The Diane WoD: Goal Times, Tips, and Safety

Test your strength with this workout of the day.

Four CrossFit athletes perform handstand push-ups against a red and white wall.
Handstand push-ups. Getty Images.

If you’re new to CrossFit, you might be a bit perplexed by all the ladies’ names thrown around in the gym. Those athletes aren’t talking about their moms or girlfriends—they’re talking about the Girls, a series of CrossFit benchmark workouts that makes every CrossFitter cringe. 

Diane is one of those workouts, and perhaps one of the most difficult (though none of the Girls workouts are easy). Comprised of heavy lifting and technical gymnastics, Diane whips CrossFitters of all fitness levels into better shape. 

Note that this workout requires extremely advanced shoulder stability, wrist strength, and core strength. Be very cautious with it even if you are a seasoned CrossFitter. If you aren't, you will need to work up to this slowly and carefully.

The Diane WoD consists of:

Complete one round of 21-15-9 reps for time:

  • Deadlifts — men use 225 pounds; women use 155 pounds
  • Handstand push-ups 

Score: Diane is scored “for time,” which means you complete the workout as fast as possible. 

Goal times: 10-14 minute for beginners; 6-9 minutes for intermediate athletes; 5-6 minutes for advanced athletes; less than 5 minutes for elite athletes

Equipment Needed: Barbell, bumper plates, abmat or skull mat 

Level: Diane is an advanced workout. All beginner athletes and some intermediate athletes should scale. 

Benefits

All of the Girls workouts offer their own unique benefits. Here’s what you can expect from Diane. 

Lower Body Strength

Few movements are on par with the deadlift when it comes to posterior chain strength—not even the squat. Deadlifts tax your hamstrings, glutes, lower back and upper back, effectively working almost all of the posterior muscles in your body (and most of the largest muscles, too).  

Upper Body Strength

Diane doesn’t stop at the hips. Handstand push-ups require strength and stability throughout the core and upper body. While the movement is highly technical and a lot about coordination, you still need strong shoulders, a strong chest, and a strong back to complete a handstand push-up. 

Gymnastics Skills

When performed correctly, the handstand push-up is quick and snappy yet smooth and graceful. If you don’t yet know how to do handstand push-ups, it’s better to scale down (see Modifications and Variations), but if you have the strength and agility required for the movement, Diane can help you hone those skills even further. 

Step-by-Step Instructions

To get a good score on Diane, you’ll need to know how to properly perform deadlifts and handstand push-ups (or how to modify the workout for your needs). Follow these tips to get going. 

Equipment and Setup

For Diane, you’ll need a barbell and bumper plates for the deadlifts, as well as an ab mat or skull mat for the handstand push-ups to protect your head and neck. 

How to Do the Deadlift

In the deadlift, you’ll begin with the barbell on the floor in front of your body. Bend at the hips and descend into a partial squat, simultaneously lowering your torso to grab the bar (be sure to keep a neutral spine). Using your hamstrings, glutes, and quads, stand up with the bar. Keep the bar close to your body. The rep is complete when you reach full extension of your hips (no crease in your hips). 

Woman performing a deadlift
Verywell / Ben Goldstein 

How To Do Handstand Push-ups

You can do kipping or strict handstand push-ups in Diane, but kipping handstand push-ups are recommended for efficiency. To do a kipping handstand push-up, kick up into a handstand position against a wall. Your hands should be set slightly wider than shoulder width. Lower your head to the ground (or mat), tuck your knees to your chest, and then powerfully extend your knees, hips, and arms to press back into the handstand position

Woman performing the handstand pushup
Verywell / Getty Images 

Completing the Rep Scheme

To complete Diane, perform this rep scheme: 

  • 21 deadlifts
  • 21 handstand push-ups
  • 15 deadlifts
  • 15 handstand push-ups
  • 9 deadlifts
  • 9 handstand push-ups

Common Mistakes

Between heavy lifting and gymnastics, Diane is a tough WoD that challenges even the fittest of CrossFitters. Watch out for these common mistakes. 

Deadlift Technique Mistakes

Don’t pull the deadlift weight with your back or arms. Focus on using your hamstrings, glutes, quads, and hips to pull the weight off the ground. Additionally, make sure you fully extend your hips at the top of the deadlift.

Handstand Push-Up Technique Mistakes

So many things can go wrong on a handstand push-up. Bad form on this movement can spell injury, so make sure to listen closely to your coach as they explain the movement. If you feel uncomfortable with handstand push-ups, talk to your coach about modifications. 

Rushing

Compared to many CrossFit WoDs, Diane is not a long workout. However, that doesn’t mean you should rush just to get a fast score. This WoD comprises two potentially dangerous movements, so make an effort to keep good form throughout. 

Modifications and Variations

Whether you need to modify workouts for pregnancy, an injury, or other condition, there are plenty of scaling options for Diane. 

Scaling the Deadlifts

Lower the weight: The prescribed barbell weights for Diane are 225 pounds for men and 155 pounds for women. That’s very heavy for most people. If you can’t complete at least 11 reps unbroken (while you’re fresh), you should lower the weight. 

Dumbbell deadlifts: Dumbbell deadlifts are a great substitute for barbell deadlifts. The form is essentially the same, except you may have to descend a bit further to touch the dumbbell to the ground. 

Kettlebell or plate deadlifts: Another great deadlift variation, using a kettlebell or a plate keeps the weight centered in front of your body, rather than on your sides, like in dumbbell deadlifts. 

Scaling the Handstand Push-ups

Additional abmats: If you have the form down for the kip, but you’re not quite strong enough to push out of the bottom position, you can use an additional abmat to reduce the range of motion and help you out of the “pocket.” This should be reserved for athletes who can already kip. 

Box-pike handstand push-ups: For a non-kipping, but still inverted, variation, try box-pike handstand push-ups. This is essentially a completely inverted decline push-up. For these, put your feet or knees on a box and place your hands on the floor. Lower your head to the ground and push back up. 

Down dog push-ups: Start in a downward facing dog position, with hands and feet on the floor in an inverted V. Bend your elbows to press your chest and head toward the floor, then push back up.

Dumbbell push press: For athletes who don’t want to get upside down, dumbbell presses offer a similar stimulus to that of kipping push-ups. Hold your dumbbells in the front rack position, dip slightly (keeping your heels flat and elbows pointing forward), use your legs to drive out of the dip, and fully extend your arms overhead. 

Safety and Precautions

Again, note that this is a challenging workout that is not suitable for beginners or even intermediate level CrossFitters.

Fuel Up

Don’t start Diane on an empty stomach. While fasted exercise works for some people, it’s not a good idea to attempt a complex workout like Diane without having eaten. Make sure to get some carbs and healthy fats in before your workout so you stay fueled the entire time. 

Warm Up and Cool Down

Before attempting Diane, complete a proper warm-up that primes your body for the intense stimulus. Similarly, allow your body time to adjust back to its resting state by completing a short ( five to 10 minute) cool down that includes stretching

Handstand Push-Up Safety

Don’t attempt handstand push-ups without direction and supervision from a coach. The only exception is advanced athletes who are proficient at handstand push-ups. Otherwise, this technical skill should be practiced in the presence of someone who can help you correct technique mistakes and ensure your safety. 

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Article Sources

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  • "Diane" WOD. WODwell. https://wodwell.com/wod/diane/.

  • Benchmark Workouts. CrossFit. https://journal.crossfit.com/article/benchmark-workouts-2. Published September 1, 2003.

  • Pregnancy: A Practical Guide for Scaling. CrossFit. https://journal.crossfit.com/article/cfj-pregnancy-a-practical-guide-for-scaling. Published February 8, 2017.