Men’s Health Publish Article Attacking Open Workout 19.3

CrossFit Inc is well accustomed to having it’s methodology criticised. From the NSCA to Jillian Michaels, there is never really a respite before the next attack is launched. The most recent came from 

“Opinion: If You’re Smart, You’ll Skip CrossFit 19.3”

The main thrust of Samuel’s argument went as follows: 

“Here’s what 19.3 does: It attempts to fatigue the most delicate joint in your body, then it tests that joint in a brand new position that’s nobody could prepare for, that some CrossFit boxes don’t even train, and that half the population isn’t ready for: The strict handstand pushup. CrossFit regularly trains the kipping handstand pushup. The strict handstand pushup? That’s another matter entirely.

You’re in a dangerous position to start 19.3. Well before reaching the handstand pushups, guys hoist a single 50-pound dumbbell overhead, hold it there, and lunge 200 meters. You can switch the weight between hands at any time, but regardless of that, you have a hefty amount of weight above your shoulders for a sustained period of time.”

“Why is that bad? Because most humans, courtesy of desk jobs and a variety of other issues, can’t even find the overhead position correctly.”

In case you needed reminding (which I’m sure your don’t), The 19.3 workout went as follows:

CrossFit Open Workout 19.3

10 mins to complete

  • 200ft Overhead dumbbell lunge
  • 50 dumbbell box step ups
  • 50 strict handstand push ups
  • 200ft handstand walk


35-lb. dumbbell, 20-in. box 
Time cap: 10 minutes


50-lb. dumbbell, 24-in. box 
Time cap: 10 minutes

Samuel continued:

“Do you know how to safely hoist and hold a 50-pound dumbbell overhead while controlling that ribcage flair? Do you pull your shoulder blade and shoulder complex down to do that? Or do you keep pushing up? And does it matter, since you’re going to work to a nasty fatigue point? Because here’s what people do when they get fatigued: They revert to their most natural mechanics. Oh, and those mechanics break down and get sloppy, too.

Shoulder can’t take it? Well, if you’re keeping that dumbbell up high, something else will take the brunt of the work. So you’ll arch through your mid-back (your thoracic spine) or, worse, you may arch your lower back. CrossFit 19.3 offers two zones for this nightmarish positioning: The overhead lunges at the beginning and the handstand pushups later on.

And a secret about overhead positions: If you can’t find them properly and you start arching through the upper back and lower back, you create plenty of back and spine issues, too.”

He concluded:

“The weakness of CrossFit has long been an inability to marry that creativity to smarts and safety. Single workouts rarely consider anterior/posterior balance, fail to consider the risks of overhead pressing (hey, look at 19.3!), and don’t understand the sheer stupidity of the American kettlebell swing (but that one’s another column). And 19.3 is a programmed shoulder nightmare waiting to happen.”

What do you think about his views? Write a comment below and let us know.

All quoted text from “Opinion: If You’re Smart, You’ll Skip CrossFit 19.3”, by Men’s Health

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