Coaching Roundtable: CrossFit Open 16.4

by Kristy Parrish | March 18, 2016 8:59 am

Coaching Roundtable: CrossFit Open 16.4[1]

With only so many measurable movements left from which to choose, you may have seen this one coming… but maybe not this diabolical rep scheme! Without further ado, some words (and videos!) of wisdom from our coaches.

Ben Dziwulski, WODprep

About Those Handstand Push-ups…

If you know that you can make it the first 3/4 of the WOD but definitely want help with the HSPU, check out these two videos:

Handstand Pushup WODprep Public Service Announcement:

Know what to do with your head. It matters!

HSPU PUBLIC SERVICE ANNOUNCEMENT![2]PUBLIC SERVICE ANNOUNCEMENT for 16.4! PLEASE be smart with these HSPU. Spread the word. #SaveTheSpines #WODprep #InTheOpen

Posted by WODprep[3] on Thursday, March 17, 2016[4]

Longer WODprep HSPU Tutorial about “timing the hip pop!”:

Timing the kip is everything, folks. [Video ~2:00]

16.4 Complete WODprep Strategy Video

Visual learners, here is the 15-minute strategy video you need.

Taryn Haggerstone, GoHardGetStrong



I’m a big fan of single-leg kettlebell deadlifts, banded good mornings and banded air squats for workouts like this because they get that posterior chain firing and help prime the muscles for the WOD.
As with every other Open WOD, make sure you do a proper warm-up prior to hitting the WOD. I usually like to start my warm-ups with some light cardio (run/row/skip) to get the body moving, as well as a light/quick foam roll. Nothing specific at first, just a good general warm-up. Once you’ve got the blood flowing, you can get a little more specific with the warm-up and start targeting the muscles/muscle-groups that will be needed for this workout (hamstrings, glutes, shoulders, hips etc). I’m a big fan of single-leg kettlebell deadlifts, banded good mornings and banded air squats for workouts like this because they get that posterior chain firing and help prime the muscles for the WOD. For the handstand push-ups, a good way to get those shoulders firing (and dial in your body position) is to do some wall walk holds and/or handstand holds, as well as some inverted kettlebell holds (or presses) for stability.

What Shoes to Wear

Personally, I would go with Nanos for this workout (or another solid/flat shoe) because weightlifting shoes can force us too far into our toes on the deadlifts and be awkward on the handstand pushups. However, if you are someone who struggles with hitting full depth at the bottom of your squat, it may be worth “sucking it up” on the deadlifts/HSPU in order to avoid unnecessary “no-reps.”

Breaking up the Reps/Pacing

Breaking up the Reps/Pacing[6]

No once can tell you the “best way” to break up your reps for each movement; ultimately what works best will vary based on individual strengths/weaknesses. That being said, there are some good “general rules of thumb” to keep in mind that can help you hit your best score for this workout. First and foremost, remember that it is a chipper, and as such we shouldn’t attack it with the same intensity/pace that we would a short couplet or triplet.

This workout isn’t about who is first off the deadlifts [7]or fastest through the wall balls; rather, it’s about who can maintain their pace the longest and stay below that red line of failure.
If deadlifts are your jam, take the opportunity to get an early lead/buy yourself time later in the WOD. If, however, 225/155 is heavy or challenging for you, don’t be afraid to break them up into small sets — just try to minimize the amount of time you rest in between each set. When I know I’ll have to do a lot of sets in a workout to get through all the reps, I make a point of giving myself a “count down” (or having a friend do it) every time I put down the bar

e.g. “Deep breath, pick the bar back up in 5,4,3,2,1″

so i don’t waste time with unnecessarily long breaks. Small sets are fine, so long as we can keep our rests short.

Coming off high-volume, heady deadlifts right into wall balls, don’t be surprised if they’re more challenging than expected. In fact, I would plan for that in advance. Before starting the WOD, come up with a rep-scheme you can handle when fatigued and as best you can try to stick to it in the WOD. Don’t think about the wall balls as 55 reps you need to get through, just focus on one set at a time (e.g. 15 reps then breathe, 10 reps, 10 reps again).

Also if possible, try to briefly drop your arms while the ball is in the air to give them a slight break from being extended and/or under tension. A few people at my gym have already hit 16.4, and everyone said their arms were absolutely smoked by the time they got to the handstand pushups. So every chance you have to “rest” your arms during the movements prior to the HSPU, take it!

By the time you get off the wall balls and onto the row[8], you’re going to be pretty tired; keep in mind, however, that the tiebreak for 16.4 is the time at which you finish the row, so this is the time to dig deep and push hard. But don’t just throw technique out the window and start pulling like crazy! Drive with your legs and use your hips to make every pull count.

if possible, try to briefly drop your arms while the ball is in the air to give them a slight break from being extended and/or under tension.
For the handstand pushups (if/when you get there), it’s important to remember that one rep can make a big difference on the leaderboard, so make every rep count. If you’ve made it this far, you’re going to be pretty gassed and your arms are going to be tired, so really make sure you take the time to set-up properly, drive with your legs when you kip, and make sure you get those heels over the line. Also, always stop before you need to (i.e. don’t go to failure), and if that means breaking your HSPU up into singles, then do it. You’re better off taking them one at a time with no failures than failing your last rep on every set.


After a nasty workout, the last thing we usually want to do is exercise/move more. However, once you get your breath back and are able to peel yourself off the floor, make sure you spend some time cooling down — hop on an Airdyne, roll out your back, etc — so your body doesn’t completely seize up on you. Also, after an all-out intense workout like this, it’s important to eat (or drink) something as soon as you can stomach it to help replenish depleted glycogen stores and help your body recover from the WOD. If you are a competitive CrossFit athlete (or aspiring to be one) what we do for recovery is just as important as  our workouts, so take the time/make the effort to take care of your body after your WODs.

Tags: Contributor Network[9], CrossFit Games Open[10], 16.4[11], Taryn Haggerstone[12], GoHardGetStrong[13], Ben Dziwulski[14], WODprep[15], deadlifts[16], rowing[17]
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  8. row:
  9. Contributor Network:
  10. CrossFit Games Open:
  11. 16.4:
  12. Taryn Haggerstone:
  13. GoHardGetStrong:
  14. Ben Dziwulski:
  15. WODprep:
  16. deadlifts:
  17. rowing:

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