Six-Time Fittest Woman On Earth Tia-Clair Toomey-Orr Reveals Her Favorite CrossFit Benchmark Workout And How To Get A Top Time

Woman performing overhead squat
CrossFit workout Nancy combines overhead squats and 400m runs (Image credit: MoMo Productions / Getty Images)

Six-time fittest woman on earth Tia-Clair Toomey-Orr is the most decorated individual CrossFit athlete in history. But even she started out in her local CrossFit box with an empty barbell and a whole lotta drills. 

It’s these early encounters with the sport that led her to name Nancy as her favorite benchmark CrossFit workout during a recent interview with Coach.

“Overhead squats were actually quite challenging for me when I first started. A lot of the weightlifting movements were,” Toomey-Orr tells me.

“Nancy is five rounds of a 400m run and 15 overhead squats. I was a runner prior to doing CrossFit so it allowed me to get ahead and do what I was really born to do, then it really challenged me when it came to the squats. But I could see progression every time I did it.”

CrossFit Workout Nancy

Five rounds for time:

Tia-Clair Toomey-Orr On How To Get A Good Nancy Time

Unlike in a complex chipper (a workout that could be up to an hour long with multiple moves), you won’t need to squint at the whiteboard for a mid-WOD reminder of the movements here. Nancy is a straightforward workout, which is part of the appeal for Toomey-Orr. 

But in CrossFit, straightforward rarely means easy. That’s why the perennial champ says the key to success is strategy, playing to your strengths and nailing down your technique for the overhead squats.

“When you walk into a gym and you see the workout on the whiteboard, I think the best thing to do is to work out where your strengths are and where your weaknesses are,” she says.

“For example, in Nancy, I knew that my strength was going to be on the running portion, but when I came back in from the run my overhead squats were going to be the limiting factor.

To hone her technique, Toomey-Orr tackled Nancy with an empty barbell at first, leading to her next piece of advice: Scale the workout where needed and work on building strong foundations in each of the movements.

If Toomey-Orr can benefit from scaling workouts, chances are you can too. 

“I had to learn not only the movement, but also build my body awareness as well,” says Toomey-Orr. 

“When you face movements that you’re less confident with, it’s about giving them a little bit more time, being a bit more patient with the whole process and just breaking it down. 

“Everyone wants to go from zero to 100, but you need to take your time and put the work in.”

Harry Bullmore
Staff writer

Harry covers news, reviews and features for Coach, Fit&Well and Live Science. With over a decade of training experience, he has tried everything from powerlifting to gymnastics, cardio to CrossFit, all in a bid to find fun ways of building a healthy, functional body.