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The 12 Days of Christmas Workout: Scaled For Each Skill Level

There is nothing quite like the gift of a workout that just keeps on giving. 

The 12 Days of Christmas workout is complex and provides any athlete that gives it a go with a truly exhausting experience, exactly what you want in your CrossFit WOD (workout of the day). 

If you want to go above and beyond and try something that will give you a full body workout and also allow you to release a whole lot of steam, then the 12 Days of Christmas workout is your go-to challenge.  

Unlike most of the other CrossFit benchmark workouts that require 1-5 movements, this one requires 12 different movements! The 12 Days of Christmas workout presents 12 movements, with the number of reps descending just like the 12 Days of Christmas song. 

The workload is large, and this is not a quick 5-10 minute workout like many CrossFit WODs. This WOD is sometimes customized by different CrossFit boxes where they change the list of movements to switch things up every season.

In this guide, we will cover the following: 

  • What is the 12 Days of Christmas Workout?
  • How to Do the 12 Days of Christmas Workout
  • How to Scale the 12 Days of Christmas Workout for Each Fitness Level
  • How Long Does It Take to Do the 12 Days of Christmas Workout?
  • Takeaways

Let’s unwrap the challenge!

A pistol squat.

What is the 12 Days of Christmas CrossFit Workout?

The 12 Days of Christmas Workout is a bit complicated, mostly because it involves many different movements with varying reps and is a lot to keep track of.

It would be wise to utilize a whiteboard to stay on track and make sure you complete all reps. 

Before beginning the workout, you will want to review all 12 movements and ensure you understand how to complete them properly and with the correct form. You can refer to the CrossFit website for demos of the 12 Days of Christmas workout movements. 

By the time you complete the 12th set of movements, you will complete a total of 78 reps in that set alone. That is a whole lot of reps! 

This WOD is completed using only bodyweight movements, so you will not have to worry about getting out an assortment of equipment or shuffling it around as you move from one exercise to the next. The only exception is that you will need to be able to utilize a wall.  

Most CrossFit WODs aim to test your cardiovascular and muscle endurance, but this one truly takes it to the next level. You will also need to put in some mental effort, as following the order and number of reps could get tricky.  

A lunge.

How to Do the 12 Days of Christmas CrossFit Workout

To prepare for the 12 Days of Christmas workout, you will need a space by the wall and an exercise mat. You will also need enough space to complete broad jumps. 

Now let’s talk about actually doing the workout and what that entails. You may need to listen to the song “12 Days of Christmas” to understand how this workout functions.

The workout is completed in the way the song is sung. You start by completing 1 of the first movement, followed by 2 of the second movement and 1 of the first movement. Then you do 3 of the third movement, 2 of the second movement, and 1 of the first movement. 

You do this all the way until the last movement, where you will do 12 of the twelfth movement, 11 of the eleventh movement, 10 of the tenth movement, 9 of the ninth movement …. all the way down to 1 of the first movement. This last set will equal a total of 78 reps. 

When all is said and done, you will do 12 sets, starting at 1 rep, moving onto 3 reps, then 6, then 10, and so on. 

A handstand on weight plates.

Here is the exact format of “The 12 Days of Christmas:”

12 rounds for time, starting with 1> 2-1 > 3-2-1 > and so on

  • 1 Wall Walk
  • 2 Candlesticks
  • 3 Burpees
  • 4 Push-ups
  • 5 Walking lunges
  • 6 Air squats
  • 7 Sit-ups
  • 8 Jumping squats
  • 9 Jumping lunges
  • 10 Broad jumps
  • 11 Handstand push-ups
  • 12 Pistols

The reps are the same for men and women. 

Remember to start at one rep and work up to the movement with 12 reps. 

Since you do not need exercise equipment for this workout, all that setting up will require is wall space for handstand pushups and wall walks and at least a 20-foot strip for completing broad jumps.

A psuh-up.

How to Scale the 12 Days of Christmas Workout for Each Fitness Level

The 12 Days of Christmas workout consists of 12 bodyweight exercises, making it seem complicated.

The movements themselves are not actually that complicated; the most complicated part will likely be all the counting and switching from one movement to the next that you will have to do. 

Anyone with any CrossFit experience is likely aware of how to complete the 12 movements required, but it is unlikely that all people will be able to complete the textbook version of all the movements. 

Completing the 12 Days of Christmas WOD in its entirety will likely not be a problem for beginners, but the movements themselves may need to be scaled down so that people with fewer skills or fitness can complete them. 

Even experienced cross-fitters can feel the challenge of this workout if they do it fast enough.  The amount of work this workout adds up to can be very taxing and will fatigue even the fittest athlete when done at a quick pace. 

A squat.

This workout aims to give you a full-body workout without getting out a lot of equipment or putting too much thought into the movements. Not only will you feel the muscular burn all over, but you will certainly feel the cardiovascular benefits due to the level of cardio output. 

You can still get the intended benefits even if you scale the various movements of this workout to fit your skill level. 

To get the biggest benefit, you should choose an approach to each movement that you can do efficiently and for the full amount of reps to not have to scale back the quantity of work. 

This will help test and improve your muscular endurance like this workout is meant to. 

The 12 Days of Christmas Workout for Beginners:

There are various ways that the 12 Days of Christmas WOD can be adapted so beginners can complete it. The best option is to modify the individual movements rather than the number of reps and take rests between sets if needed.  

A squat.

We suggest the following as the best option:

12 rounds for time, starting with 1> 2-1 > 3-2-1 > and so on

  • 1 Inchworms
  • 2 Candlesticks Without Standing 
  • 3 Step- up Burpees
  • 4 Box Push-ups
  • 5 Alternating Lunges
  • 6 Air Squats
  • 7 Crunches
  • 8 Jumping squats
  • 9 Jumping lunges
  • 10 Broad Jumps
  • 11 Pike Push-ups 
  • 12 Lateral Box Step-ups

You can rest between sets and, if absolutely necessary, between movements. 

The 12 Days of Christmas Workout for Intermediates:

If you are an intermediate CrossFit athlete, you can do all the movements on the 12 Days of Christmas workout list. However, doing the complete number of reps doing the regulated form of each movement may be too challenging. 

To complete this workout in its entirety, it is a good idea to scale some of the movements slightly. 

A wall handstand.

We recommend trying the following workout:

12 rounds for time, starting with 1> 2-1 > 3-2-1 > and so on

  • 1 Wall Walk
  • 2 Candlesticks on Stacked Mats
  • 3 Burpees
  • 4 Push-ups on Knees
  • 5 Walking Lunges
  • 6 Air Squats
  • 7 Sit-Ups
  • 8 Jumping Squats
  • 9 Jumping Lunges
  • 10 Broad Jumps
  • 11 Handstand Push-ups Against the Wall
  • 12 Pistols with Support

If you feel like you cannot complete the workout with rest, limit yourself to resting briefly between sets but not movements. 

The 12 Days of Christmas Workout for the Advanced:

The 12 Days of Christmas workout should be completed as written and without rest for advanced athletes! You should really be pushing the pace, trying to lay it all out there. Elite athletes should be able to complete all movements exactly as written without any breaks. 

A push-up.

The workout should look like this: 

12 rounds for time, starting with 1> 2-1 > 3-2-1 > and so on

  • 1 Wall Walk
  • 2 Candlesticks
  • 3 Burpees
  • 4 Push-ups
  • 5 Walking Lunges
  • 6 Air Squats
  • 7 Sit-ups
  • 8 Jumping Squats
  • 9 Jumping Lunges
  • 10 Broad Jumps
  • 11 Handstand Push-ups
  • 12 Pistols

Your score comes from the total elapsed time to complete the entire workout.

Box jumps.

How Long Does It Take to Do The 12 Days of Christmas Workout?

How long it takes to complete the 12 Days of Christmas CrossFit workout varies from one individual to the next. Because this workout is longer, efficiency in the simple movements and overall endurance will definitely play a part. 

Considering the scaled versions of the workouts we provided, this is how long we expect this workout to take athletes:

  • Beginner athletes completing the scaled workout will likely take over 35 minutes. 
  • The workout is expected to take 30 minutes or less for intermediate athletes. 
  • The advanced athlete should be able to complete this workout in under 20 minutes. 

We cannot forget to mention the beast athletes who can crush this workout in under 17 minutes. Now that is moving!

Takeaways

The 12 Days of Christmas Crossfit workout is a fun challenge and quite different from your traditional WODs. It is meant to be a lot of work but also a fun way to switch up your workout for the holidays. 

Some CrossFit boxes or individuals who are really into CrossFit like to make their own version of this workout. 

It is the perfect base for creating something that is fun and challenging. This is a WOD you will not want to avoid because you will truly be able to test your endurance and do not need a lot of skill to complete it. 

While you may initially feel intimidated by all the work, do not talk yourself out of giving it a try because you will likely impress yourself!

If you want to try another CrossFit workout that will torch your full body check out “The Murph.” 

People holding wall balls.
Photo of author
I am a UESCA-certified running coach, psychology PhD student, and competitive obstacle racer and trail runner. Once 100 pounds overweight I found fitness and fell in love with an active and competitive lifestyle. My passion for inspiring others and fitness come together seamlessly in the world of writing where I get to share the thing that changed my life. In my free time I enjoy spending time with my family, my dogs, as well as baking and cooking.

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