Whether you’re into CrossFit or not, you have to acknowledge that its benchmark WODs (Workout of the Day) are great measures of overall fitness. That’s why CrossFit trainers have their participants repeat them regularly to measure progress. If your time goes down or your “points” go up, you can be sure you’ve gotten stronger, faster, more durable, and probably leaner (as a positive side effect).
For some out-of-the-box hacks to help you improve your performance on the most popular CrossFit WODs, we got in the box with Rob Orlando, a Reebok-sponsored CrossFit competitor and the owner of Hybrid Athletics in Stamford, CT. For each WOD, we suggest first giving it a try on your own to establish a baseline, then implementing Orlando’s tips as you improve.
THE WORKOUT: FIGHT GONE BAD
Perform each of the following exercises for one minute at a time – don’t rest between them. Give yourself one point for every rep you complete, except for the row, where you should count each calorie you burn as a point. Rest one minute between rounds and perform three total rounds; count up all your points and note the scores.
Wall-ball Shot (20-pound ball to a 10-foot-high target)
Sumo Deadlift/High Pull (75 pounds)
Box Jump (20 inches)
Push Press (75 pounds)
Named after MMA legend B.J. Penn, who tried the workout and compared it with a “fight gone bad,” this WOD tests mental toughness as much as power endurance. Perform each of the following exercises for one minute at a time—don’t rest between them. Give yourself one point for every rep you complete, except for the row, where you should count each calorie you burn as a point. Rest one minute between rounds and perform three total rounds; count up all your points and note the score.
1) If you have any shoulder issues, take a wider grip on the bar (outside shoulder width) for the sumo deadlift/high pull so your elbows aren’t higher than your wrists in the top position. This is a safer, more joint-friendly setup. “Push hard on the box jumps and push presses and then coast a bit on the rower,” says Orlando. Because the jumps and presses can be performed quickly, you can rack up a lot of points fast by giving them your all. “You can then use the rower as an extra minute of active recovery,” so you’ll come back fresher for the next round.
2) To boost your score, you need to improve your overall performance average only slightly—you don’t need to kill it on every exercise. If the last time you performed Fight Gone Bad you got 240 points, that breaks down to an average of 80 points per round. Divided by five exercises, that’s a mere 16 points per movement. In other words, to improve your score, you just need to perform 17 or more reps (or calories, in the case of the row) every round.
Keep that number in mind and achieve it. You’ll be tempted to do more on the exercises you’re good at, but don’t. Save energy for moves you’re weaker on.