fun!

Intermediate Strategy Tips

  • No muscle ups
  • Comfortable with most movements but may struggle with toes to bar
  • Goal is fastest tie breaking time possible at 180 reps

900 – 1000 calories per hour pace for males
700 – 850 calories per hour pace for females
4-6 reps every 30s on the 30s
6-6-5-5-4-4-3-3-2-2-2-2-2-1-1-1-1 (1-2 deep breaths between sets)
3-3-3-3-3-3-3-3-3-3-2-2-2-2-2-2-2-2-2-2 (1-2 deep breaths between sets)

Recreational Competitor – “Bubble” Regional Qualifiers Strategy Tips

  • muscle ups for females – Multiple unbroken muscle ups for males
  • Comfortable with all movements
  • Goal is 181-200+ reps

1000-1150 calories per hour pace for males ~ around 3 min
800 – 950 calories per hour pace for females ~ around 4 min
Initial set of 10 than 8 reps every 30s on the 30s until you hit 50 ~ around 3 min
8 sets of 6 reps with 2 single to finish
If you are a powerhouse and can hit these in sets without redlining you can definitely make up a ton of time here BUT if doing some sets TNG will cause you to red line we advise doing singles. Know what type of athlete you are and stick to the plan.
Max UB Set Fresh = <5
Singles all day long

Max UB Set Fresh = 5-10
Doubles May be an option but don’t be afraid to switch to singles if you come close to failing.

Max UB Set Fresh = 11+
If you can hit this in sets of 3-5 you will make up a TONG of ground on those athletes who pushed the first portion of this workout harder. DO NOT let the time push you into shortening your rest too much. Failed reps cost massive amounts of seconds. Don’t let it happen to you.

Top 15 Regional Finish – Games Strategy Tips

  • Comfortable with all movements
  • No worries about getting to regionals
  • Expecting 200+ reps

1100-1300 calories per hour pace for males ~ around 2:25-2:45 min
850 – 1000 calories per hour pace for females ~ around 4 min
26-14 or UB
Same as Regional Bubble
Same as Regional Bubble
Suck it up and go!

Larry Palazzolo: CrossFit Delaware Valley

Rowing?!! Did anyone see that one coming? Dave Castro you magnificent bastard.

Keep your strokes per minute in the low 20s, or possibly upper teens, and try to get a good, hard pull each time.
Rowing has only been a part of CrossFit since the invention of CrossFit in 1822 when Otto von Glassman programmed the very first workout: Ford a river, then AMRAP of shooting bison, with a cash out of treating his daughter for dysentery. So, it seems kind of strange that such a movement would be included in the Open.

14.4 is all about knowing yourself and knowing when to push a little harder and when to just keep moving.

If you’re in the rowing game then stroke’s the word. Keep your strokes per minute in the low 20s, or possibly upper teens, and try to get a good, hard pull each time. Take twice as long to return as it takes you to pull. You need to give the wheel some time to slow down. Slow is fast. If you row this way you can average a calorie per pull, as opposed to three pulls per calorie if you row like a crazy person doing the First Round Freak Out.

Two things you don’t want to do on the rower: 1.) Don’t death-grip the handle. You’ll want to save your grip for the rest of the workout. 2.) Don’t do the lean-back-and-pull-the-handle-into-your-throat thing. You’re not Fat Joe. Besides, that does nothing for you except put you into an awkward position and make your pull less efficient.

Don’t do the lean-back-and-pull-the-handle-into-your-throat thing
A straight-legged toes-to-bar looks pretty but is really taxing. Instead, try closing off that angle by bringing your knees into your chest on the backswing and then kicking up toward the bar as seen here. The key is to kick up toward the bar once your torso is behind the bar. To do so, push down on the bar on the back half of your kip like you’re trying to close a heavy trunk lid on a car. If you swing your legs up toward the bar when your entire body is directly underneath of it you won’t be able to string them together.

Break these into small manageable sets (no more than 5 at a time), and keep that going for as long as you can. Once they start to go away, keep it to twos or even singles. Anything to keep you moving.

A straight-legged toes-to-bar looks pretty but is really taxing. Instead, try closing off that angle by bringing your knees into your chest on the backswing and then kicking up toward the bar.
If you’re just trying to get your first toes to bar, try balling up and then kicking up toward the bar. Or get a swing going and then ball up and kick up to the bar.

Wallballs do not favor the short person. If you’re short, I hope you hit a growth spurt before you do this workout. If that’s not in the cards, then try to stay calm and do these in big chunks. Aim for sets of 5-10 at a time.

By the time you get to the cleans, 135/95 is going to feel a lot heavier than it should. Both Bridges and Panchik did all of their reps as singles during the live announcement and I think that’s a good strategy to take regardless of your fitness level.

For us mortals, if you make it to the muscle ups, consider that a huge victory. Whether you have muscle ups or not, if there’s enough time left for you to attempt one, do it. My very first muscle up came immediately after doing Grace. Amazing things can happen when you least expect it.

Follow Larry on Twitter @larrypalazzolo.

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