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The Best 3 CrossFit Benchmark WODs To Measure Performance

CrossFit Benchmark WODs are a set of standard workouts that are used to assess and track an athlete’s progress over time. These workouts are designed to test various aspects of fitness, including strength, endurance, speed, and agility. 

There are many WODs in the CrossFit world, and these iconic workouts often bear names that evoke both fear and reverence among athletes worldwide.

From the infamous “Fran” to the grueling “Murph,” each benchmark WOD represents a unique challenge that tests an athlete’s grit, strength, endurance, and determination.

Whether you’re a seasoned CrossFit enthusiast or a newcomer curious about the sport’s essence, you will be inspired by the stories, struggles, and triumphs encapsulated within these formidable workouts and fall in love with the journey. 

We will cover the following: 

  • What Are CrossFit Benchmark WODs?
  • What Are The Different Types of CrossFit Benchmark WODs?
  • The Best CrossFit Benchmark WODs to Measure Performance
  • Tips and Tricks for Completing CrossFit Benchmark WODs

Let’s dive in and chat about which WODs you can do to measure your performance!

People in a CrossFit gym doing benchmark WODs.

What are CrossFit Benchmark WODs?

You may wonder what a WOD is if you are new to CrossFit.

If you are on social media and follow any fitness content, you have probably seen infographics releasing WODs, and you may have even been tempted to give them a try!

A WOD (workout of the day) is a CrossFit benchmark workout widely recognized and used as a reference point to measure an athlete’s progress and fitness level over time. 

These CrossFit benchmark WODs are typically named after women (e.g., “Fran,” “Cindy,” “Grace”) or fallen military and first responders (e.g., “Murph,” “DT”) as a way to honor their contributions and sacrifices. This is a special thing that is unique to the CrossFit community. 

Benchmark WODs are designed to test all aspects of fitness and often involve a combination of functional movements. Doing these workouts regularly can gauge your improvement and identify areas you may need to focus on in your training.

Some benchmark WODs, like “Fran” and “Grace,” are short and intense. They focus on high power output and anaerobic capacity. Other workouts like “Murph” and “Cindy” are longer and challenge an athlete’s muscular endurance and cardiovascular capacity.

A person picking up a kettlebell.

The purpose of CrossFit benchmark WODs is to serve as a way to create a common language and shared experience among CrossFit athletes worldwide. 

When you talk to fellow CrossFitters about your fitness level or progress, mentioning your “Fran” or “Cindy” time gives others a clear idea of your capabilities.

Remember that CrossFit benchmark WODs can be intense and challenging, but they are scalable to different fitness levels, so don’t ever be too intimidated to try!

What are the Different Types of CrossFit Benchmark WODs?

WODs come in various formats; each is meant to target different aspects of fitness. Let’s take a look at the different types:

AMRAP (As Many Rounds/Reps As Possible)

For this format, you have a fixed amount of time, typically 10, 15, or 20 minutes, to complete as many rounds or repetitions of a prescribed set of exercises as possible. The goal is to push the intensity and see how much work can be accomplished within the given time frame.

A person holding a barbell up.

For Time

These workouts aim to complete a specific set of exercises as quickly as possible. The clock starts when the workout begins, and you race to finish all the required work as fast as possible.

EMOM (Every Minute on the Minute)

In EMOM workouts, you perform a given set of exercises at the start of every minute. After completing the prescribed work within the minute, you rest until the next minute begins.

Tabata

Tabata workouts consist of short, high-intensity intervals and brief rest periods. The intervals are usually 20 seconds of work and 10 seconds of rest, repeated for several rounds.

Chipper

In a chipper WOD, you work through a list of exercises, typically with high reps, completing one exercise before moving on to the next. The goal is to chip away at the entire workout until all exercises are completed.

A person performing a kettlebell snatch.

Hero WODs

Hero WODs are dedicated to fallen military, law enforcement, and first responders. They are often longer and more challenging workouts that serve as a tribute to those who have made the ultimate sacrifice.

Girls WODs

Girls WODs are named benchmark workouts often used to measure progress over time. They consist of various movements and rep schemes.

The CrossFit community constantly varies the workouts to keep you engaged and challenge different aspects of fitness, including strength, endurance, agility, and flexibility.

The Best CrossFit Benchmark WODs to Measure Performance

If you are looking for CrossFit Benchmark WODs to give a try, here are three options that are great starting points for testing your fitness. 

A class of people at the gym doing kettlebell planks.

The Fran:

21-15-9 Reps for Time:

  • Thrusters (95 pounds for men, 65 pounds for women)
  • Pull-ups

The Fran is a classic and challenging benchmark workout that tests your strength and cardiovascular endurance. The combination of thrusters and pull-ups pushes athletes to their limits, and completing it in the fastest time possible is the goal.

The Cindy:

20-Minute AMRAP (As Many Rounds As Possible)

  • 5 Pull-ups
  • 10 Push-ups
  • 15 Air Squats

The Cindy is a bodyweight-focused benchmark workout that evaluates an athlete’s muscular endurance and stamina. The goal is to perform as many rounds as possible within the 20-minute time cap.

A person holding a barbell.

The Grace:

For Time:

  • 30 Clean and Jerks (135 pounds for men, 95 pounds for women)

The Grace is a straightforward yet intense workout that assesses an athlete’s strength and power.

The challenge is to complete 30 clean and jerks as quickly as possible, requiring a combination of technique and brute strength.

These three CrossFit benchmark WODs comprehensively evaluate an athlete’s fitness level and provide a basis for tracking improvements over time.

Safety is paramount, so do not be afraid to scale the workouts according to your current abilities and fitness level. 

A CrossFitter looking up at a rope he is about to climb.

Tips and Tricks for Completing CrossFit Benchmark WODS

Completing CrossFit benchmark WODs can be both mentally and physically demanding. It is important to be prepared in all ways possible before you start a WOD for the first time or are retesting a specific WOD.

We threw together some tips and tricks to help you prepare for and overcome the crazy challenge of CrossFit benchmark WODs.  

#1: Set a Game Plan

Before starting the WOD, have a clear strategy in mind. Know your strengths and weaknesses and plan how you’ll approach each exercise, including pacing, rest breaks, and rep schemes. 

Sticking to a plan can prevent burning out too quickly and help you maintain a consistent effort throughout the workout. You should also properly plan out your workout space to avoid interruptions that impede your performance. 

A person holding a wall ball.

#2: Prioritize Proper Technique

Maintaining proper form throughout the WOD is the key to avoiding injury and optimizing efficiency. Be sure not to sacrifice form for speed because this can lead to long-term issues.

During a WOD, focus on performing each movement with control and precision. You should also practice the technique of the movements before beginning your WOD.

#3: Warm-Up Adequately

Warming up often gets neglected, but it is important, especially before WODs. You must give your body a thorough warm-up before starting the benchmark WODs.

Do things that will prepare your muscles and joints with dynamic stretching, mobility exercises, and light cardio to reduce the risk of injury and improve performance.

#4: Mind Your Breathing

Proper breathing is crucial in high-intensity workouts. Try to coordinate your breath with the movements and maintain a steady breathing rhythm.

It is important to avoid holding your breath during the exercises. People often do this, but learning to breathe properly will help you become more efficient and get through more challenging movements. 

Remember that CrossFit benchmark WODs are about chasing fast times and embracing the journey and the progress you make along the way. Always listen to your body and scale workouts as needed.

It is okay to take extra rest if needed, and with time you will notice you will become more efficient and less overwhelmed by the workload. 

A person doing an overhead squat.

Takeaways

The world of CrossFit is built on the foundation of high-intensity workouts known as WODs.

These workouts are carefully crafted to challenge you physically and mentally. They encompass a wide variety of movements and modalities and truly test your limits.

CrossFit benchmark WODs test your versatility and adaptability across different fitness domains, from weightlifting and gymnastics to cardio and bodyweight exercises.

Constantly varied and scalable to individual abilities, benchmark WODs ensure that you never fall into a comfort zone and always push yourself to new limits. 

Whether performed for time, rounds, or in an EMOM format, WODs foster personal growth, camaraderie, and a sense of accomplishment. 

As CrossFit athletes unite to become better versions of themselves, these benchmark WODs are the cornerstone of the CrossFit philosophy, epitomizing the dedication, passion, and resilience that define this global fitness community.

If you would like to challenge yourself with a spicy CrossFit WOD, check out our very own guide for “The Karen.”

A person picking up a barbell.
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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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