CrossFit Language

CrossFit Language

CrossFit language can sometimes sound strange and confusing. Here is a list of commonly used words and phrases to help you have a clear understanding and start on the right foot. Before you know it, it'll be second nature.


The Fundamentals

Box: A box is Home in the CrossFit world. It is the place to make friends, have fun, train hard and maybe find that special someone. It's a bare-bone gym with all the equipment necessary for the range of WODs (more on those below) without the bells, whistles, and bicep curl bars of a “chrome-and-tone” gym.

WOD: The “Workout of the Day” is the workout CrossFitters perform on a given day. Constantly varying there's always a surprise.

Warm up/WU: Must do before an WOD, preparing your body and mind for what's coming in the near future.

Personal Record/PR: Keep a track of your own performance and measure yourself against your friends, family and the rest of the world.

Rack Position: Gateway to the overhead press. The rack position is where the bar rests on the front of your chest and shoulders ready to be powered overhead or secured for a front squat. Remember keep those shoulders high!

Rep: Very simply meaning repetition, how many time required to perform a movement or a way of measuring your performance after a WOD.

Set: Group of reps for a movement with a rest period in-between. e.g. 6 sets of 4 reps can been written as 6x4 and means do 4 reps, rest, 4reps, rest, 4reps, rest, 4 reps, rest, 4reps, rest, 4reps, finish!!

1RM: Power kings live here with recording your 1RM showing yourself and other the max weight you can push/pull for 1 rep.

RX: Is the unscaled prescribed WOD. The aim is get build yourself up from the scaled WODs and join other athletes completing the RX challenging but do-able WODs.

Scaled: WODs weight, reps, rounds, time, etc. decreased to an individual fitness and ability level. There's no excuse for not doing a WOD.

Pood: Not what your dog leaves behind but actual a Russian unit of measurement used for kettlebells. 1 pood = 35lbs/16Kg : 1.5 pood = 53lbs/24Kg etc.

AMRAP: As Many Reps/Rounds as Possible,” within a given specific time period. Often lasting 10, 20, or 30 minutes (though it’ll feel a LOT longer) AMRAP workouts challenge athletes to complete as many rounds of a series of movements in the allowed time. Just be careful not to lose count!!..

For Time: Think you’re fast? See how you stack up with the rest of the CrossFit world by measuring the time it takes to complete a prescribed workout. Though not all CrossFit workouts have a timed component, the protocol is famous for pushing athletes to race against each other and the clock.

TABATA: The work-rest side of CrossFit WODs. For example, attacking a 20 second work time completing AMRAP then resting for 10 seconds marking 1 round and repeating this for another 7 rounds for a total of 8 rounds and 4 minutes. 4 minutes seems to short? Try it and see.

Score: Think you’re elite? Better bring a calculator and see how you measure up. The score denotes the total number of reps completed during a given workout.

Ass to Grass: Get low! Also called “Ass to Ankles,” or ATG for short, this term denotes a full-depth squat. (Wondering if that last rep was deep enough means it probably wasn't.)

Affiliate: An affiliate is a CrossFit Box that’s officially affiliated with the CrossFit brand (and thus given CrossFit Headquarters’ blessing to spread the brand’s word). In order to become an affiliate, gyms must have CrossFit-certified trainers on staff.

10 General Physical Skills of Fitness: CrossFit workouts are designed to improve this list of skills, that encompass the full spectrum of fitness:
cardiovascular endurance, stamina, strength, flexibility, power, speed, coordination, accuracy, agility, and balance.


The Movements

Burpees: One of the most dreaded moves in fitness, burpees make up a cornerstone of CrossFit workouts. Starting from standing, athletes bend down and plant their hands, kick back into a plank position, and perform a push-up. The legs are then brought back in, and the movement culminates with a slight jump up and hands clapped overhead. (The feet have to leave the ground for it to count!) Now repeat 100 times, just for fun.

Double Under/DU: A double under is when a jump rope passes under an athlete’s feet twice with only one jump. Don’t think it sounds much harder than normal jump rope? Try 50 (or heck, even 15) of these bad boys in a row and see if there’s any breath left to complain.

Body weight/Air Squat/SQ: Standing straight up, an athlete squats down until their hips are below their knees, then stands back up until the hips are once again fully extended. Expect upwards of 150 body weight squats in many CrossFit workouts, and remember, keep that chest up and neutral spine!

Knees to Elbows/KTE: Hang on! In this movement, athletes hang from a pull-up bar and then shoot their knees up toward the torso until the elbows and knees touch. For a harder version, try Toes to Bar/T2B, bringing the toes all the way to the bar.

Kipping Pull-Up/PU: Watch almost any video on CrossFit and you’ll likely see people swinging from bars like sweaty, fitness-oriented orangutans. But there’s a rhythm to that swinging, letting athletes transfer horizontal motion to vertical force and allowing for more (and quicker) pull-ups.

Band-Assisted Pull-Up: Forget fancy machines. CrossFitters who can’t quite get all the way up to make a pull-up, loop stretch bands over the bar and use them as a low-tech alternative to assisted pull-ups.

Pistol: Also known as single leg squats, pistols require half the legs, twice the effort and three times the balance.

Turkish get-up/TGU: How do you get from a lying down position to standing up with a kettlebell weight overhead the whole time? Turkish get-up is how, excellent movement to test strength and balance.

Walking Lunge: Using body weight, a barbell on the shoulders, or any extra weight held directly overhead, athletes step forward with one foot and bend both legs until their back knee taps the ground. Repeat for the reps prescribed or until the legs turn to jelly— whichever comes first.

Rope Climb: Couldn’t get enough of high school gym class? Grab on tight and shimmy upwards with this staple of CrossFit workouts.

Sumo Deadlift High Pull/SDHP: In this movement, athletes take a wide stance over a barbell and explosively pull from the ground upward until the bar comes up to shoulder height.

Thruster: One of CrossFit’s most deceptively tiring movements, the thruster is— “simply”— a front squat straight into a push press. Try them once and prepare to cringe next time they show up on the schedule.

Handstand Push-Up/HSPU: These are a basic movement for gymnasts— but a real challenge (and an awesome bar trick) for most regular folks. In most CrossFit workouts, athletes can kick up to a wall for stability while they perform this movement. Just remember these don’t count unless the head touches the ground at the bottom and arms are fully locked at the top.

Muscle Up/MU: In one of the most advanced CrossFit movements, athletes hang from gymnastic rings or pull-up bar and explosively pull their chest above the rings/bar to the bottom of a dip position. From there they push up until the arms are fully locked (of course, the tricky part is figuring out how to get down from there).

GHD Sit-Up: Don’t underestimate this super sit-up, one of the main culprits behind workout-induced rhabdomyolysis. Sitting face-up on a glut-ham developer (see GHD entry below), athletes reach back until their hands graze the ground, then explosively extend their legs and sit up.

Box Jump: No running starts allowed. Athletes jump up onto a box of a given height from a two-footed stance. Pro tip: Pretend your legs are springs (or consider investing in some Kangoo shoes).

Snatch/SN: The snatch is one of two Olympic lifts where athletes explosively lift a weighted barbell from ground to overhead in one movement, often squatting under the bar and then standing up— or “recovering”— to allow for heavier weights.

Clean & Jerk/C&J: The other Olympic lift, the clean & jerk actually encompasses two separate movements. Athletes start by explosively lifting a weighted barbell from the ground to the shoulders in a front squat position, often squatting under and then standing to recover. After a brief pause, athletes take a shallow dip and then drive upward to propel the bar overhead, often landing in a split position and then bringing their feet back in line.

Hang Power Clean/HPC: Used as a stepping stone to the clean & jerk, the hang power clean starts at the hang position, about knee height. From here, power the bar upwards and then catching it in a rack position on the shoulder before rising to the standing position.

Hand Power Snatch/HPSN: Same as hang power clean except instead of catching the bar in a rack position, the bar is caught in a overhead squat position.

Over Head Squat/OHS: King of the squats. With the bar overhead with arms in a locked out position perform a full -depth squat and return to the standing position. You always remember your first overhead squat.

Ring Dip: It’s just like a conventional body weight dip, only on gymnastic rings. The rings are unstable, making it harder to keep the hands close to the body (like dips needed to be any harder).

Wallball/WB: Holding a 20-pound (for men) or 14-pound (for ladies) medicine ball, athletes squat down and explosively stand up, throwing the ball toward an eight- or 10-foot target above their heads.


The WODs

CrossFit Total/CFT: The total is CrossFit’s benchmark strength workout in which athletes have three attempts each (in order, please!) to find their MAX back squat, standing press, and deadlift. It’s the most exhausting nine reps anyone could ask for.

Hero WODs: Named after military servicemen, police, or firefighters who have died in the line of duty, these difficult workouts are intermittently programmed in CrossFit to provide an extra challenge and reminder of their sacrifice.

Metcon: Short for “metabolic conditioning,” metcons are designed to train stamina, endurance, and conditioning. Unlike WODs— which can also include purely strength or skill-based workouts— metcons generally include some sort of timed component performed at high intensity.

Chipper: Normally 4 or more movements with a varying amount of reps. These WOD's you just keep chipping away at the list and see how far you can get in the prescribed time.

Fran: Don't let the sweet name fool you. Perhaps CrossFit’s most famous workout, Fran is a 21-15-9 rep scheme of thrusters (95 lbs/43 Kg for men, 65 lbs/29.5 kg for women) and pull-ups. For those keeping track at home, that’s 21 thrusters and 21 pull-ups, followed by 15 thrusters and 15 pull-ups, and so on. Elite CrossFitters can finish this monstrosity in less than three minutes.

Murph: One of CrossFit’s toughest WODs, this workout consists of a 1 mile/1.6 km run followed by 100 pull-ups, 200 push-ups, and 300 body weight squats. Oh, and then another 1 mile/1.6 km run to finish.

Grace: Athletes must complete 30 clean & jerks at 135 lbs/61 Kg (95 lbs/43 Kg for women) as fast as possible. Think of it like a sprint with a barbell.

Isabel: This one's the same as Grace, only 30 snatches for time instead of clean & jerks.

Filthy Fifty: For time: 50 Box Jumps, 50 Jumping Pull-ups, 50 Kettlebell Swings (35 lbs/16 Kg), 50 Walking Lunges, 50 Knees to Elbows, 50 Push Press (45 lbs/20 Kg), 50 Back Extensions, 50 Wallballs, 50 Burpees, 50 Double Unders. Phew!

John Steel Photography, Crossfit Defiance,

The Competitions

CrossFit Games: The sport of fitness has arrived. Each summer the CrossFit Games test participants with a barrage of physical challenges and workouts, ranging from swimming and running to pull-ups and handstand walks (sorry, Kobayashi, hot-dog eating has yet to make an appearance). Participants accrue points over the events, and the male and female winners are crowned World’s Fittest Man & Woman. Sectional and Regional qualifiers narrow the field before the annual Games Weekend.

CrossFit Open: A sort of virtual CrossFit Games, the Open allows competitors to register online and compete on their own or at local CrossFit boxes.

CrossFit HQ: Owned and operated by founder Greg Glassman, the first CrossFit gym is located in Santa Cruz, CA. The location is a sort of Mecca for the compulsively fit, and the location still serves as the brain of CrossFit methodology and’s daily WODs.

CrossFit Journal: The Journal is CrossFit’s internal publication featuring information on workouts, movements, inspirational stories, and news. Updated daily, the online publication charges readers $25 a year for unlimited access to research, articles, videos, and more.

Throwdown: Held by individual CrossFit Affiliates, inviting other affiliates and athlete's to a local competition event for a test of fitness and all round good fun time. Make friends and feel the enjoyment of competiting.


The Equipment

GHD: A medieval looking device that also resembles a Transformer, the Glute Ham Developer is used for a variety of movements including glute-ham raises, GHD sit-ups, and back extensions.

Paralettes: Portable parallel bars around eight inches high. For those who’ve mastered regular handstand pushups, try performing them on paralettes for an added challenge.

C2 Rower: Don’t expect to find any ellipticals in this dojo (er, gym). But do expect to find the C2, the rowing machine of choice for many CrossFit athletes.

Rings: While they likely won’t be going for Olympic gold, CrossFitters regularly use gymnastic rings for a wide range of movements including dips, rows, muscle-ups, and just hanging around.

Abmat: A contoured foam wedge placed behind the back during sit-ups, the abmat allows for a greater range of motion while providing some padding against the hard ground.

Bumper Plates: CrossFitters love to drop weights, and these rubberized barbell plates allow them to do just that. Watch out!

Kettlebell/KB: Not the same as the kettle that boils your water at home. The Kettlebell is a weight with an old school kettle like handle on top that can be used with one or two hands.


The Players

Greg Glassman: A former gymnast, Glassman developed CrossFit out of his Santa Cruz, CA gym in order to prepare clients for the “unknown and unknowable.” A prominent figure in CrossFit media and special events, Glassman continues to coach and train instructors across the country.

Games Competitor: These athletes aren't in it just for fitness. They’re hell-bent on success at CrossFit’s highest level, preparing hard (and sometimes working out multiple times a day) to hone their skills, increase their stamina, and build their strength to blast away the competition.

Firebreather: Whether it’s courage, chutzpah, or just plain cojones, firebreathers have enough tenacity to get them through the toughest workouts— and then some. Expect to see these ultra-dedicated athletes finishing their workouts in record time and then catching a breath to cheer on their winded compatriots still hustling through.

Pukie the Clown: An unofficial (and undeniably gross) mascot, Pukie symbolizes what happens when athletes push a bit too hard for their own good (and digestive systems).

Uncle Rhabdo: Another unofficial CrossFit mascot, Uncle Rhabdo represents perhaps the CrossFitter’s worst nightmare: rhabdomyolysis, a rapid breakdown of muscle fibres that can occur when the body is pushed too hard. If left untreated, rhabdo can lead to serious long-term kidney and muscle damage.