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18.5 is…

Andy Newton

18.5 is…


The jump-off week of this year’s Open was dope. It was simple yet dynamic. A “Nate”-esque grind free of excuses to gear down. An elegant triplet that had all three elements we live off of; mono-structural cardio, gymnastics, weightlifting. Some athletes found their first toes-to-bar. Others decided to attack the fear of the heavier dumbbell. Regardless of where you fell on that spectrum, you grew. Was it boring to watch? Undoubtably. Shoot, it was boring to perform. However, the stimulus was necessary, as we hadn’t seen a WOD where everyone was going to work for 20 minutes since week one of 2016. We were due.

Week two, in my humble opinion, is a new classic. It looks so approachable on paper but is a savage bull if you’re willing to ride. One to ten, DB Front Squats and Bar-Facing Burpees for time, then a 1RM Clean in the time remaining (should there be any) before 12 minutes. This is as elementary as Dave Castro is willing to go nowadays. Squat, push, jump, pull. The minds at HQ knew this was the WOD where the community would shine. Each heat at every participating box nationwide ended with a circle of frenzied, battle-worn athletes demanding one last attempt from the competitor in the middle. This WOD was defined by the suspense as the clock wound down and the crowd noise built towards an eruption. This one is coming back.

Our third offering from TDC was a reminder that just because the person responsible for your programming cares about you, doesn’t mean they have to be nice. Just after the announcement, Rory McKernan took out his earpiece, looked at it questionably and said “It sounded like he just said 800 double-unders.” My mind immediately feared for Julie Foucher or anyone else who has ever injured their achilles; albeit I was proven to be overthinking as there was no reports of a sudden posterior tibialis insufficiency pandemic (think: the ring dips from Regionals last year for pectoral tears). Most humans didn’t possess the degree of fitness required to encounter that range of reps anyhow. This WOD got under the skin of training deficits. Those on the fence with double-unders were immediately assaulted by an opening set of 100. This might read as rude, but that affront straight out was as it should be. By front loading volume those who designed it as such were simply gatekeeping between athletes who have addressed their distaste for the double-under and those who have not.

The other triggering factor in this workout was the task orientation. “Why couldn’t the bar muscle-ups have been first?” In asking that question, it is answered. In 2015, we were served a dish of humble pie within 15.3’s itinerary of 7 muscle-ups, 50 wall balls and 100 double-unders. There was tremendous backlash from the community that the most advanced movement found in the WOD was the buy in to fast, money-making reps. People struggled. Since then, some of those people put their nose to the grindstone and prepared themselves should something similar arise again. This year they were rewarded. It’s only fair.

Week four again found us with a buy-in of sorts; this iteration the ante was “Diane.” To graduate to the heavier barbell and the more advanced inverted movement (handstand walks) you had to soldier through a workout that is daunting in of itself: 21-15-9, handstand push-ups, deadlifts at 225/155. By placing the ceiling of the workout at 9 minutes the powers that be forced us all into a posture of productivity. This was a great community building opportunity. First handstand push-ups were unearthed, PRs were celebrated upon the first pull of the scarier barbell, and the big names raced wire to wire to photo finishes.

Dave Castro has said he finds inspiration for his programming in art, engineering and architecture. Artists, engineers and architects find inspiration in both the world around them and in the works of the masters before them. In programming “Diane,” a benchmark Girls WOD, Castro is both paying homage to Glassman’s original works and hinting towards a future rooted in the past. In keeping it simple in week 4, Castro painted us further proof why he holds the position as Director of the Games; his programming pairs approachability with brutality. It’s brilliant.

There was some controversy concerning the new HSPU measuring standard. Which I think is mostly wasted breath. Good reps were only inaccessible if your training standard was molded by efficiency and not reality. I do wish they’d find one standard and live with it, as this is the 4th since I’ve been in the game. However, when these proclamations are put forth by HQ I encourage you to adapt and overcome rather than let your blood boil.

So what’s to come in our final test? Shoot, I don’t know. Probably thrusters. But, I hope not. They’ve been a movement in every WOD that found itself at the tail end of the Open, from 11.6 to 17.5. The thruster being the reason behind Dave’s !@#*-eating grin mid-reveal used to be worthy, because he was a mystery machine. Now it’s like when Shaggy would pull the mask off the monster at the conclusion of a Scooby Doo episode. It’s predictable, and if you have any experience at all you should be completely unafraid. What would be scary would be them NOT including thrusters across the board this year so we have no clue when to expect them next year. That would be like Freddy pulling the mask off some ghoul only to find Velma smiling back. See ya Thursday!

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