Oh boy…we finally get to talk about my favorite “CrossFit Girl”!
…and possibly my favorite CrossFit WOD…ever!
The Diane WOD!
Do you like deadlifts? Can you knock out handstand push-ups like they’re going out of style? If so, this is the workout for you!
Table of Contents
What is the Diane CrossFit workout?
Like many of the early CrossFit benchmark workouts, Diane only includes a few “simple” movements:
The deadlift and the handstand push-up
More specifically, the Diane CrossFit WOD flows like this:
A classic 21-15-9 workout rep scheme with a challenging, but not incredibly overwhelming deadlift weight.
Diane is one of the original CrossFit Girls, being featured in competition as far back as 2012 CrossFit Regionals. Dan Bailey’s performance would still hold up pretty well today.
Unlike some of the other CrossFit Girls, Diane doesn’t correspond to any particular prestigious female athlete.
But we love her just the same!
Good Diane WOD times
As much as I love wodtimecalculator.com, sometimes I think their calculations are a little bit…off.
Their report on the Diane WOD happens to be one of those occasions.
I think they’re selling you and all of the rest of the athletes way too short! You can beat these Diane WOD times, right?
Keep in mind that these standards were also developed before the (possibly short-term, but whatever) updated handstand push-ups standards were introduced in CrossFit Open WOD 23.3.
If you’re able to come close to these numbers doing handstand push-ups by the new hand-positioning standards, you’d crush them by doing them like Dan Bailey above!
Diane WOD strategy
We’re gonna bring up Dan Bailey one last time in discussing the best strategy for attacking Diane. His Diane WOD “strategy” is the first option…and one that only super elite athletes can pull off.
Unbroken everything. Strict handstand push-ups.
If you’re able to bust out unbroken sets on the deadlifts (without pausing at the top of reps for too long) and can handle 45 strict handstand push-ups, this is the way to go. The strict handstand push-ups will certainly be more fatiguing, but they generally take much less time to execute than kipping handstand push-ups.
Be careful with this strategy; if your arms do give out, it will be really difficult to even start kipping your handstand push-ups again.
A few, planned breaks; handstand push-up options
Your second option is to make a deadlift breaking plan (Ex. 8-7-6 for the first round, 6-5-4 for the second round) and to stick to it. This will give you a finite number of reps to shoot for with each set while greatly reducing the chance of redlining due to the rep “limit”.
Depending on how skilled you are at handstand push-ups, you might still choose to go strict, taking the same types of breaks as you do with the deadlifts. You also could opt for kipping handstand push-ups and take bigger sets. They will be slower, but the time differential is eliminated if you take one less break each round.
A lot of breaking; kipping throughout
The final option is to break up your sets even more (Ex. 7-6-4-4 in the first round, 5-4-3-3 in the second round) and to kip your handstand push-ups, throughout. If you’re tackling Diane for the first time and are still new to handstand push-ups, this is probably the way to go. You also might opt for this option if the deadlift weight is high for you.
This option is the slowest option and due to missing out on the rebound effect on many of the deadlifts (due to breaking more) you will also exert a bit more energy than with the other options.
Scaling Diane is a pretty straightforward process. The rep scheme doesn’t need to change (the 90 overall repetitions is on the lower side for most Girls, Hero, and benchmark WODs) but the weights or type of handstand push-up movement will.
If you are new to handstand movements, but still want to do “handstand push-ups” in the workout, you can swap a box in and position yourself at a 90-degree angle to perform each rep. You’ll still get an excellent handstand push-up-esque stimulus in your shoulders and upper body, but will have additional support of the box to minimize the intensity.
Alternatively, you can opt to swap out handstand push-ups entirely and to replace them with different movements that create similar stimuli.
Wall walks have grown in popularity with their recent inclusions during the last few CrossFit Opens. Replacing the 21,15, and 9 handstand push-ups with 7,5, and 3 wall walks would be appropriate.
If you’d prefer not to get on your hands or upside down, loading up the barbell and doing the same number of push presses is also an appropriate option. Men can shoot for 75% of their body weight while women can use 50%.
The other, “simpler” scaling option involves reducing the deadlift weight. The first time I tackled Diane, I used 185. The workout was still very challenging, but I never got “stuck” with the weight.
The Diane WOD has seen its share of advanced versions over time, the most notable one being in the 2018 and 2020 CrossFit Opens. Open workout 18.4 and 20.3 both included “normal” Diane to begin the respective workouts before moving on to a…trickier version of the WOD.
The weight gets a lot heavier and the handstand movement gets a lot trickier.
Are 315-pound deadlifts and handstand walks still too easy for you? Maybe it’s time for you to give the aptly-named “Damn Diane” workout a try.
Yeah, that deadlift weight is the same as in the second portions of 18.4 and 20.3 and the total number of reps is even the same.
…those deficit handstand push-ups, though…good luck.
It’s no wonder that this was technically a CrossFit Games workout back in 2020 (the process worked a little differently that year due to Covid; athletes all did the same workouts at the same exact time in their respective gyms around the world)
Some would disagree, but I would even throw in the “Fibonacci” WOD as an advanced version of the Diane WOD.
And it is even harder than Damn Diane….enjoy!
Go do Diane
As one of the greatest handstand push-uper ever (ahem) Diane has always been my favorite CrossFit Girls workout. If, like me, you can also stomach doing a lot of moderately heavy deadlifts, the Diane WOD might turn out to be your favorite CrossFit WOD, too.
As short as workout is and with an emphasis on strength and gymnastics ability more than sprint endurance (like a similarly-repped Fran demands) Diane doesn’t take long and doesn’t completely smoke you (like Fran does). You can do your strength piece, knock out Diane, rest up for a few minutes, and do the final portion of your programming for the day.
…and with so many advanced options, you can rest assured you’ll never get bored with the Diane WOD.
Go do Diane…now. Dan Bailey’s record isn’t going to break itself!
Interested in other WODs with handstand push-ups and other gymnastics movements? Check out the top bodyweight CrossFit workouts. Don’t worry; they’re hard, too.