Open Prep: Strategy and Efficiency Tips w/ Ben Dziwulski

Ben Dziwulski from WODprep is back! In our last episode, we got super tactical and talked about the progressions for many of the difficult skills like TTB, Muscle Ups, Double Unders, Pull-Ups. And so I wanted to get his thoughts on Pistols and Handstand walking — then dive into some strategy and efficiency tips for the Open.

Remember all the videos and resources that Ben has to help you see this stuff visually is linked up below.

Also available here:

Apple Podcast    Spotify

Show Notes:

  • (3:19) – Pistols progressions
  • (3:59) – Drilling skills to get ready for the Open
  • (6:15) – The power of being able to do just ONE rep of a difficult skill
  • (12:30) – Handstand Pushups to Handstand Walking
  • (24:22) – Getting into routines and rhythms before your Open workout
  • (22:52) – Don’t change everything
  • (29:20) – Adrenaline, pressure, pacing – and knowing when to go balls out
  • (38:15) – Breathe like Rich Froning
  • (43:00) – Developing a gameplan for a workout in your warmups
  • (50:30) – Pulling through the pain
  • (53:00) – The leaderboard

Podcast Transcript:

Ben  00:00

What’s up, this is Ben from Wod prep and you are listening to the airborne mind show.

Misbah Haque  00:36

Hey guys Misbah Haque here. Thank you so much for joining me today. And welcome back. So if you love what I’ve been putting out, if you love the show and you want to support it, make sure you head over to the airborne, mind calm, and you check out some of the free training resources. So lots of cool coaching videos are coming out. There’s things specifically for the shoulders, for the hips, for me, weaknesses, like handstand push ups, pull ups, all sorts of things there. So make sure you check that out at the, it’s free, grab it, and you will be supporting the show. Now, today’s podcast is brought to you by So there’s been many books that each guest has recommended when they’ve been on the show. And if you want to see a list of everything kind of put together in one place. And if you also want to grab a free audio book in a 30 day free trial, you can go to the forward slash reading list. And I keep that updated as we talk about different books and as different guests recommend them. So make sure you go check that out, grab something you like, listen to it on the ride when you’re not listening to this podcast. In today’s episode, Benji Dziwulski is back on the show. So last time we chatted we talked about, you know how to master the difficult skills like toaster bar muscle ups, pull ups, and double unders. And after that conversation was over, I immediately thought okay, I wanted to ask about pistols. I want to talk about handstand push ups. And I wanted to talk about handstand walking. So that’s kind of how we started this episode out. And we talked about gameplan. We talked about strategy, we talked about warming up, we talked about all these little things that you’re already probably going to be doing if you’re doing the open workouts. And if you’re just a little more aware of them you can make the best use out of it and hopefully have a little more fun. So lots of gems in this episode, especially with the open coming up in just a few days. And remember any visuals that we kind of refer to, or if you have trouble kind of putting it together, when you’re listening on audio, I’ve pretty much linked up all the stuff that’s on Ben’s YouTube channel that we talked about in this episode in the show notes. So you can check that out at the and just hit the first one. Okay. And if you haven’t listened to the last episode, I highly recommend you go back and check that one out. Alright, so with that being said, Please enjoy. Ben, welcome back to the show, man. 

Ben  02:54

I’m really happy to be here. Oh, like I was just here. And I know that our conversation ended with man, I can’t wait to come back and talk some more. 

Misbah Haque  03:04

So I actually wanted to pick back up kind of where we left off last week, there were two things that I’ve been thinking about since then. One is pistols and the other is handstand walking. And I wanted to get your thoughts on pistols I’ve been thinking, you know, a lot of people when the skill base movements kind of come out, when it’s released in the open everybody spends all week just in a hectic chaos mode, where they’re just trying to get a bar muscle up like we were last year and things like that. So I feel like now is the time to kind of experiment with all the different types of skills and kind of start greasing the wheels with whatever you know your weekend. And if pistols are one of them. Something I was thinking of it’s really easy to I guess add into your warm ups to is like lateral step ups, or maybe hanging pistols you could call them and just literally building that into part of your warm up. So it’s kind of like you’re killing two birds with one stone and building up some single leg strength that way as well. I’m curious to know, what are your thoughts on that? Is that a progression that you use at all? 

Ben  04:04

Yeah, absolutely. So I guess the first point, totally, totally agree when it comes to practicing the skills. It’s really funny. My videos get a ton of views. I get a lot of comments and a bunch of emails every single time one of those kind of like, whoa, didn’t see that movement coming. Even though it happens every single year. Like for instance, double unders oh my gosh, double unders of this week. Well, how do I do a double under? It’s like, okay, guys, if you if you really, really thought about it, you knew double unders was going to show up having you practice a little bit before this week. And unfortunately, that’s just we’re just natural procrastinators as human beings. So to go along with your first point, I think it’s really really smart to be strategic and practice everything. So there’s plenty of lists online, but just pretty much go through the last few years of the open workouts and say, Oh wow, like that movement seems a little difficult for me, let’s practice it. And one of my favorite ways to practice anything is just a simple emom. And when I say emom, I mean every minute on the minute. So for instance, let’s say, let’s say handstand push ups is something that it’s shown up the last few years, no one thought they’d be in the open ever, and then they showed up, and now you know, it lit the world on fire. And you can almost bet they’re gonna show up again this year. And if you’re having issues with handstand push ups, it’s really easy to just say, Hey, I’m going to set up my handstand push up area exactly like the open standards. And then once I do that, I’m gonna practice five handstand push ups, every minute on the minute for 10 minutes, or five handstand push ups, or 10, handstand push ups every minute on the minute for five minutes, you know, something like that. And just, that’s a great warm up, your shoulders will be a little smoked. But that’s a great way to teach your body, hey, you’re okay, you can do these when you’re a little bit fatigued. And I think that’s one of the biggest goals. And it’s something I’ve actually talked to my wife about is she recently has learned muscle ups. And when we work out together, like this morning, actually, we worked out and there’s muscle ups in the workout. And it’s like, hey, the open is coming. Even though this workout is calling for these big sets of muscle ups, the open is coming, the only thing that matters for you is making sure that you can at least hit one muscle up. So today we’re going to treat this workout just like it was open. And the goal here is instead of doing let’s say, hypothetically, the workout was, you know, some power cleans, and then there was like five muscle ups every single round. Well, instead of saying, Oh, I can’t do five muscle ups. It’s like no, all we’re going to worry about today is let’s just get one muscle up each round, show me tell yourself develop the confidence that, hey, when I hop up on the rings, no matter how tired I am, I can do one muscle up to open standards, right? And that’s how you need to treat everything. So treat all of your skills like that practice them before they are announced. So you don’t just have three days to freak out about it, and it’s gonna pay big dividends and then to add on to So point number two is about the pistols. Absolutely. I think pistols. It’s kind of like a ticking time bomb. Granted, I think I mentioned this potentially last time, I think pistols are going to be a very poorly judged movement. So there’s going to be a lot of bro reps happening. But it’s a high skill movement. But it’s not. It’s not like burpee backflips or anything where it’s just like, okay, point 00 1% of the population can do it. pistols are a real thing. So one of my favorite progressions for those of you out there who are working on pistols. Well, one, let’s look at it from a mobility standpoint, you need to have some flexible ankles, that is probably the biggest return on investment. There’s all sorts of stability and things like that  go into pistols. But as a general rule, if I’m like, hey, I need to get better at pistols within the next 10 minutes, I’m just going to stretch my ankles, that’s all I’m going to do is try to get more flexion in the ankles. And then probably my favorite progression is banded pistols. So I’ll actually have a video about this on YouTube. So maybe you can link it up in the show notes. But I have a video where basically you set the band just under your butt, and then you do pistols. And what it does is it’s like this perfect thing. So you can put your arms wherever you want, you’re doing a pistol, everything else is the same. All it’s doing is giving you a little bit of lift off and stability. You know, there’s some people who do the grab onto an upright and do pistols or they’ll do step ups onto a box. And all those things are great. But there’s nothing that is like, almost perfect. And I think that banded pistols are probably the closest thing there. Because what’s cool is it’s infinitely scalable. So you can start with a band that’s really tall, like right next to your hip, and the band can be really heavy. So those two things combined give you a lot of support. And then you can go with a lighter band, or you can lower the band a little bit and it’s going to give you a little bit less support. And you can go all the way down until the bands are really low. And it’s really light where it’s essentially giving you no support. So I love that scale. It’s my favorite right and I use it sometimes when I’m warming up because my pistols are not the best. So I’ll do some banded pistols and then sure enough, you take the band away, and you feel a lot more comfortable. 

Misbah Haque  09:32

How about when you notice that people have a lot of trouble keeping their legs out in front? That’s something I’ve noticed a lot is, you know, a lot of people being able to maybe straighten out one leg on one side, but on the other side, it’s like almost hitting the ground every single time you’re doing a pistol. Is that something flexibility related that you should be addressing? Or what’s your protocol for that? 

Ben  09:55

A great point actually. So I think it’s definitely great. I’m not a PT here. I’m not a movement specialist. I just know how to get people to do the movement as prescribed not necessarily fix the movement. So actually another guy who works for WOD prep, his name is Gary. He’s like my mobility specialist, he would know the answer. But I know for me, if I actually stretch out my hamstrings a lot, it’ll help me straighten that leg. So hamstring flexibility is certainly an issue. And that also, depending on how tight your quads are, and how lit up your hip flexors are, like, sometimes I’ll cramp when I’m lifting like the lifted leg is the leg that’s giving me problems because I will literally cramp. So something I actually learned from Christmas Abbott, she was like my, my at first coach, and she was my teammate, I competed at regionals with them for several years, is the standard for pistols is not that your free leg needs to be straight, it simply needs to be in front of your body. So when I do my pistols, actually, I do not straighten my like off leg, I don’t straighten it, I just kind of wrap it around the lake that’s actually doing the squat. And it works really well. So essentially, I’m like this little pistol ball, instead of like this, like literally extended pistol, you know that with the extended leg. Instead, I let that leg bend. And it’s almost like doing a, what is it a figure four stretch, it’s almost like doing that, except instead of stretching that leg that the bent leg is in front of the leg that’s actually doing the squatting. Hopefully, it’s visual. Makes sense? I might do it in one of my pistol videos on YouTube, I probably do. But honestly, man, it really, really works. Because you don’t have to worry about things like, Oh, I got to keep this leg as straight as possible. No, the only thing you’re thinking about is making sure the free heal doesn’t hit the ground. And other than that, it’s great. And then my last point, something that really helps me is a lot of people think like forward and backwards when it comes to pistols. But I actually like to lean side to side. So I will lean into the leg that is squatting. So for instance, if I’m going to squat down on my left leg, I will lean to the left. And if I’m going to squat down on my right leg, I’ll lean to the right and you start getting this like you get this kind of side to side action that allows you to string together the pistols much more consistently, instead of just trying to Oh, I’m just gonna drop straight down and knock out this pistol. If you don’t have amazing flexibility, you kind of need to use your momentum to put yourself in the proper position. Stay consistent with the movement. 

Misbah Haque  12:34

And we also touched a little bit on handstand walking last time as well. Let’s dig a little bit more into that. So let’s say somebody can do handstand push ups they’re pretty competent with that. They may even be able to bang out strict handstand push ups. But as soon as they tried to do a free standing handstand or maybe even attempt walking 0 feet or so. Things just start to break down, you fail all over the place. What’s your approach for that?

Ben  13:04

That’s a great, great, great point. Another one I really kind of hope it shows up partially because I have one of the number one videos on YouTube. And another reason is because I love them. I think they’re such a cool movement. It’s a movement that I wasn’t even close to being able to do before I started, like CrossFitting hardcore, I guess you could say and now it’s it’s one of my favorite things. So it’s funny, handstand push ups, kipping handstand push ups, strict handstand push ups, they’re essentially you can muscle your way through. If you have at least the bare minimum requisite mobility. A big muscle man can jump up there and just knock them out. However, when it comes to handstand walks, it is a much more graceful movement. It’s all about balance, you literally cannot muscle your way through that movement. It does not matter how strong you are, as long as you have the requisite strength. i There’s a really good number that I’ve seen thrown out there. And it’s something that I’ve kind of relayed to my athletes, if you can hold a handstand on the wall for about 60 seconds. And then you can do a couple strict handstand push ups. That’s usually a good sign that you’re ready to do handstand walks. So that being said, when it comes to practice handstand walks, if you really want to get them one of my favorite drills is to do what are called Wall runs. And that’s just a term that I kind of used. I don’t know, I’m sure I stole it from somewhere right, nothing’s original these days but the wall runs pretty sure across an Invictus program. All it is is I walk up like I’m doing a wall walk so my nose is actually facing the wall. I walk all the way up until my nose is basically touching the wall. Perfect handstand, keep my toes pointed up towards the ceiling. And then I just I just rocked from side to sides. So I go weight on my left hand weight on my right hand weight on my left hand. And then as I get better at that, I actually will lift the opposite hand to touch that shoulder. So I’ll lean to my left hand, and then I’ll lift up my right hand and touch my shoulder. And then I’ll lean to the right, and I’ll lift up my left hand and touch my shoulder and you just, and you start walking back and forth. And if you can do that, essentially unbroken. So if you can do that, without any major pauses, and go from left to right, left to right, then amazingly, that will transfer to actual handstand walking, because in order to handstand walk, at some point during the movement, you are only going to have one hand on the ground, because you’re moving the opposite hand. And I think that’s something that a lot of people don’t realize. They like that I can do handstand push ups all day long. It’s like, Hey, man, that’s great. That’s with two hands on the ground. But as soon as you switch and you need to put weight on one hand, you totally fall down. So actually, again, I know I keep saying this, but I have a video specifically about this progression on YouTube. And it’s helped a lot of people. But that’s my favorite. Definitely my favorite drill. And then another thing I would say is, everybody’s worried about their upper body when they’re doing handstand walks. But you have to squeeze your butt if your legs are flailing around like a, I don’t know, flailing around like one of those crazy. You know, the used car dealerships, the crazy air airmen thing, I don’t even know what those things are called. But that’s essentially the picture I get in my head. When a lot of people are doing handstand push ups, those feet are just going everywhere, handstand walks, excuse me, those feet are just going everywhere. So think about squeezing your butt, keeping your feet together, or at least directly above your body, squeeze your butt, and then allow the weight to allow gravity to pull you forward. And it’s just like that delicate balancing act. So those are just a few little tips about handstand walks. I really hope that show up though. 

Misbah Haque  16:55

It’s one of those movements that you should definitely film yourself doing. Because I actually the man, yeah, the first time that I did that myself, you know, I thought that my feet were together. And you know, I looked like an actual gymnast, when in reality, I was, you know, I was flailing over to the left side. And like, it just look kind of ridiculous. But you can’t feel it when you’re upside down. So the only way to actually see it is when you video that the other day. Yeah, the other thing is, when it comes to handstand walking. Are we talking? Like when we’re trying to move forward? Are we waddling side to side a little bit like arms are nice and straight? Are we kind of literally just kind of taking a step forward? And we can kind of have a bend at the arms? What’s your take on that? 

Ben  17:42

Good question. I think it’s funny, I feel like there are multiple camps for this. So there are some people who basically like a gymnast, for instance, would say you find your perfect handstand position. And then your arms literally pull you forward so that they’re the ones that have a tendency to bend their elbows a lot. And they have like a nice, graceful walk forward, almost like when I’m standing up and I’m walking, I stand, I’m perfectly balanced. And then the act of moving my feet pulls me forward, if that makes sense. Right now, the, the, I guess, less gymnastic way or the quote unquote, CrossFit way. And frankly, this is a way that tends to help people learn maybe a little bit more quickly. Now the caveat is, it might not be the best long term approach. We’re not looking for shortcuts here. But if you want to do handstand walks, a lot of times what I found is you teach people to find their balance point. And then you essentially say let your legs fall slightly past your balance point. And then that gravity that is basically that it’s almost like you’re continually falling over almost but that slight balance, or that slight imbalance will pull you forward. And then for me, I actually kind of externally rotate both of my hands so that my thumbs are kind of almost pointed forward. So like if everybody here holds their hands out in front of them, and then they externally rotate, it should essentially point their thumbs forward. Right? And I pretty much just kind of just kind of like my guess wattle is a great term. It’s just like it’s a little bit of a waddle. My elbows still do bend.  But I found that that is one of the best ways to get that, that forward momentum instead of a lot of people when they try to kick up, they’ll have their index their middle fingers pointed straight forward, and their thumbs will be pointed in and what happens is that requires a lot more movement and a lot more lift of the hands to to move them forward. And in that case, you need to have a lot more balance and a lot more control. So there’s just like a couple little teeny tweaks that you can do to kind of make that learning curve a little bit quicker. But then ultimately I always. We say this, whenever you learn a movement, there’s a difference between getting the check in the box like, oh, yeah, I can do that. And then being able to do it efficiently. So whenever you learn anything, make sure you learn it. But then make sure you learn it efficiently as well. Like when it comes to muscle ups, handstand, walks, handstand push ups, don’t just get the check in the box, get the check in the box, and then hone your skill so that you’re actually doing it. And you’d make a gymnast proud, I would say.

Misbah Haque  20:25

I really like that. Because if you do just kind of check the box, and this goes for snatches or any type of Olympic lifts, or any type of gymnastic movement, when you kind of look at the people who are actual gymnasts, or Olympic weightlifters, it would be pretty frowned upon, you know, they’d be like, you have a long way to go before you have shown, you know, mastery of this movement. And very cool. And yeah, you’re right. So the one thing that I do notice is, when you start to get kind of scared, when your feet are past that balance point, you feel like you’re about to fall over. That’s usually when you’re doing it, right. And that’s kind of where you’ve got to find that sweet spot, you’ve also I think, got to be able to roll out of it the right way as well. Like, a lot of times, you know, falling out is one of those things where after you get a little bit fatigued, it doesn’t look very pretty, but learning how to maybe forward roll and kind of tuck your head and doing that properly is definitely a benefit as well. 

Ben  21:24

Absolutely, and so just another quick little add on there. So that feeling of like, oh, no, I’m gonna fall over. That is kind of, at least when you first learned that is the feeling you’re going to get. And one thing you can do to combat that is to have a spotter, have a spotter that you know pretty well, because you might kick him in the face, it’s happened to me, probably at least a dozen times coaching where I’ve been kicked in the face, but have a spotter. And essentially, they prevent you from rolling all the way forward. As long as you keep your feet together, it’s okay, you shouldn’t kick them in the face. And then another thing you can do is balancing off of the wall. So you walk up and you do that nose to wall handstand hold. And then you just kind of kick your feet away from the wall, feel the balance point, and then fall back down and kind of do it a few times. And then reach the balance point and allow yourself to start walking away from the wall. I call those walk aways, right, it’s essentially you do that handstand hold, and then you walk yourself away from the wall. So you don’t have to worry about kicking up into the handstand. But it still helps train that delicate balance between staying balanced and staying unbalanced and pulling yourself off the wall. Definitely. And one more side note that I just thought of so this weekend, every Saturday we have like a gymnastics slash endurance class. And one of the things that we did in the you know, strength slash skill portion portion was uneven handstand holds. So you got up against the wall. And you had a gentleman had a 45 pound plate ladies had about a 25 pound plate, but one hands on the plate and one hands off, and you performed holds that way. And I found that really interesting because I’ve never, I’ve never tried that. But it’s a great way, if you feel like you’re not quite there yet, when it comes to shoulder taps, we’re actually taking that hand off the floor, it’s a great way to feel like all that weight is supported on that one arm without actually doing that essentially, right because you still have that other plate to kind of support yourself, you know, if you start to kind of give a little bit but yeah, I wanted to throw that in there. I’m writing it down right now. I actually really like that. I’m gonna add that one. Yeah, mess around with that, I think so we did it with our back facing the wall. But I’m curious to try it with your, you know, belly facing and see how that one feels as well. Yeah, the reason we do belly facing and the reason I mean this is all stuff I’ve learned from other people. The reason gymnasts like belly facing is because it keeps you in a better hollow body position. When you kick up and your back is against the wall, it almost guarantees that you’re going to be in that broken overextended position. And as a general rule, we just don’t want to train that way. And then oh, by the way, there’s no way you can handstand walking away from the wall if your back is facing it if that makes you want to go backwards. 

Misbah Haque  24:14

So let’s kind of touch on that routine again. Because this is something I heard I was listening to you know, brute strength, did like a Facebook live with their coaches and they were talking about open prep as well. And one of the things they were talking about was getting into that routine now. So this reminded me of kind of prepping for a weightlifting meet you if you’re lifting at a meet, you know, you’re the first person typically on the lighter, you know, I’m in like the lightest weight class I typically be going at, like 7am or weigh in at like 6am and lift by 730 or eight. But I’m used to lifting, you know, in the evenings all the time, right. So something that I would kind of pay attention to in the, you know, upcoming weeks is trying to somehow you know, schedule a couple of days a week so that I’m working out You know, maybe in the morning, because I know for myself lifting, and we just had chatting about this lifting first thing in the morning, you know, I feel way different than if I’m lifting at night. And of course, you do have to be, you know, you got to be ready for anything. But, you know, what is that saying luck is when preparation meets opportunity, you can definitely do things to, you know, prepare yourself. And also not doing any crazy, like last second changes, like, you know, starting to take melatonin or any type of weird supplements like that week or, you know, whatever it might be like, there’s all these different things that you can start practicing now. So what would you recommend? Like, are there certain things that you do to attack open workouts that you could essentially start practicing from right now?

Ben  25:43

That is such a great point. And it’s something I’m big, big, big preaching is don’t change everything. And it’s funny, a lot of people, when they have like this special workout or a competition for that matter, this is going to be a good example, from my life is every single competition, like ever, my worst performance of the day, back when I was doing a lot of individual stuff in the mid atlantic kind of region. Every single competition, the first workout was my worst score, I would start, you know, with, you know, relative comparatively to the other scores of poor finish. And then I would always finish the day strong. And usually, you know, a lot of these local competitions, I was able to make up the difference from my first workout. But there were a couple times where like, for instance, there’s one I did in Japan, where I got second place, I was tied for first for this guy. And, and the reason I didn’t win the competition was from the first workout of the day, I just like, I just sucked. I mean, that’s all there was to it. And it’s because I’m not used to working out that early in the morning. So if you’re approaching the open, and your goal is to get the best score possible, exactly. Like you said, you need to start basically training your body, or at least noticing when your body performs well. So if you are a 6am, worker, outer, first of all, I commend you, I’m trying to do the morning thing, more power to you. But if you are like on in the morning, and you’re ready to crush it, then going to Friday Night Lights and expecting to perform at your best is probably a bad idea. So there’s a couple things you can do, do the open workout in the morning, or start training now at in the evenings, you know, at least throw in one or two days a week where you’re like, Hey, I’m going to go to the the evening class at my box to make sure that I’m ready and I understand what it feels like. So the goal here is to just start designing your day, just like you would do it comm quote unquote, game time. And then another great example is don’t start taking supplements you’ve never taken because they will, they will show themselves in all kinds of awful ways. I mean, you don’t want to start eating food, like don’t all of a sudden be like, You know what, I need to have more veggies in my diet. So I’m going to eat a giant plate of broccoli the night before my workout, it will probably not turn out well. So just keep everything the same. Try to try to handle the variables that you can control and keep them consistent. And then what you’re going to find is that it’ll just be another workout there. There is nothing different about the open workouts other than the pressures on and people are watching. But all that is all of that is perceived changes. It’s real. It’s a workout, man. So as long as you keep everything the same and you treat it like a normal workout, your scores are actually probably going to improve a lot more than if you say, oh, I need to make sure I get a good night’s sleep. So I’m going to go to bed three hours earlier, I’m going to wake up earlier, I’m going to take this new supplement that apparently is going to take my train to the next level. No, don’t do any of that to keep everything the same. And if you need to start adjusting your workout times, it’s very cool. Those are my tips.

Misbah Haque  29:09

Now speaking of when you are performing an open workout, you know, typically if you’re doing it, you know, at a CrossFit gym, there’s other people around you, the adrenaline is in the air, there’s a little bit of pressure, even though you didn’t think there’d be any pressure. And you know, there’s nerves, there’s all these things going on. How do you know, how do you differentiate between a workout that you got to kind of be like, Okay, I got to pace it here. I can’t just kind of go balls out from when you know, three to one go. I can’t just let it all out there. And how do you differentiate between that and a workout where you actually do want to go balls to the wall and kind of let everything go?

Ben  29:49

Great question. So that adrenaline piece falls into one of the biggest open mistakes I’ve ever seen, or one of the most common Open mistakes. So all of a sudden you have all these people watching you, you’re excited you watch the announcement, you’re ready to go. You have your maybe you have a game plan, and you go and you’re ready to attack this workout. Let’s say the workout starts with what is it? 20 Toes are 25 Toaster bars, whatever it was last year for what was 16.2. I think I’m doing this off the top of my head. So it was I think 20 Toes bar was a 20 or 25.

Misbah Haque  30:30

I have it pulled up here. Hold on a second. You said week two, it was 16? It was 25 toes to the bar.

Ben  30:39

I’m going to use this as an example, because I saw it a lot. So you’re pumped, you’ve been practicing some Tosa bar, you think you have a good handle on it? Let’s say your average, in a normal workout, you would do sets of like seven or eight, and three to one go, you hop up on that bar. And they are coming so easily. And you knock out a set of 15. And then you shake it out and hop out and knock out another set of 10. And you’re done. And you’re like oh my gosh, I am probably going to probably when this workout. Like I might be Dan Bailey, you don’t know. And you pick up the jump rope. And you knock out all the double unders and then you’re on to the barbell and you fly through them. You know, maybe 135 was really light for you, but not this time you’re hitting sets of touching go unbroken. Well, here’s the problem with that. You are experiencing adrenaline. And adrenaline is a fleeting thing. So all of the adrenaline that you just went through, you also used up normal energy, but all of the adrenaline that you just ate through won’t be there. Once the proverbial, I’ll say crap hits the fan. Okay, so my suggestion as a coach to all of my athletes is go a lot slower than you want to, in the beginning, always, always aim to be the person that finishes shrunk. So hopefully what that’ll actually look like is consistency. If you’ve ever watched Rich Froning do any of the open workouts or, or you know any of the other amazing athletes, you’ll see this incredible consistency where he’ll come out. And he strategically knocks out his sets and his reps in a perfect fashion. And that pace will never change the entire workout. It’s like it’s like a robot literally, that’s what you want to be. Because what happens that the example I just use the person who just knocked out a PR for their Tosa bar, they just PR they’re double unders, they just PR their max unbroken reps of, of power cleans or squat cleans or whatever. Well, guess what, you’re totally screwed. Because when you get back on the bar, it’s gonna totally fall apart and your world is going to come crashing down around you. So I always tell people err on the side of like, start out at 80%. Like, wow, this is easy. That’s kind of how I want you to start because what happens is that you’re going to leave some juice in the tank for when it starts to get hard. Now the only time where this is, maybe something this advice doesn’t apply is a workout where it’s really fast, or it’s a workout where there’s a time constraint. Like hypothetically, let’s say that 16.2 workout, you knew that just getting through that first round was going to be a challenge, you don’t know if you would be able to get through the first round within the designated time. Well, your goal is just to get through the first round. So if that means just going 100% Balls to the wall, like you said earlier, if that’s what it takes, then do it. But if you’re someone who’s expecting to get you know, around or into the workout to get some depth, you don’t need to set any records in the beginning. So this is a very strategic thing and that’s why it’s all about you have to analyze, okay, is this workout in my wheelhouse? If it is, I might have a tendency to really really want to go 100% In the beginning, but let’s say it’s a 12 minute AMRAP I can tell you right now the first two minutes is where that workout is lost or one and it’s not who gets done the first two minutes the fastest Okay, right. It’s can you control your anxiety, can you control your adrenaline? Can you make sure that you actually get through these reps and then the last 10 minutes can you stay consistent? And I love it when I see the last 90 seconds when people are able to actually speed up their intensity normally last 90 seconds. People are just dying because they drop like flies. They’re they’re flailing all over the place. But if you can keep your composure throughout the workout and then hit that last 90 seconds with some determination and some strength that’s where I want you to lay it all on the line. And if you still are controlled at that point, man, that’s how you’re gonna get your best score. 

Misbah Haque  35:08

Do you have a good rule of thumb for and I think you kind of just mentioned it, you said 80% of. So let’s say that, you know, when it comes to kipping pull ups, let’s say I can perform 15 kipping pull ups. And then after that, I got a drop down. And that’s like a max set that I could do. So you’re saying take 80% of that. And that’s kind of the set that I would perform.

Ben  35:29

Actually, a lot of times, I’ll tell you this much when it comes to pull ups specifically, I cannot begin to tell you how much better singles are for a wide majority of people. So even if, hypothetically, in this situation, let’s say 15 Is your PR, even if you can manage seven at a time on a somewhat regular basis, if you’re able to knock out, you know, single, shake it out, single, shake it out, single shake it out, if you can have that sort of consistency, it might take a little bit longer to do those reps, but it’s going to save you for whatever other movements are in store. So let’s say if there’s a workout where there’s a bunch of movements to go with it, then not smoking yourself on some of the gymnastic movements is really important, for instance, that I’ll go back to that toaster bar workout 16.2. I did that workout twice. And I totally destroyed my first score. By doing singles the entire way. I did singles on the Tosa bar, and I’m someone who by Max unbroken set atossa bar is his it used to be at least in the 40s. Right. So doing singles felt like I was just totally wasting my time. But sure enough, it gave me more stamina on the double unders double unders for easy and then it gave me you know, it gave me some gusto when I finally got to those heavy barbells. Right. So as crazy as it sounds, I would always err on the side of much smaller sets, just reduce the rest time. So I’d rather see someone do sets of three, and then take one breath and hop back up on the bar, then someone do sets of seven. But they’re sitting there looking at the clock and finding chalk and doing a little mini lap contemplating their decision forever doing CrossFit. He’s like, that is not what you want. You want to it’s all about efficiency. So trim down the rest times, keep your sets consistent, do them a lot smaller than you normally would. And a lot of times, you’re gonna actually see a much better score on the leaderboard.

Misbah Haque  37:32

How do you handle rest time? How do you figure out, you know, for a given workout, like, Okay, I’m gonna take three breaths between every set of five that I do for wall balls, or if we’re talking to spar, for example, I’m gonna take that one breath, and I’m gonna hop back up, because you definitely got to be disciplined with it once you kind of pick it. So how do you pick the right rest interval? I guess?

Ben  37:55

That’s kind of, it’s hard to necessarily pick an exact one that’s kind of dependent on the workout. Yeah, it depends on the workout and the movement. Like for instance, if I said, Okay, take one breath in between each muscle up. It’s like, wait, what? Yeah, you know, that’s gonna be tough for people. So I’d say it depends. But I want to use breath as an example, which I’m so glad you did, because I would have forgotten about it otherwise, but Rich Froning. Again, I have a super big, you know, man crush on this guy, as probably most people do. He counts his breaths. I don’t care what anybody says. But like, actually have a video again on YouTube saying, you know, rich, Froning secret. And he counts his breaths. And that’s all there is to it. He is He looks like a robot because his rest intervals are exactly the same in between each, you know, set or in between each rep. And the reason is, he literally will sit there. Let’s say he’s doing sets of five touch and go 185 Cleaning jerks. He’ll do a set of five, and then it’ll drop and it will take three breaths and it’ll pick up the bar, do another set of five, drop the bar, Take three breaths, get back on it. So instead of trying to count seconds, just count your breaths. Yeah, and most of us are humans. So we can’t necessarily do one breath or even three breaths. But heck, five breaths. Even though it seems like a long time and in the beginning, you’re gonna be like five breaths. Are you freaking kidding me? I you know, I could have done so many more reps. If you can actually stay disciplined to five breaths or four breaths in between these, you know, hypothetical sets of whatever, then you’re when it comes time to the end of the workout, you’re actually going to be much better off than someone who started off with you know, big unbroken sets and then they started turning into five reps, 15 seconds, rest, five reps, 30 seconds rest, five reps. 35 seconds rest, right. You don’t want to be that. So having a game plan, playing around with it too. If you start the workout and you’re like, Man, I don’t know if I can maintain three breaths in between each set. That’s okay, bump it to four, like just just bumping it up one and then stay disciplined to that number, the rest of the workout is so, so huge. There is a workout. Man, I’m forgetting all the numbers, of course, I believe it was 15.4. Okay, that was where there was a big set of toes, the bar in the beginning was Calibri bow, or there might have been 14.4 14.4. Here, I think it was sport 14.4. A bigger set of rows than a big set of toes of our 50 Tosa bar, a lot of people flew through those Tosa bars. But if you were disciplined, and you did a set of five, five seconds rest, it seemed like a long time, but it saved you for the end. So that is a perfect example of just like having a game plan saying, Hey, I’m gonna roll straight through, I’ll make sure I don’t get above this calories per hour, I’m going to do my total bar in sets of five with a five second break in between each set, or a five breath break in between each set. And then eventually there was power cleans, right. So for the powerful, perfect example, do a single and then take three deep breaths, do a single three deep breaths, do a single three deep breaths, that’s a lot better than single breath, single breath, single 22nd, break, single 15 second break, single, you sit down on the floor. So you want to stay consistent, the more you can stay consistent, consistent, the better everything’s gonna add up.

Misbah Haque  41:30

I really like that concept of using your breath for even mobility movements, right? So anytime you’re mobilizing, instead of saying, I’m going to do this for 30 seconds, and you kind of just chest breathe the whole time. It’s more beneficial, in my opinion, to be like, Alright, I’m gonna take 10 breaths here. And when we kind of translate that to what we’re talking about, right now, when you know that you’ve got three breaths, or five breaths before you have to pick something back up, you’re much more likely to actually take deeper breaths as well, which we know is fairly important when you are in a workout like that, and you’re trying to keep a very calm state.

Ben  42:06

Absolutely, yeah, that’s a great point. I mean, I think breaths, not only do they remind you to, oh, I should probably be controlling these things. Because if your breath is like that, guess what, three breaths lasts a lot less, and you’re not getting as much oxygen. But if you’re like, oh, I have three breaths. I’m gonna take some nice, deep breaths. It’s kind of a win win situation. Same thing goes for the mobility side of things. 

Misbah Haque  42:32

How about warmups? How do you kind of handle it? You know, how do you approach a warm up for specific workouts? Are they different, depending on the type of workout it is? Give us some tips there.

Ben  42:45

They’re very, very different, I tend to send out warm ups specific to the workout. So as a general rule, I always have the same routine, I’ll hop on a rower or a bike or even go for a light jog for like three or four minutes, then I hit some generalized mobility, some air squats, some banded past shoulder pass throughs, I like using a band instead of a PVC pipe, some caustic squats, just all the general stuff that I do every morning when I wake up. But then when it comes to preparing for the workout, instead of giving you an exact template, I’ll talk about some theory behind it. And hopefully people can apply this is think about your transitions, right? That is huge. And that’s what I want you to practice in warmup. So skill work is really important. And then also transitions making sure everything is set up properly, you would have I mean, it would blow your mind how many people waste just precious seconds, minutes of open workout time, because they didn’t prepare adequately. So like if there’s, if there’s a workout again, let’s just keep the theme going? Well, you 16.2 You have a Tosa bar, you have double unders and you have a barbell for the cleans. Okay. So make sure that everything is in order, make sure that you know that when you drop off the toes, the bar, you only have a couple steps before you need to pick up your rope. The rope should be laid in a position where you don’t have to sit there and untangle it. You should have a piece of chalk between the rope and the barbell so that a seamless transition can be made. And you don’t have to turn back around and say, Hey, where’s the chalk bucket? Right? So you just have to think about these things. And then once you’re done with the cleans and it’s time to go back to the toaster bar, you know, have an idea. Am I going to get chalk? Or am I going to pass it up and go straight back to the bar. It’s just simple things like that. Practice those transitions. So hypothetically, let’s say a warm up for that workout would be, you know, five toes to bar or actually practice five single Tosa bar in this instance. 20 double unders if double unders are easy for you And then three singles on your cleans something like that at a slightly heavier weight than the first barbell. Alright, just hypothetically Yeah, I would do that maybe three or four times and just practice, hey, this is what it’s going to feel like, I’m going to hop off, hop off the toes to bar, I’m going to take a couple steps, I’m going to pick up my rope, it’s going to be in perfect position for me to knock out some double unders. I’m remembering to breathe, here’s what it feels like when I hop up to the bar to do my cleans. And that just just really seamless transitions. The more you practice them, the more you engrave those sorts of things into your mind and in your muscle memory, it’s just going to make it so much easier. And you’ll notice things like Oh, when I try to hang the chalk bucket from the pool up bar, and the pull up rig is shaking, the chalk bucket is going to fall off, and it’s going to make a total mess. You know, again, it’s just like don’t do things differently. Just make sure everything has some logic surrounding it. And then another little tidbit I’d like to add is it is difficult for people to over warm up, right, and evolve. I say that and of course all these thoughts are coming to my head, like I know that person warmed up way too much. But at least my, what I used to feel like is like, Oh, I don’t want to do anything before the workout, I want to save all my energy for the workout. And that really only applies if it is a really, really long workout. Like, for instance, 16.1, the 20 minute AMRAP didn’t really need to have too much warm up there just maybe some mobility for those overhead walking lunges, right. But if it’s like a seven minute burner workout, you need to get your heart rate up and be a little bit sweaty, before you go into the workout. Yeah, before you go into the workout, or else you’re just going to be hit by a brick wall when you try to go from zero to 100. So again, it’s all very strategic, but I would say shorter, quicker workouts, make sure you get your blood pumping before going into the workout. The longer ones the grinders, I mean, last year was the first year we had a 20 minute AMRAP those workouts, you can be more mobility focused less, you know, energy focus, you know, really, really just do a lot of mobility. And then don’t worry at around six minutes, and you’ll be pretty dang warm and you still got 14 minutes to go. So that’s kind of how I would approach it.

Misbah Haque  47:25

And so we’ve been talking, you know, game plan right this whole time. But is there anything that we’re kind of missing in terms of developing a game plan for a workout, just some essentials that you feel like come to the top of your head?

Ben  47:39

I would say when it comes to a game plan, simply having one is honestly one of the most important thing. So I like to be strategic. And I will actually write down my game plan on a little whiteboard, or on a chalkboard or whatever. And I’ll tell my buddy and be like, Hey, this is my game plan. This is what I want to do. Can you hold me accountable to this? That’s your self without self accountability is great. But like I think it’s a Mike Tyson quote, everybody has a plan until they get punched in the mouth, or punch face or whatever. And I kind of want to do it and Mike Tyson accent but I’m not gonna, I’m gonna try. But it’s so perfect. So developing a plan, that’s great. But you have to make sure that you put a plan in place to follow the plan. So have someone keep you accountable, have someone you know, calling out your time. So if you know you want to be at x part of the workout, by blank time, you know, help them keep you accountable for me. I am really good at totally blocking out the world and saying, I’m not gonna listen to you. Right. So I tell my not my judge, because the judge needs to worry about coaching reps, but like I’ll tell my spotter, I guess you could say, hey, when I shake my head and say no, like frickin get in there, like dig in there and like poke me where it hurts. So I actually listened to you, and I stepped up and performed. If this whole passive thing of like, Hey, Ben, good job, keep it up, buddy. Alright, you need to move a little bit faster, you know that I’m not going to respond to that. I’m gonna be like, Okay, great. But if my wife does a really good job with Ben, are you kidding me? Like, what are you doing? Like, let’s go. You need three more reps to catch up to your pace. And you know, and she’ll obviously throw in some other stuff in there and I’ll be like, Okay, time to pick it up.

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