18.4 Strategy + Tips
By Colin Farrell
Things to keep in mind…
Before we talk strategies we must first ask ourselves the question, “Can I do a handstand push-up?”
If the answer is “no”, and for many of us that is the answer, it is a race to see who can complete 21 deadlifts as fast as possible. There is a tie break time at the end of every set of deadlifts. For thousands of people their score will be 21 reps; and who comes in first and who comes in last of those many thousands will be decided by their tie-break time.
So, if you cannot complete a handstand push-up, your goal is to rip through the deadlifts as fast as humanly possible. This should be done regardless of fatigue or the red line that we usually try to stay away from early on in a workout.
If you have handstand push-ups, the next question to answer is, “Am I capable of deadlifting that second barbell?” If the answer to that is “no” you will again find yourself in the same boat as many thousands of people around the world. You are now in the position of racing to finish first set of nine deadlifts as fast as you can as that will be the tie break time for anyone that gets stuck at 45 total reps, which . . . again . . . will be many thousands of people.
If you can deadlift 315-/205-lbs, and if you have handstand push-ups, some more strategy will come into play. If you’re hoping to do well you must go unbroken on the set of nine and the set of 15 on the deadlifts, and–at most–most break up the set of 21 barbell lifts into two sets but (preferably) keep that set unbroken as well. The real challenge comes in managing fatigue on the handstand push-ups. Long before your shoulders burn out it is imperative that you come down off the wall and give them a quick rest. It is far better to do smaller chunks of five and seven and maybe even 10 reps at a time with quick rest periods in between. You want to be in control of when the rest periods are happening, as opposed to resting because you failed a rep. Like muscle ups, failed handstand push-up reps are extremely taxing in terms of energy and time. It is far better to break up the handstand push-ups into sets of 7 or sets of 5 than it is to chew through biggers chunks early on but end up knocking out singles by the last round.
When completing handstand push-ups, as soon as your head clears the floor, punch it through the window. At Potomac, I suggest people keep their eye on the wallball targets on the rig adjacent to them. This flattens out your back, pulls your hips off the wall, and makes it easier to achieve lockout and show control at the top of the rep (as opposed to falling off the wall once locked out, which is a no-rep).
For most athletes, finishing Diane and under the 9 minutes is a serious accomplishment. And if you can finish that with some time to get after that second [heavier] barbell, sets of one and two at a time are going to be the likely name of the game when pulling 315/205 off the floor. The pros during the Open announcement were doing sets of 3 and 4 with quick rest periods in between sets. For us mere mortals sets of one and two are a little bit more realistic. If you can squeeze out sets of 3 and 4, by all means do it.
The last question athletes have to ask themselves at this point is, “Can I walk on my hands?” If the answer is “no”, the race is now to finish your set of 21 deadlifts at that heavier barbell. If the answer is yes, if your shoulders allow, try to do all 25-foot increments unbroken as best as possible. Focus on keeping your butt squeezed and remembering to breathe while you are inverted. If you keep your butt squeezed nice and tight your feet will stay just forward of your shoulders and hips, keeping you moving in the right direction but still allowing you to catch a few breaths.
As far as equipment goes, lifters will not help you in this workout, do not wear them. If the choice is between lifters and a pair of spongy, high-heeled running shoes, sure strap on the weightlifting shoe. But if you have a pair of Nanos, Metcons, Chuck Taylors, or NOBULLs, wear them. If you have lifting belt I would highly recommend it for the deadlifts.
What I would have done differently…
I would have not done a workout with 50 strict ring dips 2 days before 18.4.
Good luck everyone!