OPEN 20.3

Hey guys, it’s week 3 of the Open and 20.3 has officially dropped, as a repeat of 18.4! Basically it’s Diane followed by three rounds of heavier deadlifts and handstand walks. This is a challenging workout and will test your strength, gymnastics and ability to work under fatigue.


Just two season ago, many of us were surprised to see handstand walks at the open level. But as top athletes continue to push the sport to new levels, the bar elevates for the entire community as well. To achieve the 90th percentile in 18.4, RX men made it though 25 feet of handstand walks and RX women completed 21 reps of deadlifts at the second weight. This year, I would expect to see males making it into the second round of handstand walks and females 25-50 feet into the walks to hit the same percentile.

How far you progress in this workout and the strategy you choose will depend on your deadlift strength, ability of handstand push-ups and if you have handstands walks or not. I’ll be covering that in a bit but first let’s talk about the movements.





The volume of deadlifts has a major ability to tax your CNS. The weight is moderate to heavy for many in the first 3 rounds (225/155) but becomes significantly more challenging when it climbs to 315/205.  It’s important to not crush the core here; midline stability for the HSPU and walks must be preserved.

Pacing is covered below but if you are already thinking about going unbroken on the deadlifts, I urge you to reconsider now and break it up into 2 or 3 sets. If this weight is heavy for you, there’s nothing wrong with fast singles here. Dropping the bar at the top will save some energy. Also consider using a belt and mixed grip here.

While there is nothing too complicated with the deadlifts standards, a few points are worth mentioning:

  • No sumo deadlifts
  • Hands must be outside your knees
  • No bouncing the weights
  • Hips and knees must reach full extension at the top with your head and shoulders behind the bar
  • Two barbells are allowed
  • If using one barbell, assistance to change plates is allowed
  • Collars must be used


Handstand Push-ups

It seems like every year there is a new standard for where or to what height a HSPU must be performed. This year is no exception.

To calculate the height your heels will need to pass at the top of the handstand push-ups, do the following:

  • Have someone measure your height, standing against a wall with back and heels touching the wall, feet no wider than hip width
  • Still against the wall with your forearm straight out bent 90 degreees at the elbows, with your tricep against the wall
  • Make a fist and measure from the wall to your furthest knuckle
  • Divide this by two
  • Add that to your height
  • Make a line with tape that high above the surface you will perform the HSPU on

I recommend everyone break their handstand push-ups into manageable sets. If you are great at them, you’re going to need to preserve your shoulders for the walks. If you struggle with HSPU, make sure you stay a couple reps shy of failure each set or you’ll find yourself starring at the wall a lot to recover. Check out these resources for some helpful tips:

Crossfit Pacific Beach Tips

Handstand walks

If you can make it through Diane and 21 reps of heavier deadlifts, now you get to test your gymnastics skills with handstand walks! These will challenge your ability to maintain a tight core and shoulder stability under some pretty heavy fatigue.

If you haven’t quiet dialed in your handstand walks but have the ability to get here, it’s time to kick up and try to knockout five feet at a time. If you are proficient with walks, try to move through them without pushing it to failure (unless you are down to the last minute). There’s a ton of great resources on handstand walks. Here’s a couple of my favorites:

Remember for the HSW to count, you must kick up before each segment and both hands must cross the line before your feet touch the ground. For you gymnastic masters, walking more than 25 feet in one direction is not allowed.


If you know you won’t be able to make the second deadlift weight, really go all out and try to PR Diane. The tie break is the time you completed the last round of deadlifts, so make it count!

For those of you that know you can make it through Diane, but the second deadlift weight looks really heavy, make sure you break up the first three sets. Again, quick singles dropped from the top is a legit option, even if you feel you don’t need to.

Now for the 10% of you that are planning on making it through some distance of handstand walks, it’s imperative that you pace Diane and not approach failure on any of your prior sets of deadlifts or handstand push-ups. You’re going to need that midline and shoulder stability to cover ground.


Hopefully you got a big meal with lots of carbs in last night if you are doing 20.3 today. This one is best done later in the day and NOT fasted. Consume a meal with plenty of carbs and lean protein a couple hours prior to your heat.



Let’s start by getting the blood flowing throughout your body. I recommend 10 minutes of cardio at a steady pace that you could hold a conversation at. The rower is ideal, as it will engage the heel drive and hip extension of the deadlifts.

Prioritize warming up the low back, hamstrings, hips, glutes and shoulders. With a foam roller, roll out your lower back, quads and hamstrings. Spend some time with a lacrosse ball on your shoulders and upper back area to restore your range of motion.

It’s going to be vital to get the hamstrings loose and activated. Go through 6 inch worms focusing on lengthening the hamstrings. In the extended position, add in an upward-facing dog to stretch the low back. Next try 3 sets of 10 banded Romanian deadlifts with your feet through a band and around your low neck.  Squeeze your glutes HARD and fully extend your hips at the top.

You need to get comfortable being inverted; start with a couple sets of handstand holds against a wall. Once your shoulders get warm and wrists loosen up, attempt a few handstand walks. If you are proficient with handstand walks, don’t get anywhere near fatigue, just get comfortable in the movement again.

Before we get into a movement specific warm up, it would be beneficial to ignite your CNS through a complementary movement. Performing some heavy single power cleans would be good. We aren’t trying to set PRs here or fail reps.  Pick a weight that you can be explosive at. This will prep you for the deadlifts nicely through CNS potentation by increasing muscle fiber recruitment, as well as boosting neural excitation.

Alright, enough warming up for the warm up! Time to run through a few practice rounds of 20.3

Perform 2 rounds of:

  • 3 Deadlifts at your 1st RX weight
  • 3-6 Handstand push-ups

Rest 2-3 minutes and complete 2 more rounds


A cool down for 10 minutes on the assault bike followed by flowing through down dog, up dog and child’s will help promote recovery. Make sure to get in plenty of carbs after this one and a big meal of complex carbs and lean protein a couple hours after.

The CNS fatigue will be high from 20.2 Really prioritize your recovery today. Stretch your hamstrings  and low back tonight and get at least 8 hours of dark sleep. If you really must repeat this workout, give it until Monday.

Give this one your best and this Open will be over halfway completed!

Now crush it like no other!!

-Nick Alexander