Talking with a couple people late last night I realized something damn cool about this final workout: it literally defines what I love so much about CrossFit. It is not necessarily the most in-shape person who will score well on this one. Very fit people will also need to know themselves and how they function on these specific movements perfectly. It includes a portion of experience. My training partner is an absolute beast and will be going to Regionals along with me. But I fear he will struggle more with this workout than any of the others because he has never done Fran and has no clue what to expect from doing something like that. Fran is the go-to workout for CrossFit because of its simplicity coupled by its absolute degree of difficulty. Not only is it brutal for those who know how to do it, but it's always tough because you think it should be easy, and it's not. And then to top it off, this Open Workout is slightly harder than Fran, and throws that mind-f**k of added time into the mix. I am shocked that Jason Khalipa got nowhere near that third time addition, AND I have never seen Rich Froning look that beat up while exercising. This one is BRUTAL!
So with the fact that I have no clue how everyone reading this is, I will explain how I plan to approach this workout, and I'll touch on a couple different things you should be thinking about going into it. First off, for those athletes gunning for the 3rd time installment, figuring out timing of thrusters and pull ups probably won;t help you all that much. Pacing this on based off of time will work for such a small collection of people, and I'm sure those people know their times. If you try to pace out 90 perfect reps in 4 minutes you'll hit a wall no matter what and end up screwing yourself up through the 8 minutes. I honestly think the best way to go about this workout is getting your 90 reps (again, for people gunning for the 12 minutes workout) while performing just under your red-line. Then go about doing everything in your power to get another 90 resp in before the 8 minute mark hits. If you are gifted/lucky enough to make it into the 3rd round, it honestly doesn't matter at that point. Take a minute rest and just accumulate some reps. You'll be in such a small percentile of athletes, you'll be pretty set. My point is, any score above 180 is going to be an incredibly high score.
That is obviously pretty vague, but I think it's a good base of approach. Get your first 90 in without blacking out, then go for broke at a pace YOU can handle and hope to the dear Lord above that you get another 90 in before time expires.
I will be going about it like so: If my butterfly C2B's are working, I'll plan to hit two rounds unbroken. I'll then plan to hit the 3rd round of 15's with unbroken thrusters and then break the C2Bs up either 8/7 or 6/5/4. While I feel good with the C2Bs, I know that they take SO much out of you. It's worth breaking them up earlier with the knowledge that it's always better to do slightly larger chucks of them rather than going to singles and doubles when you get really crushed. After getting the initial 90, it'll be about putting the BB down before hitting a wall so that I can conserve enough energy to get my larger chunks of C2Bs. At that point, all that matters is getting to 180, so it'll be a conservative sprint from there on out. Knowing myself, I can always get 4-6 of each of these movements as long as I'm still standing, so I will plan on making sure I stay at a pace where I can do that. I will probably do 8/8 or 5/5/5 on the thrusters, and 6/5/4 or 5/5/5 on the C2Bs for as long as I can. When I hit a wall with that, I'll just get freaking reps however humanly possible until I am either done (read: dead), or I get the "joy" of getting to go for another 4 minutes. And again, for anyone lucky enough to get to that 3rd round, good work, just get a whatever you can. It's going to be a VERY small collection of people.
For those of you who hope to get into the second round. Get to it with just enough energy to spare, then just get reps in. You know your workout will be over no matter what at 8 minutes so view it as an 8 minute AMRAP. But don;t go too slow at the start. Hit that sub-red-line pace to make sure you get the initial 90, then accumulate reps until you're done.
For those of you who know you won't make it past 4. Sweet, this is a pretty "easy" workout for you. Get as many reps as you possibly can in 4 minutes. Go!
I recognize that this post is the least insightful of all my "notes" posts, but that is because the strategy here is going to be ever so slightly different for each and every person. Go to GymnasticsWOD and get your efficiency notes form Carl Paoli/ The get your mobility prep from MobilityWod and Kelly Starett. After that, break down your Fran, and then your ability to handle a slightly tougher Fran, and be honest and realistic. I know for me, getting 180 reps is possible, but will take some serious star-aligning for it to happen. So I need to set a pace (that i know how to do through experience CrossFitting, and having done Fran 5 times) to give myself the best opportunity to get 180 resp in 8 minutes. If I plan to have any energy after that, I didn't approach this workout correctly.
I recommend weightlifting shoes. They obviously help on the thrusters, and for me, they actually assist my butterfly kip because of the weight distribution to my feet.
Put something on your hands. Wear gloves, or those hand protector things, or tape, something. And shave down those callouses ASAP. If there was a workout out there that would rip your hands up, this is it. And I really have no interest in seeing all the pictures on Facebook with people showing off how "cool" and "bad ass" (read: stupid, and really freaking stupid) they are because they were stupid and ripped their hands.
Warm up by mobilizing your hips and shoulders, AND stabilizing your shoulders. This workout is the equivalent of throwing a 12 inning game with weighted baseballs with both hands (that would be a bad thing by the way, for all you non-baseball minds out there. The point is, this workout is going to destroy your shoulders. make sure they are mobile AND the muscles are active and prepared for hundreds of floppy, gross, dynamic, tendon-ripping reps.
Leave it all on the floor. This is the last workout of The Open! You've come this far, you may as well go all out. For people like me and my training partner, it;s all about gaining a few more extra spots up the leaderboard to assure our spot at Regioanls. For others, it's the a chance to see what you're made of on a diabolical workout. But remember, if you have no chance competing in Regionals, be sure to pay attention to your hands and shoulders throughout. There is no point hurting yourself, or causing a week or more of no training just to get a few more reps.
No matter what happens, we can all rejoice in the fact that the open is over after this!!
Never Stop, GET FIT.
So I mentioned yesterday about getting the handstand push up (HSPU) finally, here is how it all happened (this is going to be a bit of a geek-out post, just a heads up...:
First, let's talk about what was going on before yesterdays joyous discovery. I basically had convinced myself that i had fundamental inability to perform a decent HSPU. Talking with a handful of experts I had come to a couple things: try to engage maximal muscle use, and work on stimulating smaller muscles in and around the shoulder in case any of them shut down in the HSPU position. The first of these is that I would need to look at the exercises in the same way one looks at an overhead press. With the understanding of powerlifting I have, that means to poof the chest out a little bit, allow the back to arch a bit as to get the chest engaged enough to help the pushing action. While your body is no longer in the neutral position, you can basically just muscle through the movement, if you are strong enough. The second part was to focus on the muscles used for the movement, roll out all the small ones and hope that I could "awaken" them enough to help when I needed them. Both seemed like pretty logical fixes that made a ton of sense to me. But, both did not work in any possible way. As mentioned in an earlier post, if you had been there you would have had the same face of sheer confusion as i struggled with just about every hand position, kipping style and so on that I could. I was able to get 3 total reps out of about 20+ attempts. My mindset had basically become: "grind the gears" a little (attempt to get reps whenever I could) and just prey that something awesome would happen come Friday with the workout.
Then, after a few days of bombarding the Internet looking for any and every possible hint of help and advice (my boy Jim Bathurst's site Beast Skills was very helpful for little tidbits), I finally came across Carl Paoli's blog Gymnastics WOD. Carl is a gymnast and trainer out of CrossFit San Francisco that I met a couple times while living out there, and he has some really awesome pointers for people looking to get a bit better gymnastics skills. He posted up a handful of videos on how to improve some points needed for the coming CrossFit Regionals. The first two were on the HSPU and after watching the first one, well, it was like a freaking miracle. I hopped up tot eh wall and banged out 5 solid, smooth, comfortable reps. It was only a couple hours later that I got 6 reps with a 2-inch deficit, giving me an entirely refreshed sense of excitement for the coming event!
There was one main thing that he talked about that helped the most, but honestly it was the combination of three things, along with a realization about how the body works that got things rolling for me. First, he talked about alignment of the arms and where your hands should be positioned so that your body would be most efficiently utilized (rather than going crazy here, check out the video I link through to, it’ll explain it pretty well). Next, it was how to kip. I had been attempted to kip with a major jerk form the knee joint. Carl explains that this forces you out of a “hollow”, supported position very quickly and I found that the second I fall out of that position, well, I fail. So, I needed to be sure my kip was such that my hollow position was held. Well shoot, I actually forgot one more before the main point! This is where the head should be when lowered. Carl suggests to bring the head down so to create a tripod between it and your two hands, this allows a more stable base that again helps to keep the hollow position AND in turn, a stronger press. The final, and the most effective point for me was simply to tuck the chin. I had been focusing so much on looking at the floor (like I am in the picture above) and this basically was forcing me completely out of an effective position and zapping all power out of my body. The second I tucked my chin (and focused on those other points) I got them!
So, what did I realize on my own about all this? I had been focusing on replicating the overhead press for the HSPU and this actually turned out to NOT be a smart move! The overhead press is an open kinetic chain exercise, meaning your limbs are moving through space (you press against something hard enough that IT moves); while the HSPU is a closed kinetic chain exercise (you push against something so hard YOU move). These demand totally different things from your body. With open chain movements, it’s all about engaging more muscle; that is why a slight arch in the back and a poofed out chest on an overhead press is so helpful, you are using more muscle. In closed chain movement, alignment is king. If you are not aligned perfectly, you are killing your ability to move efficiently, you are draining power.
This closed and open chain movement concept, while learned in basic personal training certification tests, seems to have much deeper impact on how we function. And as a trainer I am always searching for new and improved ways to approach how to get better. This just makes sense to me, so much! It is also a pretty new concept to be taken this seriously by me so I am still in the process of understanding it at a greater level. Meaning: I am open to discussion. Moral of the story is twofold: when you feel like you just cannot do something, try to think outside the box a little. And, not every movement is created equal, even if it the same movement. This explains why some dude who can bench press 400 pounds can not do more than 30 push ups (by the way, it is almost always transferable the other way; a gymnast can translate his/her abilities quicker to a barbell than a barbell practitioner could translate to gymnastics). Something to consider very seriously: before trying to set a personal record on the power and Olympic lifts, perhaps try to perfect some of the main gymnastics movements first. You’re barbell lifts will benefit that much more from it.
Never Stop, GET FIT.
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