First, some logistics:
17.4 is a repeat of 16.4 from last year's Open, so it's a great re-test for those who performed this workout last year in the Open, whether it was here at Arena Ready or at another gym. This workout brings us the first "Chipper-style" workout, a series of four movements in bigger rep sets, which - for most athletes - will be a "get as far as you can through the order" type of WOD. As with every week during the five-week Open we'll be running heats of the Open workout during all of our Saturday morning classes. Please watch the standards video above and read the workout info here before coming in on Saturday to do the WOD - since our Saturdays during the Open are not our usual coached/structured classes, you'll need to know what you're up against (to some degree) before coming in for the self-directed warm-up and heats of the workout. The movement standard for the handstand push-up will be the biggest logistical point you'll need to be prepared for this week (assuming you're fairly fit and good at the first three movements at the Rx weights) so that our heats run on time. Don't worry about wrangling the tape measure for every heat to measure the 3-inch drop from your wrist (watch the video if you're not sure what I'm talking about) - we'll have the judges use Post-It notes which are exactly 3 inches square, and we can stick them to the wall to measure to the distance from your wrists to the tape line for your handstand push-ups. This makes for a much faster logistics transition time between heats.
We will run 3 heats of WOD 17.4 per class during all Saturday morning classes, with 5-6 athletes per heat. Plan on showing up 10-15 minutes early for class (sign-up for class as you would normally) so you can get yourself warmed-up/mobilized/primed, and get yourself on the list for a specific heat time. As with previous Open WODs we'll detail a suggested, self-directed warm-up on the board in AR North, and you're welcome to follow that or do your own warm-up to get you ready to go prior to your heat.
A few words of caution regarding deadlifts and handstand push-ups:
Deadlifts for time can present athletes with the challenge of making a smart decision every time when picking up the bar. We all know what it feels like to set the back and pick up a heavy object with proper midline stability, and conversely what it feels like not to do so - we ask that you make a good decision every time, even as you attempt to push yourself in the workout. Knowingly executing a heavy (or even not so heavy) deadlift with poor position will eventually lead to back pain and likely to injury - so please don't do it. Your health and safety are more important than a score on a workout, and if you can't come back next week to train then what's the point?
Just like we do in class every time HSPUs are programmed, we're going to be on you about being smart with regard to your head/neck. Just because this is a competition we don't feel any differently. If you cannot do HSPUs without slamming onto your head or losing control of the movement, then DON'T DO THEM. Your head and neck are serious business, so don't try to be a hero when you're inverted - play it smart and protect ya' neck!
"Chin down" or "tuck your chin" is something you'll hear us say during the workout. You've heard it a million times before from us - but just in case, we basically mean "don't look down, or don't look at the floor." Keep your head and neck in a neutral position and look at the top of the pull-up rig (or the clock). Don't overdo it and tuck your chin too much either though. Neutral.
If you have any concerns or questions about HSPUs - safety or otherwise - please speak with a coach at the gym so that we can help guide you. That's what we're here for!
Now some strategy for the main categories of athletes who will be doing this workout:
Category 1: Deadlift 225/155 lbs for 55 reps, are you kidding me?!
Is the Rx weight something in the neighborhood (10-20%) of what you've lifted before, even for 1 or 2 reps? If the Rx weight is something you can lift with good technique, but it feels challenging and heavy, you may be in the boat of thinking of this workout as "13 minutes to do as many beautiful heavy deadlift singles (or doubles) as is reasonably possible" (and no, those things are not mutually exclusive). Maybe you could surprise yourself - many athletes certainly did so last year in the Open, including a memorable performance by Kyle, who at the time had never deadlifted anything close to 225 lbs... when he did the WOD he proceeded to complete all 55 reps, making sure to set his back and mid-line every single time. It was awesome to watch. Remember, you don't have to rush - you just want to get as far along as you can with solid position and technique. "Try hard" does not mean "get sloppy."
If 225/155 lbs is simply far too heavy and you just aren't in that neighborhood yet, then consider doing the scaled version of the workout which uses 135/95 lbs for the deadlift. If you have no idea where you fall in the spectrum then find a coach while you're warming up and ask them for their advice - they can help guide you and provide some insight on what is realistic and appropriate.
Category 2: The deadlift weight is doable but holy crap then 55 wall balls and a 55 calorie row?!
This one's easy. You have the remainder of the 13 minutes left after deadlifts to get as far as you can... and wall balls and rowing, while perhaps not your favorite things in the world, will not kill you. Ever. So suck it up and chip away steadily (it is a chipper workout after all). In fact these two movements are mostly a gut check for you, and a test of how efficiently you can move. The prettier your squat is at the bottom of the wall ball, and the less you "suffer" on the rower (read: slump over and pull on it like you're drunk and gasping for air), the more you'll be able to keep moving at a consistent pace. So hold yourself to a reasonable number on the wall balls if they're your nemesis (sets of 3? 5? 7?), keep rest periods short in between, and focus on a controlled tempo down, and fast up, to help catapult the ball with your bigger muscles (legs & hips). On the rower sit up taller so you can breathe more efficiently, and focus on a long drive/pull out of the catch with a slightly slower recovery back in (think about the analogy to runners being faster with long strides as opposed to quick, choppy steps). Move smoother & move better to go faster. Don't panic.
Category 3: Handstand push-ups after all that? Yeah right.
How far are you from handstand push-ups (HSPU) being a reality? If you can't kick up to the wall and support yourself safely & reliably and/or lower yourself onto your head under control, then now is likely not the time to try and get that first one... especially considering you'll just have completed 55 deadlifts, wall balls, and calories on the rower, and will be very fatigued. There's probably only a very small number of folks at the gym who are fit enough to get to the HSPUs, but who are far from being able to safely do one (so I'll end this train of thought right now).
If you know you have a good shot at making it to the HSPUs, and you can do HSPU but they're not really your jam (i.e. sometimes you have to scale them with an AbMat, or you can normally only do really small sets in WODs, etc.) then your game plan should be to get through the first three movements as fast as you possibly can without red-lining, and leave yourself with enough time to: a) possibly rest a bit after the row to feel slightly recovered before your first HSPU rep; and b) feel confident about doing the HSPU in very small sets from the start (even singles or doubles). And by "rest after the row" I mean everything from 20-30 seconds for those who are pretty decent under fatigue to quite literally "sit down for a minute and get your shit together" for those who really need to get their wind back and feel 100% sure they can make that first rep. You're trying to limit no-reps because those are exhausting and time consuming - making three successful singles in one minute with no misses is way better/easier than missing five or six times, and maybe making one or two, because you just stubbornly kept kicking back up there before your body was really ready.
Remember to try the HSPU standard in the warm-up area so you're familiar with how it feels and where you need to put your hands in order for the rep to count. It's quite challenging if you've never tried it before, so don't overlook this point (especially if you tend to do your HSPU with very wide hands, very far from the wall, or with a hyperextended/overextended back). Pull your toes toward your shins (i.e. dorsiflex your foot) at the top of each rep so that your heels reach farther up the wall - this should help you mitigate the risk of your feet not being high enough for the rep to count. This paragraph also pertains to the next/last category of athletes...
Category 4: I can do all of that stuff, either very well or decently well. Bring it.
Sometimes this category needs the least amount of advice, and sometimes they need the most haha. So I'll try to keep it simple and we can take it from there (i.e. ask us in more detail at the gym if you so desire)...
Don't rush the deadlifts. If you're a REALLY strong deadlifter and have lots of fitness then the sets should be bigger - i.e. 5 sets of 11, or 10s then 8s then 5s, or something in this ballpark. If you're not the best deadlifter then think more like sets of 5 with quick forced breaks early (we're talking a couple breaths and then go again). Either way don't blow it out on the deads - move steadily and with a purpose, but be smart about breaks and time under tension. You want to avoid strained reps since those are what really tax your system over the rest of the workout. Reps 1 through 35 will feel like no problem, but reps 36 - 55 are significantly harder for many so don't be deceived by how easy they feel to start - it's a little like a big set of push-ups in a workout... no problem when you start, and then if you don't break them early you hit the "oh crap this got really hard all of a sudden" landmark.
Wall balls can and should be done in bigger sets than the deadlifts. If you consider yourself in this category then you should be able to do exactly that. This should be aerobic for you and not an issue of muscular fatigue (if it's the latter then you should reconsider yourself being in this category, sorry) - the only caveat being that you need to save the shoulders for the HSPU, so driving the reps with the legs and hips from the start is the way to go (don't space out and forget about that early on). If you like to rest standing with the ball pinned between your chest and the wall then do so (if you don't then stick with dropping the ball) - it can save you time and extra movement over the course of multiple breaks, just make sure to let your arms hang by your sides when you do so so they can relax and recover.
Row the first 5-10 calories a little slower than the next 20-30 in order to get your wind a little and allow yourself to settle into a good rhythm. Focus on your breathing and hold the pace you've already calculated to be reasonable for your rowing proficiency (e.g. 1,000 cal/hr = 3:18 total row time). If needed slow down a little during the last 10-15 calories so that you can breathe deeply and then start the first set of HSPU faster.
Stay ahead of failure on the HSPU! In fact stay ahead of moving slowly while upside down, resting on your head, or resting at the top of the rep for as long as possible. For some this will be sets of 3-5 to start. For others a big set to start may be better, but it should be fast (no straining or "resting" while upside down). Muscular fatigue is very different than other types of fatigue in that if you're too far in the hole you simply have no choice but to stare at the wall and wait/hope/dream for your arms and shoulders to come back to you (with other types of fatigue you can sometimes fight through it). Lastly, I'll re-post the final paragraph from the previous category since it's important for this group as well...
Remember to try the HSPU standard in the warm-up area so you're familiar with how it feels and where you need to put your hands in order for the rep to count. It's quite challenging if you've never tried it before, so don't overlook this point (especially if you tend to do your HSPU with very wide hands, very far from the wall, or with a hyperextended/overextended back). Pull your toes toward your shins (i.e. dorsiflex your foot) at the top of each rep so that your heels reach farther up the wall - this should help you mitigate the risk of your feet not being high enough for the rep to count.
OK, let's do this! See you all this weekend for an awesome 17.4!
WOD for 03-18-17:
"Open Workout 17.4" (AKA "Open Workout 16.4")
AMRAP 13 Minutes:
55 Deadlifts @ 225/155 lbs (Scaled = 135/95 lbs)
55 Wall Balls @ 20/14 lbs to 10/9 ft (Scaled = 20/10 lbs to 9/9 ft)
55 Calorie Row
55 Handstand Push-ups (Scaled = Hand Release Push-ups)
(Compare to 03-19-16)