2015 CrossFit Open Strategy and Tips for 15.4

Posted by Talayna Fortunato on

Alright Kids!  We're down to the second to last Open workout for 2015.  Did anyone see HSPUs coming?  I bet if you did, you didn't see this standard coming with them.  Believe me when I say you better practice it because Josh Bridges is one of the best in the world at this movement and it certainly caught him off guard.  I'm also going to put in my own little personal note about this.  It goes like this, don't be "that guy" (or gal), because nobody likes that guy and they talk about what he did over beers later (truth).  I say this for judges too, not just athletes.  Handstand push-ups are very hard to get people to do to standard, which is probably why HQ has gone to the length of an algebraic equation to get people to do them properly.  If you don't abide by the standards they've set forth and you partake in said, "bro-repping" you are messing with the validity of the leaderboard and we are no longer friends.  If you're not too concerned about our friendship then consider this, if HQ decides to make an example of you and request a video (especially Regional contenders hint, hint), you will be penalized 15% of your score if they deem too many of your movements no-reps.  Just ask the momentary winner of 15.2 Natalie Newhart how lenient HQ was on her riding the line of parallel on her overhead squats when she submitted her video.  Ok I'm sorry for all of the negative reinforcement, I know that's bad parenting skills, onto how to crush this thing!

First be happy that this workout will not hurt as bad as last week.  If you hit a wall you'll probably just be staring at said wall and not doubled over in pain unable to catch your breath like 15.3.  That's because the limiting factor for most everyone will be HSPUs and the muscle endurance of their triceps and shoulders.  There will be outliers who are body weight ninjas and haven't built their strength up yet.  If this is you then pace the cleans accordingly, doing singles.  For everyone else be aware of just how many HSPU's this is going to be.  Here's a chart of the sum of the total HSPU's for each round completed tallied on the left:

Just to give you something to go on if you've ever done Diane (21-15-9 HSPUs and Deadlifts), you will hit that number of HSPU's after the 15 HSPU and 6 Cleans round.  If you plan on beating Panchik you will be doing over 108 HSPUs!

There really isn't a ton of strategy to this workout.  More like tips on what to do and what not to do so I'll bullet them off:


  • When measuring for standards make it easier on yourself.  Depress your shoulders when you raise your hands to the wall and measure from the bottom of your wrist crease, not the top.
  • Place your bar as close to the wall as you can.
  • Place some chalk close to the wall as well in case your hands start sliding on the HSPUs.
  • Consider using a padded mat (like a yoga mat) under your head.  It may also prevent slipping.
  • Mark beforehand the perfect placement of your hands apart from one another to get your heels above the line and the distance you want to be from the wall.  Then put your hands somewhere else... just kidding, put them there!
  • Pick a wall that's smooth.  FYI: kipping HSPUs against a brick wall kind of sucks in terms of friction.  Just trust me.
  • Consider reinforcing the tape line for your heels with some chalk, a marker, some pony stickers, maybe even make it dashed?  Just know that it may roll on you.
  • Write the rep count somewhere you can see it (like in chalk on the floor), or have a judge that's going to remind you every round.  The last thing you want to waste time on is figuring out which round of 6 cleans you're on now.
  • Go to the standards page for the tiebreak information. No I'm not going to tell you it!  Go HERE so you don't miss anything!


  • Make sure to warm-up the quads and hamstrings appropriately. (i.e. rowing, air squats, banded good mornings, a few box jumps, etc.)
  • Singles!  They're not that much faster than touch n' go, if any, as long as you get right back on the bar.  The only exception to this is if you're elite and this is cake weight.  If unsure try it Friday and you can always redo.
  • Choose the least bouncy plates that you have.  It helps when doing singles not to be chasing the bar around.
  • If your plates do bounce some, follow the bar back down with your hands to minimize it.
  • Tape your thumbs!
  • Dip under the bar and avoid a reverse curl, muscle cleaning.  Not sure what effect this would have on the HSPUs, but it's good practice.

Push Presses (Scaled)

  • Dip under the bar to catch each rep over head, and make sure you extend your knees before you start lowering the bar.
  • Make sure to keep your elbows high in the rack position and drive the bar off of your shoulders not your palms.
  • Have 2 bars set up with separate weights.  Changing weight plates every round wouldn't be the best use of your time.
  • Place said 2 bars parallel to one another so you can do a 180 and pick up the other one, rather than stepping over one or worrying about them bouncing into one another.

Handstand Push-Ups (HSPUs)

  • Warm up your shoulders!  CrossOver Symmetry or some rotator cuff first, then I'd suggest more light weight presses to get blood into those muscle groups and only a few HSPUs, save them for the actual workout.
  • Move your hands in enough (and possibly closer to the wall) to get your heels over the line!
  • Elevate your shoulders at the top of the handstand to get full height.  Think "I don't know" shrug, but upside down.
  • Dorsiflex your ankles so your judge has a clearer view of whether your heels are over the line and to get that extra bit of length from your achilles.
  • Even if you are an absolute monster at strict HSPUs, unless you can do 100+ in less than 8min. please consider kipping, because once they're gone they're gone.  If you must go strict I hope you're right, but if you hit the wall there's always Monday to redo.
  • Get your judge to give you the ok on every good rep at the top of the handstand before you descend.  It's a lot easier to perform a little scapular elevation to get a good rep than to do another one!
  • Rest in the headstand if you are able.  Much less taxing than resting at the top of the handstand and quicker than coming down and going back up again.  You can also tell all of your friends your went unbroken, because technically you never really came down!
  • While only bending at the knees on your kip creates a quicker cycle rate, as you tire you will need to posteriorly rotate the hips (tuck them under) and use their power for a full extension of the hips and knees.  I'm doing this with a scaled weight tomorrow and I'll probably use the full kip the entire time just so I don't burn out.
  • Ladies shave your arm pits, and dudes trim.  Ok obviously I'm grasping now...

In terms of pacing think of this one like 15.2, only this time you're pacing HSPUs and not chest to bar pull-ups.  That may make more sense to people since they've already done it.  It won't tear your hands up either so you should be able to redo it and if you're on the fence about doing scaled or Rx, do them both!  I'm actually excited this is another workout I can scale! 

Good luck to everyone and keep giving it your all!  There's only one more to go after this and then you get to post pictures of all of your ridiculous post-Open cheat meals!


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