You would think that in a workout so simple, it would be hard to take valuable lessons from it. But 18.4 taught us more than we expected. The second to last Open workout was Diane (21-15-9 of Deadlifts at 135/95lbs and Handstand Push-Ups) followed immediately by 21-15-9 of heavier Deadlifts and 50 ft. Handstand Walks. That must be completed within a 9 minute time cap. Just like last week’s workout, not many athletes got to finish it. Big part of that was the new standards for HSPU, which is likely going to stay for years according to CrossFit.

Here are a few reflections from 18.4:


Don’t ignore the benchmark workouts.


You probably have done a few of them. You probably hate a few of them. Many are named after girls: Diane, Grace, Cindy, Fran. For the most part they are very simple workouts, usually consisting of two movements or a few more. They are considered benchmark workouts for a reason. Not only have they been around for many years, but they were meticulously created to provide a challenging stimulus and to be the best indicator of overall fitness. At Celebration CrossFit we do benchmark workouts every Sunday, so try to come a couple of times a month to those classes, and you will see that those workouts feel totally different from all others.

Work on those progressions.


For both the scaled and RX versions of the workout the Push Up variation was probably the most challenging movement. We saw many athletes struggling to do Toe-Push-Ups and Handstand Push-Ups. But the point is, they did it. Athletes fought against the standard and, even if they got just 1 rep, they won. I like to say “if you do scaled for a while, you get really good at doing workouts scaled.” To improve in RX movements, there’s no way around it, you have to suck at doing them for a while. If you are used to doing Knee-Push-Ups and you got a few reps at normal Push-Ups, then stick with them! Same counts for HSPU. This is the best and fastest way to improve in a skill or movement.

Hold your reps accountable.


By far, 18.4 was the workout with the most amount of ‘no reps’ called. That was partially due to the standards, but mostly due to athletes’ lack of accountability. When doing HSPU, do you hold your reps up to a standard? Any standard? Or is all you care about that you go down and come back up? On your Push-Ups, do you ‘no rep’ yourself when you worm it out, or do you count it? We have all been there. We have all counted that Wall-Ball that didn’t clear the line. The Deadlift that wasn’t fully extended, in which you got ‘no rep’ed, is a product of practice without accountability. Start ‘no rep’ing yourself and you’ll see how much more efficiently you will move in workouts.

Adhere to the standards.


Now for the most controversial topic of the 2018 CrossFit Open, the new HSPU standards. CrossFit Head Quarters have tried many variations of the HSPU standard, and it seems like this one is the one that will stick. Seeing the amount of failed reps and frustration drawn by this standard is just further validation that it is the correct one to use. Games athletes like Mat Fraser, Katrin Davidsdottir and Tia-Clair Toomey got ‘no rep’ed, and chances are we do not move as well as them, so it is likely we all experienced some sort of negativity toward the standard. Heck, even Dave Castro, the same guy that comes up with these workouts hated his target line. But there are two positive lessons to take out of this.

First, it doesn’t matter how fair you think the standard is, every athlete has to follow it. You can either be upset about it, and do worse on your workout because of frustration and negativity. Or you can try to become better, and learn about how the standard makes you do a certain movement. Second, CrossFit has gymnastics specialists working with them on these movements. Here at the 3 things that made HQ change the standard. Full range of motion, active shoulders and midline stability. If you have been doing CrossFit for a while you have heard of those 3 subjects. It’s at the core of what we do. I can guarantee that if all 3 are present in your HSPU, you will meet the requirement. CrossFit released an article further explaining why you missed the rep, and why these are the new standards, so if you are interested, just click here.

The Open has one week left. One more workout in the 2018 season. Let’s leave it all out there and have fun!


by Coach Matt