Short and uber intense, CrossFit workouts combine gymnastics, sprints, plyometrics and Olympic weightlifting for an all-around kick-butt challenge. But there’s a good reason people keep coming back for more. The workout of the day (WOD), typically done in a group setting and measured and scored like a sport, encourages friendly competition and camaraderie, says Andy Parker, co-owner of CrossFit Stamford in Connecticut.
And CrossFitters see results fast, according to a study in the Journal of Strength and Conditioning. After just 10 weeks of high-intensity training including lifts such as the squat, deadlift, clean, snatch and overhead press performed as quickly as possible, the men and women in the study cut their body fat by an average of four percent. Ready to give it a shot? Here are five popular CrossFit WODs that will leave you crying (for more):
Fran is the all-time most popular and feared WOD, Parker says. To do it, start in a standing position holding a barbell against your shoulders. Squat keeping the bar at shoulder level, with your palms facing up and your elbows extended out. Return to standing while “thrusting” the weight over your head into a push press, using an explosive motion. Perform 21 reps, followed by 21 pull-ups, and then repeat both exercises for 15 reps, then nine, aiming for no rest in between.
“Breaking the three-minute mark is a big accomplishment,” says Parker. “The top male scorers in the world finish in around two minutes, which is incredible when you think about doing 45 thrusters and 45 pull-ups in that time.”
The standard weight for Fran is 95 pounds for men, and 65 pounds for women, but with any CrossFit workout it’s important to understand your limits and ease into the program, Parker says. Many boxes make members complete an intro class where they learn proper form to safely complete the exercises before moving on to the WODs. And while some of the WODs suggest a specific weight, CrossFit doesn’t need to be one-size-fits all. Parker says it’s important to respect your limits and adjust the weight for what you can safely handle.
“Scaling the load is only one way,” he says. “We also scale the amount of reps and the type of movement itself, based on where the individual is physically.”
30 Clean and Jerks
The Olympic lifts — snatch, clean and jerk — are the most difficult CrossFit movements by far, says Parker. “They require speed, coordination, power, strength and flexibility.”
The best CrossFit athletes can complete Grace (standard weight of 135 pounds for men and 95 pounds for women) in about a minute.
Who better to teach the clean and jerk than someone who has trained Olympians? This video breaks down the clean and jerk in super slow motion, with instructions from Jim Schmitz, three-time coach of the U.S. Olympic Weightlifting team:
The double-under can be one of the most difficult CrossFit exercises to learn, and Annie makes you crank out 150 of them. “Some pick it up right away, while others need to practice many hours to master it,” says Parker.
To start, use a jump rope that is about chest height when standing on it, and start jumping with both feet together. To do a double-under, jump slightly higher and turn the rope twice as fast, so it goes under your feet twice before landing. Once you work your way up to multiple double-unders in a row, you’re ready for Annie.
For 20 minutes:
5 Handstand push-ups
10 One-legged squats, alternating
The first step for Mary is mastering a handstand push-up, which requires intense shoulder strength. One way to start is to progress from a handstand with your back to a wall (slowly walking your feet up into a handstand), to a handstand facing a wall, and then to a handstand without any wall assistance, working up to 5 reps. The next exercise is one-legged squats, also known as pistols. Holding onto rings or straps, lean back and squat down on one leg, with the other leg straight out in front of you for 10 reps on each side before moving onto 15 pull-ups. To progress, squat with no assistance. Complete as many rounds as you can in 20 minutes, with a long-term goal of 20 rounds.
This straightforward WOD combines basic bodyweight exercises for a killer full-body workout. Complete all reps of one exercise before moving on to the next, shooting for around 20 minutes. Angie, along with Fran, is designed to be a benchmark WOD, meaning you can use it to monitor how you’ve progressed over time.
Did your favorite (or most dreaded) CrossFit WOD not make our list? Tell us in the comments below!