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What Is Workout 18.4 And Why Are CrossFitters So Obsessed With It?

All your CrossFit friends won’t stop talking about how insane this year’s 18.4 workout was…but uhhh WTF even is that?

Basically it’s a super hardcore WOD (that’s “workout of the day” in CF lingo) designed especially for the CrossFit Games—a competition of the most hardcore, badass, fit-beyond-belief people in the CF world.

So why all the buzz? Well, the Workout 18.4 made its debut in the CrossFit Open this year—the first qualifying stage of the Games.

It’s a more challenging version of the WOD Diane—a workout that includes deadlifts and handstand pushups, and serves as a benchmark workout that many CrossFitters use to track their progress. The goal: to do the full workout faster than last time.

Workout 18.4’s debut was the first time a version of a CrossFit benchmark workout was featured in the Open. It was also the first time handstands were included in the Games.

And it was a challenge even for the super-fit athletes in the Games: Only 59 percent of women 18 to 34 completed the RXed (as prescribed) reps, and 41 percent completed the scaled version (with modifications to make it more accessible to your fitness level), according to the CrossFit Games site.

So what does the rep breakdown actually look like? Here’s what 18.4 entails:

Workout 18.4
For time (recommended, for women 18-34):

21 deadlifts, 155 lb.
21 handstand push-ups
15 deadlifts, 155 lb.
15 handstand push-ups
9 deadlifts, 155 lb.
9 handstand push-ups
21 deadlifts, 205 lb.
50-ft. handstand walk
15 deadlifts, 205 lb.
50-ft. handstand walk
9 deadlifts, 205 lb.
50-ft. handstand walk
Time cap: Nine minutes

Should you try workout 18.4?
Are you an experienced CrossFitter? Sure, try Workout 18.4—but start with the scaled version of the workout, which calls for less weight and less reps. If you’ve never done CrossFit before, this is not your entry-level WOD.

There’s two reasons for that: The amount of weight you’re lifting and the amount of time you’re lifting it in can be an extreme challenge, no matter how fit you are, says strength and conditioning coach Michelle Lovitt. In the 18.4 workout, you do 21 reps of deadlifts, followed by handstand walks, then another 15 deadlifts, then handstands, then nine deadlifts, handstands, and you repeat. And that rep and set scheme can be problematic: “because you may overtax the neuromuscular system which can lead to injury,” Lovitt explains.

Why do CrossFitters do this?
The main reason any CrossFitter would do this workout is because it’s featured in the CrossFit Open. So while not everyone in CrossFit will do this intense WOD, if you want to compete in the Games, it’s part of the package. Just like any other WOD featured in the Open, the 18.4 is designed to test all the skills of a CrossFitter, to see just how, well, fit they are.

But even if you’re not competing, there’s no stopping any CrossFitter from taking on the 18.4 challenge. However, most will start with its inspiration: WOD Diane, which doesn’t call for the 50-ft handstand walks on top of handstand pushups.

Just remember, there’s a reason the 18.4 workout is part of a qualifying round for the CrossFit Open: “It’s for CrossFit people who have been training for a long time,” says Lovitt. “This isn’t for your average person just jumping in and playing around with CrossFit.”