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How to Create a Crossfit Workout

author image Christine St. Laurent
Christine St. Laurent holds a Master of Science in kinesiology from James Madison University. She has worked in hospital, university, sports performance and spa-based fitness and wellness centers as a personal trainer, program leader and group fitness instructor. St. Laurent has also taught college-level courses in exercise science. She is the owner of a personal-training and group-exercise studio in Manchester, Conn.
How to Create a Crossfit Workout
A woman is doing a crossfit workout. Photo Credit Jacob Ammentorp Lund/iStock/Getty Images

High intensity and variety are terms you may associate with CrossFit. Many of the CrossFit prescribed workouts of the day, or WODs, are short in duration but challenging in intensity and technique. With an understanding of the CrossFit philosophy and program design, you can develop your own workout of the day that is specific to your training goals and fitness level.

The Basic Three

The three training modalities, or exercise categories, in CrossFit are gymnastics, metabolic conditioning and weightlifting. Gymnastics exercises include bodyweight drills and calisthenics, such as pull-ups, pushups, air squats, handstand presses, lunges and dips. Metabolic conditioning refers to cardiovascular activities, such as running, biking, jump roping and rowing. Exercises that involve strength equipment -- such as barbells, dumbbells and kettlebells -- belong in the weightlifting category. Examples of weightlifting movements include front squats, push presses, snatches, kettlebell swings and medicine ball drills. CrossFit follows a three-days-on, one-day-off training rotation. Typically, the first day includes only one modality, the second day incorporates two modalities and the third day uses an exercise from all three categories.

Go Single

Keep your workout simple by selecting a single exercise from one modality. If you want to focus on metabolic conditioning, go for a run or bike ride. Make your endurance workout longer than your other typical CrossFit workouts -- which may average 20 minutes in duration -- and lower the intensity. Or you can choose a gymnastics skill such as handstand presses to practice technique. Or select one weightlifting exercise and repeat numerous sets of low repetitions with heavier weight. Allow for adequate recovery between sets for gymnastics and weightlifting drills.

Make It a Duo

Try matching up two exercises from different categories. For example, pair up pull-ups with front squats. This type of couplet workout is typically completed for time, with an established goal for the number of repetitions or sets that should be completed. You may choose to complete 10 repetitions of both exercises for 4 sets as quickly as possible. The intensity for this type of workout should be moderate to challenging, and you should try to minimize the recovery between sets.

Triple It

A third variation is to select three exercises, again from different categories. With this workout format, designate a time limit, such as 15 minutes, and complete as many rounds as possible of the three exercises. Predetermine the number of repetitions for each exercise. CrossFit sometimes uses three rounds of 21, 15 and nine repetitions of each exercise. An example of a triplet set is eight push presses, 15 pull-ups and a 100-meter run. The intensity for this type of workout should be moderately challenging.

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