21 CrossFit Workouts to Build Muscle, Strength and Stamina

CrossFit. Even if you swear by bodybuilding, have skipped passed the countless Netflix CrossFit documentaries, and have very strong opinions on those pull-ups, there’s no denying that it’s rocked the fitness world to its core and transformed what ‘training’ looks like for millions of people. With almost 14,000 CrossFit ‘boxes’ (CrossFit speak for ‘gym’) around the world, there’s scant chance you’re far away from one. Those stats, combined with the undeniably impressive physiques of Crossfit’s top competitors, perhaps it’s time you suspended your skepticism on ‘the sport of fitness’?

Maximum heart rates, strength building workouts and intelligent programming are all promises CrossFit make, so if even if you’re not ready to go full CrossFit, it’s still the smarter man’s choice to swap a 5K plod for one of these WODs. But first, a little refresher.

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Adam Bow


CrossFit Workout Terminology: WODs, EMOMs and AMRAPs

With more AMRAPs, EMOMs and WODs than you can get your head around, it makes sense to come to term’s with CrossFit’s terminology before attempting any of the below.

AMRAP: This stands for ‘as many reps (or rounds) as possible’, a workout structure that’s frequently used in CrossFit to accompany conditioning pieces. It’s designed to push your body to the max in a short time frame. ‘AMRAPs allow you to specify the amount of time that a training session will take. If you know that you’ll be going for exactly 7 minutes, it’s much easier to understand the pacing of the effort required over that 7 minutes,’ said Todd Nief, head CrossFit coach and owner of South Loop Strength & Conditioning in Chicago.

EMOM: Every minute, on the minute. You’ll need a watch, stopwatch or a clock for this one. Complete the prescribed number of reps within a minute’s timeframe, resting for the remainder of the same minute. The EMOM format encourages you to work harder in order to earn more rest. Once a new minute starts, so do you. Deep breaths, now.

WOD: Workout of the day — as the name suggests, is the prescribed workout on any given day from CrossFit or an affiliate gym to their members. Historically these were one-off workouts published on CrossFit dot com, or ‘main site’ as it’s often know. But, they’ve since evolved to include clever, periodised programming often tailored to achieve specific results within the sport of CrossFit, or for individual goals.

‘Each person will need to experiment to determine what ‘enough’ means,’ says the official CrossFit website. ‘Experienced athletes with specific competition goals might need additional work to improve their fitness, while beginners might need to reduce the volume of the WOD to optimise results.’

RFT: Rounds for time — this means that you have to go hell-for-leather to achieve the quickest time possible while maintaining good form. RFT workouts are particularly useful for measuring yourself against previous times and thereby testing your strength and your fitness.

METCON: A portmanteau of ‘metabolic conditioning’. Broadly speaking metcons are workouts designed to target multiple ‘energy systems’ of the body, whilst also including some element of strength or gymnastics work. Technically a metcon could last from anything from 5-50 minutes, but more often than not they’re characterised as quick and dirty lung scorchers, generally saved until the end of the WOD and coming in at under the twenty minute mark.


crossfit open

CrossFit Open Workouts 2024

The CrossFit Open is the initial stage of the competitive season, giving normal 9-5 athletes the chance to throw down and submit scores to the global leaderboard. Under the new structure unveiled in 2022, it takes place over three consecutive weeks, with three workouts released on Thursday evenings. Scores are due by Monday night GMT to be valid and make it onto the scoreboard. Here is our guide to 24.1:


The Best CrossFit Workout For Beginners

Before you introduce yourself to any of the ‘girls’ — more on them below — this workout is ideal for beginners to dip their toes into the water and can be performed at any commercial gym, or even at gym with basic kit such as a pair of dumbbells or a barbell. But that doesn’t mean it’s going to be easy. It will require hard graft, but you’ll quickly see get an insight into your current strength and energy fitness. Perform regularly, aiming to increase the weights you or rest less, resulting in more reps, and you’ll see major improvements in stamina, as well as adding muscle and scorching calories.

Set a countdown timer for twenty minutes and complete as many high quality rounds as possible of the following four move circuit, featuring some staple Crossfit movements. Move at a good pace to get a feel for the ‘metabolic’ part of ‘Metcon’, but keep the reps clean.

No barbell? Grab a pair of dumbbells and perform the exact same movements.

1. Burpee Over Bar x 3

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With your barbell on the ground in front of you, step back and hit the deck, lowering your body until your chest touches the floor (A). Stand back up and jump powerfully over the bar (B) That’s one rep. Now turn, drop to the floor and go again…

2. Push Press x 6

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Clean your barbell onto your shoulders, into the ‘front rack’ position. Take a breath and create tension through your entire body. (A) Dip at the knees and use your legs to help (B) press your bar overhead. Lower under strict control to your shoulders and repeat.

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Once you’ve completed your final press perform your squats by dropping the bar back down onto front of your shoulders (A). From here, drop into a front squat, until your thighs pass parallel to the ground (B), before driving back up. Keep your elbows up, back flat and chest high to avoid losing the barbell.

deadlift exercise

After your final squat, drop your barbell to the ground, Hinge down with a flat back and grasp the bar (A). Pull your hips down towards the ground, brace your core and create tension through your entire body before driving your feet into the ground and standing upright (B). Keep the bar close to your body and arms straight throughout. Focus on keeping your core tight, torso rigid and ‘driving the floor away’ with your feet. After your final rep, drop your bar and get stuck into the next round of burpees

The Most Famous CrossFit Workouts

It doesn’t take a genius to realise that some of the most famous CrossFit ‘benchmark’ workouts are named after girls. CrossFit Inc. founder Greg Glassman has alluded to naming them after females in a similar vein to that of the weather service, as ‘the workouts were so physically demanding that they left athletes feeling as though a storm hit them.’ Whether they’re referencing any women in particular, we’ll never know, but they pack a real punch when it comes to getting a sweat on and testing your mettle.

Fran: 21-15-9 reps for time

Helen: 3 rounds for time

  • 400m run
  • 21 KB swings
  • 12 pull-ups

Cindy: AMRAP 20 minutes

  • 5 pull-ups
  • 10 press-ups
  • 15 air squats

Annie: 50-40-30-20-10 reps

Nancy: 5 RFT

  • 400m of Cardio OR 75 Double-Unders
  • 15 Overhead Squats

Haven’t got double-unders yet? Here’s how to get there.

Kalsu: For Time

  • 100 dumbbell Thrusters
  • Every Minute on the Minute (EMOM) – 5 Burpees

Diane: 21-15-9 reps for time

  • Dumbbell Deadlifts
  • Strict Handstand Push-ups

    Chelsea: EMOM 30

    • 5 pull-ups
    • 10 press-ups
    • 15 squats

    Grettel: 10 Rounds for time

    • 3 clean-and-jerks, 61kg/43kg barbell
    • 3 burpees over the barbell

    Barbara Ann: 5 rounds for time, 3-minute rest

    • 20 handstand push-ups
    • 30 deadlifts 61kg/43kg barbell
    • 40 sit-ups
    • 50 double-unders

    Ellen: 3 Rounds for time

    • 20 burpees
    • 21 dumbbell snatches 22/15kg, single dumbbell
    • 12 dumbbell thrusters 22/15kg, dual dumbbells

    Lyla: For time, 10,9,8,7…1 Rounds

    • Muscle-ups
    • Bodyweight clean-and-jerks
      CrossFit Workouts including Murph, Gunny, DT, Cindy, Fran. Benefits of CrossFit for beginners, WOD, AMRAP. Mat Fraser, Josh Bridges

      Michael Brian

      CrossFit Hero Workouts

      CrossFit hero WODs are named after fallen soldiers and first-responders that have died in the line of duty. Often the rep schemes of the workout will reflect significant dates in their lives, or in cases where the hero in question was an active Crossfit athlete the workout may feature their favourite movements or combination of exercises.

      ‘Military, law enforcement and first responder communities were among the earliest proponents of CrossFit. Their intensity matched with the fitness CrossFit provides is a match made in heaven,’ says CrossFit.

      ‘When a service member dies in the line of duty, a CrossFit hero workout is created in their name. Hero WODs are an opportunity to reflect on the sacrifices of the fallen – to speak their names and honour their memories. These workouts have been a tradition of workout gyms since 2008.’

      Murph, previously known as ‘Body Armour’ for those who don’t know, is a hero CrossFit WOD that honours fallen Navy SEAL Lieutenant Michael Murphy. ‘Murph’ has quickly become a staple workout for Memorial Day, to honour Lt. Murphy and every fallen veteran.

      In a 10-20kg weighted vest:

      • One-mile run
      • 100 pull-ups
      • 200 push-ups
      • 300 squats
      • One-mile run

      ‘Gunny’

      ‘Command Sgt. Maj. Martin ‘Gunny’ Barreras died on May 13, 2014, of wounds he sustained during an attack on his unit on May 6, 2014. Barreras joined the Marine Corps in 1983 and the Army Rangers in 1988. He used CrossFit training to improve his fitness and the fitness of his unit. Murph and Griff were among his favourite workouts.’

      • 1-mile weighted run
      • 50 push-ups
      • 50 sit-ups
      • 1-mile weighted run
      • 50 push-ups
      • 50 sit-ups
      • 1-mile weighted run

      ‘Loredo’

      ‘U.S. Army Staff Sergeant Edwardo Loredo, 34, of Houston, TX, assigned to the 2nd Battalion, 508th Parachute Infantry Regiment, 4th Brigade Combat Team, 82d Airborne Division, based in Fort Bragg, NC, was killed on June 24, 2010 in Jelewar, Afghanistan, when insurgents attacked his unit with an improvised explosive device.’

      6 rounds for time of:

      • 24 squats
      • 24 press-ups
      • 24 walking lunge steps
      • Run 400 meters

      ‘DT’

      ‘In honour of U.S. Air Force Staff Sgt. Timothy P. Davis, 28, who was killed on Feb. 20, 2009, while he was supporting operations in OEF and his vehicle was struck by an improvised explosive device.’

      5 rounds for time of:

      • 70kg Deadlift, 12 reps
      • 70kg Hang power clean, 9 reps
      • 70kg Push jerk, 6 reps
      Lettermark

      Ed Cooper is the former Deputy Digital Editor at Men’s Health UK, writing and editing about anything you want to know about — from tech to fitness, mental health to style, food and so much more. Ed has run the MH gauntlet, including transformations, marathons and er website re-designs. He’s awful at pub sports, though. Follow him: @EA_Cooper

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