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CrossFit Games Open WOD 14.4: Advice from Chris Spealler

A six-time CrossFit vet helps you strategize for 14.4.
Spealler at the CrossFit Games

The CrossFit Games Open continued as Games coordinator Dave Castro announced workout 14.4 from CrossFit Bellevue in Seattle, WA. We’ve been enlisting six-time CrossFit competitor Chris Spealler on his best plan of attack for each week’s Open workouts—here's what advice he has for us this time around.

Open Workout 14.4

Complete as many rounds and reps as possible in 14 minutes of:

60-calorie row
50 toes to bar
40 wall ball shots (20 lbs. to 10-foot target)
30 cleans (135 lbs.)
20 muscle-ups

Men's Fitness: That's a hell of a chipper WOD, what sort of strategy would you say is best for tackling this?

Chris Spealler: It really all depends on the athlete and where their strengths and weaknesses are. For the most part you'll want to set a strong pace on the rower but be able to get into the toes to bar quickly. Small sets with short breaks will be the key for most on the toes to bar in order to keep moving. The same will go for the wall ball and quick singles on the cleans. Work to avoid too much negative on the muscle-ups with lowering yourself slowly and try to drop to the ground and do singles when you start to fatigue.

MF: Muscle-ups are a game changer. As one of the hardest movements in CrossFit, do you think that this was thrown in during the 4th week to serve as a major separating factor for athletes?

CS: The way all the workouts have been set up allow anyone to compete. I think it's more the placement of movement. They come at the end of the chipper when most will be drained from the previous work. Those with good capacity with the muscle-up will separate themselves from those that struggle with the movement technically. Any one of the workouts this year can have athletes making a big separation depending on how far they get… this is no different.

MF: How long would you say an elite athlete like yourself would take to get through a single round?

CS: We saw Josh [Bridges] and Scott [Panchik] both get back to the rower with around 2 min left. That is definitely quick and I think the 12- to 13-minute range is going to be around when most of the heavy hitters finish one round.

MF: If someone was worried to even do 14.4 because he doesn't have muscle-ups, what would you tell him?

CS: Don't underestimate the rest of the workout. It's easy to look ahead to some of the movements that we're intimidated by when we need to compartmentalize the workout. One piece at a time. And 50 toes to bar is not a small amount so buckle up... you may not have to worry about those muscle-ups.

MF: 50 T2B are no joke, either. How would you recommend breaking those up?

CS: It depends on an athletes preference and strengths. Some will prefer a bigger set from the start and others may like to break things up early if it's a difficult movement for them. I've seen some people do sets of 5 and get done faster than most athletes with sets of 50 like this. The key is having short breaks either way.

MF: What are your final predictions for 14.5?

CS: Thrusters and burpees. We haven't seen the thruster or the burpee yet and if you've never done that combo you're in for a treat. I'm guessing the time will be around the 7- to 10-minute mark, and it's going to be a smoker. Eyes on 14.4 though... one movement and one rep at a time.


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