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Home Fitness The Most and Least Effective CrossFit Workouts

The Most and Least Effective CrossFit Workouts

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When it comes to CrossFit workouts, some are well-crafted while others are thrown together without much thought. To help you distinguish between the two, here are some tips to consider.

One of the main appeals of CrossFit is the variety it offers compared to traditional linear training. In CrossFit, you can combine any number of movements and call it a workout of the day (WOD). However, it’s important for coaches to resist the urge to mash together exercises just for the sake of intensity. An overly random workout can lead to an embarrassing “CrossFit fail” moment and potential injuries. Good trainers, on the other hand, know how to create effective workouts that promote progress and safety.

Here, I’ll provide examples of two of the best and two of the worst CrossFit workouts, along with explanations of why they fall into those categories. After reading this article, you’ll have a better understanding of what makes a great WOD and how to avoid wasting your time on ineffective workouts.

One of the best: King Kong

3 rounds for time:

1x Deadlift – 455lb

2x Muscle-ups

3x Cleans – 250lb

4x Handstand push-ups

The specific and unchangeable loads in King Kong reflect the fact that this WOD is a goal in itself, rather than a means to achieve a goal. Its simplicity is what makes it so effective – there are no complicated rep schemes or fancy exercises, just heavy weights and bodyweight strength movements. King Kong provides a perfect test of raw strength that can be achieved with dedication and hard work.

Take home lesson: Keep your WODs simple.

One of the worst: The “Miagi”

50x Deadlifts (135/95lb)

50x Double kettlebell swings (53/35lb)

50x Push-ups

50x Clean and jerk (135/95lb)

50x Pull-ups

50x Kettlebell taters (53/35lb)

50x Box jumps (24/20in)

50x Wall climbs

50x Knees to elbows

50x Double unders

Even a YouTube video describing the Miagi workout acknowledges that it lacks structure and purpose. Despite being around since 2008, it remains a poorly designed beatdown on box members. While workouts should be challenging, they should also have a clear purpose and promote progress.

Take home lesson: Don’t push yourself without a good reason. Doing so increases the risk of injuries, especially when complex exercises like cleans are involved.

One of the best: OPT Repeatability


3 rounds at 100% effort:

Row 250m

10x Kettlebell swings (70/53lb)

10x Burpees

10x Kettlebell swings (70/53lb)

10x Burpees

10x Kettlebell swings (70/53lb)

Row 250m

Rest 12 minutes between each round

OPT Repeatability is one of the toughest workouts out there, but it’s also incredibly well-designed and purposeful. This WOD tests your ability to recover by pushing you to give 100% effort in each round. The goal is to maintain your performance without a significant drop-off as the rounds progress. The degree to which you can sustain your performance indicates your body’s ability to regenerate ATP, manage lactic acid, and recover. The final 250m row in the third round feels like a journey to Hades’ fiery underworld.

Take home lesson: It’s okay to go all out, but make sure there’s a meaningful purpose behind it and keep the exercises simple to minimize the risk of injuries.

One of the worst: McCluskey

Three rounds of:

9x Muscle-ups

15x Burpee pull-ups

21x Pull-ups

Run 800m

McCluskey is a “hero” WOD created in honor of the late Sergeant Jason “Mick” McCluskey. It’s important to note that my critique is not directed at him, but rather at the poor workout design. This WOD is entirely focused on pulling movements, with little consideration for balance. While the rep schemes may seem low, the total number of repetitions adds up to 27 muscle-ups and 108 pull-ups, which can lead to excessive muscle soreness and negatively affect your training for the rest of the week.

Take home lesson: Avoid overemphasizing specific movement patterns in your workouts. Aim for more well-rounded WODs that target different muscle groups.

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