Tips & Tricks: Open 17.4

Partly I jest, but as I remember from last year what my back felt like after 16.4, I’ll be making an appointment with my friend, fellow crossfitter, and chiropractor Shawn Rennick for next week.  Calgary friends, a good person to know!

Here we are at 17.4 already – March is flying by! 17.1 and 17.2 showcased dumbbells, and I think we were all crying tears of joy to see a barbell in 17.3.  Now 17.4 brings us… 16.4!

17.4 is 16.4

We meet again, 16.4

The great thing about 16.4 is that, as a repeat workout from 2016’s CrossFit Open, the internets are full of recaps and tips.

How do I feel about it?  To quote myself from last year’s blog post (is that vanity at its finest? #YOLO):

I really felt like it was my jam, despite the rowing.  My only regret is not getting to the wall – I know I could have done a few HSPU at least.  But I never would have guessed I would finish the row, so there’s that.

row row row no

Of all the Open workouts that could be repeated, 16.4 is definitely not my worst fear.  I think I’m most pleased that I’ll actually get a good workout in on Sunday, compared to the 17.2 and 17.3 (which due to my stubbornness RX-ing were pretty low-key).

Things that worked well for me in 2016/Plan of attack for 2017

  • Deadlifts – my current one rep max (RM) is about 260#.  My coach Eric advises not attempting RX unless 155# is ~60% of your 1 RM.  Last year I had success with sets of 5, with 5 second rests in between.  Protect your back at all costs!
  • Wall balls – last year I did small sets of 5-6.  I’m hoping to do sets of 10 this year.  My lungs are slightly bigger.  🙂
  • Rowing for calories – not my strongest skill then, and not my strongest skill now. My goal is to just keep moving (I’ve been known to stop outright… like the calories will appear magically without moving the rower… pray for me…).
  • Handstand push-ups (HSPU) – I didn’t get here last year as I rowed my 55th calorie just as the timer went.  My ultimate goal for 17.4 is to get some handstand push-ups!  I can do them… I just need to have time for them (AKA don’t row for eternity).

Tips & Tricks from People Smarter Than Me

Read the workout standards from the Games website (as always) – there are pretty specific rules for HSPU.

Nicole Carroll from the CrossFit Games website offers the following wisdom:

  • Doing smaller sets with designated rests ensures that you can maintain a decent pace for the deadlifts and wall balls.
  • Rowing: make every pull count.  * ahem Kait *
  • Read her post for HSPU tips for when your shoulders are too tired to function.

Coach Eric Barber from CrossFit Currie Barracks/my second home CrossFit Sunalta has a well-rounded post including a warm-up, pacing suggestions, and general science/math awesomeness.  The guy knows what he’s talking about.

  • Have structured work:rest sets in mind for the deadlifts and wall balls.  Know your strengths when picking rep quantities.
  • For the row, focus on keeping your heart rate stable (no redlining!), and towards the last few calories, ensure your breathing is in control for the handstand push-ups.
  • HSPU: small sets from the beginning.

Are you happy to see 16.4 again?  Any lessons learned you’ll be trying out this time around?  I’ll be back next week with a recap of 17.4!


17.3 Accomplished

My CrossFit Open 17.3 experience isn’t much to write home about. So instead I’ll write about it on my internet blog. [eye roll]

As you can surmise from my past recaps, I’m just an average-Joe-crossfitter, not an elite-level Games athlete at this point.

I love doing the Open every year because, despite my inability to do some movements still (muscle-ups, I’m looking at you), you still realize the gains you make year-over-year.  They might be small, but trending upwards is all that matters.

With that said, the 2017 Open hasn’t exactly been making me feel like a rockstar.

I did finish 17.1 under the time cap, RX. In hindsight, that was my best Open event so far.

17.2 was a good workout… all 6 minutes of it… but those muscle-ups got in my way.

17.3 was an even quicker workout. I got it over with on Friday night as I forecasted Saturday’s wine tasting might inhibit my performance.  Meg came to cheer me on, and Dana judged.

Maybe the lip pucker helps?

The wins: I’m very pleased to say the 65# squat snatches were pretty smooth and didn’t kill me.  I did the chest-to-bars as singles, but quickly.  Dana only had to no-rep me a few times on either movement.

My strategy was to fly through the first “round” of snatches and pull-ups so my tie-breaker score would be competitive. I finished the round of 65# snatches in 4:19, I believe.  Then did the 7 pull-ups at a more leisurely pace and took some time to get my heartrate down before attempting some 95# snatches.

The problem was that 85# is the most I’ve ever squat snatched. I can power clean 100#, but I’m still lacking the confidence to drop under the weight in a squat.  I know it’s silly.  Science/math say that I should be able to squat snatch more than I can power snatch.  But that ratio still isn’t correct for me.

I probably attempted 95# five times with Meg, Coach Jane, Dana, and the rest of class cheering me on. I even got under it a few times (although I didn’t realize it, until after when Meg showed me the video!), but couldn’t seem to stick it and stand up again.


So I finished 17.3 with some tears in my eyes, but got it done. I do feel like the Open gave me the confidence to attempt 95#, and when snatches come up in class in the future, I will likely be able to get under the bar and stick it!

My finish in 17.3 only pushed me down 3 places on the Leaderboard so that’s kind of promising. Haha, you know I’m all about that Leaderboard finish.  😉

On Sunday morning, despite Saturday night’s festivities, Dana went in the first heat and did 17.3. That darn guy beat my tie-breaker time and got more reps than me!

I was more than happy to just judge a few heats, as I wasn’t feeling my finest. Anna had some great attempts at 95#, and Rozie made the 95# bar look light!  I also judged a scaled athlete and, for anyone who thinks scaled is easier, I think it’s equally as hard!  Those jumping pull-ups catch up with you, as does the increased speed of the workout (due to the lighter snatch weights).  The rest of the Intramural Open was spent socializing and cheering – a very nice way to spend a Sunday.

Tomorrow is the 17.4 announcement – any guesses? We all know Dave Castro’s Instagram hints can’t be trusted. How was 17.3 for you?


Tips & Tricks: Open 17.3

We’re at the halfway point of the 2017 CrossFit Games Open!  We made it!  With both 17.1 and 17.2 featuring dumbbells, suffice it to say I was praying 17.3 would showcase a different piece of equipment.

What I would really like to see is a triplet of (full) cleans, burpees, and maybe some kettlebell swings, but the Open isn’t about me. Fine.  Just focus on my weaknesses then, Dave Castro, that would be great.

17.3 (for an 18-34 year old woman is)…

17.3 crossfit open

Wait, when I said that line before about exposing my weaknesses, I was joking!

The good news is that I can do all the movements in question.  The not-so-good news?  I can’t string together chest-to-bar pull-ups yet, and my squat snatch PR is somewhere in the ballpark of 85# on the best day possible.

So not exactly my dream workout, but I am optimistic I can survive the first three rounds of pull-ups and 65# snatches, and do a single 95# squat snatch.  That would be a PR for me so a decent goal.  But since it would take a miracle to complete the first 72 reps in under 8 minutes (the first round’s time cap), I think this will likely be a frustratingly quick 8 minute workout for me.  But it’s longer than last week’s, so I can live with it.

17.3 crossfit open meme

The truly competitive athletes of the CrossFit world, like our dear strong Emily Abbott, will be glad to see something more meaty like 17.3, I’m sure.

Motherly Advice

Make sure to read the workout standards posted here.  Important point: “A power snatch followed by an overhead squat will not be allowed.”  Ensure your squat snatches are indeed full squat snatches for the reps to count.

Do your hand maintenance before 17.3.  If you tear, come back here and follow their suggestions for healing up rips.

Friends can help you load plates on your barbell.  Time to make some friends!

Tips & Tricks from the Internets

Nicole Carroll (from the CrossFit Games website) has some feedback:

  • [17.3] is not a pull-up workout. It is a snatch workout.
  • In your warm-up, get at least one rep in at that snatch weight you know you’ll start to struggle with.
  • Breath during and after your pull-ups to keep your heart rate in check, then approach the snatches with confidence.

I really like this blog post by Talayna Fortunato.  Among her many (hilarious, at points) suggestions:

  • Avoid – at all costs – wasting snatches.  Re-doing those no-reps will cost you time and energy.  Doing the snatches as singles isn’t a horrible idea.
  • Be prepared for the workout (obv.) – have your belt nearby if you plan to wear it, chalk near the rig, and the various plates organized by how you’ll need them put on.
  • And to echo Nicole’s tip (above), don’t gas yourself on the pull-ups.

Chris Spealler on chest-to-bar pull-ups: don’t fight the negative portion of the movement, as this will just wear your shoulders out sooner.

Check the CrossFit Sunalta posting for strategy and warm-up ideas from the wise Coach Eric Barber.

For a change of pace, I’m planning to do 17.3 Friday night with Meg and Dana due to fun upcoming weekend activities like a wine tasting on Saturday night.  Nobody wants to do an Open workout after a wine tasting. No one.

But I’ll be at CrossFit Sunalta on Sunday to cheer on my fellow Sunalta Strong teammates and judge athletes doing 17.3.  I’ll be back early next week with a recap!

Opinions on 17.3?  What’s your plan of attack?