This Bodyweight CrossFit Staple Hits Your Whole Body With Just Three Moves

Row of people doing push-ups in gym
Push-ups are one of the three exercises in the Cindy workout (Image credit: Thomas Barwick / Getty Images)

CrossFit tends to conjure up images of barbells, bumper plates and complex Olympic lifts, but you can still get a functional pump with simple bodyweight exercises

If you’re looking for a minimalist metcon to put your mind, muscles and lungs to the test, WIT Fitness head coach Jordan Shelley prescribes Cindy, a benchmark CrossFit workout.

The premise is simple: Perform a sequence of five pull-ups, 10 push-ups and 15 unweighted squats as many times as you can in 20 minutes. And, in true CrossFit style, you can measure your success by recording your score—the total number of rounds and reps you complete. 

“Cindy is based around complementary movements; a push, a pull and a squat,” Shelley tells Coach. Think of a push/pull workout plan, condensed into 20 minutes. 

“This means fatigue takes longer to kick in for specific muscle groups, so you can keep going for longer, making it a great way to maximize full-body training volume in a short space of time.”

So if you’re pressed for time, or just fancy pitting yourself against this lightning-quick fitness trial, lace up your CrossFit shoes and get to work. 

How To Do The Cindy CrossFit Workout

Perform the three exercises below as a circuit, resting as little as possible between movements. Complete as many rounds and reps as possible (known as AMRAP) of this three-move sequence in 20 minutes. 

1 Pull-up 

Reps 5

Hang from a pull-up bar with an overhand grip and your hands slightly wider than shoulder-width apart. From a dead hang position, retract your shoulder blades (pulling them towards each other and down). Brace your core, then use your back muscles to pull yourself up until your chin is above the bar. Lower back to the starting position to complete a rep. 

2 Push-up 

Reps 10

Start in a high plank position with your arms extended, hands under your shoulders and body held in a straight line. Keeping your back straight, bend your elbows to lower your chest to the floor. Keep your elbows close to your body to avoid putting too much stress on your shoulders. When your chest touches the floor, press through your hands to return to the starting position. 

3 Unweighted squat

Reps 15

Stand with your feet hip-width apart and your toes turned out slightly (this position will differ depending on the individual, so find what feels best for you). Push your hips back to initiate the movement, then bend your knees until your thighs are below parallel to the ground. Finally, drive through your feet to return to the starting position. 

The beauty of Cindy as a workout is just how comprehensive a test of fitness it is. The accumulation of reps will challenge your muscular endurance, and by cycling through push, pull and legs exercises it works your whole body.

It offers a decent cardio hit too, with the use of complementary movements meaning you can keep moving for longer. But, if you want these perks, you have to approach it right. 

“Don’t get carried away in the first round,” Shelley says. “This workout requires some pacing. To maximize your score, it’s important to set a pace that you can stick with for the whole 20 minutes.”

Woman performing kipping pull-up

Kipping pull-ups are allowed in the Cindy workout (Image credit: Mikel Taboada / Getty Images)

Seasoned CrossFitters may use kipping pull-ups, which use momentum to help pull your body up to the bar, saving your back and biceps from fatigue. 

“If you haven’t quite mastered kipping pull-ups, you can try a gymnastic ring row or inverted row [instead of a strict pull-up] to keep the speed up,” Shelley says. “Strict pull-ups are great, but these will become very tough, very quickly.”

After this workout leaves you drenched in sweat and endorphins, you might decide you quite enjoy this style of bodyweight workout. If that’s the case, why not tackle this CrossFit Games champion’s two-move no-equipment challenge?

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.