Coaching Roundtable CrossFit Open 14.4: Tips and Advice

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Melody Miser-Varghese: Paradigm CrossFit

Melody Miser-Varghese: Paradigm CrossFit
This might be my favorite Open workout ever. I love chippers and this one is designed perfectly. This is a WOD that most advanced athletes will be fine redoing, so long as the first attempt happens soon and the T2B don’t tear up the hands too much.

[T]he whole point of this WOD is to expose those athletes who get to the MU’s and don’t have the strength left or the technique in their toolbelt to be able to make a substantial dent in them.
14 minutes is a long time in our world – but not so long for the task list given! This Chipper starts with a cardio gasser, followed by a grip and pull exercise, back to a cardio, and then finishes with two back-to-back skills which again both demand grip and pull. Breathe effectively through the cardios (row and wallball), and be conscious of using extra hip drive to alleviate some upper body muscle fatigue on the others.

The row obviously needs to be fast! But the time difference between fast and sprint mode won’t make up for the difference in how gassed sprinting will leave you. Go fast but maintain your breathing. You want to be able to go straight into some lengthy T2B chunks. A few seconds gained on the rower will not make up for a poor start on the bar.

Have a realistic rep scheme in place for your T2B but be ready to break sooner if you need to. Re-grip your hands here and there quickly right before the negative to reset your grip and remember to stop a few reps before you’re forced to. By all means, stay with your fast recycle as long as you possibly can. However, most of us will probably need to change up the style somewhere within the 50. Keep in mind that you need to have some grip and pull left for power cleans and MUs! For those of us who are faced with single reps at the end of the T2B, fast singles where you drop immediately and get right back on the bar are just as fast as hanging on the bar and using a double kip — with the added benefit being that dropping will save some grip for you. If you have to resort to singles, I recommend dropping from the top, quickly turning around, and getting right back on the bar. This way you won’t have to step back into the bar every time; after changing direction, you are ready to immediately jump back on.

The wall-ball is relatively light, which makes this another cardio component. Again, try to save the arms! Place a huge focus on using your explosive hip drive rather than a big arm punch. Missed reps always suck, but for me this is extra true for wallball — all that work for nothing. Aim just a couple inches higher than target so you don’t miss a single one. Exhale as you push the ball up and inhale as you receive and descend into your squat. For advanced athletes, two or three sets is all you should need. If this is a harder skill for you, place less emphasis on huge sets that tire you out and run the inherent risk of missed reps; instead focus on each rep being strong and successful. You don’t want your 40 reps to be more like 60.

Singles on the power cleans are most likely the way to go for the vast majority. I think we will see the best in the world stay on the bar for small chunks, but for most of us, Panchik and Bridges included, the energy involved with hands-on is simply not worth it on this segment. Be fast getting back on the bar. Remember to be extra explosive with the hips and rebend as needed – your legs will get a nice break on the MU’s!

This is a test of proficiency and strength on the rings and all the prior volume leading to that point is, in a sense, fluff.
Castro said it himself: the whole point of this WOD is to expose those athletes who get to the MU’s and don’t have the strength left or the technique in their toolbelt to be able to make a substantial dent in them. This is a test of proficiency and strength on the rings and all the prior volume leading to that point is, in a sense, fluff. If you are able, go for multiples but stop one or two before failure. Fast singles will be reality for most of us. Expect your pull to be virtually nonexistent; before that first rep, remind yourself to be extra violent with the kip and explosive with the head butt — you are going to need it!

I love to see athletes get their “first” in the midst of an Open WOD. This is especially true for the MU and someone somewhere will get one this weekend. But it isn’t going to be easy after all that work. If you are that athlete, or can get a few but struggle quite a bit on this skill, wait before that first attempt. Getting even one or two valuable MU’s will separate you from the pack. Make fewer but solid attempts so that you can up the chance that they are successful.

Diane Fu: FuBarbell and SF CrossFit

Diane Fu: FuBarbell and SF CrossFit
We all knew these movements would be coming up, but I didn’t think they’d throw it all into one challenge. One word, dope!

So this is going to be a grip and shoulder burner for sure. There are going to be be 2 categories of athletes fighting within this challenge — those who have muscle ups and those who don’t. For those that don’t have muscle ups, my advice to you is to go in steady and let the intensity find you. 14 minutes is plenty of time to get through the first 4 events. For everyone else gunning to get through the AMRAP plus, managing the grip, shoulder and heart rate will allow for a better flow through the workout.

  1. Set-up your stations so that it’s an easy turn to get to your next movement.
  2. I’d recommend suiting up with a lightweight lifting shoe such as the Reebok CrossFit Lifters. The heel will give you an added advantage on the rower, wall balls and cleans.
  3. Keep the grip relaxed on the rower setting an even pace to get the workout started. Blowing it out hard here will not gain you much value as you advance to the toes to bar.
  4. On the toes to bar, break the movement up into manageable sets always saving 2-3 reps in the bank account. Cash out early and you’re done for the rest of the sets. Stay under the bar doing a 3, 2, 1 breathe count and getting right back up for the next set.
  5. For the wall balls, adopt a good front rack position with the arms. Do not catch and let the ball slide lower than the shoulder level. This will keep the range of movement tight and allow you to be more efficient on the turn around. Again, manageable sets are the key saving 2-3 reps in the bank account along with the 3, 2, 1 breathe count to help with pacing in between sets.
  6. Most everyone will fall to singles by the time the cleans come around. Keep the bar close and drop each rep to the floor. Stay with your bar (do not step away) and be ready to get set and pick-up as soon as the bar touches the floor. This tip is especially important because the time in which you wrap up the cleans will also serve as a tie breaker.
  7. Muscle ups are what I call the unicorn of CrossFit. If you’re lucky/skilled enough to have them, reps of 1-3 are what you’re probably going to be looking at when you get to this station. Go for broke here as long as you can maintain the standard!
  8. I do feel this is a workout well within reason of performing twice. It’s challenging, but also fun so pace a little extra the first time through so you have a good sense of where you can push for the second go around.

Good luck!

Carl Paoli: Naka Athletics and GymnasticsWOD

Name of the game is never go to failure on any movement. Break it up as needed. Break every time you are feeling like you have 3-5 extra reps in the tank before coming close to complete muscle fatigue.


Pace the rower and set a 3:1 tempo. Find a pace that you can sustain for long periods of time and focus on creating a 3:1 tempo where your return to the catch is 3 times longer than your pull. Load with a  3 count and explode for 1.

Toes to bar
  • In order to not burn out too soon, make sure you address the grip. The wider you go the harder it gets in the long run. Find a closer to shoulder width apart grip. Try to hook grip by wrapping your thumb around the bar and pinching your index and middle finger.
  • Focus on trying to look down or straight ahead. Never at the bar or above you as this will force you to pull and destroy your grip.
  • At the bottom of the t2b and during the swing try to relax the body and allow the shoulders to swing forward in order to get the hips to fully extend. In order to not lose tension make sure to keep the feet together.
Wall ball.

Address a wider stance if mobility allows. If not, enjoy the ride.


If you break them down into singles make sure to set the back into neutral before you bend over and as soon as you grab the bar start the pull. Don’t waste energy trying to set up at the bottom.

Muscle ups
  • Look straight ahead and no matter how big the kip keep your feet below the horizon in front of you.
  • Think of the muscle up as a clean and jerk. The pull over the rings is the clean and the dip is the jerk.
  • Get over the rings and stick the landing before you perform the dip. Make sure to perform a kipping dip if you have it as it will save you valuable energy to get the next rep.

Move like you care and make it look good. Good luck.

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