18.4 CrossFit® Open Workout Tips from Top Athletes and Coaches

Can you believe we’re already four weeks into the 2018 CrossFit® Open?

Last night, Dave Castro announced CrossFit Open Workout 18.4, which is composed of two descending couplets with a 9-minute time cap. The first couplet is known in the CrossFit community as “Diane”, and the second couplet brings a similar structure to Diane, but with handstand walks replacing the handstand push-ups, along with heavier deadlifts.

If you missed the live announcement, full workout, and face-off between CrossFit Games veterans Scott Panchik and Björgvin K. Guðmundsson, then check out our 18.4 workout article. We’ve also included the full workout below, along with movement standards and tips from multiple top level coaches and athletes.


CrossFit Open Workout 18.4

Start: Athletes start on a 3, 2, 1 countdown before beginning the workout

Time Cap: There is a 9-minute time cap to complete both couplets.


  • Deadlifts (225/155)
  • Handstand Push-ups


  • Deadlifts (315/205)
  • 50 Foot Handstand Walks (25 feet down, 25 feet back)

How to Score: Your score will the be the amount of time it takes you to complete both couplets in the 9-minute time cap, and your score will be your time with no tie breaker.

For athletes who don’t complete the work in the 9-minute time cap and find themselves tied in reps, then they’ll factor the amount of time it took them to complete their second deadlift set as the time tiebreak. The athlete with the lower time wins the tiebreak.

Movement Standards

As always, we highly recommend checking out the movement standards before jumping into the workout. Typically, movement standards don’t change too much from what we’ve seen in prior Open workouts, but it never hurts to look at them again. Plus, this workout includes handstand walks, which is a CrossFit Open workout first.

Deadlifts: The standards for the deadlift are consistent to what CrossFit has used before, but keep in mind bouncing the barbell is not allowed. Also, athletes can set up and use two different barbells for this workout.

Handstand Push-Ups: Prior to starting the workout, the judge must take a measurement from the athlete’s elbow to the top of their middle knuckle as they clinch their fist. Next, a line will be drawn on the wall to determine an athlete’s height (think: standard height measurement). After, the judge will add half the distance from step one to the athlete’s height mark (if the athlete is 72″ and measured 16″ on step 1, then the judge would add 8″ to the 72″ mark for the target line, so 80″).

It’s advised that judges mark the target line with chalk or tape, this way the line can be restored mid-workout if need be. To begin a rep, athletes must have their arms fully locked out and their heels must be above the target line in contact with the wall. The athlete’s head and hands must be level with each other (if you’re using a pad, then find plates that create an equal height), and the head must touch the ground for the rep to count. In addition, the heels must touch the wall above the target line and kipping is allowed.

Handstand Walks: The handstand walk area will be marked with 5-segments breaking the walk up into five parts, along with two separate lanes. Athletes may not walk more than 25-feet without turning around. To begin, athletes must have their hands and feel fully behind the first line. If at any point an athlete comes down, then they’ll go back to the last 5-foot segment they were fully crossed and start from there. Each 5-foot segment counts as one rep.

CrossFit Open Workout 18.4 Tips

Nicole Carroll – Do Not Got to Failure

Caroll starts off by saying that you need to be conscious on how you expend energy in Diane. She recommends avoid going to failure, as this can cause you to rest even longer before the second couplet.

In the second couplet, she says the first set of 21 is going to most likely feel heavier than perceived, so really lock down your mid-line (aka pay attention to your total body tightness).

2. Brooke Ence – Technique Is Everything

CrossFit Games athlete Brooke Ence acknowledges that a lot of athletes will find the second couplet heavy, so she recommends that if this is you to go hard in Diane, then use the extra earned after Diane to really hone in on technique for the heavier deadlifts, and to finish what you can.

Pacing and breaking up your deadlifts in both couplets, especially in the first, will be a big factor to success for a lot athletes. Ence points out that doing so will help save your mid-line, which is going to be needed in every portion of this workout.

3. Cole Sager – Make the Call Beforehand

CrossFit Games athlete Cole Sager states before even beginning Diane, make the call on your goal. He points out that not every athlete will be able to make it to the second couplet, so decide going into the workout what your focus is. If Diane is going to take you a lot of time, then make that your focal point and maximize your performance there.

Although, if you’re pushing to complete both couplets, then conserve energy in Diane, so you can push in the second. For this population, he recommends breaking up the work early to avoid redlining too soon.

4. Margaux Alvarez – Break It Up In the Beginning

CrossFit Games athlete Margaux Alvarez recommends breaking up the deadlift sets from the beginning. She points out that finding your optimal performance sets will be clutch, and to modify them accordingly if you make it to the second couplet. Alvarez also mentions to avoid sprinting at the beginning, but to sprint on the handstand walks to maximize ground covered.

5. Jon Pera – Dial In Your Sets

CrossFit Games athlete Jon Pera shared a useful Instagram video and states,

“Deadlifts: just pick it up and go. I did 11/10, 7/8, 9 on the 225#. The 315# I did singles through 21 and then a set of five and two on the set of fifteen. I could have afforded to go faster on the 315#, but I was trying to save my back for my baker 2 vegas race this weekend. Monday will be different.”

“Handstand push-ups: I would find that position with your arms as comfortably narrow as possible to make yourself as tall as possible. Then I would put circles with chalk on the ground to mark your hand position to be able to hit that same position every time. Also kick your heels together at the top of the handstand and put flexion on your heels to extend them as high as possible. When extending your handstand push-ups, keep your head straight in line with your back keeping your eyes parallel to the ground and not looking down at the ground. This will help keep your body long. I got no repped 6 times on the set of twenty one because I didn’t have my heels together and my left foot was off of the line.”

Final Thoughts

This workout is definitely on the tougher side of couplets we’ve seen in CrossFit Open workouts. Not to mention, there’s the inclusion of handstand walks, which are likely to trip up a lot of athletes.

Some consistent tips from above include deciding your goal before beginning the workout [Is your focus Diane or the full workout?], pacing your sets to avoid redlining, and to maintain technique throughout.

Feature image screenshot from @jonpera Instagram page.