CrossFit Open 2016 adaptive 16.3: best effort yet

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During the first two weeks of the 2016 CrossFit Open, I have been presented with challenging movements that I’ve never done before. I did them the best that I could, but knew that without any practice in them, my body was fighting a learning curve as well as the strength and skill involved in the movements. For 16.3, it was the first workout where I actually felt like my body had some familiarity with each of the adaptive movements prescribed by WheelWOD‘s adaptation. Because of this, I was able to dedicate most of my focus on the thing that is hardest for me while not worrying too much about the things that are easier.

If you recall, the Rx workout for 16.3 is:

7 minute AMRAP

  • 10 power snatch (75/55)
  • 3 bar muscle-ups

The WheelWOD adaptation is:

  • 10 power snatch (55/35)
  • 3 chest-to-bar pull-ups
  • 3 ring dips

I admit that when I first saw 16.3 revealed I was worried that WheelWOD, instead of assigning the bar muscle-up, which is only attainable by the most elite of wheelie athletes, would instead substitute the ring muscle-up, which while much more attainable, is still a bear.

Fortunately, the adaptation involved the breaking apart of the two muscle-up components – the pull and the push. The chest-to-bar wouldn’t be easy without the use of a kip, but at least it was reachable if I took my time.

The hardest part, similar to 16.2, would of course be the power snatch. In 16.2, I barely got into the power clean due to my struggles in the first few minutes of the workout. This time, I’d be starting things off with the snatch. But just like with the clean, the hardest part for me is to generate enough pull on the bar without the availability of abdominal muscles or hip drive. Furthermore, I had only started learning the snatch six months ago, and it was always at lighter weight (35lbs, 45lbs), and starting off of 30″ boxes. How would I do starting from the floor, and at a weight I had never really tried before?

No time like the present to start trying!

As you can see, my motion from floor to overhead is slow. Each rep took approximately 10-15 seconds, which means that the entire 10 rep set took anywhere from 90 seconds to 2 full minutes. As I look across the leaderboard for the WheelWOD competition, it is easy to see that the men and women who can do this movement the best are the ones with the best scores.

For me, pulling up the bar, repositioning my hips, and then pulling the bar as far as I could to get my elbows under it was a strain on my upper body abilities. That said, prior to this workout I had never done reps at 55lbs before. So while I was slow on this movement, which probably cost me at least another round, the weight itself was a personal record (“PR”). And as the debonair and affable Coach Brad Bunde said afterward, “You just did 30 reps at your PR weight. That’s really good.”

After the snatch came the semi-difficult move, the chest-to-bar pull-up. The key with this movement for this workout is that the bar has to actually touch your chest anywhere from the collarbone down. While I know I can get up high enough with the pull-up, actually creating contact might cause problems. And in fact it did, as in the first set, I rose up high enough but failed to touch the bar. No rep.

However, CrossFit competition is, by and large, a workout regimen of range of motion and not pure technique. With that in mind, I quickly solved my problem:

Switching from a pull-up (mostly back muscles, but pulls you at an angle) to a chin-up (mostly biceps, which burn out much faster), I was easily able to pull the bar into my chest and move on.

Moving on to…the ring dip.

The ring dip is one of the easiest movements I can do, and here is a great opportunity to express my love for all things rings. My assertion is simple – if you have limited range of motion in your legs, there may not be a better workout tool for you than getting strong on the rings. It will train you more in your strength, stability, balance, and explosive power than any other tool available.

In the end, I’m still hovering around the same spot I’ve been across the WheelWOD leaderboard, but for the first time I am satisfied with my 2016 submission. I can’t wait for what’s next.

(As an aside, this has been a phenomenal week for the CrossFit Open at Impavidus Gym. The Rx programming which involved the bar muscle-up had a lot of athletes questioning their ability to get past a score of 10. And yet, every single day, I saw groups of coaches and athletes clustered around the rigs, working through the muscle-up progression. In the end, we had so many people defeat the bar muscle-up for the very first time, and is such a joy to watch. It is what makes our gym and so many other CrossFit gyms so special. And hats off to the Games’ programmer Dave Castro, who has endured his fair share of criticism in the past. He programmed a tough workout in 16.3, but whether intentionally or not, created an environment where many athletes saw victory over a difficult movement for the very first time.)

Many thanks to all of the people who helped me with this workout – Kim Evers, Ariana Tkachuk, Brad Bunde, Colleen Taylor, and Doug Naquin. 

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