CrossFit Games 16.4 – James Rodda – My Experience


This week we get to hear from the man who provides the arms for CrossFit Portishead – James Rodda.  James has been a member of CrossFit Portishead for 1 year now and is competing in his first Open.  Here’s what he thought of 16.4

Five seconds! Come on, one more!”

My judge for the past 13 minutes is pushing me for one last handstand push-up but my mind and body have given up. I collapse into a crumpled, exhausted heap on the floor to hear the buzzer signal the end of 16.4. You’re probably wondering why on earth I’ve got myself into such a situation. That begins about a year ago…

Crossfit. I think these days, a lot more people have heard of it but even a year back I hadn’t until the box (Crossfit lingo for “gym”) started up and tempted me in for a trial. I had been doing weights at the gym for a good 9 or 10 years and, quite frankly, I was getting a little bit bored of it. Monday chest day, Tuesday legs, etc… I needed a new challenge. So after chatting to James At Crossfit Portishead, I decided to give it a go. The idea behind Crossfit is to do a wide variety of different types of exercise, such as Olympic lifting, bodyweight exercise, and aerobic exercise, at varying intensities in order to improve overall fitness. Some of the moves I was already familiar with; deadlifts, pull ups, kettlebell swings. Others were totally new to my routine; clean and jerk, muscle-ups, wall balls. Over the course of the following year though, I got stuck in and found the constant challenge thoroughly enjoyable.

So, fast forward a year and I arrive at my first Open. Five workouts spread over five weekends that pit every Crossfitter in the world against one another in a battle of the mind, body and soul. What’s not to like? Well, usually the workouts themselves actually! This week I was to take on 16.4: a grueling 13 minute amrap (as many rounds as possible) of 55 100kg deadlifts, 55 9kg wall balls, a 55 calorie row and 55 handstand push-ups. Mere mortals like myself would be happy to reach the HSPUs but the real elites will be hitting their second set of wall balls. Time to see what I can deliver.

As I arrive at the box I genuinely feel nervous. I know what’s coming up and, whilst I can deadlift over double the prescribed weight, one thing I’ve learnt from Crossfit is that you should never underestimate a workout! 16.4 would prove to be no exception. After setting up the equipment and giving each movement a few practice reps, it’s time. “3…2…1. Go!” First ten deadlifts sailed past with no problems. I decided beforehand to split my deadlifts into 10s and have a good 5 seconds between each set; it’s far too easy to go out too quickly and burnout, leaving you with nothing in the tank. The second and third sets came and went without any problem. Midway through the 40s I start to feel it in my lower back. My breathing was still OK so I focused on that and made sure I squeezed my glutes! As I ground out the final 5 reps, I suddenly realised what I was in for… I dropped the bar and turned round to start the wall balls, managing to waddle the few steps towards the wall. I picked up the ball and employed the same tactic of splitting into 10s. It didn’t help. My wall balls were all over the place. James (who had the pleasure of judging my score) thinks I did around 80 wall balls due to repeating no-reps. At one point, I threw the ball directly in the air and caught it again without touching the wall – three times in a row! A splendid waste of time and, more importantly, energy. Somehow though, I got through them and moved onto the rower. My game plan was always to use the row as a bit of recovery and take it fairly easy – thankfully, my body was more than willing to facilitate this! I finished the row with 10:48 on the clock leaving me just over two minutes for the HSPUs. The first two were surprisingly easy but after that, the past 11 and a half minutes took their toll, leaving me mostly on my hands and knees trying to muster up anything whatsoever. Two more laboured reps later and we’re back to the start of this story; with me in a sweaty heap on the floor. 169 reps to the good. Job done.

OK, I admit it. This doesn’t sound very enjoyable. And whilst you’re actually in the midst of it, it’s probably not. But when you finish there’s a definite sense of achievement and the next few days are full of discussions with your fellow athletes, waiting for other’s scores to come in. Crossfit’s “community” is arguably one of its best features and seeing how you compare to 300,000 other athletes is what makes The Open such a great challenge. I’ll certainly be taking part next year and I’m hoping that an additional years worth of training will have a positive impact on my scores. First though, time to tackle 16.5. Wish me luck!