A shirtless, tattooed man exhibits significant strict strength in performing a handstand push-up.
A shirtless, tattooed man exhibits significant strict strength in performing a handstand push-up.

Workout 19.3 was a test of strict gymnastics strength, not conditioning.

Athletes needed a degree of conditioning to get to the wall, but the time cap wasn’t overly harsh. The majority of athletes in our gym got through the lunges and step-ups and still had a reasonable amount of time to flip upside down.

And that’s where the workout turned into a true test of strength.

Strict Strength

For years, people have demanded strength tests in the CrossFit Games Open, but my guess is the calls most often came from the barbell crew, not the gymnasts. Heavy deadlifts or a max squat would likely please that crowd.

But instead we got a straight-up test of upper-body strength in 19.3—which is fine with me. The handstand push-up—”headstand push-up” to gymnasts—is actually just an inverted partial-range-of-motion body-weight barbell press. It requires a significant degree of strength, and the actual amount depends on your body weight.

With that in mind, it might be tempting to say the workout favoured smaller athletes, but I don’t think any short people enjoyed the box step-ups very much. If anything, I think shorter athletes had to perform more lunges and disadvantaged step-ups until they got to make up some ground at the wall. Most didn’t get past that, so the handstand walk is irrelevant. 

Overall, I think the workout actually favoured athletes with balanced levels of strength and conditioning. All-around athletes.

Sounds like a pretty good CrossFit workout, right?

Read “19.Too Strong”

Building Strict Strength

If you got stuck at the wall, or if you got fewer reps than you wanted, I’d encourage you to dig into strict work over the next months. You can do jerks and push presses, and you can even kip once in a while, but I’d make sure I get to every class with strict pressing and strict gymnastics work. I’d focus on building strict strength.

Doing so isn’t quite as fun as maxing out a jerk. I don’t need much weight to max out a barbell press, and it’s always a humbling experience when the bar stops moving at the bridge of my nose.

But regularly performing strict pressing movements will help you build strength. And if you really commit to our gymnastics progressions, you’ll find even more success.

As an example, don’t make it a goal to do a kipping handstand push-up. Make it a goal to first do a series of long, slow, controlled eccentric reps first. Or to hold a handstand against the wall for 2 minutes. Think of those things as your base. On top of that, add regular pressing, and join in the curl-offs that seem to be happening with regularity at the dumbbell rack. They’re fun. Then come find me on Sundays and let’s hit the bench press. That’s fun, too.

Slowly build your strength. And always work on your conditioning.

Actually, just come to class regularly. We hit strength and conditioning every day.

Read “Fitness Training and Your Period.”

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