As it turns out, I was completely wrong about 17.2. I was expecting something heavy and close to 16.2, but instead we got more dumbbells and high level gymnastics. Looking at the workout, it’s easy to see where the sticking points will be, and why this workout is perfect for Crossfit’s mission statement of finding the Fittest on Earth. The majority of Rx athletes (this is true of my gym anyway), won’t have too many problems with making their way to the bar muscle ups, but this movement at the prescribed volume, will separate your average athlete from the Regional competitors. The same is of course true for scaled, with pullups being a high level gymnastics movement.
Before I get into how I handled the workout, I want to talk about Crossfit HQ’s reasoning behind putting pullups in the scaled division. Now, no one has any problems with bar muscle ups being in the Rx division, they’ve been part of the Open for the last couple of years now, they should be expected. This is also why there has been little debate as to their inclusion. For scaled however, there are numerous threads online (and I’ve also had this conversation with a few members at our gym) about people questioning the inclusion of pullups in scaled, with the argument being about inclusivity. And I can almost see their point. Almost.
Now, no one minds bar muscle ups being in Rx as it’s about finding the Fittest on Earth. If you can’t do them and you aren’t strong enough to move through the lunges at that weight, or don’t have toes to bar, there’s always scaled. But now there are pullups in scaled, where do the athletes who can’t do pullups go? Do these atheletes scale the workout down even more and submit a score of 0, or complete the pre-pull up work and submit a score of 78?
I would argue that they do the latter, and spend that time to try to get their first pullup. Every year in the Open, there are countless videos on Reddit and Crossfit HQ’s Facebook page, showing people achieving their first bar or ring muscle up. And it’s fantastic that once these athletes have been asked to complete this movement which they normally might substitute for something they can do, they rise to the challenge and surpass their own expectations. And I think it’s fantastic to see that happening in the scaled division. You can bet that there are going to be heaps of videos of scaled atheletes finally getting their first pullup. Both movements are high level gymnastics in their relevant division, but as the foundation for so many higher level gymnastic movement, it’s more important for an athlete to achieve their first pull up, than it is their first bar muscle up. So although inclusivity is vital to Crossfit, so many more will amaze themselves and instead of scaling a movement they can’t achieve to ring rows or jump pull ups, they will rise up to what is being asked of them.
HQ have done a great job with the programming so far (it would be great if we could touch a barbell though), and this week’s workout feels completely different to 17.1. Although muscle fatigue played a role in the first workout, it was definitely more about engine and lungs. This week however, muscle fatigue was a much larger factor.
My first run at this workout was on friday night. I was feeling pretty fresh all day and was looking forward to having a good go at the workout. I showed up and was told I was in Heat 1 and had less than 10 minutes to warm up. Being in a small box (the length of our gym is barely 35ft), we could only really cater for 3-4 people to go at a time, so getting through everyone was going to be tight with quick turnarounds. As I had been at work all day, I didn’t get much time to study the announcement video for any tricks that might help me through it. The biggest thing I was worried about was how to handle the dumbbells on my shoulders. Death gripping the dumbells was a no-no, so I settled for the technique Ro and Boz used, which helped somewhat, but was a bit tricky to transition into.
I went out pretty quick and hammered my way through the first 2 rounds. I knew the next 2 rounds would be a lot slower, as my pullups are far from great. The plan going in was to pace them and knock out 16 singles to help control my heart rate. I finished round 4 at 8:41. I now had a sprint on my hands to work through these next 2 ‘easy’ rounds as quickly as I could. This is when I realised that my legs might be the limiting factor in this workout, and not my grip. My lunges were slower than the first 4 rounds, and I was desperately trying to convince myself to not put the dumbbells down at the 25ft mark. I nearly finished the 6th round at 195 reps.
I knew I could find some reps in there. Going in the first heat meant I couldn’t see how other people handled the dumbbells. The first heat was also super busy, and I had to swerve on the lunges to dodge others. I also ended up using 3 different pull up bars during the course of the workout as things were that chaotic. With these three things in mind, I knew I could find at least 20 seconds somewhere to finish those next 9 easy reps. Still sore from my first attempt (and also a partner workout I did yesterday that perhaps wasn’t the smartest decision), I had another go this morning. I was in a heat of just 3 this time, I marked out my one pullup bar (yes, just one this time), and also changed my dumbbell position for the lunges.
Out the gate, I knew I was quicker. I knew I could attack the lunges harder. I knew I didn’t need to rest after the cleans, or on the 25ft turn. I stuck to singles on the pullups, and I was a full minute ahead after the 4th round. I cleared the 6th round and wobbled my way through the last set of lunges for 15 seconds to crack through the pullups again. Whilst in the thick of the workout, I jumped up and started doing KTP, completely forgetting it was now pullups. 4 reps in and someone screams ‘PULL UPS!’ at me. I manage to squeeze in one pullup before the timer, taking my score up to 215. I know I could have made a couple more reps without the mistake at the end, but I’m ecstatic about a 20 rep improvement.
I’m now hopeful for something a bit heavier this week. And Dave, please can we have a barbell.