2016 CrossFit Open: 16.4

Coming into the 4th week of the 2016 CrossFit Open none of the previous workouts contained Deadlifts, Wall Balls, Rowing, or Handstand Pushups (HSPU). I had a very strong feeling these would be showing up in Open workout 16.4. My prediction for 16.4 was a 12 min AMRAP of 40 calorie row, 30 wall balls (20 lbs), 20 deadlifts (185 lbs), and 10 HSPU. Not to toot my own horn anything but I think my prediction was pretty damn close.


13 minute AMRAP

55 Deadlifts (225 lbs)

55 Wall Balls (20 lbs)

55 Calorie Row

55 Handstand Pushups

I didn’t get the exact amount of reps, but I did predict all four exercises and one out of the two weights correctly, as well as being within 1 minute of the duration of the workout. All of this doesn’t matter at all I just think it was kind of cool.

In the previous two workouts (16.2 and 16.3) I was forced to try something I’ve never done before (Toes 2 Bar and Bar Muscle Ups) and 16.4 was not any different. I’ve never been able to do a HSPU. I’ve tried a few times but I am not very comfortable upside down and have never managed to perform a HSPU. Also similar to last week, I was unable to attend Friday’s class to work on HSPU’s as I was out of town for the weekend and had to perform 16.4 on the Friday before I left the city.

While I warmed up to the deadlift weight of 225 lb I was feeling pretty good about my deadlift. That is until I reached 225 lb. I did a few reps at 225 lb and looked my brother (he’d be judging me) and said “this is going to take a long time”. After I finished warming up and stretching I tried to do a HSPU and failed miserably. So I had no idea how I’d do in this workout. I knew I should be able to get through the first three exercises and then I’d just hope for the best on the HSPU’s.

When I began the workout the deadlifts were going much smoother than I had anticipated. I managed to start off with 3 solid sets of 8 reps, followed by a few sets of 6. As I worked my way through the reps the deadlifts obviously got harder and harder. Towards the end of the deadlifts I was clinching my teeth and really struggling to get that 3rd or 4th rep off the ground before needing another break. Finally at deadlift 49 I switched to singles and banged out 6 deadlifts relatively quickly. I was able to keep my breaks quite short through the deadlifts and managed to complete all 55 reps in about 4 minutes.

The wall balls were extremely difficult for me. My legs were tired and my heartrate was jacked up from the deadlifts. I did about 10 wall balls, and realized that was too many to do at once. I was too exhausted. I did no more than 8 wall balls for the remained for the set and again tried to keep my breaks short and keep moving. I completed the wall balls in roughly 3 minutes, so I was heading to the rower approximately 7 minutes into the workout.

I had the rower set at 8/10 and began rowing at a slow but powerful cadence. I was able to catch my breath and maintain my cadence throughout the set. I was feeling so good on the rower that I actually considered turning up the tension to 10/10, but I decided against it not sure if/when real fatigue would set in on the rower. I rowed my way through the 55 calories and I did not experience any extreme fatigue. My cadence slowed and my power dropped a little bit on the last few calories but I was feeling good besides some minor fatigue in my shoulders. I finished rowing at 10 minutes and 21 seconds, so I now had ~2.5 minutes to try and get as many HSPU’s as I can.

I didn’t have high expectations for the rest of the workout at this point. I’ve never done a HSPU before so I can’t expect too much if anything. Before I even got to attempt a HSPU we had to mark my foot line on the wall so we knew when I completed a rep (feet start above the line, drop down head to the floor, pushup and feet reach above the line, equals 1 rep). This should have been done before I started the workout but my brother and I both forgot about it. Although this cut into my time and potential reps I wasn’t too concerned about it. After we got my foot line marked on the wall, I flipped myself upside down, got into position to do a HSPU…and fell over. I attempted 3 or 4 HSPU’s and fell over each time.

Emily Abbott happened to be in the box while I was doing 16.4, (in case you didn’t know, she’s kind of a big deal. She got 8th overall in the 2015 CrossFit Game) and as I was feebly attempting my HSPU she came over and gave me a few pointers. When you lower your head down to the floor, get your butt on the wall bring your feet together and knees to your chest. Once in this position shoot your legs up and press through your shoulders. She told me to imagine I’m doing a thruster only upside down. I took her advice and attempted a HSPU…and fell over again. I still had about a minute left in the workout at this point so I gave it another go. Emily Abbott was talking my through my movements as I got into position. Feet together, knees to my chest, and upside down thruster…this time I shot up off the ground with ease got my feet across the line and did my first HSPU! That felt so incredibly good and relatively easy, I lowered my head back down to the ground and tried to another…and fell. There were only 7 seconds left at this point so there was no point in trying another HSPU.

With that I did 166 reps in 13 minutes and feel pretty good. I managed to get through the first 3 exercises relatively quickly and managed to get my first HSPU so can’t complain! BUT now that I have the confidence of knowing that I can do a HSPU I know I could get a better score in 16.4. I also think I could have rowed at a higher resistance (10/10) which may have led to more attempts to HSPU and potentially a few more reps…also if we had marked out my foot line for the HSPU before the workout started that would have given me more time to attempt more HSPU’s as well, but no biggie.

I’d like to end with saying a big thank you to Emily Abbott (didn’t get a chance to thank her after my workout) for taking some time to give me some tips and guide me through my first HSPU! As I really did not know what I was doing and I did not have high hopes of even doing one HSPU in this workout. It’s a very small chance that she is actually reading this post so I’ll just have to thank her in person the next time I see her around the box.

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