CrossFit Open 2011 Workout 4

22:17 Sun 17 Apr 2011. Updated: 17:07 19 Apr 2011
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Workout four was simultaneously the toughest and easiest workout so far, the first workout where I had no hope of finishing a round but also the first where I hit my target. This time the increase in difficulty wasn’t through more weight, but through the addition of muscle-ups: the workout was 10 minutes of 60 “bar-facing burpees”, 30 overhead squats at 120 pounds, and 10 muscle-ups.

I can’t do a muscle-up. While my arm/shoulder/upper-body strength has improved tremendously, I’m still quite weak in certain areas, the rings dips are one of these—and the ring dip motion is essential to getting a muscle-up. Issues with my right shoulder that have prevented me from doing a lot of ring dip work don’t help that.

Given this, my target for the workout was pretty clear: 90 reps, “bar-facing burpees” and overhead squats.

The “bar-facing burpee” is similar to a typical burpee, but instead of jumping to the top of a jumping jack, you jump over the loaded bar (which you’ll use later for your overhead squats), then turn around and repeat for the next one. At first I thought these would be about the same as a typical burpee in terms of difficulty, but after trying them a few times during the week they seemed significantly more difficult, possibly because of the addition of the horizontal part of the jump.

The overhead squat is a good lift for me. The last time I tested my heaviest one-rep max was about six months ago, and I was able to do 185 pounds. My squat depth is fine—in fact I may go too low—and that’s good for workouts like this where it’s one less thing to worry about. At the top of the lift, though, I had to concentrate on the required standard of opening the hips entirely, which for me means an additional hip thrust at the top; not physically tough, but something that feels weird and throws off my rhythm a little.

I planned this workout fairly extensively, and wore a watch for it, something I didn’t do for the earlier three. I was confident I could get to 90 but had to avoid gassing out from going too fast on the burpees and wearing out my arms on the overhead squats by trying too many at a time. The plan, then, was to take 5:30 on the burpees and get through the squats in conservative chunks in the remaining 4:30.

I had to make a conscious effort to slow down on the burpees. Once the workout started I wanted to go faster, and had to resist that urge. I kept a reasonable rhythm and paused a few times, and finished them a little before the 5:30 mark. This was the only time I was worried during the workout, because my legs felt oddly rubbery and I thought that I might have trouble coming up from the bottom of the squats.

I started with a good squat snatch, but then wasted that effort by forgetting the hip extension at the top, and so that rep didn’t count. I did eight that did count, and more or less knew at that point that my legs were fine and that I’d get through them in time. I ended up doing sets of 8, 7, 7, 4, and 4, stopping whenever I felt my arms were getting tired, and taking plenty of rest between them—about 30 seconds or more. I missed one more rep, at 15, but it didn’t matter. At 22 I had about two minutes left, and felt that I could do eight in a row if I really needed to, but there was no such necessity, so I did two sets of four without any trouble, finishing with about 30 seconds remaining.

So, success: I hit my target of 90. I’m certainly happy at having done so, but in truth I didn’t have to push all that hard to get there, and that feels slightly odd. I think the real lesson here is that I should be able to do a muscle-up by now; I suspect there are few competitors who could easily get to 90 reps in under 10 minutes but had no hope at all of getting a muscle-up.

Here’s a comparison between my results and the best in my gym, region, and worldwide, with my score expressed as a percentage of each:

  • Me: Tadhg O’Higgins, 90, 100%.
  • Gym best: Eric ?, 94, 96%.
  • Region best: Chad Augustin, 160, 56.25%.
  • Worldwide best: Joshua Bridges, 178, 50.5%.

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