Cole Sager Shares Tips for 19.4

We are already past the halfway point in the 2019 CrossFit Open and the workouts have been as challenging as expected. They have also been very different with various movements and rep ranges. 19.4 was unique in its own right. For those of you that have yet to see it, here’s the summary of the workout.

3 rounds of each movement in consecutive order:

  • 10 snatches (men, 95 lbs on the bar; women, 65 lbs on the bar)
  • 12 bar-facing burpees

After the third round, rest for 3 minutes. 

3 rounds of each movement in consecutive order:

  • 10 bar muscle-ups
  • 12 bar-facing burpees

Time cap: 12 minutes

For modified and scaled versions of this workout, go to games.crossfit.com.

Some of you might be thinking that it would be nice to have some insight and tips on how to maximize your performance on this session so you can submit the best score possible on the CrossFit Games website. Cole Sager is a five-time CrossFit Games athlete and, as of 2018, is the seventh Fittest Man on Earth. He has offered some strategies to help athletes make the most out of their 12-minute commitment.

Don’t Take the Bait

Sager is aware that the instinct is to go at it hard and fast early on but this might backfire. 

“Guys, it’s a trap. Most people can’t even recover efficiently enough to be able to do the bar muscle-ups. Don’t fall for it,” he said. “The first workout can break you if approached wrong. We don’t want to ever redline but should flirt with the line. Know your capabilities. Ask yourself what is your skill level and how quickly can you recover?”

Warm-Up Matters

Aside from cardio to get your heart rate up, this workout is going to involve a lot of shoulder activity. The first tip from Sager is to prepare those shoulder muscles and joints accordingly. “I want you to really warm up your shoulders well before going into this workout so they are loose,” he said.

Snatches

Sager advises that the key to the snatches is doing the best you can to get through it without losing all of your energy early on. “Do manageable sets. If you’re capable of doing them unbroken, then do it. If not, one or two small breaks is ok,” he said.

Burpees

Burpees might be easier to perform in comparison to other movements in the workout, but according to Sager, pace matters here: “Competitors, you are going to want to maximize your abilities on the bar muscle-ups, so pace your burpees appropriately.”

He also shares advice for those who might be doing modified versions of 19.4. “General athletes, the goal is to always keep moving and choose your breaks. If you don’t have bar muscle-ups, this is a burpee workout for you. Go hard.”

Rest Period

There is a three-minute rest period, but Sagar suggests you use strategy even when you’re not training. “Focus on bringing your heart rate down,” he said. One way to do this is to slowly take deep breaths, holding it for three to five seconds, and slowly exhaling. 

Bar Muscle-Ups

While competitors are doing bar muscle-ups in the second half of the workout, modified versions include either chest to bar pull-ups or regular pull-ups. Regardless of the version that athletes select, Sager’s tip here is the same: You shouldn’t continue to the point of being unable to perform another rep. 

“Choose your breaks carefully,” he said. “Don’t go to failure.” 

Stop when you feel you have one or two more left in the tank and recover before continuing. Don’t push it unless you’re near the end of the time cap and need the reps.

Final Burpees

Obviously, this is the home stretch and if you’re on the third round then you have to finish strong. Sager knows that this is when you give all you have left to give. “Sell your soul on the final set of burpees.”

For more tips and advice from Cole Sager, check out his Instagram and his YouTube page where he has shared tips on past Open workouts. 


Roger Lockridge is from Lewisburg, West Virginia. His work has been featured on numerous platforms and magazines in the fitness industry over the last 10 years. You can find him on Twitter and Instagram @rocklockridge.

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