CrossFit: Five Bodyweight WODs you can do Anywhere
Disclaimer: I am not a personal trainer or a medical doctor. I don't even play one on tv. If you have any uncertainties about yourself either physically or medically, you should always consult a professional in those fields before you start any new exercise routine, especially if you have a known condition. Safety is ALWAYS the priority.
What is CrossFit?
If you are a living, breathing, sensing human being, chances are you’ve heard of CrossFit. Its rise in popularity over social and mainstream media in recent years has been nothing short of explosive. It has become the preferred training methodology of military units, police and fire departments, first responders and elite athletes world-wide. So what exactly is it?
CrossFit is a fitness company founded in 2000 by Greg Glassman. CrossFit Inc. is the parent company and branding, and licenses the CrossFit name to affiliate gyms all over the world. While CrossFit Inc. publishes a regular “Workout Of the Day” (WOD), CrossFit is a de-centralized training program, with most CrossFit affiliates programming their own WODs for members.
That said, CrossFit is better described as a physical exercise philosophy, incorporating elements of Olympic weightlifting, powerlifting, gymnastics, plyometrics, calisthenics, and other exercises all done under a High-Intensity Interval Training (HIIT) protocol. To promote peak performance amongst its practitioners, the CrossFit philosophy also incorporates generalized nutritional recommendations as well. CrossFit is probably best summed up by its founder…
CrossFit in 100 Words
"Eat meat and vegetables, nuts and seeds, some fruit, little starch and no sugar. Keep intake to levels that will support exercise but not body fat. Practice and train major lifts: deadlift, clean, squat, presses, clean & jerk, and snatch. Similarly, master the basics of gymnastics: pull-ups, dips, rope climb, push-ups, sit-ups, presses to handstand, pirouettes, flips, splits, and holds. Bike, run, swim, row, etc., hard and fast. Five or six days per week mix these elements in as many combinations and patterns as creativity will allow. Routine is the enemy. Keep workouts short and intense. Regularly learn and play new sports."
~ Greg Glassman, CrossFit Founder and CEO
Constantly varied functional movements executed at high intensity across broad time and modal domains.— CrossFit Inc.
CrossFit has exploded in popularity for many reasons, but the two major ones are the ones that are the hardest to ignore.
- The Results – HIIT puts us in a state that typically yields better results than traditional cardio or other moderate intensity steady state activities because of the chemical response our bodies produce in that state. There’s a lot science behind this, and if you want more details I touch on it lightly here - Tabata Intervals: 4 Minute Workouts you can do Anywhere.
- The Social Aspect – CrossFit is taught in a class atmosphere. It’s a stark difference to the solo experience you might find at a traditional gym. Class participants are encouraged to introduce themselves beforehand and a rapport gets built for the ordeal that lies ahead. There’s something beautiful and primal about suffering through a challenging workout as a group. It binds us. And when everyone comes out on the other side, it’s a victory for the group. Most often, the last person to finish gets the most cheers, as the rest of the group rallies together to get him/her across the finish line.
For these reasons, CrossFit gyms are able to charge upwards of $250 per month for memberships. This may seem astounding when compared to the cost of a monthly membership at a traditional gym, and for some it’s an unaffordable monthly expense.
5 CrossFit Workouts you can do at ANY Gym
The GOOD NEWS is that there are some very good CrossFit workouts that don’t require weights or other equipment. These workouts utilize only bodyweight movements and require no specialized training, incorporating movements we’re all familiar with from gym class. They can be done at any gym, or even in your own home!
Be sure to thoroughly warm up before attempting any of these workouts. Safety and injury prevention are always top priority. Know your limits!
One of the classic CrossFit "girls", the Angie WOD consists of the following:
- 100 Pull-ups
- 100 Push-ups
- 100 Sit-ups
- 100 Squats
Movements are done in sequential order, with one movement being completed before moving onto the next, for time.
Beginner Tip: "20 Pieces of Angie" is a popular variation that partitions the rep scheme into manageable chunks to help mitigate fatigue in any single movement. The idea is to be constantly working to achieve maximum benefits of the WOD.
20 Rounds for Time:
- 5 Pull-ups
- 5 Push-ups
- 5 Sit-ups
- 5 Squats
Another one of the classic CrossFit "girls", the Barbara WOD consists of the following:
Five Rounds for Time:
- 20 Pullups
- 30 Pushups
- 40 Situps
- 50 Squats
Rest 3 minutes between rounds.
Beginner Tip: While this WOD looks pretty straightforward and simple, you might have noticed that it builds in 12 minutes of rest. The takeaway is that this WOD is anything but easy if it requires that much rest. Go slow, this will be a long one.
Another one of the famed CrossFit girls, "Cindy" was the first CrossFit workout I ever did (in my living room with a door frame pull-up bar!) and it's still one of my favorites. Cindy is as follows:
20 Minute AMRAP (As Many Rounds As Possible):
- 5 Pull-ups
- 10 Push-ups
- 15 Squats
Beginner Tip: Strength may be an issue for those just starting out and completing 5 pull-ups or 10 push-ups may be asking a lot. In that case, trying scaling with Jumping Pull-ups, or Knee Push-ups. Additionally, while one of the core themes of CrossFit is to minimize rest periods and to keep the body moving, it's important not to overdo it. Fatigue leads to poor form, and poor form can lead to injury. For this reason, a popular Cindy variant is her cousin, Chelsea...
"Chelsea" - 30 Minutes EMOTM (Every Minute On The Minute)
- 5 Pull-ups
- 10 Push-ups
- 15 Squats
The Chelsea variation encourages a slower, steady pace because each round takes one full minute, and there is no incentive to go faster. In the end the same amount of work will be done.
This one could not be any simpler, and is something that you can do ANYWHERE, even at home! The name is derived from the total number of reps that you will complete. With a running clock:
- 50 Push-ups
- 50 Sit-ups
- 50 Squats
Complete the required reps of each movement before moving onto the next.
Beginner Tip: Slow and steady wins the race. Take minimal rest between rounds to keep your muscles warm. If form starts to deteriorate, scale to Knee Push-ups, Crunches, or Squats with less depth.
5. Deck of Cards
Shuffle a deck of cards and flip over one at a time. Face cards are 10 reps, Aces are 11 reps, numbered cards are as valued. With a running clock, cycle through the whole deck for time.
- Hearts – Push-ups
- Diamonds – Pull-ups
- Spades – Sit-ups
- Clubs – Squats
- Jokers – Run 400m (Substitute: In place, 2 minutes of high knees)
- Hearts – Burpees
- Diamonds – Mountain Climbers (1 rep = 4 count)
- Spades – Flutterkick (1 rep = 4 count)
- Clubs – Sit-ups
- Jokers – Plank for max time
Beginner Tip: Same rules apply here...keep it slow and steady. Hopefully you shuffled well and the deck is random and varying, but scale movements as needed if form begins to suffer from frequent repetition of a single movement.
Time to get sweaty!
CrossFit has proven itself to be one of the most effective and popular ways to achieve and maintain a high level of health and fitness. The cost of formal membership and training is a barrier of entry for some, but it doesn’t have to prevent you from getting started!
Try these five workouts, and let the rest of us know what you think in the comments!