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CrossFit Workouts – Everything You Need to Know

Updated: May 30

Want to know more about CrossFit and CrossFit workouts in particular? Then you've come to the right place!

Whether you're already familiar with CrossFit or are a complete beginner – in this article we'll tell you everything you need to know.

We'll talk about the basics of CrossFit workouts and give you an overview of the different types of workouts as well as the most popular Benchmark and Hero workouts.

Never heard of Benchmark or Hero? Then read on!

What makes CrossFit workouts special?

Athlete holding a barbell overhead

CrossFit workouts are characterized by two things in particular: Their versatility and their intensity.

The main goal of CrossFit is for you to develop functional fitness that will benefit you in everyday life, during training or even in emergency situations. The workouts are short, intense and varied so that you cover all aspects of fitness, including endurance, strength, flexibility and coordination.

One of the key components of CrossFit workouts is constant variety. You will never have the same routine or sequence of exercises. This prevents boredom and forces your body to constantly adapt and improve. This concept is called "constantly varying training" and is a hallmark of CrossFit.

What does the term CrossFit WOD stand for?

In CrossFit, the term "WOD" stands for "Workout of the Day". The WOD is the daily workout that is scheduled in a CrossFit box (a CrossFit training facility) or in a training plan on that day.

The daily workouts are designed to target different areas of your fitness, including endurance, strength, speed, agility and coordination. They can consist of a combination of different exercises, such as weightlifting, bodyweight exercises, endurance training and more. The idea behind the "WOD" is that you can expect a different, high-intensity and varied workout every day.

The exact structure and content of a CrossFit WOD can vary from day to day. As a rule, they are determined by qualified CrossFit trainers. However, you can of course also put together your own CrossFit WOD.

In a typical CrossFit class, which usually lasts 60 minutes, the WOD is the end of the class. In other words, the planned workout is performed in a group under the guidance of a trainer. Either individually or sometimes as a partner or team workout. This creates a supportive and motivating environment and literally brings people together.

Person holding a smartphone with the SmartWOD timer open

There are different types of CrossFit workouts, all of which are based on different goals and focuses. We'll briefly introduce you to the most common types of workout and tell you what makes them special.

An AMRAP is an abbreviation that is frequently used not only in CrossFit, but also in other fitness areas. It stands for "As Many Rounds As Possible".

An AMRAP workout is a form of training in which you have a set time limit and try to perform a certain sequence of exercises as often as possible within this time limit.

An AMRAP workout could look like this, for example:

Time: 10 minutes

- 10 kettlebell swings

- 15 push-ups

- 20 squats

Here you try to complete as many rounds of these three exercises as possible in 10 minutes. You decide for yourself whether and when to take a break. Once the 10 minutes are up, count the number of completed rounds (e.g. 3) and add up the repetitions in the last round you started (e.g. 12 if you have completed 10 swings and 2 push-ups). Your result would then be: 3+12.

AMRAP workouts are a great way to increase the intensity of your training and improve your endurance and strength. They allow you to get a lot done in a short space of time and are therefore very effective. As you set your own pace and try to complete as many repetitions as possible, AMRAP workouts are suitable for all fitness levels.

EMOM is an abbreviation for "Every Minute On the Minute" and is a popular training method in CrossFit and other fitness areas.

An EMOM workout is basically about completing a set exercise or exercise sequence at the start of each new minute. And you do this for the entire duration of the workout.

But now it gets exciting, because there are different variations of EMOM workouts:

  1. The classic EMOM, e.g. "Do 10 burpees every minute for 7 minutes". This means you do a total of 70 burpees.

  2. Then there is the alternating EMOM (Alt. EMOM for short). Here you alternate between exercises every minute. For example, "alternate between 10 burpees and 10 push-ups every minute for 10 minutes". So you do the burpees one minute and have a break until the next minute begins. Then you do the push-ups. This gives you a total of 50 burpees and 50 push-ups.

  3. And then there's the really nasty "Death by" EMOM. The principle is the same here: You have one prescribed exercise or exercise sequence per minute, but the number of repetitions increases with each additional minute. You do the workout until you can no longer complete the required number of repetitions in the allotted time. For example, "Do 5 burpees every minute. Add 2 more burpees every minute."

Too complicated for you? Don't panic, we go into more detail in our article on the different EMOM variants.

What you can remember: The challenge with EMOM workouts is to make sure you complete the exercises in the allotted time. This gives you enough time to rest before the next minute begins.

EMOM workouts can be designed at different levels of difficulty, depending on your fitness level and goals. You can increase the intensity by either increasing the number of repetitions per minute or choosing more challenging exercises.

Female athlete doing push-ups

A "For Time" workout is a commonly used training method in CrossFit. In this type of workout, the goal is to complete a certain sequence of exercises as quickly as possible.

A "For Time" workout can be a single exercise or a combination of different exercises. The exercises are performed in a specific order.

Here is a simple example of a "For time" workout:

2 rounds for time:

  • 50 Squats

  • 40 Push-ups

  • 30 Pull-ups

  • 20 Burpees

  • 10 Kettlebell swings

Your task is to complete these exercises in the specified order (i.e. one after the other) and to stop the time as soon as you have completed the last repetitions (in this case the kettlebell swings).

"For Time" workouts are particularly popular at CrossFit competitions as they have a strong competitive aspect. Athletes try to beat their personal best times or compete with other CrossFitters.

They are also a great way to increase intensity and focus during training as you concentrate on working as fast as possible. It is important that your focus is still on the correct technique. This will help you avoid injury.

Tabata is a high-intensity interval method that is also used in CrossFit. It is named after the Japanese researcher Dr. Izumi Tabata, who developed it in the 1990s.

A Tabata usually consists of 20 seconds of maximum effort followed by 10 seconds of rest. This interval is repeated a total of eight times, resulting in a total duration of four minutes.

An example could be 8 rounds of Tabata squats. This means that you do 20 seconds of squats at maximum intensity eight times, followed by 10 seconds of rest each time.

The idea behind Tabata is that you do your best in these short, intense intervals and then recover in the short rest periods. In CrossFit, Tabata intervals are often used as part of a workout or as a standalone training session to improve endurance, strength and stamina.

Tabata workouts are extremely effective for increasing cardiovascular fitness, burning fat and increasing muscle endurance.

5. Chipper

A "Chipper" is a special format for workouts in CrossFit, but ultimately nothing more than a "For time" workout. But often a very long one.

It is a sequence of exercises that you have to complete one after the other in a specific order. The aim of a chipper workout is to complete all the exercises in the specified order. Then the time stops.

Typically, chipper workouts are designed to consist of a mix of exercises that address different aspects of fitness, including endurance, strength, flexibility and coordination. The number of repetitions for each exercise can vary.

Here is a simple example of a chipper workout:

  • 50 Kettlebell swings

  • 40 Push-ups

  • 30 Sit-ups

  • 20 Pull-ups

  • 10 Burpees

You complete these five exercises one after the other, starting with the kettlebell swings. Then do the push-ups and so on. The workout is only complete when you have completed all repetitions of all exercises. Or before the time limit is up.

Chipper workouts are challenging and require good fitness and a variety of skills. However, they are a great way to put your physical fitness to the test and combine different exercises in one workout.

What are the most popular CrossFit workouts?

Athlete doing a handstand

In CrossFit, there are a variety of well-known and frequently performed workouts that are often referred to as "Benchmark workouts" or "Hero workouts". These workouts are standardized tests that are used to measure the progress of CrossFitters and serve as reference points for improving performance.

CrossFit Workout Fran

Fran is a classic benchmark workout consisting of 3 rounds of Thrusters (a combination of Front Squats and Shoulder Presses) and Pull-ups. The repetition scheme is 21-15-9 and the goal is to complete the exercises as quickly as possible.

CrossFit Workout Murph

Murph is an extremely challenging workout done in honor of fallen Navy SEAL Michael P. Murphy in the CrossFit community every year on the last Monday in May (or Memorial Day) at boxes around the globe. It includes 1.6 km of running, 100 Pull-ups, 200 Push-ups, 300 Squats and finally another 1.6 km of running.

CrossFit Workout Cindy

Cindy is a simple but intense workout. It is a 20-minute AMRAP and consists of as many rounds as possible of 5 Pull-ups, 10 Push-ups and 15 Squats.

CrossFit Workout Helen

Helen is a "For time" workout that combines endurance and strength. It consists of three rounds of 400-meter runs, 21 Kettlebell Swings and 12 Pull-ups.

CrossFit Workout Annie

Annie is another popular benchmark workout and consists of 50-40-30-20-10 Double unders and Sit-ups. A perfect example of a chipper workout.

These five Benchmark or Hero workouts are a great way to test your fitness and track progress over time. However, it is important to note that these workouts are extremely challenging and require good technique.

The ultimate cheat sheet: 10 things you need to know about CrossFit workouts

Athlete stacking a barbell

Everything you've learned about CrossFit workouts in this article is summarized in a handy cheat sheet at the end.

  1. Versatility and intensity: CrossFit is known for being versatile and intense. The workouts combine elements from different sports, including weightlifting, endurance training, gymnastics and more, to develop all-round fitness.

  2. Constant variation: A key principle of CrossFit is the constant variation of exercises. You will rarely do the same workout twice. This helps to avoid plateaus and constantly challenge the body. And: it never gets boring.

  3. Community: CrossFit places great emphasis on community and team spirit. Most CrossFit boxes foster a supportive environment where athletes motivate and support each other.

  4. Technique and safety: Performing exercises correctly is crucial to avoid injury and achieve the best results. In a CrossFit workout, you will usually be guided by qualified coaches to ensure you are using the correct technique.

  5. Scalability: CrossFit workouts are scalable, meaning you can adapt them to your individual fitness level - whether you're a beginner or advanced.

  6. Benchmark workouts: As already mentioned, CrossFit has a collection of benchmark workouts. These are standardized and serve as reference points for performance evaluation.

  7. Time-based workouts: CrossFit workouts are often performed according to time, such as AMRAP, EMOM or "For Time". This helps to keep the intensity high and motivate you to make the most of the time available.

  8. Nutrition and recovery: Nutrition plays an important role in CrossFit. A balanced diet helps you to perform better. Recovery after workouts is also crucial to avoid muscle soreness and injuries.

  9. Preparation: Before you start CrossFit, you should make sure that you have a reasonable basic level of physical fitness. It's best to start at a CrossFit box near you so that you can learn all the technical basics and receive guidance.

  10. Your own pace: CrossFit is challenging. Therefore, you should always work at your own pace and listen to your body. Your main goal should be to improve your own performance.

Ultimately, CrossFit is a great way to increase your fitness and improve your physical abilities.

If you're interested in CrossFit, you should start at a qualified CrossFit box to get the right guidance and support. It can be a challenging but rewarding experience that can help you achieve your fitness goals with variety and fun.




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