CrossFit Open 13.4 Advice

13.4 is here – clean and jerk (C+J) and toes to bar (TTB) ladder – 7mins AMRAP.

Here are my initial thoughts, tips, prep and strategies.


Overall impressions:

  • This is a like a 1500m race – feels like forever for slugs like me but for the top guys, this will be a sprint where every dropped bar, every broken toes to bar, and even the transition time will make a difference.
  • I think the Toes to Bar will be a major difference at the top end…this is assuming the top end athletes find 135/95lbs relatively easy.
  • Grip endurance is key – consider using a 15kg bar…

Clean and jerk at 135lbs/95lbs

  • Heavy enough for me but will it be heavy enough for those at the top? It is Grace weight which means that if up have a 1:30 grace, you should hit that by 2:30-3:00 (3+6+9+12). That means you have the round of 15 and 18 to get to in the final 4-4:30mins.
  • To hook grip or not? I will be. My grip is weak so the TTB will get me so I will need all the help I can get in getting that bar up :) It may even be worthwhile considering using the 15kg bar to give your hands a different grip range…
  • Lastly, the longer you can pump out the multiple reps, the better.


  • Shoulders: make sure your shoulders at the back are freed up so you can get into front rack efficiently. Stretch out your median, ulnar and radial nerves. Make sure your lats, pecs, serratus anterior and external obliques are freed up so you can lock out overhead and avoid a no-rep!
  • Neck and Back: Please keep your back and neck flat and still in your cleans. This will help prevent the repetitive strain soreness I will no doubt be dealing with after Easter. Keeping your back straight will be hard because TTB encourages flexion in your spine. If your face is parallel to the wall in your setup for cleans, IT IS A WEAK POSITION. Keep the distance from your chin to your sternum the same height. If you let your chin poke out, you will put the anterior muscles in a position that is hard to generate force from.
  • Hips and knees: – most people can power clean this weight – so while you won’t go into a full squat, make sure your hips are freed up. In your power clean catch position, let the hips take the weight into the back of the hip. This will help spare your hip flexors in the TTB.
  • Forearms/arms: – stretch them out. It is too late to develop your grip strength :-/ I suggest you push jerk as the top guys will be pushing 60+ reps of of each exercise and us weaker “enthusiasts” will need all the help we can get. A 15kg bar has a different grip size which may be useful.


Toes To Bar:

  • Like the box jumps, this may be where the top athletes come undone. The longer you can maintain unbroken reps, the better.
  • Make sure, especially if you are being filmed, that you meet the standards.


- Shoulders: The prep for the C+J should be good. Get some kips in to free the shoulders up but the best TTB don’t swing around too much – Jessica Coughlan’s 21, 21, 11-10 unbroken in last year’s regionals is still fresh in my memory!

- Neck and Back: Try to keep your head aligned and watch for excessive lumbar extension if you have a sore back. Hollow rocks, Wall walks etc will activate the positions you should hit.

- Hips and knees: The warm up for cleans should be good enough. Make sure you can maximise the hips flexion component as this will spare your back from repeated flexion and extension…and thus soreness!

- Forearms/arms: Grip will be difficult to maintain. Between rounds, move those fingers and work those callouses


Good luck everyone. I am about to do it in about 90mins time so if I have any further insights, I will pass them on :)

Until then, stay safe :)

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