13.3 Strategy & Tips
Ahhhhh… I love this one. Lot’s to talk about, let’s get right to business. I’m going to break this into sections so it will be a little easier to digest. Here we go:
>>Have a strategy and stick to it. The Wall Balls ARE NOT the crux of this piece. If you are too aggressive with them you will utterly fail on the Muscle-Ups, which ARE the crux of the piece. Last year we did many different tests with this one, especially on the Wall Balls. They must be paced well, and performed calmly. We got the timing down pretty closely, and had many of our athletes use our plan with great success. For men, the cadence of a Wall Ball shot is almost the same across the board. The only real differing factors are height, and speed of the squat (everything is everything). On the men’s side, almost across the board, 30 Wall Balls take roughly 1:00. For women, on the 9′ target, height plays far more of a roll than it does for the men. Ideally on the women’s side, due to the distance traveled with the lower target, 30 Wall Balls take roughly 0:45. However, this is based on a 5’7″ woman with normal reach. A smaller woman will end up in the 0:50-0:55 range because the ball will end up traveling roughly the same distance that it will for the men (85-95″ per rep). The only caveat is that women who are accustomed to using a 10′ target will have a distinct advantage when metabolic demand is factored in; if nothing else, it will “feel” easier. Here’s our most effective pacing strategies:
1) 4 sets of 25, then sets of 20, 20, 10 with exactly 10 seconds rest. This was, by far, the most successful on 12.4. This ends up being roughly a 5:45 Karen. It is a difficult pace to hold, but if you’re good at the movement, it should leave you feeling fresh for the rest of the effort. If and only IF you are great at Wall Ball (Jason Hoggan would be an example), you can make the opening set a full 50 reps, and cut your overall time to 5:30. The likelihood, however, is that you’re not as good as Jason (4:51 UB Karen).
2) 10 sets of 15 with exactly 10 seconds rest. This was used quite a bit also, especially for those of you who don’t love Wall Ball, and have a tendency to burn out on bigger sets. This ends up being roughly a 6:30 Karen. I would recommend this pace for anyone who knows they will struggle a bit with the Muscle-Ups, or for those that, again, aren’t the best at Wall Ball. These are basically 0:40 intervals, that will allow the legs to flush, and should keep the heart rate relatively low. If you choose to use this pacing, I would recommend catching the ball after the last rep, and resting against the wall with your chest pressed into it and your arms at your side. This will limit the amount of times you have to pick up the ball, and will insure that your shoulders can rest as much as possible.
>Wear your Weightlifting shoes. The purpose of WL shoes is to raise the heel, and add more ROM to the ankle. This gives the person wearing them the ability to squat with a torso position that is as vertical as possible. Good Wall Balls require an extremely vertical torso, therefore, the WL shoes would give the athlete the biggest advantage. I know that many of you will complain about doing Double-Unders in WL shoes. Honestly, at this point, I would hope that this wouldn’t be an issue. The advantage gained from them is far greater than the detriment on either the Double-Unders or Muscle-Ups.
>Don’t limit your Squat. Yes, intuitively it would make sense to squat barely below parallel to limit extra ROM. This, however, means that the athlete has to actively control and slow the eccentric phase of the squat, and therefore will accumulate more fatigue then they would if they simply fell to the bottom of the squat, and allowed the SSC (Stretch Shortening Cycle) to propel them concentrically. This means that if you’ve been doing your HBBS and Front Squats properly—load, fall, recoil—you should be able to use the exact same style of squat that you’ve practiced. Finally, I would also recommend the use of whatever sleeves or other compression gear you use when squatting (except for belts). Read this: Spencer Arnold on the Application of the Squat.
>Try to move through as calmly and precisely as possible. I know there isn’t much strategy here, but these are, for some, a huge source of fatigue and worry. Frantically picking up the rope and trying to rush to start will not make these easy. I would recommend calmly walking to the rope, taking a few seconds to set your hands perfectly, then taking at least two deep breaths before starting. Most of you know it is much harder to start DU again after stopping. Clean sets of 60-30, 50-40, or 30-30-30 (or simply unbroken), with a few breaths in between, should allow for the least energy expenditure, and the quickest times. Jason Hoggan did 50-40 last year in just over a minute, and was relatively fresh moving to the rings.
>Don’t bite off more than you can chew. What I mean by this is, even if you have a massive set of unbroken Muscle-Ups, you will need to be far more conservative here. If you have 15 plus UB, plan on a first set of 5-7. If you have 12-15 UB, plan on a first set of 3-5. When your respiration is elevated, and you’re in a state of muscular fatigue, it is more important to use small/conservative sets, then to miss and waste valuable time and energy. A missed MU is one of the most costly misses in the sport, it wastes at least 15-20 seconds, and takes a massive mental and physical toll on the athlete. I would even recommend simply getting a set of two reps immediately, to allow your body to recover a bit cardiovascularly, and prime the change in movement pathway.
>Singles may be the answer. This morning I spoke to Alex Tubbs, who was 20th in the world on 12.4, and won the North Central Region with a score of 281 reps. Alex told me that he did ALL of his MU as singles. He said he would do one, drop down immediately, reach right back up, and only broke for chalk every five reps. He felt that after the abuse that the arm extensors took on the Wall Ball, that he didn’t want the eccentric fatigue of lowering back through the dip. We tested this method for 12.4, and found that quick singles were only 3-5 seconds slower for a set of ten reps. There is a huge drawback, however: if you rely heavily on the momentum of the swing that carries over after the first rep, this style will certainly make your reps harder. I would only recommend singles for those of you who have a short swing, and can re-grip the rings quickly.
>Watch the clock. Muscle-Ups, in my experience, are the most over-rested and dilly-dallied (for lack of a better term) on movement in our sport. I can’t give exact rest intervals because everyone will be on a different rep scheme, and in a different state of fatigue, but I will say: make sure you try to limit yourself to a specific rest interval every time you come off the rings. Whatever it is, stick to it. Also, it doesn’t take thirty seconds to chalk up—get back to the rings!
1) EMOM for 5 minutes:
2 1 & 1/4 Front Squats @ 50%
2) EMOM for 5 minutes:
2 Push Press @ 50%
3) 3 rounds of:
*Notes: Limit transition time as much as possible. Chalk hands before beginning DU to allow for a faster transition.