There are many important concepts within CrossFit that you’ll hear day in and day out as you start the exercise regime.
For those who are new to CrossFit it can be hard to follow what’s going on, let alone figure out what all the acronyms on the whiteboard mean.
There are many words and abbreviation that people outside a CrossFit gym have no idea what they mean. Here’s a compilation of the most common CrossFit concepts and what they all mean.
The abbreviation WOD stands for Workout Of the Day and you’ll see it every day.
Usually, the whole class consists of a warm up, skill session, and then finally the actual WOD. WODs are incredibly varied but are often based on the skill you practiced during the first half of the class.
The Workout Of the Day can be short, long, prioritise time, or prioritise a task, and it is always the day’s task.
Types Of WODs
AMRAP is an acronym too and it stands for As Many Rounds/Reps As Possible.
It is always followed by a number, that number means how many minutes you must work for.
For example, during an AMRAP 7, you would complete a task for as many reps as possible for a whole 7 minutes.
If a workout is an AMRAP you can decide your pace and when to take a break. For example, if the movements are complex, you don’t have to go too fast, but if the movements are mostly bodyweight you can really push yourself.
It all depends on how competitive you are and where your skills lie. If you want to squeeze in more reps then your gym buddy you must go faster.
Often it is good to get a goal before starting an AMRAP workout. If you think one round will take about 90 seconds, then you are able to finish at least 4 rounds in a 7 minute AMRAP, and continue to count into the next round.
EMOM stands for Every Minute On the Minute and is an incredibly versatile workout style.
For EMOM workouts you start an exercise as a new minute rolls by. Sometimes, workouts are designed to have exercises happening in alternating minutes; whether it’s even and odd numbered minutes, or a handful of exercises rolling after each other for 4 or 5 minutes.
Most EMOM workouts allow for a little rest at the end of each minute. They are a great tool to teach athletes to continue to work under fatigue, as you don’t decide when to break and when to start again.
A good way to build up strength for cleans or squats is to do an EMOM with just a few reps, so you have time to add the weight you want and get rest before the next set.
Every minute on the minute can also be mixed with a task-based workout. For example, your workout could be to finish 50 cleans, but every minute on the minute you have to do 3-5 burpees to keep things varied.
Chipper workouts are always fun. Chipper means that there is a list of exercises that you must finish in the order listed, often as fast as possible.
Chipper workouts are usually only one round, but the rep scheme is normally higher than a regular set up in a circuit. This is because you only do that particular exercise once before moving on to the next.
It is great fun to go down the list and check off the exercises you have already done and see the task list get smaller. Chippers usually take more time then a normal WOD but the aim is still to finish in the least amount of time.
Tabata is circuit-style workout where intensity is priority. You go for as many reps as possible in 20 seconds, then rest for 10 and repeat the process for 4 minutes.
Tabata workout are a type of HIIT training – HIIT stands for high intensity interval training is – and are a great way to burn fat.
Singlet, Couplet, Triplet…
Singlet means there’s only one element to a workout, for example a 7 minute AMRAP of burpees.
A couplet describes a workout that has two elements to it, a triplet three and so on. Element in this case means exercise.
Couplets and triplets are popular in CrossFit WODs. The whiteboard will usually have a number of reps, 21-15-9 is a popular rep scheme and underneath there will be two or three exercises that you should do for a set number of rounds.
In the first you do each exercise 21 times, next round 15 and in the last round you only do 9 reps of these exercises. Of course, the workout can have many more elements, but two or three is the most popular combination.
Other CrossFit Concepts Explained
Time Cap/ TC
When you start CrossFit you will often hear the others ask the coach what the time cap is. The time cap is how long the clock will keep ticking until everyone must stop.
If you finish before the time cap you can rest, but it can get frustrating when the time cap closes before you finish.
Many workouts are listed as rounds for time, there is often a time cap to ensure athletes hit the workout’s intended stimulus and don’t spend hours on a workout that’s meant to be a sprint.
Hero and Girl Workouts
Some CrossFit benchmark workouts are named after fallen war soldiers or law enforcement officers, they’re the Hero workouts. Girl workouts are named after trailblazing women in the CrossFit community.
Benchmark means that these workouts are used as a test to establish where your fitness lies, and should be repeated after some time to check for improvement. The weights and standards are always the same.
You will get to know the Heroes and Girls when you see their name on the board.
By the name you know it is not good. Death by workouts have you perform until you are defeated.
Death by workout are often comprised of just one exercise, but sometimes you will face a death by couplet or even a triplet.
During Death by workouts you’ll perform one rep for the first minute, 2 reps the next minute, and so on until you establish how long you can keep going before you’re unable to finish your task within a minute.
To Rx a workout means to perform it as prescribed, using the movements, exercises and weights the coach presented. If you modify a workout by reducing the weights or change the movements, you’d say you scaled the workout.
Many athletes have the goal to be able to Rx every workout, but you should only worry about his if your technique and mechanics are perfect, and if it makes sense at any given time.
If a workout is too easy for you, you can also perform an Rx+ version by adding weight or using more complicated exercises.
C stands for clean and J for jerk. You often perform these two exercises together. The clean and jerk move a weight from the ground to overhead in two movements, resting on the shoulders before locking the elbows overhead.
If you ever see a PP or PJ on the whiteboard you’re tasked with performing a push press or push jerk. They are not the same movements, but both aim to get a weight from the shoulders to overhead.
The push press is a single movement using lower body momentum, the push jerk is two.
These two movements are essentially a shoulder press with help from the legs. There is one more style for getting the bar overhead; the split jerk.
T2B or TTB means Toes To Bar and the exercise can be written in these two ways. Toes to bar are performed by hanging from a pull-up bar and then raising your legs, so your toes touch the bar.
HSPU stands for Handstand Push-Ups. Handstand Push-Ups are exactly what the name says: a push up from a handstand position.
K2C/KTC Or K2E/KTE
K stands for “knees” 2 or T for “to” and c is for “chest”, while e is for “elbows”.
These two exercises are similar to T2B, but instead of lifting your legs all the way up so your feet touch the bar, you just lift your knees either up to your chest or let your knees come up to your elbows.
In CrossFit concepts, pistols are not weapons but one-legged squats.
The leg that is not squatting is not allowed to touch the ground, but you can hold onto your foot or leg to help with balance.
BJ stands for box jump. This is a straightforward exercise which requires you to jump onto a box, taking off and landing with both feet at the same time.
BBJ is when you add a burpee to the mix: burpee box jump. BBJO stands for burpee box jump over, where you perform a burpee, jump onto the box and come off on the other side, before repeating the process.
C2B or CTB stands for chest to bar. That is a kind of pull up that requires you to lift yourself a bit higher than in the pull up, so your chest touches the bar before going down.
MU is an abbreviation for muscle up. That is a really complex gymnastic movement where you lift your whole body onto the pull up bar, starting from a hanging position and finishing with your hips above the bar and your elbows locked out.
OHS stands for overhead squat. That is basically a squat where you hold a barbell or any weight over your head the whole time with straight arms.
Rep is just a shortening of repetition. You count the reps you perform.
When the board says 1RM it means that you must perform your 1 Rep Max, meaning you should use a load that will only allow you to perform one rep. This is how you find your absolute strength.
- squat clean: Stevie D Photography
- Dani Speegle performs girl crossfit benchmark workout: Photo courtesy of CrossFit Inc.
- toes to bar workouts: Courtesy of CrossFit Inc.
- Handstand Push Ups: Photo Courtesy of CrossFit Inc
- pistol squat: Photo courtesy of CrossFit Inc.
- skill progressions for ring muscle up: Courtesy of CrossFit Inc.
- Angela Skudin and Rachel McGill at CrossFit Island Park: Photo courtesy of CrossFit Inc.