by Kristy Parrish | March 21, 2014 2:00 am
We are in the home stretch of the Open now, with only this brutal chipper WOD of rowing (for calories!), toes to bar, walls balls, cleans, and muscle-ups, and one more WOD to go. With 14.1, 14.2, and 14.3 — all punishing, classic CrossFit couplets — behind us, it’s time for a new challenge.
Read what the experts have to say about preparation and approach for CrossFit Open 14.4 before you hit it over these next few days. We are switching it up this week and starting off with tips for mental prep before the experts talk physical prep and technique. Good luck, and may the CrossFit gods be ever in your favor.
This one is all about being prepared—prepared to accept the fact that movements you normally move through easily will be challenging from jumpstreet.
In order to develop the mental fortitude to persevere through this chipper when the going gets tough (again, this will be sooner than later), if you have time and can tackle this workout some time on Saturday-Monday, it’s a good idea to do a mini-version of the workout a day or two before. Ideally you’ll have a chance to practice just enough to get a feel for what it’s like to transition from one movement to the next. Getting a solid feeling for how your body responds to the transitions will arm you with experience, thereby reducing the shock factor of the discomfort and fatigue you will feel when you give the full workout a go for real. For example, experiencing the forearm pump on your first clean in practice will alleviate some of the anxiety you might feel when your arms threaten to fail you during the full effort. It’s not that practicing will make you any better at the cleans, of course, but you will be mentally prepared for the level of difficulty that might otherwise surprise and unnerve you.
Perhaps it’s analogous to the difference between doing a bunch of math problems at home, with no distractions, and doing them in a testing situation in a room filled with people with all sorts of noises in the background. If you practice in the noisy room, you’re less likely to become emotionally unraveled when you can’t focus as well as you’d like during the real testing scenario. The basic idea is that you need to practice feeling less adept than normal, so that you can keep your wits about you when the going gets tough.
Focus on one movement at a time. Don’t allow yourself to dread the cleans when you’re still working through the wallballs. Stay in the moment. Break up your sets. Chip away, keep up the positive self-talk, and think of this as a set of mini-workouts, rather than a monstrosity you need to tackle all at once.
One final note this week: many of you will get to the rings and fail to get a muscle-up. This will be true even for those of you who “have” muscle-ups. For the sake of the overall picture — the grand scheme — do yourself a favor and resist judging yourself, your fitness, your success, your value in the world, based on whether or not you get a muscle up in 14.4. Life is bigger. Maintain perspective. It’s ok if it matters to you, and it’s ok to be disappointed. Just be sure your own personal big picture remains intact, even if you don’t get over the rings…this time!
How could I not be excited about 14.4? Rowing in the Open, for the first time ever. Concept2 getting some definite airtime love, and getting a chance to test everyone in the world on their rowing skills.
This one’s going to be a grip killer and and heart rate elevator, so let’s talk warmup.
Spend some good time warming up on the erg. Think technique practice first, then start building the intensity. I’d spend at least 10 minutes on the erg before the workout starts getting nice and hot. Then jump off and do a run through of everything else. Feel what it’s like to move from each station to the next and how your body feels the changes.
Now to the good stuff. The rowing. I’m going to let the other coaches take the reins on the rest of the workout, and I’ll just focus on the rowing for you.
Since we get to start on the erg, if you know and have practiced your sprint start you’ll want to use it since you’ll chip away some free calories out of the gates. If you haven’t, check out this video:
Make sure once you finish the sprint start though, that you settle into a really manageable rhythm because you will not win this workout on the first row. Maybe you’ll win it on the second one, but definitely not the first.
I can’t stress this enough — make sure you actually strap in tight and row continuously instead of stopping and starting. Smooth is going to be the name of the game for your rowing. Any of those stopper starters out there will find themselves unnecessarily fatigued. If you haven’t learned the quick release method for being able to tighten your straps and still get out of the erg quickly, check this video out: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=POme-5kPNKo
Just a knowledge point for everyone: if you’re able to keep a 1500cal/hr average on your monitor, it equates to roughly one calorie per stroke. This should give you a reference point. It doesn’t mean you want to be there if that’s not totally feasible for you, but if you’ve tested it before and you know you can handle it, then you know what to do.
Keep your hands extremely relaxed on the erg as well. If you grip the handle instead of letting it sit relaxed in your fingers, you’ll find it’s going to blow up your biceps and forearms which will wreak havoc on everything else for you.
Now, I said that the first row won’t win the workout for you, but if you make to the second row, you could very possibly win it there. So that’s where you’ll want to turn it on and shine. Give it everything you have because anyone who makes it there is going to live on hopes and dreams to finish the workout and get through as many calories as possible. And whatever you do, please make sure you tighten your straps the second time around. Having that connecting when you’re going nuts is going to be worth it for you.
This should be a fun workout that requires good pacing and control. Learn from the other great coaches here and use as much of this rowing as you can handle. With a movement that may come up twice for you, you’ll want to know what you’re doing.
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!
For a thorough warm-up plan with videos, click here: http://www.crossfit77.com/warm-14-4-crossfit-open-workout
Beginner Strategy Tips
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!
Intermediate Strategy Tips
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
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
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!
Rowing?!! Did anyone see that one coming? Dave Castro you magnificent bastard.
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-
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.
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.
My first thoughts… I love it! While I love it because I think it’s a great workout and looks fun, I love it more because it so closely resembles a workout that you would see in any box at any given time around the world. There’s no gimmicks or tricks — just an old fashioned CrossFit chipper!
For this workout it is important to classify the two types of athletes who will be attacking it.
1) The Athlete Without Muscle Ups… The answer is simple — sprint! It’s going to be all about that tie breaker time, or giving yourself as much time as possible to get that first muscle up.
2) The Athlete with Muscle Ups/the Athlete Trying to Make It to the Next Level… Not such a simple answer. I feel that with all the grip nasty movements it is going to be most important to get to the rings not just with your heartrate controlled, but also with your grip protected as early as possible. Heartrate and grip therefore will be the focus of the movements below.
Row: No need to go crazy here. Most people can row between 1200 and 1600 cal/hr just fine and that will be all that is necessary to move efficiently on this workout. Regardless, the row should not be the focus and needs to be done with a relaxed grip and with your heartrate low.
Toes to Bar: Small sets and short rest. No need to do large sets out the gate. If you watched, Bridges and Panchik were doing 2-3 reps at at time at the end. Conserve at the beginning rather than fail at the end.
Wall Balls: These need to be done in as large of sets as possible. Your legs should be fresh by this point so go for it!
Cleans: Singles. One rep at a time at a consistent rate is all you need. However, keep that rest short because that tie breaker is going to separate thousands!
Muscle Ups: If you’ve done your job, hopefully your grip isn’t too destroyed. That doesn’t mean you need to do large sets here. One or two at a time at the beginning will save you on number 20 if you have any hopes of getting there.
Have fun, and remember — it’s just like any chipper we’ve all done at any given gym all year long. This is going to be fun!
I think this workout is gonna be great for EVERYONE!! It a longer workout so a majority of the time will be spent at a comfortable threshold. The last 2 min are where it’s gonna suck. If you have an athlete who’s already hurting when they get off the rower or are on the toes to bar, get them to calm down and breathe.
The row is your warm up, and the toes to bar should be done in a fashion where there is no more than 2-3 sec rest before returning to reps. Wall balls are same as toes to bar. I like to tell people that if you’re thinking 8 sets of 5, why not make it 6 sets of 6 and one set of 4. Not only will you finish faster but you will feel more rested going into the cleans having only done 4 reps before. It’s only one extra rep…. Just do one more!
The cleans are singles. The second your hands touch the bar, pull. Don’t sit there bent over with you’re hands glued to the bar and not moving. Not only are you collapsing your diaphragm, making it harder to breathe, but the longer you rest the easier it is to keep resting. You touch, it moves.
Muscle ups are done in sets of 2 or 1 with 5 seconds rest in between. If you’re nervous about getting one muscle up….. Forget everything I said above and sprint your ass to those rings!!!!! Give yourself as much time as humanly possible to get that first muscle up baby!!!!!! You got that shit!!!
Allowing yourself to go too hard on any of the movements and redlining too fast would be my only concern with this workout.
Hip flexor sand quads definitely, ankles, and lats. There is a lot of hip flexion and extension in this workout. I would spend some time digging into the hip capsule, quad, and ankle to help with the wall balls and toes to bar. This is where 90% of people will spend the majority of this WOD.
Wooooooosaaaaaaa….. Light your meditation candles, burn some incense, whatever you do to relax. Just stay calm and keep moving. Be a robot.
Like I’ve said in all these, if you’re trying to make Regionals, do it twice if you need. If you’re not planning on going to Regionals, crack a beer and hang out, playa!
There are three categories of athletes who will be doing this workout: The first group will be hoping to finish the cleans in the shortest time possible (because they can’t do muscle ups yet). The second group will be looking to get as many muscle ups as possible. The third group will be looking to finish the muscle ups and get back to the rower.
Try to do as few sets on the cleans as possible. Bigger sets will get them over with faster. Do the cleans in small sets or singles, but keep moving. Do not walk away from the bar and watch the clock to stay on a steady pace (as opposed to doing a bunch fast early on and getting blown up). Use the hook grip and tape your thumbs if pinched thumbs is an issue for you.
The difference between finishing the muscle ups and just getting into the 20 will depend on the each individual’s ability to do muscle ups. Either way, getting to them as fast as possible (without being too tired) will be important.
Small sets and small rest for the cleans in the beginning. If you pushed the pace on the wall ball, the first couple sets of cleans will feel difficult. As you recover from the wall ball the cleans will get easier. Do bigger sets if you are comfortable. Push the pace to finish the cleans quickly (for tiebreaker purposes).
If you struggle with muscle ups, take a moment to compose yourself before each rep. If you fail a repetition, check the clock and plan accordingly. You are better off waiting longer (even up to a minute) and getting only 1 repetition. Than rushing, and failing 3-5 times. Do not panic if you fail a rep. Visualize making it and then commit.
If you are good at muscle ups (on a good day: 7+ consecutive reps for men, and 5+ for ladies), you may be able to finish the muscle ups and get back to the rower. Men will have a greater chance of finishing due to the fact that rowing 60 calories will be faster for the men (and that muscle ups tend to be easier). Don’t waste time between the cleans and the muscle ups. Finish the cleans quickly, and then get right over to do your first set/rep. Start with smaller sets to avoid “no reps.” Before you finish your last set, make sure your rower is on, the monitor is reset, and that the foot straps are loose and ready. Once the last rep is complete, rush back and get right back on the rower. Pace the row according to how many minutes you have left (sprint if you don’t have much time left, settle into a longer pace if you have a minute or more).
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.
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!
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.
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.
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.
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.
Move like you care and make it look good. Good luck.
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