This Dumbbell CrossFit Workout Will Put Your Strength And Fitness To The Test

Woman holds dumbbell above her head
(Image credit: Aleksandar Jankovic / iStock / Getty Images)

It’s true that CrossFit requires lots of equipment, with many WODs involving barbells, kettlebells and pull-up bars. But the basis of CrossFit is functional strength and fitness, and an effective CrossFit workout is possible with nothing more than a dumbbell.

In fact, Jennifer Muir, a WIT athlete who was crowned the Fittest Woman In The UK this year, says that one of the best tests of cardio fitness and strength is CrossFit Open workout 17.1, which uses dumbbells. 

CrossFit Open 17.1 Dumbbell Workout

Time cap: 20 minutes

For Time: 

  • 10 dumbbell snatches 
  • 15 burpee box jump overs 
  • 20 dumbbell snatches
  • 15 burpee box jump overs 
  • 30 dumbbell snatches
  • 15 burpee box jump overs 
  • 40 dumbbell snatches
  • 15 burpee box jump overs 
  • 50 dumbbell snatches 
  • 15 burpee box jump overs

“With its 20-minute time cap, this workout is a battle not just against the clock, but against self-doubt and mental endurance. Pushing through each rep and each minute makes this workout ultra satisfying," says Muir.

“Even though this is a race against time, don’t give everything you have all at once. Keep a bit in reserve then really empty the tank in the final few minutes,” says Muir.

The time cap makes it a great lunch-break workout, or you can add it to the end of a strength session as a finisher

The dumbbell snatch is an excellent full-body exercise. Start with the dumbbell on the floor, squatting down to hold onto it, then explosively driving through your legs and your hips to bring it overhead, extending your arm at the top of the movement.

"When doing the dumbbell snatches, make sure you bend your knees slightly to reduce the distance the dumbbell travels while alternating the snatches, reducing the risk of injury," says Muir.

The other move in this workout is the burpee box jump over, which involves doing a burpee, jumping onto the box, then jumping and stepping off or repeating the move. If you don’t have access to a box, simply do conventional burpees instead. Or, if you really want to challenge yourself, try a Devil’s Press, which involves doing a burpee with a dumbbell in each hand, followed by a snatch with the two dumbbells.

The RX dumbbell weights for this workout for top-level competitors are 50lb (22kg) for men and 35lb (16kg) for women. Only attempt this weight if you have experience completing dumbbell snatches at this weight. If not, go for the scaled weights, which are 35lb (16kg) for men and 20lb (9kg) for women. 

If you enjoyed this workout, take a look at another of Muir’s favorite sessions, CrossFit Open 22.2, which pairs deadlifts with burpees.

Alice Porter

Alice Porter is a journalist who covers health, fitness and wellbeing, among other topics, for titles including Stylist, Fit & Well, Glamour, Cosmopolitan, Grazia, VICE and Refinery29. When she’s not writing about these topics, you can probably find her at her local CrossFit box.