19.3: The Ultimate Guide to CrossFit Open

The CrossFit Open 19.3 workout is the true definition of a chipper. Athletes will grind it out through overhead dumbbell lunges, dumbbell box step-ups, strict handstand push-ups, and handstand walks in under ten minutes.

This poses the question: what is the best strategy for surviving a workout which pulls in four different shoulder-intensive movements in a small amount of time?

The CrossFit Open 19.3 Workout

With a ten-minute time cap:

  • 200-foot overhead dumbbell lunge (50/35 lbs.)
  • 50 dumbbell box step ups (24/20-inch box)
  • 50 strict handstand push ups
  • 200-foot handstand walk

Overhead Dumbbell Lunge Strategy and Tips

What’s important here is that you make sure to maximize every step. Use the old adage, “every step counts.” If you have to take an extra half-second and reach just a little bit further to ensure your foot crosses the line on your last rep of the distance, do it.

Dave Castro has given us a huge benefit on this: his rules and movement standards do not require you to lock your arm out over your head. Be confident (but friendly) in having a conversation with the judge if they try to call you for letting your elbow bend. All that matters is if you keep the dumbbell over your head.

The rules allow you to switch arms if you feel fatigue creeping up in your shoulder. In fact, this is recommended at the end of each length, considering how shoulder-intensive this workout is. It’ll save time if you do this proactively instead of dropping the dumbbell and having to pick it up again.

Dumbbell Box Step-Up

This workout is a wolf in a wolf’s clothing. Castro specifically picked a seemingly-innocent leg movement for two reasons. First, it keeps at least one of your arms above your heart at all times. This continues to drive the shoulder fatigue we’ve been discussing. Second, while this glute-taxing movement isn’t as hard on the shoulders, it engages the lower half of your body. When lactic acid builds up in your muscles, your body tries to whisk it away to other muscle groups. Your legs are the single best muscle group for breaking that lactic acid down. If your legs are fatigued from the first two movements, there’s no place for the lactic acid buildup in your shoulders to go.

Long story short: the lunges and box step-ups make it harder for you to do your shoulder exercises. Because of that, the single best thing you can do is use this movement to let your shoulders relax. Instead of supporting the weight in your left or right arm, put it on your back and neck area and only use your shoulders to the dumbbell there.

The only other advice we can give you is that this is a time suck. Just keep moving.

Strict Handstand Push-Up

We immediately learned a tip from watching Lauren Fisher and Alessandra Pichelli at the 19.3 live announcement. Both Fisher and Pichelli went for ten reps in their first attempt. Those fell almost immediately to five reps, then three, then two…

What did we learn? Start with small sets immediately. We recommend five, if you’re capable. Drop it down to three or two and don’t fret about it. We all hate handstand push-ups.

Handstand Walk 19.3 Strategy and Tips

If you’ve made it past the fifty strict handstand push-ups, we deem thee: ‘elite’. Our writer and editor aren’t.

Let’s review. Your body is filled with lactic acid. You’ve been moving for eight-plus minutes. The muscles in your shoulders are telling you it’s physically impossible for them to support your body weight anymore.

Who cares? Let’s do this.

The first attempt at the handstand walk is going to be a shaky, unbalanced hot mess. It’ll work itself out. What’s important is that you get inverted and maximize time to the best of your ability.

Even if you’re a long-time pro, you’re probably going to be better off doing these in give-foot increments. Get past the line, pup back up, and take a shoulder break. You’re better off preserving your shoulders for a strong finish than trying to finish while unable to invert.

Additional Resources

By Ben Garves

Ben Garves is a digital product expert, author, entertainer, and activist. His portfolio of thought leadership in digital marketing and web experiences has included major clients like Microsoft, Google, Twitter, eBay, and Facebook. He’s also a freelance health and fitness journalist with over 400 stories written since 2018, a podcaster with 200 episodes to his name, and runs a YouTube channel with over 100 fitness and activism-oriented videos and live streams. Ben has founded the Fitness is for Everyone™ initiative to raise awareness about social injustice in both racial inequality and socioeconomic disparity in access to quality fitness and nutrition options around the globe.


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