Seeing a New Me Upside Down

We’ve never seen handstand push-ups in the Open until now. How did you do?


While the world of CrossFit was complaining about tape lines, the height of everyone’s wrists, what way your arms were to be locked out overhead and what to use to write on the walls, I was over here like, “Um, 185-pound cleans? That seems heavy.”

Last year, people lost their minds when Dave Castro had the gall to require a rower (a device standard in every single CrossFit affiliate I’ve ever seen or stepped foot in for the past five years) as part of participating in the CrossFit Open. This year, the handstand push-up (HSPU) was unveiled as one of the two movements in the 15.4 couplet.

15.4 is: Complete AMRAP in 8 minutes of:

3 handstand push-ups

3 cleans

6 handstand push-ups

3 cleans

9 handstand push-ups

3 cleans

12 handstand push-ups

6 cleans

15 handstand push-ups

6 cleans

18 handstand push-ups

6 cleans

21 handstand push-ups

9 cleans

Etc., adding three reps to the handstand push-up each round and three reps to the clean every three rounds.

Men: clean 185 pounds

Women: clean 125 pounds

The workout is not simple in terms of the two movements or the rep scheme. But there were two concerns I had immediately. One, my clean PR is 205 pounds, so doing repeats at 185 pounds was going to present a bit of a challenge. Second, while I very much enjoy HSPUs in a scaled version (I prefer using one 15-pound plate with an AbMat on top, which cuts the range of motion), at the full Rx standard, HSPU was not something I had ever successfully executed more than once or twice, and never during an actual workout.

But this is the Open. Despite my failure with the muscle-ups last week, I wasn’t as phased by the 15.4 programming as I thought I would be. The Open changes people, for the better. Although I knew it would be a struggle, I was willing to battle through this couplet at the Rx level — even if it meant a lower score.

I went in on Friday and stood with my arms up, letting my coach chalk the wall next to my wrists. The line was marked on the wall 3 inches lower. I kicked up into a handstand, had my judge check my heel height against the line, and then lowered onto my head and pushed my feet back up past the line. No problem.

I did some cleans building up to the 185 pounds. I was able to power-clean most of the ascending weights, but I realized that power cleaning the full amount was not going to be a good idea because my form wasn’t good. I decided that I’d have to squat-clean them in order to safely complete the reps.

My goal going in was reasonable: 30 reps at the Rx standard. Round one, went well. One, two, three HSPUs, no problem, and then three slow and steady squat cleans with breaks in between. I remember getting two reps into the round of six HSPU and then I was into singles. My kipping was OK, and I was hitting the required height, but my feet kept coming off the wall at the top. No rep, no rep, no rep. I finally got to six. I did three more cleans, and then we’ll just say the round of nine took … a while. At 7:44, I had completed my nine reps and three cleans leaving me 16 seconds to get back to the wall. I kicked up, dropped to my head and pushed my heels back up the wall as time expired.

I completed 28 reps total, just short of my goal of 30, but I was fine with that score.

One week left. One workout left. Bring on 15.5.

How did your 15.4 go? Did the line on the wall ruin your week, or were you able to put up the score you wanted? Let us know.