CrossFit has been a game-changer in the world of fitness. One of the main benefits CrossFit has given to gym-goers is making big compound lifts and full-body, functional exercises mainstream again.
When we look at the definition that CrossFit gives for itself, we can get a real feel for what CrossFit offers: “CrossFit consists of constantly varied functional movements executed at high intensity across broad time and modal domains”. Basically, you need to be ready for anything.
Today we are going to share a list of the best CrossFit exercises that you can definitely add to your workout of the day (WOD).
The Best CrossFit Workouts (WODs)
One of the most popular and widely used CrossFit workouts is “Hero WOD”, named so as a memorial to Navy Lieutenant (SEAL) Michael Murphy. Murph is a true test of functional strength and muscle endurance as it only utilizes bodyweight exercises. But don’t let that fool you as it’s a killer workout. Plus, it’s very easy to scale as you can merely lower the required reps.
Murph consists of 5 exercises to be done in order:
- 1 mile run
- 100 Pull Ups
- 200 Push Ups
- 300 Air Squats
- 1 mile run
1 Round for time. Optional: Wear 20lb vest for the duration (This is what the pros do)
If you love your classic barbell strength movements, Linda is for you. Even if Crossfit isn’t your main mode of training, athletes from all strength sports could benefit by throwing Linda into one of your workouts for full body strength. Linda is one of the best ways to incorporate some volume work into your big lifts.
Linda is a descending ladder starting from 10 reps to 1 reps in 3 movements at weights relative to your body weight for time. (You can obviously scale down as necessary…or scale up!)
- 1) Deadlift @1.5 body weight
- 2) Bench Press @ body weight
- 3) Clean @ .75 body weight
What this will look like is you do 10 reps of the deadlift, 10 reps of bench press, 10 reps of clean, 9 reps of the deadlift, 9 reps of bench press…..1 deadlift, 1 bench press, 1 clean. That’s 55 reps for each movement!
Fran only requires 2 movements but it will test you. It is done in a 21-15-9 rep scheme
- Pull up bar
- 21 Thrusters –> 21 Pullups
- 15 Thrusters –>15 Pullups
- 9 Thrusters –> 9 Pullups
Girls: 65lbs Guys: 95 lbs
1 Round for time
If you like the idea of Murph but hate running, you’ll love Cindy. It involves the same 3 exercises but using a smaller amount of reps to be done in rounds. The objective is to complete as many rounds as you can in 20 minutes
- Body only
- 5 Pull Ups
- 10 Push Ups
- 15 Air Squats
Done as an AMRP (As Many Rounds As Possible) for 20 minutes. Make sure to count the number of reps you do.
5) Filthy Fifty
The “Filthy Fifty” workout is a brutal “chipper style” work where your objective is to finish a long list of exercises. This workout requires you to perform 50 reps of 10 exercises
- 50 Box Jumps (24/20 in)
- 50 Jumping Pull-Ups
- 50 Kettlebell Swing (1/.75 pood)
- 50 Walking Lunge Steps
- 50 Knees-to-Elbows
- 50 Push Presses (45/35 lb)
- 50 Back Extensions
- 50 Wall Ball Shots (20/14 lb)
- 50 Burpees
- 50 Double-Unders
1 Round for time
Grace is simple. Only 1 exercise: The clean and jerk. But don’t think simple means easy. Grace requires you to knock out this complex Olympic lift 30 for 30 reps as fast as you can. This is great for all strength as well as conditioning.
- Medicine ball (for scaled)
- 30 Clean and Jerks for time
1 Round for time
Unlike the other workouts, Annie is the only one that doesn’t utilize and “strength” movements. Annie focuses on two movements, the double-under and sit-ups. This is a great workout to use as a “finisher” or for weight loss
- Jump Rope
This is done in a ladder format with 5 rounds done consecutively. 50, 40, 30, 20, 10
The Best CrossFit Exercises
Now that we have some of the most popular workouts, we need to go through the exercises which are used with video
While primarily a lower body movement, deadlifts are often called the “king of exercises” due to it’s ability to train almost every muscle in the body. Further, you will do this movement a lot in Crossfit so you need to be efficient performing it. The deadlift is the ultimate movement to train the posterior chain (lower back, glutes, hamstrings) for superior strength
2) Bench Press
The bench press is perhaps the most popular movement done in the gym yet, it is also somewhat of a rarity in Crossfit workouts. This is another benefit to doing Murph somewhat regularly. The bench press is done by laying on a bench and pressing a bar up. The major muscles hit are the chest, shoulders, and triceps.
The clean is actually the first part of the the Olympic movement “The Clean and Jerk” (#4 on this list). If you are an athlete, you definitely want to learn this movement at it, along with other power movements. The explosive movements have been shown to transfer over to athleticism to a higher degree than other strength exercises.
4) Clean and Jerks
The clean and jerk is the clean from #3 but then a “jerk” where you press the bar over your head in an explosive manner.
5) Pull ups
Pull ups are a great way to train every muscle in your back. It really is the ultimate back exercise. Like other body weight exercises, it is relatively simple to train and is a great method to gauge your overall fitness.
6) Push ups
Push ups are the perfect complementary exercise to the above pull up. As the name suggests, the push up is going to work your upper body “pushing” muscles which include the chest, shoulders, and triceps. Basically the same movement as a bench press but pushing the floor, using your body as weight. Bonus Tip: Push ups are basically planks which move up and down making them a great core exercise as well
7) Air Squat
Air squats are great exercises for beginners as well as the most seasoned athlete. It is simply a squat using only your body weight but don’t think they are easy. If you are more advanced, you can aim to hit a higher amount of reps in one set. 30, 40, 50…..the number is up to you to see how far you can push yourself
Thruster is one of the best single exercise which has the ability to hit almost every muscle group. It involves doing a front squat with a barbell in which you then power up and “thrust” the bar overhead. This movement does take a bit of mobility so you can opt to use dumbbells to begin with if you need.
9) Box Jumps
The name “box jump” explains this movement. You jump from the ground, onto a box. Even though jumping is done with just the body, the box jump is still considered a power movement as you must propel your entire body into the air. This is a great exercise to add power and endurance to the muscle in your legs
10) Jumping Pull ups
Again, the name explains these. You set up a platform so that you can grab the bar and then you jump, while at the same time pulling your chin above the bar. Important note: Jumping pull ups not great strength developers nor should they be used as a pull-up alternative. These are done more as a metabolic conditioning exercise,
11) Kettlebell Swing
Crossfit did not invent the kettlebell but they did make its use much more common among average gym-goers. There are a ton of exercises that you can do with the kettlebell but it all starts with kettlebell swings. It is an amazing exercise for metabolic conditioning. More so, it’s great for overall strength and conditioning, especially for the posterior chain. When done correctly, kettlebell swings are primarily just a hip hinge (like the deadlift) and will strengthen the hamstrings, glute, lower back, and entire core.
12) Walking Lunges
Walking lunges are one of the best workouts for your legs as it hits every muscle in the lower body while at the same time training your balance and mobility. In the WOD “The filthy fifty” you only use your body weight but you can easily make these more difficult by holding dumbbells. This way, you can increase the load and train for strength
13) Double Unders
Want to make your calfs scream with pain? A good pain that is? Knock out some double unders. A double under is simply jump roping rope, except, you will need to have the rope pass under your feet twice. This will result
14) Abmat Situp
The Abmat situp is one of the most common moves you’ll see in a Crossfit workout. This is due to it being highly effective yet easy for Crossfitters of all levels. It is a situp that is done with the knees bent and spread open like a butterfly. Using this form takes out the use of the hip flexors and puts more stress on the core.
15) Knees to Elbow
Knees to elbow is a great core workout that can be used any time to hit the abs and improve overall grip strength. In this exercise, you will grab a bar shoulder-width apart with your hands and hang. Then use your core to bring your knees up until they hit the elbow
16) Push Presses
Push presses are a great power movement and can act as a stand-alone exercise or as progression to the push jerk. After you take the bar out of the rack, you will use a slight bend in the hips to generate explosive force to propel the bar upwards. Some will use this to increase the 1RM max of their strict shoulder press as you can load with more weight.
17) Back Extensions
The back extension is to be done on a GHD machine and trains the lower back while also hitting the glutes and hamstrings.
Simple but brutal. Burpees are the exercise that everyone loves to hate. They are quite simple in that they exist of jumping down to the ground, touching your belly on the floor, getting back up, and jumping. You know these suck as many coaches like to use them as a punishment.
19) Wall Ball Shots
Wall ball shots are another movement that train your entire body by combining a lower body squat movement with an upper-body pressing movement. This movement can get tricky as you want to find the perfect combination of speed and form.
These Crossfit workouts of the day (WODs) will challenge veteran athletes and first-timers alike. It’s hard to say what are “the best Crossfit exercises”, but doing these will allow you to hit muscle groups of every body part. You will perform the vast majority of the main movements in Crossfit. If you are new and a video is not enough, go check out your local box as they will be more than happy to show you the ropes.
Frequently Asked Questions
What are the best Crossfit exercises?
All the exercises are great. If I had to choose, I would focus on your main barbell movements (Deadlift, Front Squat, Clean and Jerks) and gymnastics/calisthenics (push ups, pull ups, ring dips). Doing these would allow you to crossover quite easily to other exercises. In addition, any kind of cardio (running, Rogue Bike, rower)
How many days a week should you do Crossfit?
A general rule to follow is no more than 2 days in a row of training and no more than 2 days off. However, I find that most people do will on a 2 days on, 1 day off rotation.
What is the hardest Crossfit WOD?
The unique thing about Crossfit is that you can make any WOD as hard as you want depending on how hard you push yourself. That being said, Chippers are usually pretty tough as you have a lot of exercises to do.