18.4 was new in many ways but all too familiar in others. The penultimate installment in this year’s Open series introduced a new movement to the Open and saw the first appearance of a classic Crossfit girl in this stage of the competition.
The essentially 2-part workout saw athletes take on a vintage 21-15-9 couplet of deadlifts and handstand pushups (HSPUs) (fondly known as ‘Diane’), before raising the weight of the deadlifts and replacing HSPUs with a 50-ft. handstand walk. All this under what appeared a very demanding 9 minute time cap.
First of the Games athletes to take on this workout, Scott Panchik and Björgvin Karl Guðmundsson, completed the workout comfortably under the time cap but Panchik took the win at the announcement show with a steely performance. The six-time Games athlete carefully paced himself through the first-part of the workout, Diane, breaking the deadlifts into sets of 5. He then hammered out the 315-lb deadlifts with relative ease before striding through the handstand walks with commanding speed. BKG on the other hand raced out of the gate to complete the Diane segment in the lead but slowed significantly once the barbell got heavy.
While these athletes are worlds above most of us mere mortals there was much to learn from their strategies, whatever your level. The first question that athletes really needed to ask themselves was do I expect to get through Diane and have time to take a shot a the second portion?
If the answer was no, Panchik’s strategy was still relevant. The risk in this workout was really in going to failure in the HSPUs. Breaking the HSPUs early and avoiding complete muscle fatigue in all likelihood brought better times or scores in the first section for most athletes by reducing lengthy rest needed after complete failures.
If you did expect to be taking on the second portion of 18.4 you really needed to consider breaking your deadlifts too to give your lower back and hamstrings a break before the heavier deadlifts. While the 225-lb initial weight might have been fairly manageable the reps added up!
That leaves the handstand walks. The placement of this very technical gymnastic movement in the latter portion of this workout was intended to test athletes technical ability under fatigue. Much like the clean of 18.2a after 18.2, those who would shine on the specialist movement had to earn the right to showcase their skills first. Getting the strategy on the first part of 18.4 wrong would reduce even the best gymnasts to stumbling heaps come the second part of this workout.
It may sound strange to talk about shoes in a workout where half of the work was done on our hands but footwear may actually have been an important variable in 18.4 performance. For the deadlifts you wanted to be connected to the ground, with minimal cushioning to interfere with the power transfer from your body to the ground. On the handstand elements however a super light shoe was needed to reduce the weight at the end of the pivot created by your body. To us 18.4 sounded the ideal workout to crack out our Bare-XF 210 V2s. Lightweight and 0mm drop, these shoes were made for the likes of 18.4! If the deadlifts were more of a challenge for you however our F-LITE 235s might have been a good option, owing to the dense power heel that optimises power transfer to the ground and a 0mm drop.
With one week to go, the 2018 Open is drawing to a close but boy has it offered us some conundrums in terms of strategy and footwear choice! Let’s see what 18.5 has in store. Check in for our recommendations next week.