CrossFit® Open 18.4 – The Complete Strategy Guide (Scaled, Masters, and Rx)

Written By Ben  |  Open 

Head here for our full CrossFit Open 20.3 Strategy Guide and updated videos!

Last week’s WOD, 18.3, was a big slice of humble pie for most athletes. Especially for beginners that haven’t mastered technical movements like double unders or muscle ups. But that’s what the Open is all about: getting you out of your comfort zone! This week is no different. We have a new challenge ahead of us. Let’s move on to our CrossFit® Open 18.4 Complete Strategy Guide.

Wait, before we do, I have to just say… TOLD YA!

I’ve been predicting Handstand Walks would show up in the Open for a couple years now - woohoo!

However, don’t freak out quite yet. You have to get a LOT of work done in 18.4 before you earn the right to walk on your hands.

CrossFit® Open 18.4: The Workout

Rx (For Time, 9 Min Cap,  21-15-9)

  • Deadlifts (225/155)
  • HSPU
  • 21-15-9
  • Deadlifts (315/205)
  • Handstand Walk (50’)

Scaled (For Time, 9 Min Cap, 21-15-9)

  • Deadlifts (135/95)
  • HRPU
  • 21-15-9
  • Deadlifts (185/135)
  • Bear Crawl (50’)

Masters (For Time, 9 Min Cap, 21-15-9)

  • Deadlifts (*/*)
  • HSPU / HRPU / Push Press *
  • 21-15-9
  • Deadlifts (*/*)
  • HSW / HSPU* (50’)

** Dependant on age group.  For a complete standards guide, please visit

CrossFit® Open 18.4 - Strategy:

  • Pacing is dependent on your abilities for the second part of the WOD.
    • If there’s absolutely no way that you’ll be lifting the 315/205 barbell after Diane is done, then try your best to hit a new Diane PR in order to help your tiebreak score.
    • If you have a reasonable shot at making it deep into the second part of the WOD, smooth and steady will win the race. Don’t crush Diane and then crash and burn afterwards
  • Scaling is suggested for many athletes. These weights are big and intimidating. Please consider your safety first.
  • If you have nagging back/neck injuries - scale it. It’s easy to get caught up in the rah-rah atmosphere this time of year. Be realistic about your ability and act accordingly. In the past I’ve suggested that many athletes should go “RX’d” at all costs, but for this one I’m only suggesting RX if you’re able to move the deadlift and HSPU safely and effectively. 

CrossFit® Open 18.4 - Mindset:

  • Deadlifts and HSPUs are two movements where it’s really easy to take long breaks.
  • Don’t salsa dance with the bar. Don’t hang your head in defeat during the HSPUs. Your mindset throughout should be, “just one more rep”.
  • Break up sets from rep number one.

CrossFit Open 18.4 handstand push ups

CrossFit® Open 18.4 - Movements (RX):


  • Use a staggered grip. It shocks me how few people use this technique for gripping the bar. Check out our video and try it for yourself.
  • Don’t go unbroken! Singles are perfectly fine for most people who are simply trying to get through Diane. 
    • If you are doing unbroken sets, try a “negative split” each roundlike 8-7-6 / 6-5-4 / 5-4
  • Keep your neck neutral, it should be a straight line from the crown of your head to your butt. Keep your eyes on the floor a few feet in front of you throughout. 

Handstand Push-Ups

  • New standards are a game changer, you REALLY need to pay attention to your hand width. If you go too wide, you won't be able to reach. 
  • Don’t make these 4 mistakes!
  • If you let your core/glutes relax, it could hurt your reach.
  • Start with your heels above the line. Don’t waste energy pushing up into your first rep. Get upside down with arms locked out and heels up!
  • Check out our full HSPU tutorial playlist

Handstand Walks

  • Most people will not make it here, so don't stress too much about it. People who do make it here will probably have a proficient HSW.
  • Avoid the “line fault”. It’s very easy to mess this up and totally throw off your momentum. Take extra care to start with hands, fingers, etc. completely behind the line.
  • The standards are a little sloppy, you could do some ugly, fake, sprint-on-hands-and-fall-every-5-feet-thing if you are incapable of doing true HSW… but I'll personally judge you  😉
  • Your core will be smoked, take your time to make things count.
  • We have a TON of handstand walking suggestions and tips. Check out this playlist to get them all!
how to handstand walk

Push Press (MASTERS 55+ ONLY)

  • Be sure to “touch and go” your reps for maximum efficiency.

CrossFit® Open 18.4 - Movements (SCALED)

Hand Release Push-ups

  • Avoid the “snake” - think about “butt first” as you start pressing from the floor. This will help you stay in a solid plank position
  • DO NOT rest at the top of your reps. Rest on the floor!
  • Standards don’t mention keeping your feet on the ground, so see if you like the “hand-and-feet-release” version that I show in the video. This can help utilize your legs and core to snap into your push-ups.

Bear Crawls

  • Avoid “line faults” when you get started, this is a silly mistake and easily avoided with some thought. Be sure to keep your butt up.
  • Try crawling with wide feet and relatively straight legs. I found in practice that this was MUCH easier than my normal version of bear crawling. Regardless, practice several techniques and see what your body likes best.
  • Don’t forget to breathe, this is an awkward position and it’s easy to forget. 

CrossFit® Open 18.4 - Gear:

Lifting Belt:

    A belt is suggested for the deadlifts in order to save your core. If using a belt, find a velcro strap instead of a buckle. This will allow you to loosen the belt really quickly before hopping on the wall for HSPUs. 

Wrist Wraps:

    If you feel a sense of security using Wrist Wraps for HSPU’s, go for it. For simplicity and distraction avoidance, WODprep prefers less gear. If you can go without, even better!

Before You Leave: 

Thanks for reading our CrossFit® Open 18.4 Complete Strategy Guide. We look forward to seeing you again next week for the final showdown. Before you go, we ask that you do three things:

  • Leave a comment after hitting 18.4 - What were your takeaways? What was easy? What was hard? If you had to do it again, how would you do it differently? Please be specific and long-winded 😉
  • Please share our CrossFit® Open 18.4 Complete Strategy Guide with a friend (sharing is caring). If you aren’t signed up for our Open emails (which contain bonus tips like a specific warm-up video) - you can sign up here.
  • To aid with your recovery and support the WODprep team, grab yourself a WODprep Massage Ball Set - they are 18% off during the Open Season only!

FREE GEAR GIVEAWAY. We’re randomly selecting a handful of athletes and shipping them free gear. Here’s how to enter: 

Comment on the YouTube or Facebook strategy guide and let us know:
Where are you commenting from? What’s your profession?

Disclaimer: WODprep is not affiliated with CrossFit® We are an independent group of functional fitness athletes trying to help people like us perform better in their WODs and everyday lives. 

  • Great videos! For a couple of years, they have become my Friday morning routine during the open to prep for the workout. Warm up videos are also excellent. Keep it up.
    Cheers, Rob
    Toronto, Ontario, Canada
    Profession: dentist

  • watching from our living room in northern Michigan, where it is still winter.
    REtired elementary school teacher.
    55+ scaled division

  • I’m almost 66. Doing my 3rd open. From Florida! Always always watch your videos before I set off for take one! Take two on Monday… far always improve second time around when I’ve learned to pace. Anyway. Later today to my “job” as a massage therapist! Thankyou so much! Got to go now!

      • The bear crawl tip helped tons! Didn’t quite finish Friday but will defo finish Monday! (My daughter knee sleeves helped lots too! Just sayin’)

  • Ps. This is susan from below. Florida. Massage therapist. I’m borrowing my daughters knee sleeves today! Just sayin’

  • Maritsa Gouws watching from Pietermaritzburg Kwazulu-Natal South Africa! I am a boss lady in a man’s world, so that makes me a badass!

  • Hi from South Dakota! Great tips and videos especially for the Open workouts.

    Profession: Graphic Design/Box Owner/Mom

  • Hey Ben! Looking forward to 18.4!

    I am watching from Kennett Square, PA (just west of Philadelphia).
    I am a software developer!

  • Love this. Especially tips on deadliest. I am in Tucson Arizona and I started my 2nd medical software company!

  • Great videos for every open workout! Thanks for putting them together every week!

    San Clemente, CA
    Electrical Engineer

  • Love your strategy videos, along with all the other free videos you provide!!
    Huntsville, AL
    I am a Software Engineer

  • Thanks for all the great tips Coach Ben! What do you think about going shoeless for the WOD? I know that my feet slide easier on the wall when I’m just wearing socks and I also practice deadlifting without shoes on so it wouldn’t be my first time trying it–curious to get your thoughts on that idea. Thanks again, Beth from Maryland and I own a CrossFit gym.

    • Hey Beth! Which gym in Maryland? I used to own Blue Crab CrossFit with a buddy… love the Maryland CF scene 🙂

      Shoeless would be totally fine for me in this workout since deadlifting barefoot can be awesome. Just careful not to drop any weights!

      • Thanks Ben! I did it shoeless and worked well and I still have all my toes 🙂 CrossFit Hyattsville (near College Park).

  • Hey Ben- Thanks so much for the videos, they really help! I am located in Fort Myers FL, and my profession is Workforce Manager of a Call Center

  • State of Mississippi, CFO of a trucking company. I am 58 years old and started Crossfit 3 years ago. I am able to RX the masters wods and really have advanced more than I ever thought since I started. Been watching your videos for 2 years, and they really have helped me advance.

  • Thanks for the tips. Hoping to get through Diane if my shoulders hold up.
    Nova Scotia, Canada

  • I’ve read your emails each week and really appreciate the strategies, videos, and overall guidance. As a 48 year old who is one of the oldest at our box, the information you provide has helped me tremendously and increased my confidence. Thank you!

  • Hey Ben, I am at my home office in Pasadena, California. I am a management consultant. Thanks for all the help!!!

    • Ben, thank you for making these videos. They have been really helpful in preparing for each open workout and have been really helpful in my progression with double unders, toe 2 bars, and to do a overhead squat.

  • Thank for the tips, Ben. I always pick up something . I’m watching your video from Huntsville, TX. I’m retired from the state prison system where I was employed as a sociologist!

  • Listening from Amsterdam New York, i am an Equal Opportunity Manager. Great strategies for 18.4, psyched to take it tonite!

  • Ben, your instructional videos are awesome — keep up the great work!

    55+ RX; Los Angeles, California; Legal Secretary

  • Listening from Oak Park, IL (just moved from Phoenix). Profession is a Budget Analyst. Ben, thank you for your always insightful tips!

  • Thank you for taking the time to put the video’s together. They are very helpful. I live in Tucson, AZ and I am a Logistics Management Specialist.

  • Great Tips – the help is appreciated for us “newer” to CF. I like the safety tips and pacing info the best. Thank you
    Project Manager

  • I just started Crossfit about 6 months ago and this is my first open. I am learning so much and having a great time! Thanks for the videos by the way, they are super helpful!!!

    Watching from the bluegrass state…Kentucky!
    Profession: registered nurse

  • Thanks for the tips Ben, always very helpful. Pierre from Southern California, National Accounts Manager.

  • I just judged some ladies in our gym today. They both normally hit HSPU (with 1 pad) easily. Both struggled to get heels past the line with no pad today. After watching these tutorials I wish I would’ve encouraged them to bring their knees further to their chest and kick with all their might! Thanks for the great tips!

  • I am from Texas and I am an accountant. Thanks for putting these together, I always enjoy your tips and tricks!

    • Woohoo! Another Maryland-er. Make sure you drop into Blue Crab CrossFit one day… started that one with a buddy many moons ago and they’re still going strong!

  • Fantastic coaching tips. I always dig through your videos for regular WOD strategies and Open strategies. Olmsted Falls, OH. Sales engineer

  • Thanks for the tips and vids. I get the strategy guides via your newsletter. Watched it here on the blog.

    Eugene, OR – Wed Design

  • Love the WOD prep. I am a masters athlete. From Eugene Oregon. I am a professional artist.
    Thanks for all your help and advice.
    As an artist I love free stuff.

  • Hey Ben! Free stuff, yay!! Thanks once again for the great insights in these Open prep vids. Watched this vid from my comfy couch next to my napping neice here in Arbutus, MD. I’m a Fed employee, basically a technical writer. Part time CF coach on the side for fun. Keep on keepin’ on.

  • I’m in Sheridan, Wyoming. Watching a blizzard outside and getting ready for 18.4 tonight!
    I’m a climber for a local tree service.
    I really look forward to your Open tips every week. Keep up the good work!

  • I’m 63. Years of age, live in Port Macquarie, Australia and semi- retired.
    I’ve found your videos really helpful, thanks.

  • Wish i would have read this last night before i jumped into the workout. Pacing is key if you make into the 2nd part of the workout. I was really tired and had to break up the DL more than i wanted to.

  • Thank you for all the advice and help with the open workouts. Checking in from Rapid City SD. Profession: United States Air Force

  • Hi! My name is Eric and I watch your videos all the time from Stratford, Ontario, Canada! They’ve helped me so much. Keep doing whay you’re doing!
    Profession: Police Officer

  • Anabelle from Costa Rica, I’m a computer science engineer. Your videos are really good and have helped me during this open.

  • I’ve been watching from Melbourne, Australia. Due to time difference, I do Open work outs on Friday evenings before your strategy guide is released. I then do my 2nd and sometimes 3rd attempts on Sunday and/or Monday after watching your strategy videos on Saturday. Your tips have helped me improve my scores in all three previous work outs. I’ll redo 18.4 tomorrow and am sure the tips I picked up in your video will help me improve my score again. Thanks Ben.
    My profession – injury management consultant.

  • Hey Ben, yet ANOTHER great video with lots of great info. Been following you for about 6 months. Enrolled to do the double under unleased, (bloody awesome course, do yourself a favour folks and enroll to do it! ) and since then have just loved the way you present things! Keep up the good work mate! Oh yer, I’m based in sunny cairns (about 32 degrees celcius here at the moment) in Australia, and I’m a university academic working on venomous animals. Keep up the great video mate, love them!!!! JAmie

    • Dude! Awesome! First of all so glad that you found Double Unders Unleashed so useful. We’re really proud of how that one turned out, and looking forward to opening up some spots after the Open.

      Next… I wanted to be a herpetologist when I was younger and move to Australia to study all the venomous snakes. You are livin’ my childhood dream!

      • Awesome…………..So, open invitation, if you are ever over this way, drop me a line, I’ll show you through the uni, show you the animals we have on board and maybe even let you extract some venom. Again, keep up the GREAT work mate, you do a fantastic job. keep smiling

  • Great tips. 67 years old and did 18.4 Rx. 91 reps so I did get that one heavy deadlift in after Diane thanks to your suggestion about pacing. I’m currently in Sydney, Australia visiting my daughter and her family but Pittsburgh, PA is home. I am a chemical engineer.

  • Awesome videos, they really help me alot, i’m the type that takes a while to be able to get certain movements, so I appreciate these videos, thank you!
    Country: Zimbabwe (Central Africa)
    City: Bulawayo
    Profession: Learn to Swim Teacher

  • Watching from Cambridge, Ontario Canada! I’m a Commercial Insurance Broker, specializing in insuring Canadian CrossFit Boxes.

  • I just did 18.4 scaled workout and managed to complete 20DL of second part. If i repeat it, i would take less breaks between movements in order to complete it. I am stay at home mom of three; living in Austria, Vienna

  • Hello Bem,
    Whats up?
    My name is Carlos and Santa Cruz do Sul RS Brasil
    I’m a System architect.

    Thank you for you amazing vídeos.

  • Hi Ben. I did 18.4 and want to redo it with different strategy on DL as I am pretty good at HSPU. I broke HSPUs up in 2sets all the way. My goal is to get through 2nd part of 21 reps of DL with 315lb. When I did first time, I broke DL up like Scott Panchik did. When I got to 2nd round of DL with 315lb, I only could do singles and did 12reps. What would you recommend in terms of rep scheme for DL for me? Should I do singles on DL with 225lb from the get go to save some energy?

    • Hey Julian!

      Hard to answer this one because I don’t know your 1RM and I don’t know how much time you had after Diane. If you were moving 315 pretty well but ran our of time, then you’ll want to push harder on Diane to give yourself more time on the 315 DL. However if you were struggling on that 315, then moving faster might only smoke your legs more.

      Hope you crush it!

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