Wednesday’s Benchmark WOD is “Helen” – 3 rounds for time of 400m run, order 21 Kettlebell swings 53/35, unhealthy 12 pullups. Helen is a classic CrossFit tester, advice I’m pretty sure it was the WOD that was used in one of the first CrossFit competitions in 2003. Greg Amundson did the WOD in just under 10 minutes. The CrossFit world dropped it’s collective jaw in 2007 when James “OPT” Fitzgerald went sub 7 in one of the great CrossFit videos of all time.
Helen is a test of aerobic power and endurance, akin to running a mile and a half a fast as you can – how fast can you go and can you can you hang on.
I have broken this strategy into 3 parts, those of you that have unbroken pullups, those of you that have pullups, but 12 unbroken is not possible and those of you that do not have pullups yet. There will be a 20 minute cap on Helen.
IF YOU HAVE 12 UNBROKEN PULLUPS
For you folks, this is a running WOD. It’s very difficult to make the swings and the pullups any faster than 1 minute, so any time is going to come from running faster. Sorry, very little strategy here – run fast. If you have butterfly pullups, now is the time to use them. If you ever put the kettle bell down you should punch yourself in the face.
IF YOU DO NOT HAVE 12 UNBROKEN PULLUPS
I would include those of you that have 12 pullups but are aware that it may break down after the first round. Unfortunately, your strategy is much the same as the first group – run fast, get through the swings unbroken, and get to the pullups. You may choose any configuration you like: 2 sets of 6, 4 sets of 3, 3 sets of 4, 6 sets of 2, whatever. Just minimize rest and attack the runs.
IF YOU HAVE 1 OR 2 PULLUPS
I recommend doing pullups here, 1 at a time until completion. If possible, set an RX baseline. There is a 20 minute cap, but just think, you should be pretty fresh to run as fast as you can 😉
IF YOU DO NOT HAVE PULLUPS
For scaled pullups, I recommend jumping or banded pullups. The goal here is to move fast, keeping the intensity high. I would lean towards jumping pullups, but talk with a coach to see what plan is best for you.
This is my $.02, and I don’t have a great Helen time (about 8:30 last time I did it, which was admittedly years ago) but I recommend going out fast early and trying to hang on. That means fast, near sprint runs. You will catch your breath on the swings, or at least begin to control your breathing again. Unless you are a gazelle – like Janice, Nick or Vanessa – the runs will get tougher each time, so saving your best for last is damn near impossible. I try to get my best performances on the run early – the first run feels great – the second run is alright, the third run is super tough for me. I try to really attack the beginning of the runs as I come of the pull-up bar and I try to put my hands right on the KB when returning from the run. The transitions here can be your best friend or worst enemy.
I don’t want to give away the surprise, but your grip may be tested here. Like Popeye forearms and you can’t close your hands for 20 minutes.
Workout of the Day
21 Kettlebell Swings 53/35