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The Importance of Benchmark WODs and Tracking Your Progress in Crossfit

The simple answer is that you should track all your progress. Every lift, workout, time, improvement, etc should be recorded because this will show you, in cold hard facts, what your training development actually looks like. That’s the ideal, but then life isn’t always ideal. 

However, it is not very unusual that there will be people in the Box that don´t know their 1 rep max weights for many different exercises. It is not that bad when they are really new to CrossFit and don´t know their Snatch max yet for example. But it happens that there are also people training for a year or longer and still do not know their personal records.

Never mind you say? Think about this: If you do not know your own max, how would you be able to hit a WOD seriously?

Often in workouts you might have to work with 80% of your 1 rep max for example. That percentage rate is there for a reason. Ever wondered why the big guy seems to be slower in the WOD only because he has “a few” more kilos on his bar? And why he is getting better and stronger whilst you are stagnating? He is using the data to form a solid understanding of his body, what it can do and exactly how the workout is supposed to testing his capabilities.

The secret is: Measuring.

It helps you track your progress.

Quite simply, how are you going to know that you’re getting fitter if you don’t have the data to back it up? Furthermore, it’s always worth it to look back on how far you’ve come. Life is viewed backwards but it must be lived forwards. If you have tracked all your results, it then becomes easy to see the climb of your strength numbers or the speeding up of your WOD times, which in turn will give you more confidence going forwards into new workouts. 

Taking good detailed notes can help you with future workouts.

Aside from simply recording your time or the weights used, the notes don’t have to be long, but simply adding “could have gone heavier” or “pushed too fast” can help you attack the workout better for the next time.


Often it can be tricky to track everything, so the following are a list of essentials that you should aim to record each time you do them. 

1 Rep Max

Lifting more than you ever have is a huge feat! Chris Hinshaw uses the phrase “lifetime best” to give this dimension even more emphasis. 

However, there is more to knowing the weight that is on the bar. While the weight is the basis, it also sets you up for success when a WOD calls for a more specific percentage.

Furthermore it gives you a benchmark to measure exactly how much stronger you’re gotten since your last max lift. It also allows you to see if weight increase for a particular lift is consistent and allows you to analyse the reasons why or why not. With that, knowing exactly what your 1 rep max is, you can set an appropriate goal to strive for next.

Benchmark WODs

These particular WODs exist for a reason. They exist to be a baseline of measurement for your training. And not only for yours. With a Benchmark WOD you can compare yourself to the worldwide CrossFit Community. Think you´re good at Grace? Think again and try comparing to a different set of standards!

Things you should track

CrossFit Total

Sum of the Best of Each Lift

    • Back Squat
    • Shoulder Press
    • Deadlift

The Girls

One thing all of these well known WODs have in common is that they are a killer test of strength and endurance. Of course it´s great if you know your results for every single benchmark WOD. But as many of them include similar exercises or advanced movements, there is no need to power through all of them just to get some results.

If you do Cindy you do not compulsorily need to do Chelsea. You do not need to do Amanda if you can´t do the movements with ease.

What we suggest is:

– Cindy
– Fran
– Elizabeth
– Jackie

Most boxes program these types of workouts sparingly and they generally appear at The CrossFit Games in some capacity. Since they are such a powerful way to test an athlete’s abilities, tracking scores is even more important. Again, including the date is arguably just as important as well.

After a WOD, fatigue sets in and all practicality goes out the window. Therefore it costs a lot of discipline at this point to get your ass up again and do what you intended.

Tracking Endurance and Sprinting

Alongside these infamous milestones in CrossFit, it is also a good idea to track and test distances for running and rowing. This is very simple to retest once you have worked on your technique and engine.

  • 400m Run
  • 1500m Run
  • 2,000m Row
  • 10,000m Row

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