Crossfit 18.4 Strategy and Pro Tips

squat cleans during the CrossFit Games Open 18.1 at CrossFit Bell
Bell OCR 3-17-18
March 16, 2018
squat cleans during the CrossFit Games Open 18.1 at CrossFit Bell
Bell OCR 3-18-18 REST DAY
March 17, 2018

Crossfit 18.4 Strategy and Pro Tips by Crossfit Bell - Crossfit Open 2018

18.4 is…

For time, with a 9 minute cap:


Deadlifts 225#/155#
Handstand Push-ups
21 Deadlifts 315#/205#
50-ft. Handstand Walk
15 Deadlifts 315#/205#
50-ft. Handstand Walk
9 Deadlifts 315#/205#
50-ft. Handstand Walk


Deadlifts 135#/95#
Hand-Release Push-ups
21 Deadlifts 185#/135#
50-ft. Bear Crawl
15 Deadlifts 185#/135#
50-ft. Bear Crawl
9 Deadlifts 185#/135#
50-ft. Bear Crawl


For the second week in a row, the workout separates the gymnasts from the gym-nots. Luckily for those of us still working on our handstand holds, the scaled option preserves the upper-body/lower-body split in each workout while still giving us more manageable movements.

The name of the game here is strategy. Unlike 18.1 and 18.2, which were “grind it out to the end” type workouts, the combination of heavy weight and high-skill movements in 18.4 demand that you come up with a game plan beforehand and, as best you can, stick to that plan throughout. The deadlifts approach a high percentage of many of our 1-rep maxes, especially in the second part of the workout, so smaller sets (2-5) with short breaks in between are the way to go. You don’t want to find yourself putting out a 1-rep max-type of effort on a 7th or 8th consecutive rep, as your nervous system will be overloaded and it will put you in a bad position for the rest of the workout.

After all of that shoulder shredding last week, putting multiple handstand movements in a workout just seems cruel – but knowing Castro, that’s exactly why he did it. Kipping on the handstand push-ups will keep you moving at a consistent speed, and the hip extension will take some of the load off of your shoulders. If you know that 2 sets of unbroken 25-ft. handstand walks are probably unrealistic, or at least pushing into the higher end of your ability, figure out which marker you’re going to break at (5, 10, 15, or 20 feet). You don’t want to find yourself 2 or 3 feet into a 5-foot segment and having to come down – cross over one of those lines, take a quick breather, and kick back up. Breaking each of these handstand movements up sooner than you think you might need to is going to be helpful as you get deeper into the workout. Smaller sets/distance with short recovery will prevent you from going to failure and being unable to continue at a steady pace.

This workout is another opportunity for us to identify weaknesses to work on throughout the upcoming year. If you’re missing one or both of the handstand movements, or if your deadlift needs some work, don’t be disappointed, but don’t forget to put in the work. Use these last two workouts as both a learning experience and a warning. I have a feeling that we’ll be seeing 18.3 and/or 18.4 again in upcoming Opens, and you don’t want to find yourself wishing you’d done more to practice these high-skill movements, because if you don’t, that devilish little Dave Castro will be on your shoulder whispering, “I told you so.”

Some notes on standards:

• The deadlift standard is the same as always: no sumo-style lifting, arms locked out at all times, with full hip & knee extension at the top and head & shoulders behind the bar.

• The measurement for the handstand push-ups is a little different this year: a mark will be made at the top of your head, then half the distance from your elbow to your first knuckle will be added – this will be the line that your heels much reach above in order for the rep to count. Don’t worry, your judges will assist with this.

• The new standard for handstand walks dictate that you must kick up before the start line. In the past, you could kick up so that your hands initiated contact with the floor after the start line – now your hands must contact the floor before the start line (outside of the 25-ft. “field” of the walk).

• For all you bear-crawlers: your hips must remain above head-height as you move. If they drop below your head at any point, it is the same as dropping down from a handstand – you’ll have to go back to the previous 5-foot marker and re-initiate the movement.

3, 2, 1…GO!