CrossFit Open 16.4 Tips, Tricks, & Strategies

Xi XiaCFPDX Competition%s Comment

Initial Thoughts & General Comments
In an event designed as 16.4 is, the most attention should be paid towards developing a solid plan for the earlier movements, and less so on the later ones. While you want to have a good idea of how you’ll attack the row, and what you’re capable of on handstand push-ups, you need to ensure that you even have time for those movements, and enough energy left for when you do get to them. That is why a smart strategy for deadlifts and wall balls (especially the deadlifts) will be essential to maximizing your success on this workout.

In developing a plan, the more experience you have, the better. We practice all sorts of different competition workout scenarios in our competition program.

Movement Considerations
Deadlift
Many people will slow down the eccentric portion of their deadlift as they start to get tired. Try to avoid this if you can, as it is much more taxing than letting it “fall” to the bottom. Let gravity do the work – while still keeping a flat back and not breaking the “no bouncing” rule, of course. Use a mixed grip from the get go, and try to switch which direction your hands face each set. Though your breathing will be quite high in the section, I think a weight belt is a great idea.

Wall Ball Shot
Keep the ball high on your chest; your posture should be just like in a front squat. Keep your breathing constant, the weight should be light enough that you don’t have to hold your breathe at any point. And, although no one *tries* to miss reps…don’t miss reps! “No reps” are poison. Keep your aim accurate and true.

Because deadlifts are such a huge portion of this workout, I think that it would be wise to not wear weightlifting shoes for this workout (they make DL’s harder!), unless you know that the squat portion of the wall ball shot is tough for you.

Rowing
I could go on and on about common rowing faults I see, but it would probably all go out the window due to the fact that it’s tough to adopt a new technique when you’re 110 reps deep into a workout. But here’s one piece of advice that I think can be applied when tired: make each stroke count. By that, I mean try to avoid short, choppy strokes. Each pull back should be big and powerful, with the recovery forward a bit slower than the pull. This doesn’t mean you have to row with a slow cadence, just that each stroke should be smooth, with a bit of umph behind it.

Handstand Push-ups

Kip these from the get go, for sure. No matter who you are. When kipping, be sure that as you reach the bottom, your lower back/hips actually contact the wall as your head hits the ground. This is a much more balanced base to drive from and will help you get a bigger kip, without falling off the wall.

How do you work with the tough heels above the line standard? In order of easiest to implement to toughest:
– Dorsiflex your ankles at the top of the rep.
– Bring your legs together at the top.
– Straighten your body out.
– Move closer to the wall.
– Bring your hands in.
Basically, if you can get away with just doing the first 2 or 3 things on the list and still meet the standards, just do those. But if that’s not working, you might try the others, though they will make your reps quite a bit harder.

Strategies
Unless you’re elite, don’t just go for it on the deadlifts and break up when you need to. A max rep set to start is a BAD idea! You will want to break them up before you absolutely need to.

Unfortunately, it’s hard to categorize rep strategies based on 1 rep max, because maxes aren’t actually always great predictors of how someone will handle higher reps. So instead, I’m just going to lay out some ideas for how to break them up, from most to least aggressive (they should also be pretty easy to remember while doing the workout).

25-15-10-5
20-10-8-7-5-5
10-9-8-7-6-5-4-3-2-1
7-7-6-6-5-5-4-4-3-3-2
3 sets of 5, 4 sets of 4, 5 sets of 3, 4 sets of 2 plus 1 single

As you can see, I really like descending rep schemes. They are easier psychologically than maintain the same reps across the board, and take into account the fact that you’re going to get tired!

A good way to test (in your head) whether a rep scheme will work for you is how long you anticipate needing to rest between sets. In my opinion, if you have to rest more than 10 seconds in between your sets, then you’d be better off with a less aggressive strategy – one that breaks the reps up into more sets but keeps your down time low.

Be realistic with yourself when picking a plan. You are not suddenly going to become the world’s greatest high rep deadlifter (pretty sure that’s Austin Malleolo, btw) due to adrenaline. If all the plans above seem too difficult for you, as you know you’ll need do 3 reps or less at a time, a plan of 1 to 3 reps every 30 seconds (or some other time interval) might work well.

On the wall ball shots, you again will want to pick a rep strategy that doesn’t keep you off the ball for much longer than 10 seconds. Some ideas are:

30-15-10
25-15-10-5
20-15-8-7-5
15-10-5’s the rest of the way
11 sets of 5

I don’t believe you should do less than 5 reps in any set unless you’re really smoked at this point. Again, pick a strategy that you believe is realistic for you – and remember that you’ll have done a whole bunch of deadlifts just before.

You will likely be quite gassed when you get to the rower, no matter what you do, but you should get started on rowing as soon as possible. Even a slow crawl is better than not moving at all. Use the first 30 seconds to just move on it and get your heart rate back down, and then settle into a pace if you can.

A strong male rower will finish 55 calories in maybe 2 ish minutes, while a smaller female rower might take around 4 minutes. Estimate how long it might take you, and then adjust your effort based on how much time is left on the clock. If you’re at minute 11, and you’re just an *okay* rower, then there’s no point in saving any energy for handstand push-ups, because they aren’t going to happen anyways. If however, that same okay-rower had 5 minutes left, they might go just a *tiny* bit below a “racing to the finish line” pace. Yes, you want a lot of time to do handstand push-ups, and yes there is a tiebreaker, but you want to be able to breathe a bit when you get there. It is hard to do handstand push-ups while lying on the ground panting.

If you do reach the handstand push-ups, it’s bonus time! Each rep you complete will grant you a zillion spots on the leaderboard. I don’t have much to say about strategy here – it’s impossible to know how YOU will feel after 165 reps of other exercises. My best advice though it to AVOID FAILURE like the plague, unless you have < 30 seconds left. Don’t reach for a max rep set and risk pushing your arms over the brink of muscular fatigue, because then you might not get any more reps at all!

Warm-up
5-10 minutes Easy Aerobic Work
– Row, Jog, Bike, Jump Rope, etc.
+
5-10 minutes Dynamic Range of Motion
– Emphasize hamstrings, thoracic spine, ankles.
+
Build to 80% of 1RM Deadlift x 1
+
3 Deadlift 225/155#
5 Wall Ball
5 Row Cals
1-3 HSPU
Rest 1 min x 3 sets – add speed each set

Rest 5 minutes before starting

Additional Notes
Stay safe. Take the extra half second and set your back before each deadlift set. If you’ve never kicked up into a handstand on the wall before, this workout shouldn’t be your first time. And if you have any history of cervical spine issues, definitely skip or scale that portion (you can still do the first three exercises rx’d – your score would be 165).

Have fun!

One Comment on “CrossFit Open 16.4 Tips, Tricks, & Strategies”

  1. Pingback: Tips and Tricks: 16.4 | Peanut Butter Kait

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