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“Blackjack”

verified

aka: "Twenty-One," Benchmark WOD

57.3K 3.6K
  • For Time
  • 20 Push-Ups, 1 Sit-Up
  • 19 Push-Ups, 2 Sit-Ups
  • 18 Push-Ups, 3 Sit-Ups
  • ...continue this pattern until...
  • 2 Push-Ups, 19 Sit-Ups
  • 1 Push-Up, 20 Sit-Ups

With a running clock, as fast as possible complete the prescribed work in the order written. Each round totals 21 reps (Push-Ups descending from 20, Sit-Ups ascending from 1) for a total of 420 reps in the workout.

Score is the time on the clock when the last set of Sit-Ups is completed.

Tips and Strategy

Push-Ups will be the crux of this workout. Break the reps up into small sets from the beginning—even if the athlete feels fresh—to avoid burnout in the later rounds. Never go to failure on the Push-Ups. And beware: it might seem like a good idea to go fast in the Sit-Ups to make up time, but if the athlete goes too fast, the core will be too taxed to perform the requisite number of Push-Ups. Keep the pace moderate throughout to be successful in “Blackjack.”

Intended Stimulus

“Blackjack” is all about muscular fatigue and overload. The athlete should feel severely taxed in the upper body and core. The challenge: Find the balance between achieving a great score and burning out before the work is done.

Scaling Options

Scale the volume (total number of reps) and/or the skill level of the Push-Ups (see: Push-Up Scaling) to move smoothly throughout the workout. Long rests won’t allow the athlete to achieve adequate hypertrophy (muscle growth). Suggested rule of thumb for “Blackjack”: If the athlete can’t currently perform 20 unbroken Push-Ups, the movement should be scaled.

Beginner (A)
For Time
20 Knee Push-Ups, 1 Sit-Up
19 Knee Push-Ups, 2 Sit-Ups
18 Knee Push-Ups, 3 Sit-Ups
…continue this pattern until…
2 Knee Push-Ups, 19 Sit-Ups
1 Knee Push-Up, 20 Sit-Ups

Beginner (B)
For Time
15 Push-Ups, 1 Sit-Up
14 Push-Ups, 2 Sit-Ups
13 Push-Ups, 3 Sit-Ups
…continue this pattern until…
2 Push-Ups, 14 Sit-Ups
1 Push-Up, 15 Sit-Ups

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namesake photo

Background: The “Blackjack” benchmark WOD (aka: “Twenty-One”), named for the card game, can be done with any two movements, but Push-Ups and Pull-Ups are the most common.

We’re not able to determine the original source of this workout (if you know, tell us). The oldest mention we’ve found is from Mad Dawg Fitness (Redwood City, CA, USA), who posted “Blackjack” as their workout of the day for December 14, 2007.

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