CrossFit Open 19.3 Breakdown and Tips

CrossFit Open 19.3

Holy glutes and shoulders Batman!

CrossFit Open 19.3 is 200 ft of overhead walking lunges, 50 db box step ups, 50 strict handstand push ups, 200 ft of hand stand walking. 10 minute time cap. 



Everyone is probably eyeballing the strict HSPU, but don’t forget that you basically have hundreds of lunges/step ups to do before you even get there! One of the first things you’ll notice is that a lunge and a step up are very similar. If you go too fast on the lunges, you will have a much harder time on the step ups.

You’ll also want to note that if you push yourself on the db overhead, your shoulders will be fatigued for the HSPUs coming later! Read on for strategies to save your shoulders.

For the vast majority of folks, this workout will be about pacing to get your fastest time on the lunges and step ups combined, so you have the most time to get through the HSPU (or even just attempt one).

Smart pacing means breaking the lunges and step ups in to manageable sets from the beginning. Avoid the temptation to go big in the beginning!

This is going to be a ‘grinder’ of a workout. Chances are you won’t feel very winded at all. Managing that fatigue so you can keep moving through the step ups will be key.

Tie Breaker After Step Ups and HSPU

Just so you are aware, the first tie breaker is after the step ups. This really doesn’t mean much because you’ll want to finish those step ups as fast as possible anyway. That said, you should treat this like a “mini-finish-line” and really push hard to finish them strong.

The other tie breaker (if you make it), is after the HSPU. But again, this won’t really matter much because you should be trying to finish them as fast as possible. It is probably a good idea to keep this in mind though as you finish your last reps. There probably isn’t any reward for going slower to save yourself for the HS walks.

Warm Up

Prior to the workout, you’ll want to make sure you are thoroughly warmed up. Here is a good example:

Dynamic Warm up: 2 min easy row or airdyne. Then 3 sets of 5 Left, 5 Right reverse lunge steps, 10 push ups to downward dog, 10 hollow rocks, 2 crab bridges. Then 3 sets of 5 db push press, 50’ overhead db walk, 10 alternating db step ups

Mobility: Focus on overhead mobility. PVC pass throughs, and band on the bar lunge stretch.

Skill: Spend this time setting up and practicing HSPU.

DB Overhead Lunge Walk

Probably the most important part of the lunges will be pacing correctly. Grinding out extra distances WILL make your legs more tired for the db step ups. Holding the db overhead for longer intervals will wear out your shoulders for the HSPU.

The easiest way to split it up is to take a short break every 25 feet when you turn around. Pause for a movement and switch hands. Switching hands often will save your shoulders. If 25 feet is a bit too much, count your steps and rest every 6-10 steps (whatever gets you right up to the next 5 ft mark).

Try to do the lunges ‘fast’ (don’t move slow and deliberate). Moving down fast and resting often means you’ll spend less time with the db overhead.

For the lunges themselves, try to ‘spread the floor’ with your feet (pushing with both the front leg and the back leg). That means you’ll be using the muscles from both legs to help you go down and up (rather than just the front leg).

Take a step, then go straight down then straight up. This also ensures you are using both legs for the movement rather than shifting all of the weight to the front leg (making it much harder). See the video for more details.


Most people will want to hold the db in a ‘neutral grip’. Back of the wrist flat with the knuckles of the palm pointed to the ceiling. If you cock the wrist, you will have a harder time locking out and it will affect the HSPU later.

Try to relax the other arm instead of sticking it out to the side for balance. Sticking it out to the side uses more energy!

If you are looking to get some time for the HSPU, you’ll want to finish these around 2:30-4:00. A 3-minute pace would mean about 22 seconds per 25’. A 4-minute pace would be 30s every 25’. Obviously, the faster the better. But there is no point going faster if it drastically slows down the db weighed step ups.

Dumbbell Weighted Step Ups

You should finish the lunges and be able to right into the db step ups if you paced correctly. Do not put the db down. Make sure you alternate legs by having a set ‘pattern’ of which leg you step up with and which leg you lower down with.

I am inclined to have folks step up and down with the same leg. Up when the leg is ‘fresh’, then immediately down after it is a bit fatigued. This is opposed to up with one leg, then down with the other. Because of the alternating nature, the one you just stepped down with will be the one you must step up with on the next rep.

Your mileage may vary. If you are breaking these up pretty often (like every few reps), lowing with the other leg might work better for you.

Balance the db on the shoulder and let the other arm hang at the side. Holding it in a ‘hang’ position will just make you more tired. Holding it across the middle of the back will probably mean you’ll need to use both hands to support it. If you are comfortable supporting it on the back of the neck (and you can balance it with one hand) you might try it, but it could get ‘wonky’.

Some people may try to ‘swing’ the db from the hang to help get some momentum into the step up. While this may be faster and make the beginning of the step up easier, it may fall into the ‘uncommon movement’ clause of the rules. That means your score could be disqualified if you don’t get pre-approval of this technique (so tread carefully).

Break these into small sets early on. Set the db on the box when you rest, and switch sides after every rest. If you pace correctly, you should be able to maintain the same pace throughout.

To finish these in 3 minutes, you’ll need to do 10 every 36 seconds (this includes the rests!) or about 17 every minute. To finish them in 4 minutes, you’ll need to do 10 every 48 seconds, or about 13 every minute.

When you step onto the box, try to get most (if not all) of your foot onto the box. If you only step with the front half of your foot, you will not be able to engage as much of the posterior chain, and you’ll be doing more work stabilizing the ankle.

Strict Handstand Push Ups

We do a lot strict handstand push up work in the Thrivestry program (not to mention we just finished a 6 week focus of handstand push ups!), so much of this should not be a surprise.

If you can do one or two ‘fresh’, you do have a shot of getting at least one in the workout!

If you have never completed a rep, but you are close, you still have a shot.

If you aren’t even close, this is a lunge/step up workout for time.

The most important technique tip for strict HSPUs is to make sure you are creating maximal tension through your core and glutes before you descend. Kick up to the wall, lock you breath, and fire those abs and butt!

When most people get into a handstand position, they go ‘limp’ from the shoulders down (or up?). When we don’t lock these muscles, the body’s protective mechanism kicks in and it will not allow you to press as hard as you can with the arms. For this reason, you may even want to wear a belt for these (see below for more details)

Lock the body tight and imagine you are compressing a spring as you come down. As soon as you touch press as hard as you can while maintaining full body tension.

For people who can do more than a few reps, you will still want to break these up early and often. HSPU are one of those movements that hit a wall relatively quickly, and they take a lot of time to recover. The key here is to not get close to failure (until maybe your last set). Come off the wall before a rep or two BEFORE failure so you can still get a good set right after.

If you start with 5-10, but you drop to 2s or 1s by the end, you didn’t pace correctly. Be conservative and only speed up as you get past the 35 rep mark.

To finish these in 2 minutes (which is pretty fast) you’ll need to do 5 every 12 seconds, or about 25 a minute. To finish these in 3 minutes, you’ll need to do 5 every 18 seconds or about 17 every minute. To finish them in 4 minutes, you’ll need to do 5 every 24 seconds, or about 13 every minute.

SO if you finish the step ups in 6 minutes or less, you’ll need to be doing 7-9 every 30 seconds (or faster) to have some time to get to the handstand walk.


Floor padding

Try to use one big mat for your handstand push ups if you can. Placing the hands on the plates, then putting a mat in-between means that your head will actually go below the plates when the mat crushes (essentially making it a ‘deficit’ hspu). Check out the video and the whiteboard pic for more details.

2019-03-07 18.56.03.jpg

Avoid using the ‘puzzle’ mats or mats that can detach from one another. If these come apart mid set, you’ll end up crashing down on your neck and/or injuring a shoulder!

Mark where you want to put your hands so you can be consistent with hand placement. With lots of small sets, it will be easy to mis-place a hand and get ‘no repped’. Having targets for your hands will make it easier to pop back up.

Handstand Walks

Remember that you must start with your hands behind the line! Don’t get too close and accidentally touch the line with your fingers. Have your judge (or coach) point to where you should put your hands in the moment.

Wrist flexibility is also a key player here. If you can keep your fingers pointed the direction of travel, you will have better balance and an easier time going for big distances.

If you can’t get into that position, you will have to turn your fingers out. This may get you into position, but your balance will be compromised, and it will be harder to go more than 5 or 10 feet at a time. Do not get discouraged, and chip away at each section with minimal rest.

Keep in mind that with this standard, the more ‘breaks’ you take, the farther you will have to go (because you’ll have to cross the line, then start behind it each time). If you can do 10-15 feet or more in a stretch, a bit of extra rest will pay off.

Make sure you watch the clock so you can pace your last few ‘sprints’!


If you can’t do any HSPU, the goal is to finish the step ups as fast as possible. Be smart with your breaks and pacing so you can finish strong. Do not get caught up in the moment and come out blazing fast only to get crushed on those last 30 step ups.

If you are shooting to get 1-10 HSPU, you will want to take a break after the lunges and get organized. Take some deep breaths and visualize yourself doing the rep. Remember to create that full body tension!

If you are trying to get 10-40 reps of HSPU, make sure you get on that wall right after finishing the lunges and just get some clean reps on the board. Make this set deliberately small so you can get comfortable with the set up and your judge. Don’t get caught up in what other people are doing (especially if they are banging out large sets). Stick to your plan and watch the clock so you don’t end up resting too much. If you start to struggle, come off the wall, and adjust you resting and sets so you can keep moving deliberately in the later reps.

If you plan on finishing the HSPU, make sure you stick to your pacing plan for the HSPU. Speed up once you get past the 35 rep mark if you ‘over paced’ (which isn’t likely). Avoid ‘no reps’ like the plague. Get right to the HS walk as soon as you are done. Know that the first walk will be hard, but your shoulders will recover a bit if you have more than 30s to walk. Don’t get frustrated if you lose your balance. Just reset and get right back up for the next push!

Shoes and Belt… and Knee Pads!

You shouldn’t wear Oly shoes or a belt for this one. THAT SAID, some people will benefit on the HSPU by wearing a belt. This allows you to get ‘feedback’ on your abdominal tension and may help you get that first rep (or 3).

Wearing knee sleeves or some sort of knee pad is going to be a good idea. This will allow you to come down a bit harder on the lunges, avoiding excess eccentric motion. After the lunges, pull them down over your shins so they aren’t binding you up when doing those.


I don’t think a repeat is going to be a good idea for most people. This amount of lunges and step ups is really going to do a number on your legs.

That said, if you totally botched the pacing of the lunges/step ups, or you did way too many HSPU too fast, you might consider doing it again. Of course… if you paced it right the first time this won’t be an issue.

Next Workouts

We can now eliminate 8 movements from what is likely to show up! You now have another week to work on those critical movements. Pull ups (maybe even strict), muscle ups, snatches, thrusters, burpees, box jumps… As soon as you recover from this week, put in the work to set you up for success in the later weeks. Only 2 to go!

Have fun!



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