It was time for the 2017 Crossfit Open to repeat a workout.  We all knew it was coming at some point, and luckily this is a good workout to repeat because it tests many areas of fitness including: endurance, strength, and pacing.  Keep reading to find out the 3 keys to optimizing your performance and crushing your previous results

This workout is all about fatigue management and smart pacing.  As you can see, a lot of the movements are back intensive, namely the deadlifts and the rows.  This WOD really only hammers two different body parts, shoulders, and posterior chain with other muscle groups providing support to those prime movers.  Before we go further into our analysis, take a look at 17.4 itself.

Crossfit Open 17.4 Mens
Crossfit Open 17.4 Mens
Crossfit Open WOD 17.4
Crossfit Open WOD 17.4 Women’s


These are the first big challenge of the WOD, and they are also the first big trap.  You will feel fresh, and want to do big sets of these deadlifts.  This is a great way to crash and burn.  Don’t do big sets.  If Brooke Wells isn’t taking huge sets then you shouldn’t either.  Check out the following set break down

Example 9 Sets: 10, 8, 7, 5, 5, 5, 5, 5, 5 

Example 6 Sets: 15, 12, 10, 8, 5, 5, 


Most folks will find they do better with the 9 sets version.  The 6 sets are for those that are very good at deadlifting, and have good fatigue resistance. I don’t really think there is much of a time differential between the two, provided that you don’t take massive breaks in the 9 set example.


This is a very high power output movement that places a huge load on the shoulders to both throw, and hold the weight.  This movement is also a big time mental challenge.  Physically you can almost always do a few more throws, but do you actually do them?

I would recommend that you throw the ball in 5×11 sets and reps. This isn’t too many reps for most folks, and it will allow you to get into a nice rhythm without jacking your heart rate up too much.  That’s going to be important, because the row is going to be straight murder on your cardiovascular system.


The row is the one piece of this WOD that favors the heavier athlete.  One of the best mental tricks for rowing is to count your rows in sets of 10.  When I first get on the rower, I give 10 big strokes to get the wheel moving, and then try to maintain that kind of effort for about 4 more sets of 10.

At that point, you are probably pretty close to the end, and you can start to push the redline a little bit.  Remember, you can cash out on the row because those muscles aren’t used in the handstand push up.  So really give it a big effort. You won’t be coming back to the row.  This also has the benefit of giving you some extra time for those difficult handstand push ups.

Handstand Push Ups 

These are going to be the most difficult portion of the WOD.  You are already very tired, and you are required to fully extend this movement each rep.  To be honest, most of us don’t extend this much while practicing, and as a result it makes this variation of the HSPU very difficult.

I recommend very small sets of 2 and 3.  It will also benefit you to move your hands as close together as you can, and move as close to the wall as you feel comfortable.  This will lessen the requirement to hyper extend at the top of the movement.  A big kip can help, but don’t be afraid to do them strict if you’ve got the shoulder strength.  This section is all about quality reps, not banging out a bunch of no reps. Not that I did that last year or anything.

The 3 Keys to Optimum Performance

I think a good goal for the vast majority of us will be to get to the hand stand push ups. For advanced crossfitters, they should aim to complete 15 or more handstand push ups.  Remember, this WOD is all about getting to the handstand push ups with enough time get your quality reps.

Your first key is to keep your sets smaller on the deadlifts, regardless of how good you feel.  

The second key is to push the row as much as you are able

The third key is to to be aggressive with your pacing and measured with the handstand push ups 


If you successfully execute this plan, I’m confident that you will crush last years score.

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