There is simply no way to predict what Dave Castro is going to throw at us from week to week. I feel like there was a time in the Open when you could cross off a finite list of movements and when they are used, and therefore be able to guess what might be coming next.
I’m sure some thought, “Dumbbells week one, no problem. We used those, he said we were going to use those, so at least we got that over with, right?” Not at all. Week two announcement, first piece of equipment, dumbbells.
While 17.1 was a couplet of dumbbell snatches with an increasing volume of alternating movements and burpee box jump-overs, 17.2 offered a lot more moving parts. The walking lunge made its return this year, less than 365 days from its 16.3 debut. This time around, it was in the form of two 50-pound (35 pounds for women) dumbbells held in the front-rack position, 25 feet down and 25 feet back. In the first two rounds of the triplet, the weighted lunges were followed by toes-to-bar. When those 16 reps were completed, the two-handed dumbbell power cleans closed out part one. The next two rounds were the same as the first two except the toes-to-bar were replaced by 16 bar muscle-ups. This last section was going to be the make-or-break moment for many grinders around the world.
After 17.1, I wasn’t as intimidated with the 50-pound dumbbell, but I knew that holding two of them in a rack position and lunging on my creaky knee was going to be questionable. What the community learned throughout the weekend was that the “rack position” was afforded all kinds of interpretations. The emphasis was supposed to be that the dumbbells had to remain on the shoulders and that your hands had to be wrapped around them during the duration of the lunges. Some photos surfaced, and online trolls questioned whether the hands of some of the top athletes were all the way around the handles.
Controversy aside, the location of my hands on the dumbbells was not an issue for me. Trudging down and back on my bum knee was as much of a struggle as I had anticipated. Once I completed that, the 16 toes-to-bar weren’t bad as I just did four sets of four. The two-handed dumbbell power cleans weren’t too terribly difficult either. When I started the third round, the lunges were really tearing me up in terms of my lungs. I made it down 25 feet and had to drop knowing that it would cost me another power clean to get them back into position to make the trip back. I had roughly two minutes remaining as I returned to the bar to try muscle-ups. Unlike last year’s triumph, I was not able to muster enough strength in my exhausted grip to heave myself over the bar. Time expired and I happily took a 78-rep Rx score.
So two down, three to go. Will 17.3 give us a reprieve from the suddenly popular dumbbell, or will we all be figuring out how to balance these things with something like a dumbbell thruster or some other devilish concoction? Only time, and Dave Castro, will tell.