They’re nasty. They’re tough. They’re grueling. And people do them all the time for the pure, unadulterated challenge. They are CrossFit Workouts of the Day (WODs), and they aren’t for your average gym rat.
Anyone who has jumped headfirst into the crazy, fun, wild and wonderful world of CrossFit knows that not all WODs are built the same. While all of them are guaranteed to leave you sweating and crying for your mother, some are absolutely, positively terrible and possibly terrifying. But if you’re totally enmeshed in the culture of CrossFit, you know to say, “Bring it on!” when the gauntlet is thrown down.
Though there are many WODs that have earned the respect – and healthy fear – of athletes, the five listed below are among the most intense. Build up to them because they aren’t for every day. Yet don’t back down and think they can’t be done. You’ll be competing against yourself, and that’s the most rewarding battle because no matter what happens, you’re a winner!
WOD #1: Fran
With such a sweet sounding name, this WOD seems as innocuous as a grandma who bakes cookies for the neighborhood children. Wrong! Fran is more like a nasty witch who lives in the woods and beckons unsuspecting travelers to her lair.
Fran consists of an intense workout that includes – gird your loins – the following reps: 21 thrusters, 21 pull-ups, 15 thrusters, 15 pull-ups, 9 thrusters, 9 pull-ups. Sounds easy enough, right? Not. At. All. Grown men have cried during this fearsome WOD, because there is no rest period allowed. Yeah, you have to be explosive and work past your barriers, both physical and mental.
The overall goal is to have a time that just keeps getting better every Fran WOD you do. Top athletes score under three minutes, but if you can just get through it, you deserve a green smoothie.
WOD #2: Angie
Well, well, well… it’s another darling sounding WOD. Angie. Like Fran, the name is totally deceptive. Angie is a muscle-buster of the nth degree, and you’ll crawl to your car after you’ve completed these 100-rep exercises.
The basic structure of Angie is 100 pull-ups, 100 push-ups, 100 sit-ups and 100 squats. Oh, and you probably guessed that you can’t stop whenever you like for an easy breather. The point is to keep going until you can’t go any more, and then keep going! Each time you try Angie, your time should get better and better. Keep track of it; you’ll stay motivated while your glutes are cursing at you.
WOD #3: Murph
Scared yet? Wait until you hear about Murph. Named for a Navy Seal hero, the Murph WOD breaks down barriers you’ve never even come close to encountering. Murph starts with a 1-mile run at a decidedly non-leisurely pace (think cajones to the wall), followed by 100 pull-ups, 200 push-ups and 300 squats. Finish up with another crazed 1-mile run.
There’s one aspect of Murph that makes this WOD a little less horrifying: You can partition the 100, 200 and 300 reps. For instance, some CrossFitters like to do 10 pull-ups, 20 push-ups, 30 squats, repeat. This helps avoid total muscle fatigue. Feel like Murph just isn’t enough for a stud like you? Do it wearing a 20-pound vest!
WOD #4: Filthy Fifty
This alliterative WOD should make you shudder a little. You’ll be doing 50 box jumps, 50 jumping pull-ups, 50 kettlebell swings, 50 steps during a walking lunge, 50 knees-to-elbows, 50 push presses, 50 back extensions, 50 wall ball shots, 50 burpees and 50 double unders. If you can lift your arms at this point, you can do a victorious Rocky-style move in the box.
There are no rest periods during the Filthy Fifty, at least in theory. So you’ll need to slowly work up to this WOD by maxing out during your WODs leading up to it. The trick to not killing yourself or straining anything in your body during Filthy Fifty is to have exceptional posture and form. Without it, you might be AWOL from the box, and no one wants that.
WOD #5: Mary
Our fifth most feared WOD is Mary, which – literally – turns the world of WOD workouts on its head. During Mary, you’ll be doing the following for a total of 20 minutes: 5 handstand push-ups, 10 one-legged squats (you alternate the legs) and 15 pull-ups. Basically, do as many rounds of these reps as is possible.
Mary is actually a really good starting WOD. It requires tons of fortitude, but it allows you to go at the pace you need. As you build up, your number of rounds will improve greatly, as will your reputation as an honest-to-goodness competitor in your CrossFit community.
Why the [Bleep] Should I Do These WODs?
If you’re just getting started in CrossFit, you may not understand why in the world people do these tough WODs just for the heck of it. That’s understandable. However, when you start to get into the mindset of the box, you’ll quickly realize that there are tremendous benefits to engaging in this type of unusually hard WOD. Some of the main advantages include:
- Breaking down the walls. We all think we can only go “so far”… until we inch a bit farther.
- Building muscle. If you know you’re going to be doing a Fran or Murph, it gives incentive to build up your strength and endurance.
- Bragging rights. Yes, we all love this… who wouldn’t? Plus, it’ll put you among the elite of your box teammates.
- Camaraderie. You’ll hear tons of cheers when you kick a WOD’s butt. Believe me!
- Confidence. This is the reason so many non-runners take up running and eventually compete in marathons. They’ll never make it to the Olympics, but that’s okay – they build confidence through their chosen sport.
One word of advice: Start slowly and be methodical. Should you try one of the tough WODs and be unable to complete it, don’t lose the faith. Just tell yourself you’ll kill it the next time, and plan for the coming months. Getting rid of boundaries is what CrossFit is all about!