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Fight  Gone Bad (FGB) is what many call the toughest Crossfit WOD. I agree  that it is among the most difficult. I hope to give you a method by  which you can deconstruct the 17 minute hell modeled after an MMA fight  gone terribly wrong. See this video for an explanation of the WOD and  how it got its name. Fight Gone Bad is a three round workout with a  minute of rest between rounds. Five relatively light movements are each  performed for a minute. Exercises include wall-ball, sumo deadlift  high-pull, box jump, push-press, and row. All moves are scored for reps,  except for rowing, which is instead scored for calories. I will go  through the workout and discuss a strategy to maximize your score in  this WOD. Please note that this is a strategy to post a higher FGB  score, not necessarily to increase the amount of work you do during this  WOD.

To  begin, a note on the order of exercises. The order is prescribed as  listed above, but many of you will do this WOD in a group setting that  will not allow you to order your exercises this way. The ordering as  prescribed is preferable for several reasons. You start with wall-ball  which is a good general full body movement to start the heart rate  going. This move does not cause much localized muscle fatigue and each  exercise that follow wall-ball gets progressively more specific. Sumo  deadlift high-pulls are a full body exercise, but they have a strong  emphasis on the shoulders, forearms, and traps to complete the pull to  the chin. Box jumps work the legs very hard, less so the upper body.  Push-presses fatigue the shoulders more than any of the other exercises  fatigue their emphasized muscle groups. Finally the athlete comes to the  rower. The rower takes time to get in and out of, as you have to reset  the screen and get your feet in and out of the straps. If you row last,  you can get out of the straps during your rest minute, and you don’t  have to worry about the dismount cutting into your time for the next  exercise. If you cannot use the prescribed order, use the notes about  each of the exercises below and your knowledge of your strengths and  weaknesses to determine where you should start.

The  first prescribed exercise in FGB is wall-ball. This exercise has a long  range of motion (ROM), starting with a full squat and ending with a  full overhead extension. While the athlete is moving a relatively light  load (20lbs for men and 14lbs for women), the accuracy component of the  exercise places a large demand on the athlete’s metabolic capacity. To  wall-ball well, you must make sure that you are throwing and catching  the ball in rhythm. Stand about 2-2.5 away from the wall; any closer and  it will be hard to throw the ball vertically enough to hit your target;  any further and it will be difficult to throw the ball horizontally  enough to hit your target and still catch the ball without reaching for  it. Rack the ball at your chest in front of your face without covering  your field of vision. Looking up at the target, squat the ball down and  explode out of the bottom, using your hip drive on the way up to propel  the ball towards the target. Keep your arms extended and your eye on the  ball as it leaves your hands, hits the target and descends. Catch the  ball as high as possible, and let it carry you down into the squat as  you descend for the next rep. Repeat. Proper rhythm will keep your  breathing controlled, as you will not be wasting energy chasing the ball  after each throw.

The  next move is the sumo deadlift high-pull (SDHP). This move is a similar  distance of ROM as the wall-ball, and is equally difficult, for  different reasons.  The SDHP causes more localized  muscle fatigue in the forearms, traps, and posterior and lateral  deltoids than the wall-ball causes in any one area. The SDHP uses a  greater load than the wall-ball (75 vs 20lbs), but does not have the  same accuracy component, as you are not throwing and catching an  external object. Instead of accuracy, the SDHP emphasizes coordination.  The legs and hips must extend before the shoulder and then the arms pull  the bar to the chin Make sure you keep your pulls efficient by  beginning the movement with your hips to “popping” the bar up instead of  using your arms to pull the bar. On the pull portion of the move, keep  your elbows high in order to keep a neutral wrist and engage the upper  back and shoulder muscles completely.

Box  jumps are equally as difficult as the SDHPs and the wall-balls. They  are taxing on your breathing and require some accuracy. Because each rep  requires such explosive force, box jumps cause fatigue quickly, both in  the leg muscles and the general cardiovascular system. The accuracy  component involves making sure that your land squarely on the box. If  you land too far back, with just your toes touching the box, it is  difficult to come to full hip extension. If you land too far forward,  you will have to jump backwards to clear the box on the way down. This  extra backwards energy is an additional tax on your cardiovascular  system. When box-jumping for reps, try to use the stretch reflex created  by jumping up and down to quickly cycle reps. When you hit the ground,  your muscles are stretched and ready to spring again. Land on the balls  of your feet and immediately jump again. If you rock back onto your  heels and pause between each jump, you lose some of this elasticity and  rob yourself of easier reps.

When  doing FGB for a best score, the Push-Press is the place to plan to do  the most damage. The push press has the shortest range of motion of all  the exercises in the workout. Since you have to move the same load as  the SDHP much less distance (from the top of your chest to full lockout  vs. from the floor to your chin), it is assumed that you will be able to  do more reps. As in the box jump, it is best to use the stored elastic  energy in the balls of your feet to drive the reps (Robb Wolf http://robbwolf.com/?p=90).  For heavier reps, you should start the drive with the heel, but for  high reps (exceeding 20 in one effort), you can use the stored elastic  energy to increase your cycle time.

Rowing  should be planned for as “active rest.” It takes much more effort to  row 25 calories in a minute than it does to do 25 push-presses or any of  the other exercises for that matter. Pick a set number to maintain  across rounds and do not deviate from it more than a few calories. Use a  high (7-10) damper setting, as you are only rowing for a short time. On  most cardio machines, such as treadmill or an exercise bike, an athlete  will only think about time, distance, and the combination of these two  metrics, speed. When rowing for calories in FGB, we need to think in  terms of power, making sure we maximize each stroke. Pick a strokes per  calorie ratio and use that ratio to reach your goal per round. Heavy,  tall, and conditioned athletes might work up to a one calorie per stroke  ratio. Lighter, shorter, less conditioned athletes will want to shoot  for a ratio of one calorie per 2 or 3 strokes. Make sure you have  practiced getting in and out of the foot straps, as this transition will  slow you down. You can also learn to dig your heels into the bottom of  the stirrup to secure your feet without the use of the straps.

At  the intensity FGB is performed, rest minutes are absolutely essential.  Lying down during rest can slow your respiration and heart rate  significantly. An athlete will not grow “cold” in a minute’s time, but  if you do lay down for part of your rest minute, make sure you stand up  and physically and mentally prep for each new round about 10 seconds  before starting. You should have hydrated before FGB, so it may not be  necessary to drink water, and it is not recommended to drink more than  just a little fluid if you have a sensitive stomach (more liquid may  make for more projectile vomiting). There is also a way to sneak some  rest during each round; if you have planned the workout correctly, you  may be able to finish your chosen number of reps early in each minute  and take a quick breather in between exercise stations.

When  planning scores for each exercise in each round, athletes should set  realistic and informed score goals. Athletes should plan to do the same  number of wall-balls, SDHPs, and box jumps in each round, based on their  relatively equal difficulty. This number will decrease over rounds. The  number of reps of wall-balls, SDHPs, and box jumps within a round may  deviate somewhat based on each athlete’s strengths and weaknesses, but  the scores should be pretty close within each round. Plan to do a  relatively large number of push presses each round, with the amount  decreasing over each round as you fatigue. Plan to do the same number of  rowing calories each round, as this will be your active rest. Plan  these scores ahead of time and stick to them; you don’t need to be  worrying about the number of reps averaging out in the middle of the  workout.

STRENGTH Front Squats x 20 Loading

Wall Ball


Box Jumps

Push Press

Row for Calories




  1. Thanks Shawn for pushing me through!!!

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