Thursday night in the Big Easy, Dave Castro revealed the third Open workout of 2014, the likes of which we have not seen before. 14.3 is an eight-minute AMRAP of ascending deadlifts—both in reps and weight—and 15 box jumps. The starting weights for men and women are 135lb and 95lb respectively, and will get as high as 365lb and 225lb, assuming you hit that round (the 6th) within the eight minute time cap. Interestingly, this will be the third consecutive couplet of this year’s Open.
With New Orleans Saints head coach Sean Payton in attendance alongside a packed crowd at CrossFit NOLA Downtown, Stacie Tovar and Alessandra Pichelli squared off for 14.3. After an arduous eight minutes Pichelli came out victorious—despite incorrectly loading her bar in the third round. Pichelli hit 164 reps, Tovar 159.
After watching the live workout and reading people’s reactions on the CrossFit Games’ Facebook page, a few things stood out to me about 14.1.
First and foremost: it’s heavy. In fact, we haven’t seen weight levels like this before. Naturally, people who are fans of deadlifts (insert: heavy deadlifts) were big fans of this workout. There is indeed a lot of concern about the risk for injury—especially due to the loss of form from Tovar midway through the workout.
Midway through the second round of deadlifts (at 185 lb), Tovar’s back was already starting to round, and both athletes had to break their reps up into three and even two reps. From this round forward, consecutive deadlift reps decreased, and form became increasingly bad. But lets remember, these athletes are professionals, and are striving not only to make it to Regionals, but the Games too. As such, they can be forgiven for sacrificing form for reps.
“It really start to hurt when the deadlifts got a little bit higher … You just gotta hang on and do the best you can.” -Alessandra Pichelli
There was also a lot of confusion during the workout as to what specific weight had to be used, if the judges were allowed to tell the athletes what weight they should be using, and even the athletes getting the right weight on the bar. Tovar lost some time in discussions with her judge over what weight she needed, whilst Pichelli actually started her second round of deadlifts with the wrong weight, and this wasn’t noticed by her judge until Tovar pointed it out. To be clear, it is the athlete’s responsibility to know the weight for each round and to change the weight themselves. Nevertheless, Pichelli’s judge should have picked up on the weight infringement, which ultimately cost Pichelli five extra reps and time (obviously it didn’t matter as she won the workout, although she is competing against the rest of the world, not just Tovar).
Lastly, it was great to see the community reaction to 14.3. The previous two workouts had alienated many due to the inclusion of double-unders and chest to bar pullups, which are two movements that are hard for many to string together consistently. With 14.3 consisting of deadlifts and box jumps, two basic staples of the CrossFit repertoire, a lot more people feel comfortable tackling the workout.
So, that was the instant reaction to 14.3. Now let’s analyze the best way to approach the workout to ensure success.
As with any WOD this goes without saying, but your posterior chain is going to take a serious beating with this workout. Spend at least 30 minutes (if not more) working on getting your calves, achilles’, hamstrings and t-spine nice and loose. Practice a few box jumps and work up to a comfortable weight with your deadlift. This is going to be a heavy workout, and unlike Tovar and Pichelli, most of us will not be going to the Games, so you don’t want to push sacrificing form for time. Let’s push ourselves but make sure we can come back for 14.4 in one piece.
2. Prep your station and weights.
As I mentioned, this caused a lot of confusion for the athletes and judges last night. Make sure you’ve lined (not stacked) the weights you will need in such a manner that will make your transitions fluid, but also to ensure that you get the right weight on the bar. If needs be, write the weight scheme in chalk on the mat beside you (if your box allows you to write on the ground with chalk).
3. Used a mixed grip for the deadlifts straight away.
This will save your forearms and grip strength for when the weight starts to get really heavy.
4. Find a good rhythm, but watch your form.
This applies to both the deadlifts and box jumps. Box jumps will be where you can build up a lot of reps quickly, but be careful of rebounding jumps. Coaches are now starting to encourage people to step off of the box before jumping back up to save the achilles and prevent it from tearing, which is a common injury in CrossFit. In addition, this will save a lot of energy and allow you to keep a steady pace for longer without the need to rest. Similarly with deadlifts, you want to hit a pace in the opening round that feels comfortable, concentrating on form and keeping your back nice and straight. Those deadlifts are going to get heavy real quick, and you want to save your back from doing the brunt of the work and the potential for getting an injury. Break up the reps if you feel yourself starting to arch aggressively, and tell your coach/judge to look out for it too. Remember, we check our egos at the door in CrossFit, you don’t want to get injured in 14.3 just to say you hit so many reps at a badass weight.
5. Good luck, be safe and have fun!