What is a WOD?

WOD stands for Workout Of the Day and is a popular acronym among the CrossFit community. It is the workout that the head coach has designed for his/her members for a particular day, and it is different every day.

As a member of a CrossFit community, the WOD tells you the exercises, repetition scheme, modality and duration of what you will do each day. You will find the WOD displayed inside of a CrossFit box on either a white board, chalkboard or computer/TV screen.

Additionally, most CrossFit communities include a tab labeled “WOD” on their website which tells you that community’s workout for that particular day as well as a running blog-style list of their previous workouts.

Most boxes program a WOD for Monday-Saturday and schedule Sundays as rest days or make-up days.

KEY TAKEAWAYS
  • WOD stands for Workout Of the Day – an acronym made popular by the global CrossFit community.
  • A WOD is different every day and is designed by the coach in charge of program design.
  • A WOD will specify the exercises, repetition scheme, duration and modality.
  • CrossFit box websites often have a tab labeled WOD that shows the workouts.
  • CrossFit coaches often program and post specific warm-up and cool-down exercises but these generally aren’t considered part of the WOD.
  • WODs typically include a strength and/or skill portion first, followed by a metabolic conditioning workout.
  • There are many different styles of WODs such as AMRAP, RFT, EMOM, Tabata, etc.
  • There are many famous WODs grouped as the CrossFit Girls, Hero WODs and Benchmark WODs.

Understanding WODs

A WOD provides a comprehensive explanation of what exercises to do that day, as well as how to do them. A head coach or the coach in charge of program design plans and schedules each workout of the day as part of the overall exercise program design to get their members stronger, faster and healthier.

WODs are not randomly selected (as long as you are working with a quality coach), but rather are strategically put in place to ensure optimal training effectiveness and decreased risk of injury.

A coach must have ample experience in CrossFit, strength training, conditioning and general exercise science principles in order to program WODs effectively.

The WOD itself can incorporate one or more of the following core CrossFit elements; monostructural, strength, and gymnastics.

What is in the actual workout depends on the overall programming for the particular Box and its goals for the athletes, so by its very nature WODs will vary greatly from box to box, and day to day.

All WODs should have the outcome of improving an athlete’s cardiovascular ability, strength, mobility, and/or gymnastics skills. Specifically, they may have the goal to test an athlete’s maximum weight for a movement, or the fastest time they can complete a workout. These outcomes and goals are clearly made to the athletes participating.

WHAT TO EXPECT WHEN YOU WALK IN A BOX
  • Lesson and WOD explanation/goals.
  • Warm-up/mobility/dynamic stretching.
  • Strength/technical component.
  • “WOD” (metcon).
  • Cool-down/stretch.

The first five minutes is typically devoted to explaining the goals of the class and addressing certain points of performance in technique (what coaches want to see for the movements, and what is involved in the WOD).

Before every workout, there should be a warm-up, which may or may not include mobility and core activation exercises.

Most coaches will designate a particular warm-up each day and post it inside the box as well as on the WOD tab on their website, but generally when someone talks about the WOD, they aren’t including the warm-up exercises beforehand.

Some coaches will also designate cool-down activities for their members – perhaps stretching, mobility work or additional core work – and similar to the warm-up, although it might be posted in the box and on the website, it isn’t typically considered part of the WOD.

WODs typically include a strength and/or skill portion first, followed by a metcon workout. Occasionally a WOD will only include strength and/or skill work and other times it may only include a longer metabolic conditioning workout.

Types of WODs

There are several different types of timing and rep schemes that coaches can use to create WODs, including:

  • AMRAP – As Many Rounds/Reps As Possible. Here, the coach will specify the exercises, weights, repetitions and order of movements to make up one round, and the duration of the workout – usually somewhere between 5-25 minutes. The member will try to complete as many rounds as they can in the specified time frame and their “score” for that WOD will be the number of repetitions completed.
  • RFT – Rounds For Time. Here, the coach will specify the exercises, weights, repetitions and order of movements to make up one round, and the number of rounds/sets to be completed. The athlete will continue working until all sets have been completed and will keep track of the time. Their “score” for that WOD will be the time it took to complete.
  • EMOM – Every Minute On the Minute. Here, the coach will specify an exercise, weight, and repetitions that need to be completed within a minute, and then repeated every time the clock beeps for a new minute. Sometimes a coach will indicate one exercise for the Odd minutes and a different exercise for the Even minutes.
  • Chipper – This is a type of “For time” workout that combines a lot of different exercises at high volume, generally performed only one round through.
  • Ladder – This refers to the rep scheme of a workout, and can be either ascending or descending. This is typically written as 10, 9 —>1 or 1, 2 —>10. It can also be 10, 20, 30, 40, etc or any numbers that follow a pattern of ascending or descending like a ladder.
  • Tabata – this is an interval-style workout, using 20 seconds of work, followed by 10 seconds of rest for 4 minutes of the same exercise, during which the member is trying to complete as many reps as possible. Often, a few exercises will be grouped together to make up one workout, such as Tabata Pull-ups, Tabata Push-ups, Tabata Squats, Tabata Sit-ups.

Benchmark WODs

There are many famous (or more appropriately, infamous) WODs in the CrossFit community that were originally posted on the CrossFit main site – crossfit.com – and now used as Benchmark WODs for coaches and members to track progress over time.

According to CrossFit founder Greg Glassman, he created this initial series of workouts to test various facets of an athlete’s ability, and by giving each workout a name, it would only need to be explained once.

Some are named after females and hence known as the CrossFit Girls.

Greg Glassman chose girl’s names because the US National Weather Service named storms after girls and, in the opinion of Glassman himself, you should feel like a storm hit you after completing each benchmark workout.

Others are named after fallen military and Law Enforcement Officers and are known as Hero WODs. Some examples include:

  • Fran
  • Cindy
  • Barbara
  • Elizabeth
  • Murph
  • JT
  • Randy
  • Three Wise Men

Additionally, some benchmark WODs are just given nicknames like Filthy Fifty and Fight Gone Bad.

Custom WODs

The majority of WODs posted around the world at any given day, however, are created by individual coaches programming for their specific membership community. Many factors could influence this, such as overall fitness and experience level of the community, equipment available, space constraints, and desired strength or metabolic effect of the workout.

Example of a WOD

Here is an example of a WOD you might see at a CrossFit box:

5x3 Back Squat

This is the strength portion of the workout, and is designed to increase strength of the back squat.

For Time:
21-15-9
Thrusters (95/65)
Burpees

This is the metabolic conditioning portion of the workout and is designed to increase power output and anaerobically challenge your body. The (95/65) specifies the weight to use on the barbell – the first number is Rx for males and the second number is Rx for females.

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Amanda Chismar
Amanda Chismar is a seasoned wellness and fitness professional with over 14 years of diverse career experience in both the public and private sector. Amanda earned her degree in Kinesiology from the Pennsylvania State University and has held numerous certifications including NSCA CPT, NASM CES, CrossFit Level 2 Trainer, USAW Sports Performance Coach, YogaFit Instructor, Johnny G Spinning Cycle Instructor. Additionally, Amanda was co-owner and coach of a CrossFit facility for five years, has completed five marathons for charity and competed in Olympic Weightlifting.

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