CrossFit® Open Workout 21.3 & 21.4
For Total Time (15 Min Cap)
15 front squats 95/65lbs
15 thrusters 95/65lbs
15 front squats 95/65lbs
30 chest-to-bar pull-ups
15 thrusters 95/65lbs
15 front squats 95/65lbs
30 bar muscle-ups
15 thrusters 95/65lbs
Workout 21.4 begins immediately upon completing or reaching the time cap for 21.3.
Complete the following complex for max load: Deadlift + Clean + Hang Clean + Jerk
Time cap: 7 min.
ZOAR Competition Guide
What does the guide cover?
- Movement standards
- Rep Breakdowns
- Splits Predictions
- Score / Time Predictions
- Nutrition & Visualization
- Gear & Equipment
- Filming & Judging
- Warm-Up & Cool-Down Protocol
- Post-Workout Notes & Analysis
- How to Improve a ReTest
- And More…
Don’t overlook the workout’s movements standards.
Even if you have been doing this fitness thing for a long time, sometimes tweaks in the rules can make your attempt invalid, which can be devastating to your place on the leaderboard…and your season.
Take the time to review the movement standards on the Games website.
Note: Any complex attempt counts as long as you start lifting before time expires. You don’t have to finish your lift before your 7:00 window runs out.
The equipment setup this week is actually a part of the movement standards.
There must be eight feet separating your pullup bar and your barbell.
I would recommend taping directly under your bar and under your barbell so you can measure and get the placement right.
Filming & Judging
You need to take time prior to when you walk into the gym to figure out the logistics of filming and judging.
First, reach out to someone at your gym or a friend and ask them to judge you, and to meet you at a specific time. Don’t just show up at the gym and hope someone is there. Pick a friend who is reliable, knows the standards and will project their voice so you can hear them.
Second, make sure you have the scorecard printed to give to your judge when you meet them. Also, be sure to let them know how your preferences… • Do you want every rep counted out loud?
• Maybe every fifth or tenth rep?
• Maybe each time you break?
• Maybe only certain movements?
Third, talk with your judge and give them permission to hold you to the standards. “Don’t be afraid to no rep me. Better you than HQ.” This may seem obvious, but if this person is your friend, they are often a little shy at first on the no reps.
Fourth, prior to starting your warm-up, setup your equipment and a clock where you plan on using it. Set up your camera making sure all stations are in frame with some extra space on the sides. Make a mental note of where the edges are the frame are and make sure to avoid walking past that during transitions and rest during the workout.
Also, film your rehearsal. Then during your rest prior to starting your test, review it to double check all movements are in frame and that you can clearly see movement standards are being met.
Lastly, before submitting a video watch it through to make sure reps were counted correctly, and that the video is quality enough to be judged online.
Even if you don’t plan on qualifying for the next stage in the competition, videos serve as an important resource as to How to Improve on a ReTest.
Live Announcement Lessons
The first thing to keep in mind is that you (probably) aren’t an elite athlete. The high pace the athletes were able to hold is completely unrealistic for the everyday CrossFit athlete. Chances are your strength and capacity just isn’t at that level.
So while there are things we can learn from these athletes attempting this workout, keep in mind that the carryover to you specifically might not be that much.
Be realistic with your current level of fitness, and base your pace on that.
(1) Don’t Go Unbroken
Spencer Panchik mentioned that the 30 Toes-to-Bar and 30 Chest-to-Bar where “no big deal” compared to what they normally hit in training, but it was the 30 Bar Muscle-ups where things got real.
Realistically, only a few (if any) athletes in the world will go unbroken on the Bar Muscle-Ups. Chances are you aren’t in that demographic.
Break your Toes-to-Bar and Chest-to-Bar a early to better manage your fatigue when you get to the Bar Muscle-Ups.
(2) Grip & Triceps Limitations
You could see Spencer had a very difficult time regripping the barbell for the hang clean.
All the gripping the in workout combined with a grip intensive complex will make the hang clean -in particular- very challenging.
Work to manage grip fatigue in the workout and be sure to reclaim the hook grip in the complex.
I use a “shoulder pop” to help me reclaim the hook grip.
This is a better option than trying to reclaim the hook grip while holding the bar in the hang / hip crease.
(3) You Are Not Going to Hit Your Max
Scott Panchik hit 311 which, which is about 50 pounds under his training max clean and jerk. He hit 370 in the 2019 CrossFit Games Clean Ladder (start at 37:27), so 311 is way off that.
Both his brothers hit similarly *low* percentages of their max. This shows that the complex is demanding and interfering.
Pacing & Strategy
It’s important to form a pacing strategy and/or break plan that’s firmly rooted in the knowledge of your current capabilities.
Remember, if you go out too hot in this workout and “blow up” early, you aren’t just hurting your 21.3 score, but your 21.4 score as well.
Break early and often (for most athletes) and push the pace the last interval.
(1) Separately Scored Events
This has a number of implications.
First is that each event carries equal weight…at least in theory.
However, the way the Open is scored means whichever event you do worse on is the one that matters more for you.
If you are a super strong guy or gal, feel free to sell out on the first part at the cost of hitting a lower percentage of your 1RM in the complex.
If you are a bodyweight ninja, consider giving a 98% percent effort instead of 100% so you can hit a very high percentage of your potential.
The second implication is that if you incorrectly attack either workout, you are forced to redo both.
In other words, if the timing of your max attempts are off and you run out of time for a last heavy attempt (or) you take too big of a jump and you miss…if you want to redo to get a better score, you must redo 21.3 to get to redo 21.4, and you may or may not improve on both parts.
It’s an interesting dilemma, and it means you should take your first attempt very seriously and not overlook the planning process.
(2) Pace the Early Intervals
Most intermediate (Quarterfinal Qualifying) athletes can hit the first two intervals unbroken.
However, unbroken sets isn’t the goal; the fastest time is the goal.
If you want to get the fastest time, that means limiting the amount of time you spending resting.
Athlete A does 30 Toes-to-Bar & 30 Chest-to-Bar unbroken, then completes the Bar Muscle-Ups 8-4-3-2-2-2-2-2-2-2-1. He rests 15s between each of his Bar Muscle-Ups sets. That’s 2:30 of rest.
Athlete B does the Toes-to-Bar 12-10-8 with 5 seconds of rest, the Chest-to-Bar 12-10-8 with 7 seconds of rest, and the Bar Muscle-Ups 6-5-5-5-5-4 with 9s of rest. That’s 1:09 of rest.
That 1:21 of difference is absolutely massive in a workout like this.
Plus Athlete B is much more likely to hit a higher percentage of their 1RM in 21.4 because they will have spend less time closer to their “redline.”
(3) The Front Rack: Front Squat vs. Thrusters
In the front squat, most athletes will be more comfortable using a fingertip grip. This allows a more relaxed hand and less of an aggressive positions that allows blood flow to enter and exit the arms.
In the thruster, it’s essential to keep a full hand on the bar to ensure a smooth transition from the front squat to the push press. Make sure to spend time mobilizing the front rack position prior to going to the gym to test the workout.
(5) Thruster Cycle Speed
The barbell is no place to rest in 21.3. It’s either coming off a rest period (Front Squats) or is directly before a rest period (Thrusters).
You can take the time to lock out the rep and take an extra breath in the overhead position, which is often a successful strategy for athletes (see video below).
Rather, the goal will be to move the bar continuously (no pause overhead) and catch a quick breath on the way down and hold it for just a fraction of a second as you change directions in the thruster, and exhale as you raise the bar again.
(6) Gymnastics: Stay Efficient
For 99.8% of athletes, there is no advantage to trying to increase cycle speed on the gymnastic elements.
Focus on smooth, sustainable movement patterns and allow the 90 reps of gymnastics accumulate as you get deep into the workout.
Keep in mind, you only have one maximal set of bar muscle-ups, save it for the very end.
(7) Limited Complex Attempts
First, seven minutes is not a long time, and that time starts immediately after you finish 21.3.
For a lot of athletes, the first 2-3 minutes of that window will be spent bent over hyperventilating.
Plus, the complex involves 4 movements: Deadlift + Clean + Hang Clean + Jerk.
This combination of factors needs to redefine your expectations for the lift.
I would use an outline similar to this…
0:00 | Finish of 21.3 // 21.4 Clock Begins
1:30 | Attempt 1: ~70% of 1RM C&J
2:45 | Attempt 2: ~80% of 1RM C&J
4:15 | Attempt 3: ~82-87% of 1RM C&J
6:50 | Attempt 4: 87-96% of 1RM C&J
Remember, this is on the same clock as 21.3, so unless you get time capped at exactly 15:00, you are likely going to be slightly blind to exactly how much time you have left.
My advice would be have a friend who you enlist the help of to start a stopwatch as soon as you finish the workout and who calls out every 15-30s how much time has expired.
(8) (Maybe) “Power” the First Clean.
If you are a person who has a power clean 1RM within 10-20lbs of your 1RM squat clean, you might consider power cleaning the first clean. This can reduce time under tension and save your legs for the hang clean, which most athletes will struggle to pull as high.
This is highly dependent on how your Power Clean max is to your Squat Clean.
“I don’t have a Bar Muscle-Up.”
For athletes without a Bar Muscle-Up, the goal will be to race to the end of the second interval, where there is a Tie Break.
Then you can take your 1:00 of mandatory rest and possibly some additional rest before moving through the 15 Front Squats in interval 3 at a relaxed pace. Breaking that set of front squats is fine.
Then the goal is to rest for a few minutes and before the time cap, make some solid attempts at Bar Muscle-Ups.
Check out the Movement Library for guides on the most important movements in this week’s workout.
Full Warm-Up & Cooldown
A. Thermo – 2 Rounds @ Smooth Pace
D. Build to 80-85% of your Clean & Jerk in the complex:
-Deadlift + Clean + Hang Clean + Jerk
E. Rehearsal – Complete @ Workout Pace
-1:30 AirBike @ Moderate Pace
-8 Front Squats 95/65lbs
-8 Thrusters 95/65lbs
Make the first attempt a good one!
(Remember, go all way the to the end in any initial test -even if things don’t go to plan- because you never know what might prevent you from improving on a retest.)
G. Flush – 5:00 AirBike @ Recovery Pace
H. Mobility, Self-Directed, 5-10:00
Balancing Training During the Open
Don’t know how to optimally balance training during the Open?
If you don’t know how to structure your week and manage stress and recovery during the Open, it’s easy to find yourself underperforming.
Typically athletes -like you- err on either being fully recovered where their fitness starts to fade by last week of the Open, or they train to much through the Open and aren’t recovered enough by the weekend to throwdown at 100%.
Let us take care of that for you.
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