Crossfit Games Open 15.4 Recap

My greatest weakness in Crossfit has always been my upper body pressing strength. To illustrate this point, here's what my last Crossfit Total looked like. These numbers are from summer 2013.

Back Squat opener for 2013 CF Total

Back Squat opener for 2013 CF Total

Squat 430

Press 150

Deadlift 455

One of these things is not like the others. Of course your strict press should certainly be less than your squat or deadlift but not THIS much less. I have to admit, if you're going to have a weakness, this is a pretty good one to have for Crossfit. I wouldn't dream of trading my squat and deadlift numbers for a bigger press or bench because Crossfit rarely asks you to strict press a barbell overhead. When there's an overhead barbell party, hip extension always gets an invitation and as evidenced by my 300 lb jerk, I've gotten pretty good at hiding my weakness behind a veil of strong hips, speed under the bar and good overhead mobility. But there is one exercise in the Crossfit movement pool that aggressively exploits it. That exercise is Handstand Push-ups, which brings me to 15.4

8 min AMRAP


3 Cleans 185 lb


3 Cleans 185 lb


3 Cleans 185 lb


6 Cleans 185 lb


6 Cleans 185 lb

...etc .

I wish I was smart enough to see this workout and immediately tell everyone on the team at Crossfit 212 to lower their expectations. And then lower them some more. I wish I was smart enough to have told MYSELF that. But I wasn't. I was hot off my best week of the open so far. 15.3 gave me such a boost in the leader board rankings that I was drunk on that confidence. I laid out a pacing plan that made 100 reps seem manageable. Due to the cold that hit me early last week, I decided to wait until Monday to do 15.4 so I'd be well recovered. Over the weekend other team members were turning in scores in the 70's and 80's but I was undeterred. Our team had strategy discussions where the phrase "...assuming a triple digit score from Ryan.." was thrown around.

I completed the first 3 rounds in 1:44, even faster than my intended pace. All the 3-rep cleans were touch and go, hands on the bar the whole time. No problem. I broke up the 12 HSPU into triples. Once the cleans became 6's I started dropping them but still went unbroken and got back on the wall for the 15 HSPU. That's when things took a turn. Somewhere in the 15's I hit failure on one of the HSPU. I knew things were getting bad when I was kipping my way up but could barely control the descent of each rep. I breezed through the  6 cleans again only to find myself staring at the wall for the 18 HSPU. At this point I overheard my shoulders and triceps talking about unionizing. In the remaining time I made 10 or 11  HSPU attempts. 8 were valid, leaving me with a final score of 74. Prior to this, my worst ranking any week so far was 887th in the region for 15.1. That performance seems stellar next to my 15.4 ranking of 1089th in the northeast.

I'm not happy with this one, but all I can do is look ahead to next week. Four down, one to go.

PS: I posted a new set on my Video page. Go check it out.

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