15.4 Tips and Performance

Posted by Ben Quinney on

Excuse me for a second while I try to contain my excitement…Nope, I can’t do it… I AM SO EXCITED FOR 15.4! I have been waiting for so long to see Handstand Pushups (HSPU) in the Open. And and they’re being paired with heavy Cleans?! AND it’s for only 8-minutes!? Oh my… this is CrossFit at its finest. This one is going to be fun. 

Warm Up

An 8-minute workout means your Warm Up is going to take at least 30-minutes. I want you completely mobilised, slightly sweating, and moving efficiently before that 3, 2, 1, GO!


Spend 5-10 minutes foam rolling Thoracic Spine, Shoulders, Triceps, Hips, and Glutes.

3x20s Banded Shoulder Distraction with internal and external rotation (each side)

2x10 Banded Crab Walks

2x15s Empty Bar Back Rack Hold (push your elbows up high)

3x 8 Sampson Lunge with Torso Twist (each side)

3x12 Russian Kettlebell Swings

Increase Heart Rate

Row or AirDyne for 5-minutes, 21 strokes easy and 7 strokes hard

Practise Movement Patterns

Start with 2x8 Empty Bar Behind-Neck Presses

Then, 3 rounds with :45 rest between rounds:


3 Power Cleans 60/40

Work up to a heavy single Squat Clean (stop at around 90% of 1RM)

Handstand Pushups

- The introduction of a new standard with getting your heels above the mark in the HSPU means you’ll want to have a little bit of practise BEFORE starting this workout. It is very likely that your hand position on the floor will have to change from what you’re use to in order to accommodate that standard, so make sure you’ve become comfortable with it first.

- The volume of HSPU in this workout is huge, so even if you’re a Bodyweight Ninja, don’t even think about doing these strict. Kip from the start and save your shoulders for those bigger sets later on.

- Similarly, break up your reps relatively early into manageable chunks and for the love of the CrossFit Gods DO NOT GO TO FAILURE! Stop 3-4 reps shy of failure, kick down and shake out the arms, then back up for a couple more reps.

- Keep your feet together and point your toes toward the floor. The standard is heels above the line, so by pointing your toes you’ll give yourself and extra couple of centimetres height. Same with the feet, if they spray out you’ll begin limiting your range of motion – even if you’re locked out at the elbows – keep them together with toes pointed to maximise your height against the wall.


- 84kg and 57kg aren’t light weights, but you’re going to want to Power Clean these as much as possible for efficiency’s sake over a Squat Clean. There are only two times in this workout where you should Squat Clean – 1. The weight is above your 1RM Power Clean, and 2. You’re right at the end of the 8-minutes and you’re shoulders are cooked past the point of being able to Power Clean anymore.

- Go singles from the start. Ride the barbell down and pick it straight back up for the next rep. Contrary to popular belief, it’s holding on the barbell eccentrically that’s going to wreck you a lot faster than doing the actually lifting of the barbell.   

Conclusion and General Tips

- Your pace will be dictated by your weakness. If you’re a Bodyweight Ninja, you’ll want to rest a few seconds between Cleans to make sure you don’t miss a rep then make up time on the HSPU. If you’re a Barbell Beast, take your time on the HSPU and break them in to smaller chunks, then get the Cleans out of the way so you can continue to chip at the HSPU.

- It gets preached every week but don’t go too hard too early. By that I mean, don’t smash out big chunks of HSPU and don’t touch n’ go the Cleans. When you’re forced to rest it’s going to be for a lot longer than if you had taken your time from the start.

- Have a plan in your head and stick to it. Know when you’re going to break up your HSPU or Cleans, and know how long you’re going to rest between sets. Don’t second guess and change the strategy early only to blow out in the last few minutes.

- Finally, know where you are in your workout! We saw Panchik get caught dropping from his set of 9 HSPU because he lost his bearings. Tell your judge before you start to count your reps out loud and tell you exactly how many reps you need to do at the start of each movement.

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