CrossFit Open 2017: Beating the Odds on WOD 17.4

Mike Tromello


Agoura Hills, California, United States

CrossFit, Children's Fitness, Olympic Weightlifting


The CrossFit Open started February 23 with WOD 17.1, and the final WOD, 17.5, will be announced on March 27. As every Open WOD is released, I will be providing immediate feedback and support for anyone interested in optimizing their performance in these WODs.


Each Thursday during the Open, we are shooting these videos at my gym, Precision CrossFit, right after the WOD is announced. So you are getting the exact same advice and insight I give my gym's athletes. I hope that following my advice will help you achieve the same high-caliber performance Team Precision is known for.



Open WOD 17.4

Complete as many rounds and reps as possible in 13 minutes of:


  • 55 deadlifts (men @ 225lbs., women @ 155 lbs.)
  • 55 wall-ball shots (men use 20-lb. ball to 10-ft. target, women use 14-lb ball to 9-ft. target)
  • 55-calorie row
  • 55 handstand pushups


Additional scalings, movement standards, and more are available on the official CrossFit Open 2017 Workouts page.


How to Approach this WOD

Well, it's repeat WOD. One good thing this means is that we have a prior benchmark to compare with. And, lucky for us, Team Precision has been working hard all year on efficient, high-volume handstand pushups—because it's those handstand pushups that will really make the difference in this WOD.


As with any chipper, it's all about managing your pace and breaking things up smartly. Here are my recommendations to ensure you get the best score possible with this WOD.


Break Up the Deadlifts Right Away

Break these up early. A really effective rep scheme Team Precision used last year was 10-9-8-7-6-5-4-3-2-1. This totals out to 55 reps and helps you manage your grip an your back. Don't forget that efficient singles are an option if you want to be conservative, or if you make it through a round and find yourself gassed.


Also consider mixing up your grip, both to keep fresh and to help maintain your grip.


Manageable Sets on Wallball

The combination of deadlift and wallball can be very taxing on your back, so you really have to manage your back on this WOD.


So, as with the deadlifts, break these up right away. Doing so will not only help keep you from charging ahead at a reckless pace, but it's also a sound strategy to mind your back. It's critical that you save your grip and pace for the long haul. Last year, we found sets in the 13-15 rep range to be very efficient.



An Unhurried, Steady Row

You really don't need to row hard on this WOD. The calorie expenditure is not going to matter, gaining a few seconds is not going to matter. Approach this like a 1k row, that's roughly what 55 calories is equivalent to. Think about taking a pace somewhere in the 1:55 - 2:05 range so you can somewhat catch your breath and get to the handstand pushups ready to rock.


I'm making it a goal for my athletes to get off the rower at the 8-minute mark, leaving 5 minutes for the handstand pushups and beyond.


Pick Your Poison

This is just a way to say you have to deal effectively with your weaker movement. If you are a wall ball monster, you need to exploit that and cruise through the row. For some of you, the opposite may be true. Whichever it is, try to mitigate your weaker move by gaining ground on your stronger one.


Handstand Pushups

You have to take your time and break these up efficiently. Keep the sets small and go to singles when you have to. Remember, you can still remain efficient, even with singles. Getting through the handstand pushups is the goal, so keep an eye on the time and pace aggressively, but smart.


Setting a Goal

I'm asking my athletes to try and get through a complete round and back to deadlifts, aiming for 30 reps there. While that may not be possible for everyone to get past the handstand pushups and complete 30 more deadlifts in this WOD, that's a very sensible goal for anyone looking to move on to Regionals.


Last, if you did the Open last year, check your score on 16.4 and aim to do better. If you do, consider that a win in and of itself. This workout will be a challenge for everyone, and because it's a repeat, you have the option to focus on competing with yourself instead of others.


Good luck!


Don't forget about fueling for the Open WODs:

Nutrition Planning: CrossFit Open Guidance



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