While Games level athletes may finish Open WOD 19.3 within the 10-min cap, it is going to be extremely difficult to finish for the average Open participant. The majority of these athletes will get stuck somewhere in the handstand pushups. Strict HSPU are one of those movements where failure means you just need to rest. You sit there watching the clock tick away and you can’t do anything.  It can be extremely frustrating, so we will make sure to cover proper strategy and approach for all levels, as this will be the most critical decision you make in this entire workout.

Open WOD 19.3 – FOR TIME (10 min cap)

200 ft Overhead DB Lunge (50/35)
50 Box Step-ups (50/35)
50 Strict HSPU
200 ft Handstand Walk


This is another workout where you do not want to be bogged down from eating a meal too close to game time. However, you will need sustainable energy, so a small dose of liquid nutrition (protein/carbs) about 60-90 min before the workout will do best. You may also sip on a little bit of this same drink in very small quantities leading up to 3-2-1 go.

It would be best to perform this workout in early afternoon or evening with some food already under your belt. And then make sure to eat a hearty meal afterwards to aid in the recovery process.


Initial Preparation Concerns

The warm-up should consist of “general warm-up” to get a light sweat going. Ideally, this should be done on the rower, as this closely resembles the use of the glutes and hamstrings in the first two movements.  After 5-10 min at low intensity, it’s important to get your heart rate elevated by completing some intense “intervals” for 10-20 sec on the rower. This will prepare the body for the work ahead. Be careful to keep intervals to short and fast efforts as to avoid fatigue.

Next, you will need to ensure your hamstrings, hips, low back, glutes and shoulders are all mobilized. Do some scap pull-ups, some disclocates (maybe with a 2.5# plate on the PVC pipe), arm circles with small weights, banded lat stretch, and finally getting into some actual pressing overhead with light DB or KB.

Take some time to mash-out the pectoral area to help open the shoulders further. It may help as well to do some light overhead squats, especially with a narrower grip, as this will aid in creating extra mobility in the shoulder girdle, while also starting to warm-up the legs for the lunges.

We will want to spend some time focusing on the groin muscles. If you can take larger steps on the lunge, you will be able to complete the 25-foot course with fewer steps. Even one step per 25-foot zone, could mean 10 less reps during the course of the workout.

Before the specific prep for the workout, I believe that warming up to a moderately heavy single in Squat Snatch will really help your cause. The explosiveness will prep the CNS and the aggressive punch-out in the catch position will lock in your overhead position for all movements except the DB Box Step-up.

Finally, getting into the specific prep, the following two-part sequences will provide sufficient technical warm-up for the workout itself:

Part #1 – EMOM x 6 min (alternate movements each):

8 Overhead Lunge Steps
8 Box Step-ups
1-4 Reps HSPU (to standard)
*something that won’t cause any fatigue or “difficult” reps

Part #2 – Sprint ONE ROUND, then rest 2 min, then SPRINT ONE ROUND

6 Overhead Lunge Steps
6 Box Step-ups
1-4 Strict HSPU (no fatigue)


There is almost no reason to hold anything back on the first two movements for anyone.

Those that struggle with HSPU will want to get there as quickly as possible and leave sufficient time to accrue reps.

Those that crush HSPU will still want to smash the first two movements. The only concern for them is if the pace is too quick, and they are fatigued “aerobically” heading into the HSPU.

Due to the workout design, the shoulders get a small break during the box step-ups.

The Movements

The Overhead DB Lunges are first, and you need to complete 200 ft, which is approximately 60-70 steps, depending on the size of the athlete. The weight is “Light” by most standards. If you know you are going to have to rest a few times throughout the 60-70 steps, then I would be smart and break them up into equal portions with short rest. Always stop to recover BEFORE you NEED to stop. This will ensure rest periods are kept at reasonable and controlled length.

Make sure to use BOTH arms, and also switch arms before fatigue accumulates too much. You need to keep those shoulders fresh for the HSPU. It may also be worth considering taking a slower step speed, but remaining super composed and breathing throughout. If you combine this with prudent switching of arms, you may be able to keep moving more consistently than you initially anticipated.

The DB Box Step-up is relatively simple in prescription. Hold the DB on your trap. Seriously, DO NOT hold the DB in your hands or actively support it on your shoulder. Both of those approaches will unnecessarily tax the shoulders. Just drop that thing on a trap and forget about it. Alternate legs, remember to breathe, keep moving, and focus on getting to the HSPU as quickly as possible.

If you know you will need to rest, the same advice applies as on the Lunges… stop and rest before you NEED to stop. Try to break your step-ups into equal numbers of reps, such as 5 sets of 10, or 3 sets of 18-16-16 etc…

The HSPU is the most critical movement in the entire workout. As I mentioned earlier, burnout on the HSPU could literally mean the end of the workout. If you fail a rep, and then jump back onto the wall prematurely and fail again, this could just become a repetitive cycle of failure that eats away at the clock.

For this reason, I advise an extra cautious approach on your first go. You could easily come back and do this workout again and take a more aggressive approach on the HSPU. But if you take the aggressive approach and flame out the first time, then your second attempt is just a guessing game of what the right strategy might be.

The best way to approach the HSPU is to ensure that you can repeat the same number of reps on every single set. If I were doing this, I would have to do 17 sets of 3 reps, which is more or less what Alessandra did on the WOD release show. You must find the number that is repeatable under any circumstance.

Listen, if you can’t perform more then 6 unbroken reps when you’re fresh, then your “repeatable” number is ONE REP. Do a rep, come off the wall, wait 15 seconds, then do another rrep, and repeat that over and over. This is NOT the workout to come out with one big set (whatever “big set” is in the context of your “max reps”).

Take your shoes off and wear socks, for real.  Socks slide up the wall much easier than shoes do.

The Handstand Walk is a movement that you can do or not do, for the most part. If you make it to this portion of the workout, then you are really strong at being upside down.

Your shoulders are gonna be smashed, and it will be difficult just to make 25 foot increments. So use whatever time you have left and just knock out as many 5-foot “point zones” as possible.

When you perform the HS walk, keep the following cues in mind:

– Press through hands and shoulders, stacking everything in vertical orientation
– Think about spreading the floor with your fingers
– Feel your body actively shift weight between your hands as you walk

The HS walks should be part of the warmup if you think you might make it there. But if you are not going to make it to the HS Walks, then don’t waste the valuable shoulder energy practicing them prior.