14.3 aka Quasimodo
Edit: I did this workout Friday night and scored 130 (tiebreak 7:50) which means I got the box jumps done but did not load the bar in time for 315# reps. I did not do well on 14.1 or 14.2 for my standards, but I felt pretty good on this one. Below are some edits based on what I experienced.
This is the heaviest workout we’ve seen not only this year, but EVER in the history of the Open. Deadlifts and box jumps are staples of CrossFit and luckily are low skill movements so everyone can truly do them (unlike 14.1 and 14.2 which quickly weeded people out) Although I’m surprised it’s ANOTHER couplet, I like this workout because it is inclusive and allows most people to do the full 8 minutes, even if it means pulling singles on the deadlifts. Let’s dive into strategies and tips.
If you love your olympic lifting shoes, prepare to take a break a la Ross and Rachel. Although the lack of compression is a good thing for oly shoes, the fact that your heel is raised is NOT a good thing in this case. At heavier loads it will only promote a forward lean and coming onto your toes in a deadlift is no bueno. Stick with flat shoes – Inov-8s, Reebok Nanos, Chuck’s, etc. This will also help with box jumps.
Use a weight belt if you have one and have used it before. Don’t use one if you’ve never used one before. Make sure you know how to correctly wear one too; I see too many people just slap a weight belt on and have no clue how high or low to place it or how tight to cinch it. It’s not there for looks, there’s actually function to that thing! If you have one with velcro, you should be able to tighten it for the deads and loosen it up for the box jumps. If you don’t, then just keep it tight for the 8 minutes.
Rowing is your friend since it’s almost a deadlift action turned 90 degrees. Slow at first then some hard rowing to simulate max efforts on the deads. Mobilize with a lax ball, bands, good mornings, etc. to wake up that posterior chain. Do some heavy deads (sets of 1-3) so that you can prep your CNS and get used to heavier weights. Don’t go crazy though: warm up is not the time to go for a 1RM. Also think realistically as to what weight you’re going to hit. A small percentage will get to the 315 and only the elite might get to the 365, so why should you pull 405 in warm up when you’re “only” going to be lifting 275 or 225 in reality? Lift something heavy, but not crazy.
For box jumps, do some jump rope and banded mobility to loosen up your calves and Achilles. As we’ll talk about later though, you may want to do step ups and might not have to spend extensive time on these areas.
Both athletes and judges must note that there is a special tiebreak for this workout. At the end of every set of box jumps, the time should be noted by the judge. This will be used if two athletes are tied rep-wise where the athlete who got the most recent set of box jumps done quicker will place higher. This means if you only have a few minutes left and are going to the box (for most likely your last set) then go all out to get the faster time.
STRATEGIES AND TIPS
-Transitions are Crucial – It will take most people around 10-15 seconds to do their first set of deadlifts, but more like 20-30 seconds to change their weights. Make sure you have everything lined up (not stacked) so you know exactly what you need. Collars are a waste of time unless you have plates that tend to slide very easily. Practice changing plates quickly because it’s quite different than what you’re used to. When I competed in Regionals, we did the team “Diane” and had to change plates from boys to girls and vice versa. Between the excitement of the workout, knowing which plates to take off and put on, and actually doing it, things can EASILY get messed up as we saw with Alessandra Pichelli who put the wrong weights on and Stacie Tovar actually pointed it out. As a judge, you cannot help athletes with weights, but make sure you know how much is on the bar.
For girls using a 35# bar, you’ll need two 45# plates, two 25# plates, two 15# plates, SIX 10# plates, and two 5# plates:
1. Start with 35# bar plus 5# plates on the INNER side, plus 25# plates on the OUTER end (for 95#)
2. Take 25# plates OFF, put 45# plates ON (for 135#)
3. Leave plates ON, add 10# plates ON (for 155#)
4. Leave plates ON, add 15# plates ON (for 185#)
5. Leave plates ON, add 10# plates ON (for 205#)
6. Leave plates ON, add 10# plates ON (for 225#)
For guys using a normal 45# bar, you’ll need six 45# plates and two 25# plates:
1. Start with 45# bar, plus 45# plates ON (for 135#)
2. Leave plates ON, put 25# plates ON (for 185#)
3. Take 25# plates OFF, add 45# plates ON (for 225#)
4. Leave plates ON, add 25# plates ON (for 275#)
5. Take 25# plates OFF, add 45# plates ON (for 315#)
4. Leave plates ON, add 25# plates ON (for 365#)
For guys, I actually recommend using a 35# bar to save their grip, especially if you have smaller hands. You’ll do everything as above, but just start with the 35# bar plus 5# plates on the inside and keep them on. Edit: after doing this workout and seeing the collars, I realized that the girl bars do NOT have enough width for 315# worth of bumper plates on them. So unless you are using competition width bumpers, this strategy doesn’t work
-No Walking – This workout is a short, yet grueling 8 minutes and every second counts. If you are someone who tends to drop a deadlift and walk around or even take a few steps back, your results will suffer. If you drop a deadlift, simply stand there, recover, and pick it back up. Also make sure your box is easily accessible and close. Same goes for chalk bucket.
-Make it Count – Tovar got no-repped on a few box jumps and she lost precious time. This is a fast and dirty workout with lots of room for error, so both athletes AND judges need to be on their “A” game. Open hips completely at the top of the deadlift and the box jump, and make sure you are balanced on top of the box to show control. I think we will see a LOT of suspect video submissions with semi-open hips and not-so-great control on top of the box. Do your best to make each rep count.
-Step it Up (especially if you’re a girl or tall) – you may step up and down for the box jump portion and many people have found that step ups are not only an energy saver, but also almost just as quick as box jumps (you can test it yourself by doing 15 “regular” box jumps and 15 step ups and time each of them). If you’re a girl and have the 20″ box, there is almost no reason to not do step ups. If you’re a short guy, 24″ might be a bit high to do step ups, so you’ll have to experiment and see what it’s like compared to box jumps for you before the workout. If you’re taller and 24″ is easy to step up on, then do it. Step ups also ensure better stability on top of the box since you have to show control. Alternate legs if you can to not be imbalanced. You can also consider doing step up/jump downs which might be a good compromise. Edit: I just did this workout and found the step up/jump down method works best. Doing this prevents your knee from flexing again on the way down. Also, I found that using your hands to push off your knee on the way up was an excellent way to maintain balance and save leg fatigue.
-Use a Mixed Grip – most of you know this, but use a mixed grip on deads. Again, if you don’t know what that is, or have never used it, this might not be the time to start.
-Do Singles or Doubles When it Gets Heavy – This workout is not won in first or second round, but it definitely could be lost. As we saw with Tovar and Pichelli, they came out of the gate and got an incredible amount of work done in 3-4 minutes. However, the pace for the last 4 minutes was the complete opposite. Yes, singles are going to be slower, but by avoiding that eccentric movement (lowering the deadlift) you’re going to save your back a great deal. Yes, everyone is different and the people going to Regionals should try to string more, but for “normal” people, I think singles is the way to go especially at moderate to heavy weights. Doubles will give you a better stretch reflex on that second deadlift, but make sure you aren’t grinding it out. Edit: I did a set of 10 at 135#, 3×5 at 185#, sets of 3-5 at 225#, and mostly singles with some doubles at 275#. This worked for me at bw 160# and not deadlifting in my programming for months. (lots of cleans though)
-Watch your Form (if you care) – if CrossFit haters took note of people’s snatch technique, there’s no way they’re going to miss these deadlift videos. Rounded backs galore, this is not necessarily the time to record a technique video. If you are doing CrossFit for fitness and fun, go slower and do singles to ensure flatter backs. If you’re a competitive athlete or don’t care about your body, a rounded back is probably going to happen. If it’s in the upper back (thoracic spine) then the rounding is at least going with the kyphosis nature of the spine (rounding forward). However, if you’re rounding in the lower back (lumbar), you are going against the lordosis nature (curving away from your belly button) and this is a dangerous situation. Just be safe and smart so we don’t give outsiders more ammunition to say “CrossFit is dangerous.”
-Use your Legs – Tovar had pretty straight legs while Pichelli was using more legs in the beginning, and I think that difference contributed to Pichelli pulling ahead in later rounds. This is obviously a back fryer, so let’s use our legs more! Drop those hips and use more of your quads, kind of like a clean vs. a max deadlift.
-Pogo in the Last Minute – If you have 30 seconds to go and you’re on box jumps, pogo away if you can. Rebounding is more taxing, but it also can be faster depending on the athlete. For those looking to get every rep possible, this might be an option, although I feel like most people will be so smoked from the deads that they will not even be able to pogo. Edit: Once I got done with the last deads at 275#, I only had 40 seconds left, so I pogo’d the first 7 and then did step ups/jump downs for the last 8 to keep moving.
Overall, this workout comes down to the second half, not the first. Move smooth and fast, do not be inefficient and aim for no “no reps.” Make sure you are setup and have practiced transitions. Use your legs and just know that your back will be on fire at some point. Considering this, there will probably not be many “redo’s” or second chances, so give it all you got in the first go around. Oh yeah, and HAVE FUN!
Edit: I used a belt and did singles when I felt the bar get even slightly heavy and this worked. I did not feel like my back was compromised at any point, even if I did not have perfect form. Post workout, I felt tight for about 10 minutes, but then felt fine. We’ll have to see how the next few days feel.
What other strategies or tips are you going to use?