17 best CrossFit workouts: Can you handle these Elite WODs?

Updated: From Murph to Fran, we list seventeen of our favourite CrossFit WODs
The 17 CrossFit WODS you need to know

WOD – also known as Workout Of the Day – is the term used by CrossFit to describe, well, exactly that. At the end of each CrossFit session, you'll find a full-on fitness challenge that'll put all your skill and fitness to the test.

While some are designed by the trainers taking the class or prescribed via the CrossFit website on a daily basis, a vast number are old classics that have stood the test of time – to the point where people already know the sets and reps without even being told.

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How did we choose?

Some of those workouts are famous because they’re a particularly well-devised series of exercises, others because they have a deeper meaning, in particular, those known as hero workouts – WODs associated with and commemorating the lives of fallen military. The list continues to grow, with a range of workouts aimed at everyone from beginners all the way up to elite level athletes.

Here we list 17 of the most popular workouts you’re likely to find dominating CrossFit boxes around the world. As with all CrossFit workouts, they’re designed to be scaled. So if you can’t do something, don’t worry. And if you're wondering whether CrossFit is for you, check out our beginners CrossFit diary.

A detailed list of workouts, along with a signup to receive a daily WOD via email, can be found at CrossFit.com.

Murph

If there’s one workout that every CrossFitter has heard of, it’s Murph. A grueling set of exercises sandwiched between two-mile-long runs that will destroy every possible muscle group. Murph, named after Lt Michael P Murphy, a Navy SEAL killed in Afghanistan in 2005, is one of the toughest full-body fitness challenges you’re likely to find – add to that the fact that it’s done wearing a 20lb vest (14lb for women) and you can see why this hero workout has gone down as one of the big ones.

The workout:

  • 1 mile run
  • 100 pull-ups
  • 200 push-ups
  • 300 air squats
  • 1 mile run

All with a weight vest (20/14 lb)

Fran

There aren’t many movements that strike as much fear into the heart of a CrossFitter as the thruster. It's a term coined by CrossFit to describe the action of deep squatting with a barbell before standing upright and overhead pressing it in one fluid motion.

Chuck a few (loads) of pull-ups into that workout and you’ve got Fran, the first of the ‘benchmark’ workouts named after a woman – a naming convention that CrossFit creator Greg Glassman is said to have devised on the same principle used for hurricanes.

The workout:

Three rounds, 21-15- and 9 reps, for time of:

  • 95 lb thruster
  • Pull-ups

Cindy

Whereas some of the named workouts may be complex in terms of multiple movements, some are actually very simple. Don’t judge a book by its cover though, as some of those simpler-looking WODs can turn out to be the hardest.

Cindy’s pull-ups, push-ups, and squats may look like a cinch on paper, but try and keep a consistent pace up for 20 minutes and you’ll hate every single one of those movements. Just think yourself lucky there aren’t any burpees in there.

The workout:

Complete as many rounds in 20 minutes as you can of:

  • 5 pull-ups
  • 10 push-ups
  • 15 squats

Clovis

Named after US Army Second Lieutenant Clovis T Ray who was killed in Afghanistan in 2012, Clovis is very heavily weighted towards the runners out there. As distances go, 10 miles is a long way, so sticking 150 burpee pull-ups on top is an impressive feat.

You can split the miles into smaller partitions if you want, but let’s be honest, if you’re averse to pounding the pavement then this WOD is going to be your worst nightmare. Especially considering most people will need at least an hour and fifteen minutes to do the run alone.

The workout:

For time:

  • Run 10 miles
  • 150 burpee pull-ups

Partition the run and burpee pull-ups as needed

Nick

Named after Nicholas P Steinbacher, a US Army Specialist who died in Baghdad, Iraq, Nick is a moderately technical WOD that has a painfully high 12 rounds to finish. Dumbell hang squat cleans aren’t the toughest exercise in the CrossFit repertoire but follow them up with handstand push-ups and suddenly things change quite dramatically. By the sixth round – assuming you can actually do HSPUs – your shoulders are likely to be jelly. Don’t expect to be doing much waving at people for the rest of the day.

The workout:

12 rounds for time of:

  • 45 lb dumbbell hang squat clean, 10 reps
  • 6 handstand push-ups on dumbbells

Grace

If ever you needed evidence that the simplest workouts aren’t necessarily the easiest, then we give you Grace. 30 cleans and jerks as fast as you can with a heavy barbell. That’s it. Unfortunately cleans and jerks are one of the most demanding compound exercises you can do, which means they drain your energy very quickly. As soon as you get tired you’re likely to start losing that form as well, which makes the movement significantly harder. Enjoy.

The workout:

  • 30 clean and jerks for time

Men: 135 lb

Women: 95 lb

Karen

On paper, Karen sounds like more of an inconvenience than a workout. That’s because a handful of wallballs aren’t too big a deal. Try and string 150 of them together and that becomes a different matter entirely. The key to Karen is having a strategy because the bit that’s going to slow you down is having to pick up the ball every time you have a quick break. Limit that as much as possible and your time will improve massively.

The workout:

  • 150 wallball shots – 20lb ball


Hansen

A long metabolic workout which puts a massive strain on the core. Go low with the weight as five rounds is a long session and you're going to be feeling this one very early on. For anyone trying who's new to GHD sit-ups, swap them out for normal sit-ups until you're ready as the movement is fairly advanced and shouldn't be done incorrectly, especially at the number of reps covered in the WOD. Don't say we didn't warn you.

The workout:

5 rounds for time of:

  • 30 kettlebell swings
  • 30 burpees
  • 30 GHD sit-ups

Chelsea

No fancy workout kit, no ridiculously difficult moves, just you and the simplest of exercises done for as long as you can go. Sound easy? Trust us, it isn't. Chelsea is a CrossFit benchmark workout so you can measure yourself against others - all you're doing is lifting your own bodyweight. Simple - yes. Horribly painful - definitely.

The workout:

With the clock running, every minute, on the minute:

  • 5 pull-ups,
  • 10 push-ups
  • 5 squats

Bert

Named after U.S. Marine Cpl. Albert Gettings who died in 2009 while conducting counter-sniper operations in Fallujah, Iraq, Bert is a long and grueling series of exercises to deal with. None of which are particularly technical, but the sheer number of reps twinned with lots of running - all packed in a 50-burpee sandwich - is relentless.

The workout:

For time

  • 50 burpees
  • 400m run
  • 100 push-ups
  • 400m run
  • 150 walking lunges
  • 400m run
  • 200 squats
  • 400m run
  • 150 walking lunges
  • 400m run
  • 100 push-ups
  • 400m run
  • 50 burpees

Angie

The nice thing about 'Angie ' is that everything is in nice and neat 100-rep packages. The not-so-nice thing about 'Angie' is, well, 100-rep packages. It's a WOD that can be done anywhere, as long as you've got a bar to hang from, and apart from the pull-ups it requires very little in terms of technical skills.

You also need to do all 100 reps of an exercise before moving on to the next - sorry. Looking for a good time? Then aim for under 20 minutes.

The workout:

For time

  • 100 pull-ups
  • 100 push-ups
  • 100 sit-ups
  • 100 squats

Nancy

Sure, it looks simple on paper but when you combine one of the toughest short distances to run with one of the most physically demanding squat variations, you end up with five rounds of pure pain. If you lack mobility for the overhead you're going to find this one really hard.

The workout

5 rounds for time of:

  • 400-meter run
  • 15 overhead squats

Men 95lb

Women 65lb

Advanced WODS

For when you've ticked off a few of those technical skills like handstand push-ups, Turkish get-ups and double unders.

The Seven

A hero workout in tribute to seven CIA officers killed by a suicide bomber in 2009, the Seven is a WOD entirely based on the eponymous number. For the sheer variety of movements, it’s one of the most complex of all the named WODs. Though that also means that, unlike some of the other workouts, you’re not stuck on the same movement for a prolonged period of time. Something that may sound nice, but in reality, you’re carrying out 343 reps that also include a lot of transitions in-between. There’s no escape with the Seven, to get a good time you just need to keep going.

The workout:

Seven rounds for time of:

  • 7 handstand push-ups
  • 135 lb thruster, 7 reps
  • 7 knees to elbows
  • 245 lb deadlift, 7 reps
  • 7 burpees
  • 7 kettlebell swings, 2 pood (72 lb)
  • 7 pull-ups

Annie

There’s a reason you see boxers skipping a lot. Not only does it give an impressively tough cardio workout and helps build core strength, but it also improves balance and coordination. In CrossFit workouts, the challenge is maxed out with the inclusion of the double under – a movement where the rope rotates around the body twice.

That means that you have to both jump higher and adjust your timing effectively. Annie starts with 50 double under reps and adds on 50 sit-ups; dropping the reps down by ten for each of the five rounds. Trust us, a workout made purely of skipping and sit-ups is a lot harder than it sounds.

The workout:

50-40-30-20 and 10-rep rounds of:

  • Double-unders
  • Sit-ups

Arnie

Arnaldo "Arnie" Quinones was a Los Angeles County firefighter that died in the line of duty in 2009. His hero workout is one of the few to contain Turkish get-ups, and as a result, is one of the most technically advanced WODs you can tackle. It also uses a 2 pood kettlebell, which in layman's terms is about 72 lb – so probably not the kind of workout designed for a beginner. 42 Turkish get-ups, 150 swings, and 42 overhead squats and those shoulders are going to be feeling it.

The workout:

With a single 2 pood kettlebell:

  • 21 Turkish get-ups, right arm
  • 50 swings
  • 21 overhead squats, left arm
  • 50 swings
  • 21 overhead squats, right arm
  • 50 swings
  • 21 Turkish get-ups, left arm

Havana

Alright, so not everyone can do double unders, especially not 150 of them, and to be completely honest 50 press-ups and 15 185lb power cleans are far from easy as well. But you don't have to do it perfectly to begin with. Start with single unders and lower the weight on the power cleans to begin with. 25 minutes is a long time so this workout is all about pacing. Trust us, ten minutes in and it'll seem like a lot longer.

The workout:

Complete as many rounds as possible in 25 minutes of:

  • 150 double-unders
  • 50 push-ups
  • 15 power cleans

Men: 185lb

Women: 125lb

JBo

It's not often that you see bench pressing in a WOD and it's even less often that you want to do rope climbs in one. Add overhead squats into the mix and you're looking at fairly challenging trip down to the gym.

The movements may not be the most technical, but rope climbs are far from easy, not only for the back and biceps but also for the skin on your poor hands. If the movements weren't enough, JBo is one hell of a long WOD as well so it'll push your endurance to the limit.

The main workout is definitely for the more advanced CrossFitter, so lower the weights significantly if you're not confident with the movements. For those that haven't mastered rope climbs from seated, try a legless rope climb or a lying to standing climb.

The workout:

28 minutes to complete as many rounds as possible:
  • 9 overhead squats
  • 1 legless rope climb from seated
  • 12 bench presses
Men: 115-lb (OHS and bench) + 15-ft. rope

Women: 75-lb (OHS and bench) + 15-ft. rope

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