CF Open 2012 WOD 4 Analysis

Workout 12.4

Complete as many rounds and reps as possible in 12 minutes of:

150 Wall balls
90 Double-unders
30 Muscle-ups


Initial Thoughts:

12.4 is a microcosm of the entire competition thus far. It starts with something that everyone can do but still hurts a lot (like 12.1). That's followed up by something with a higher skill requirement (like 12.2). The triplet concludes with higher skills again - the first of the advanced gymnastics moves we've seen. Like the entire Open thus far, the programmers are ensuring mass participation while still rewarding the top competitors.

As the WOD progresses it trends from high work capacity / low skill, to high work capacity / high skill. Notice a common theme. High work capacity. Welcome to CrossFit.


Limiting Factors:

The limiting factor for an individual in any workout is the component of fitness that determines the athlete's proficiency at that workout. In this way, an athlete's weakness is exposed in every event they do.

The first tier of athletes will be limited by work capacity on the wall ball. 150 is a lot. Cardiorespiratory endurance and localised muscular stamina in the legs and shoulders will be the limiters.

For those who complete the wall ball, one of two things will happen. Either double-unders aren't your thing, and you'll painfully notch up single reps in a trudge up the leaderboard, or you'll smash them out, either unbroken or in long chains. The limiting factor here is skill. Granted, you'll be smoked after the wall ball, but it's only 90 (if you've got double unders, this isn't a lot). Depending on your overhead strength (and how close to a max effort the last few wall balls are), your shoulders may complain a bit in the double unders (see strategy below).

Finish the double unders, and again, one of two things will happen. Either you'll spend your next three minutes attempting (and hopefully achieving) your first muscle-up (limiting factor is your ability to complete the movement) or you'll start to bang out singles or multiples. For higher level athletes, the limiting factor is the ability to perform high skill movements under fatigue. Muscle-ups aren't that tough (if you're good at them!) but they get tough after the previous 240 reps.



Remember, this isn't Karen! Karen leaves you lying on the floor groping around for your lungs. You can't afford that here. Don't approach the first 150 like Karen, and don't go anywhere near failure. Those of you who have been following our analyses will know that failure takes a lot longer to recover from than that point just before failure. Get a good number of reps banged out straight away, then be smart in breaking them up if you need to. If your shoulders start to blow up, try alternating wide elbows and narrow elbows every five reps. The changing of muscle groups may just allow you to keep going for a bit longer each set. If you get no-repped (you almost certainly will), don't get demoralised. Make it a rule to never stop immediately following a no-rep - this is just your mind looking for an excuse to rest.

Minimise your break going into double unders. If you need a rest (limited by cardiorespiratory system), have it when you first mess up the doubles. Any reps you got before this point are a bonus. Get your arms tight to your sides for the DUs. After all the shoulder activation in the WB, they'll need a rest. Tight arms, fast wrists.

Don't be surprised when the first muscle-up feels tough. Big kip, big hips. Multiple short sets with short rest are the way to go. Again, going to failure will make you pay later. If you're going for your first muscle-up, make sure your judge (or even better a coach) knows which cues you need. Avoid large groups of people all offering their advice. Plant someone you trust next to you and listen to them.

Think of muscle-ups as 'high value reps'. One extra squat isn't that hard - they're a fast movement with little energy expenditure. But one extra muscle-up takes a lot of energy. For this reason, every muscle-up becomes of paramount importance. Every rep is worth so much.


What kind of person will the WOD favour?

People with high work capacity who can get through the wall ball, then proficiency at double unders. Of the higher tier competitors, there's nothing much so far that can distinguish individuals. If we were to line up the top 5,000 people side by side, we'd see them finishing the double unders at almost the same time. Where people can step up is on the muscle-ups. With the other elements just a prelude to the MUs, this WOD favours the person who can do high reps of muscle-ups, under cardiorespiratory fatigue.


What CrossFit celebrities are predicted to do well?

If we follow the premise that people good at muscle-ups will do well (assuming they're at least competent at the rest), we can look at Malleolo, Smith, Froning, Leblanc-bazinet, Clever, Foucher, Galassi.


How do I prepare for this WOD?

Aside from the injury prevention benefits of a warm-up, the efficiency of movement can be drastically improved, leading to greater power output and increased work capacity. This is achieved by activating structures that are otherwise inhibited, and releasing structures that are otherwise tight.

To this end, the following analysis comes from the breaking-down of the movements in the WOD, faults caused by inhibition or tightness, causes of these faults and prescribed warm-ups. I get a bit 'exercise-geeky' with the faults and their causes, so if you want the full details, click on each exercise to see the breakdown. For those who don't care how I got to the end result, your warm-up follows the list of exercises. Some exercises are repeated for multiple exercises - just do them once.

Click below to view the pre- and post- exercise routines for each:

Wall ball

Double unders



What are your thoughts? Do you agree or disagree? What are your tactics? What score will win? Post your thoughts to comments below. And don't forget to check out the recommended reading for more tips.

Dan Williams's picture

Dan Williams

Dan Williams is the Founder and Director of Range of Motion. He is an Accredited Exercise Physiologist and Exercise Scientist with a Bachelor of Science and a Bachelor of Exercise Rehabilitation Science. Dan is a CrossFit Coach (at CF Games Level) and four time CrossFit Regionals Athlete.