15.4: Upside-down and inside-out

A little late, given that the Open is now done. However, I’ll keep with the “tradition” and recap things individually. I started this just a few days after 15.4, so excuse my tardiness.

Before 15.4 was announced, I predicted handstand push-ups (HSPU) would be in the WOD. Given this year’s inclusion of several more demanding technical moves, I thought HSPU would be a given.

I was right.

15.4 was only an 8-minute AMRAP, but it comprised of HSPU and heavy cleans. It opened with HSPU, which meant for the second week in a row, the Open WOD began with a move I had never successfully completed at the Rx level.

Everyone knows I have a lifting bias; I understand the power lifts easily enough, and compared to the other things required in CrossFit, lifts are more natural. Granted, the Oly lifts are very technical, and much of what I’ve done in them up to now has been with some questionable form. Most people should also know that I tend to suffer from self-inflicted analysis paralysis, meaning that my perfectionism rears its head and I stunt my progress by getting bogged down in the details. Case in point, I’m currently stalled out in my Oly lifts at about 25lbs. under my maximum lifts while I work through eliminating an early arm pull. Meaning I can currently clean about 105lbs. with good form and have failed all but two or three attempts at 115lbs., which in the past few months was beginning to look like a routine weight. (A week after 15.4, I attempted lifts at 115, 120, and 125lbs., and I hit them all–the video showed, though, that I pull early, don’t extend fully, jump backwards, and all-around lose my form at those heavy percentages.)

Sigh. Anyway. 15.4 called for 125lb. cleans, which meant I was probably looking at an embarrassingly out-of-character struggle with the barbell.

Luckily(?), I never made it to 15.4’s barbell task at-hand. Instead, I managed to successfully complete an 8-minute crash-course in kipping HSPU. Inversions aren’t really my thing, as in, I have little idea as to how I’m oriented when inverted. So, slow and steady–as much as possible–in 8 minutes was the key. Thanks to the encouragement of my judge/boyfriend, I was able to finally lower myself all the way. Stuck upside down, there were only two options: fall over, or press myself back up against the wall. I could tell a strict HSPU wasn’t going to happen, so the only way up was with a kip.

I had watched a few 15.4 strategy videos, and one of them had some great tips on how to kip the HSPU. However, I couldn’t exactly invert myself and follow along while watching, so I tried to remember everything I watched. Most of my attempts were mistimed, and finally, there was one rep where everything came together, and I found myself at a point where I knew I could lock out and finish the rep.


That was all I would end up getting that night. I spent a few more minutes flopping around as my teammates seemed to magically absorb all the techniques and tricks of the HSPU, moving off the wall, onto that heavy barbell that likely would have eluded me anyway.

Now, don’t get me wrong–I was stoked to finally get my first Rx HSPU. But part of me was disappointed that I hadn’t taken the plunge into full range of motion earlier on. What was really stopping me? Fear? A stunted idea of progress in the move? Was I blaming perceived lack of strength when really it was fear of dropping down too fast?

Honestly, these are things that I wonder about a lot of the technical challenges now facing me. I don’t want to get fixated too much on one detail and stall myself out, and at the same time, I don’t want to bypass foundations in order get that heavier weight, to get that Rx motion, to get that faster time.

In other words, I need to find my balance again. It’s time to get a little more uncomfortable, and yet it’s also time to trust myself.

What am I waiting for?

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