Pull/Push Performance

Pairing these two workouts back-to-back in a single session works your entire body and capitalizes on the benefits of using opposing muscle groups.
CrossFit Push Pull Performance

Illustration by Mark Cote

One of the most common workout structures you’ll find in any box curriculum is the 21-15-9. These workouts — some tougher than others — call for an accelerator-to-the-floor tussle with three moves, doing 21 reps of each prescribed move, then 15, then nine. Happily, this usually makes for shorter workouts. Unfortunately, these WODs are incredibly demanding. And when you pair two of these workouts back-to-back, as CrossFit Sydney (crossfitsydney.com.au) coach Andrew Cattermole would have you do, it can be a true test of your work capacity.

In this brutal evolution, Cattermole takes us through his own fave 21-15-9, then has us regroup briefly for “JT.” That’s right — after wrecking yourself on pull-ups, ring rows and the sumo deadlift high pull, you’re finishing your day with a “Hero” workout. But it’s not just a random bout of hurt. The first workout focuses on pulling moves, while the second concentrates on pushing — two workouts training opposing forces for one, dastardly WOM. It’s Australian for “ouch.”


1. SCALE IT: Because combining these two workouts is essentially insane, Cattermole is big on scaling. “Scale it to keep the first 21 reps unbroken on both workouts so that you can keep the anaerobic demand high.”

2. ADJUST: For the purposes of scaling, Cattermole recommends bands for the pull-ups, changing your angle on the ring rows and the weight on the SDLHP. For push-heavy “JT,” he suggests finding a wall or doing the hammer curl and press instead of traditional handstand push-ups. For ring dips, you can scale down to bar dips or just negative dips. And for push-ups, you can do them from an elevated hand position.

3. BREAK IT UP: The 21-reps thing can seem intimidating, but instead of letting it be a mental block, Cattermole says, set yourself up for success by eating up the workout in smaller, more manageable chunks. “Instead of 21 straight, try to set it at 10-6-5 and stick to that. You can break up the 15 and nine into smaller portions, as well.”

Strict Pull-Ups
Ring Rows
Sumo Deadlift High Pull (Men: 95 pounds / Women: 65 pounds)
Rest 10 minutes

Handstand Push-Ups

Technical: 8
Metabolic: 7
Volume: 8
Strength: 8

CLASSIFIER Combine times of both workouts:
Firebreather: 20 minutes or less
Excellent: 20:01 to 25 minutes
Good: 25:01 to 30 minutes
Fair: 30:01 or more