Jacob Heppner Fist Pumps His Way Through 20.3: Will He Get Away With It?

Oct 27, 2019 by

Moments after the announcement of 20.3 — a revisit to 18.4 and with it the controversial HSPU standards — all eyes (and social media taunts) were on the 6th Fittest Man on Earth, Jacob Heppner. Heppner made clear his plans Sunday to still complete the workout but doing handstand push-ups on his fists instead. 

Flashback to 2018: This workout – moreover the standard of the handstand push-ups (HSPU) with the forearm measurement – was season-ending for Jacob Heppner in 2018. 

  • The standard – and the length of Heppner’s forearms – made it near impossible for him to legally rep out his HSPUs in 2018. His 104 reps on this workout cost him a 22680th position worldwide and with it, a ticket to regionals.

RELATED: Jacob Heppner’s 20.3 Full Video

Jacob Heppner: “You pay to play their game … It doesn’t matter how much I complain … They (CrossFit) make the rules and whether or not we agree with it, it’s their rules,” Heppner said in his recent Youtube video. 

The big picture: Heppner opting to use his fists instead of on his palms presents an interesting debate on whether this type of movement will be accepted by HQ upon review. Heppner himself addresses that his score might be severely penalized if CrossFit chooses to employ the uncommon movement clause. 

  • The uncommon movement clause states:Any movement deemed uncommon, out of the ordinary or used to amend, shorten or change the accepted movement standard or range of motion, including line of action, of any event movement can and will be disallowed.”
  • Also in the rulebook: “Certain athletes with physical limitations in a specific range of motion may be granted an exception, in CrossFit’s sole discretion…such instances are extremely rare and will be dealt with on a case-by-case basis.” 
  • We know that the top 40 overall are being asked for their videos for further review and score verification, but this doesn’t stop HQ from asking for others’ videos. Heppner’s public post has almost certainly made them aware. 
  • Heppner did not pre-clear this movement with CrossFit HQ beforehand. 

How Heppner justifies using his fists:

  1. The standard “doesn’t say palms, it says hands. If you look up the definition of hands, it’s anything from the wrist up,” he said. 
  2. Because the knuckle is measured, he should be able to use it. Heppner used the standard of the burpee to a target in 12.1 as justification. In 2012, the fingertip was measured and it was only the fingertip that had to touch the target. 

What’s next? Heppner’s already hedging his bets by securing two invites to upcoming Sanctionals: Filthy 150 in Dublin, Ireland and Pandaland CrossFit Championship in Chengdu, China. Both competitions are great qualifying opportunities should Heppner fail to qualify through the Open. 

Currently, his score is left blank on the leaderboard so it’s still TBD whether he’ll be able to post a competitive time using his fists. Heppner was 29th going into 20.3.


CrossFit Open

Jacob Heppner



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