CrossFit Workouts To Try In Your Next Gym Session

Row of people doing push-ups in gym
(Image credit: Thomas Barwick / Getty Images)

CrossFit started in 2001 as an accessible way for people to improve their fitness and founder Greg Glassman defined it as “constantly varied, high-intensity functional movement.” It’s a great way to get fit fast and there’s a camaraderie among CrossFitters that’s forged in the furnace of doing a brutally hard workout together. 

There are also gymnastic and Olympic weightlifting elements, which means if you’re keen on doing CrossFit proper it’s worth signing up for classes at a CrossFit box so you can learn the correct technique and progress safely, but that doesn’t mean there aren’t CrossFit Workouts which offer something to the average gym-goer.

We’ve collected eight accessible WODs (workout of the day) where the most technical exercises are thrusters and the kettlebell swing, but don’t confuse accessible with easy—you’ll be doing high amounts of reps of a handful of exercises at speed.

After these workouts, we’ve also listed six types of CrossFit workout and included more examples to try.

If you get a taste for this style of session, sign up for this year’s CrossFit Open in February. It’s an online fitness competition that’s open to all comers. Our guide to the CrossFit Open explains all.

Eight Popular CrossFit WODs

We’ve included recommended weights, but it’s wise to do a trial run with a much lighter weight so you don’t do yourself a mischief. It’ll still be hard.


Doing 100 reps of anything is tough—so doing 100 reps of four different bodyweight exercises in a row, trying to complete the whole lot as quickly as possible, is absolute murder. Those four exercises are pull-upspress-upssit-ups and squats. So you’ll be doing 100 pull-ups, 100 press-ups, 100 sit-ups and 100 squats.

Home Chipper

The beauty of a descending ladder workout is that it gets easier over time. Unfortunately, CrossFit doesn’t have the word “easy” in its vocabulary, so with this descending ladder workout you start with 100 reps of the first exercise, and then it’s 90 for the second, so you’re 190 reps deep with eight exercises still to go. Anyway, here are those exercises, all of which can be done without any equipment.


A CrossFit classic, Fran is a great workout to revisit periodically in the hope that you will improve your time as you get fitter. Fran consists of just two exercises—thrusters (recommended weight 95lb/40-45kg) and pull-ups. You do 21 reps of each, then 15 reps, then nine, as fast as you can. Finishing in under six minutes deserves a pat on the back—don’t attempt this yourself because you may start to panic when you realize you can’t raise your arms.


Even simpler than Fran, there’s only one exercise in the Karen WOD. Unfortunately that exercise is wall balls, and you’ll be doing 150 of them as fast as you can. Grab a 20lb/9kg medicine ball and face your wall. Aim to throw it above the 10ft mark (which you’ll find in most CrossFit boxes) with each rep. Anything under 10 minutes would be a great effort first time out. As with all CrossFit workouts, take as many breaks as you need—just remember that they count towards your overall time. Keen to improve your time? Use these wall balls form tips from CrossFitter Aniol Ekai.


The Helen WOD is a combination of cardio and strength work. Start with a 400m run, then do 21 kettlebell swings (weight 53lb/24kg) and finish with 12 pull-ups. Then do it again, and then again. Three rounds in total. Finishing all three rounds in under 12 minutes is a solid effort.


If you thought the Helen workout sounded hard, you might as well skip even reading this one. Eva takes the same exercises as Helen but ramps up the distance, weight and reps to create an absolutely brutal circuit. For starters you’re doing five rounds, instead of three. Those rounds involve an 800m run, 30 kettlebell swings (weight 70lb/31-32kg) and 30 pull-ups. In theory you’re doing this all as fast as possible but it’s fair to say if you complete this one at all, you’ve done yourself proud.


Clear your schedule, this one will take some time. The five steps in the Murph WOD are as follows: one-mile run, 100 pull-ups, 200 press-ups, 300 air squats, one-mile run. The kicker is that it should be performed wearing a weighted vest (men 20lb, women 15lb), but your average gym-goer can skip that part. This one is definitely a marathon, not a sprint. Murph is what’s known as a Hero WOD, named in honor of Lt Michael P Murphy, a Navy SEAL killed in action in 2005.


Rather than aiming to complete the required reps as quickly as possible, the Cindy WOD always lasts exactly 20 minutes. In those 20 minutes you do repeated circuits of five pull-ups, ten press-ups and 15 air squats. Over and over again. Hit 15 rounds and we’ll give you a round of applause—20 gets you a standing O.

Six Types Of CrossFit Workouts

Here are six of the most popular types of CrossFit workouts you can use to break up the monotony of body-part splits and make you a more rounded athlete.


Stands for “every minute on the minute”. Start a running clock and do a set number of reps at regular intervals, typically (but not necessarily, despite the name) at the start of each minute. The EMOM workout scrutinises your powers of recovery.

Workout: Three clean and jerks every minute for 10 minutes


“As many rounds as possible”. Complete a given exercise combination as many times as you can within a given time. It’s a battle of mind over searing muscle.

Workout: 12 minutes of eight front squats and eight push presses

3. RFT

“Rounds for time” means completing a given number of rounds of a circuit as fast as possible. The short rest periods help develop long-lasting muscle endurance.

Workout: Eight rounds of 15 kettlebell swings, 10 kettlebell clean and presses and 5 kettlebell snatches

4. Chipper

A one-round series of exercises, usually with high reps, to be completed in the fastest time possible. A high-volume, muscle-building grind.

Workout: 100 press-ups, 75 bodyweight squats, 50 burpees, 25 pull-ups

5. Ladder

One or more movements, increasing or decreasing the workload over time.

Workout: 1-10 reps of goblet squats superset with 10-1 reps of pull-ups

6. Tabata

Do eight rounds of high-intensity intervals, alternating 20 seconds effort with 10 seconds rest. A fat-eviscerating finisher. If you’d like to find out who’s responsible for such a punishing protocol, our guide to Tabata training reveals all.

Workout: 8x Tabata rows for max distance

Nick Harris-Fry
Senior writer

Nick Harris-Fry is a journalist who has been covering health and fitness since 2015. Nick is an avid runner, covering 70-110km a week, which gives him ample opportunity to test a wide range of running shoes and running gear. He is also the chief tester for fitness trackers and running watches, treadmills and exercise bikes, and workout headphones.