At my old box on the East Coast, Saturdays were always a mystery. Each night, the coach would post the workout for the following day. However, on Friday night he never did–if everyone knew what Saturday held in store, most wouldn’t try so hard to get out of bed that morning. If there was one day to do a Hero WOD, a twisted variation of Fran or CrossFit event qualifying workouts with extra stuff added, chances are it would be on a Saturday.
Here are few old fun CrossFit WODs that I still try to sneak in from time to time at the new box. If you are in a rut and want something new to try, then have a look at these.
Workout 1: “Deck of Cards” or “Deck of Death”
Scale: Solo (Shuffle and Cut)
All you need in addition to your standard CrossFit gear/equipment is, you guessed it: a deck of playing cards with the Joker(s)…you’ll find out why in a minute.
Next, assign an exercise to each suit. You can pick anything you want. An example might be cubs: deadlifts; hearts: kettle bell swings; diamonds: box jumps and spades: double unders.
Now that you have your exercises you need to know how many of each to do. With the Deck of Death, that’s easy! Just follow the number on the card next to the suit. Nine of clubs? That’s nine dead lifts. Three of hearts? Three kettlebell swings.
What about face cards and the ace, you ask? Well, some people like to count them like you would in a table game (face cards are 10, ace is 1 or 11). This is a workout though, so that is too easy. Here is how I suggest you do it to give a little extra “oomph” to your workout:
Ace: 14 reps
King: 13 reps
Queen: 12 reps
Jack: 11 reps
Now, what’s up with those Jokers? If you pull a Joker you get something extra special: burpees. You can scale them as you wish, e.g., any number or make them a variant like burpees over the bar, but I think 50 good old-fashioned burpees per Joker is where you want to be for this workout.
A few tips for your Deck of Cards WOD:
Most of the time this workout is done as a partner workout. Sometimes two individuals will have similar ability and other times varied ability has a way of “evening out” the work. Someone shouldn’t feel intimidated working next to someone who is stronger or has a bit more endurance — just do what you are given to the best of your ability.
A good scale to this workout would be to do it solo by cutting the deck in half and complete a portion of the work.
Write down the movements as well as the Ace-Jack rep #’s on a piece of paper or a small white board to keep in front of you. Once you start going strong, it’s not uncommon to flip a queen of diamonds and wonder exactly what that means…. Keep yourself accountable with writing it down.
Now that you have the basics down, find a full deck, grab a friend, and try this one out!
Workout 2 “The Elephant”
WOD: Solo, Weight
Scale: A Smaller Elephant or Smaller Weight, More Reps
Many of us are familiar with the expression “the elephant in the room.” Well for this workout, I present the elephant in the box. This workout is a play on the concept of doing ground to overhead work in any way possible. You are essentially lifting the weight of an elephant above your head, albeit a little bit at a time. For those of you who are curious and started reaching for your phone to consult Siri, an adult elephant can weigh between 5,000 and 14,000 pounds.
There are several variations of the Elephant WOD. I have seen 7,000- and 8,000-pound variants and have personally done 10,000 pounds and 12,000 pound versions of this workout. It takes a while, so be prepared.
There are two ways you can tackle this workout. The first way is to calculate the number of reps for a movement at a weight and do it.
Let’s take 7,000 pounds. If you had a 95 pound barbell you could do 74 clean and jerks (or snatches, etc.). 95 x 74 = 7,050 pounds, which is close enough. That can get a little monotonous, but some boxes do the Elephant WOD this way.
The second way requires a little prep, and by prep, I mean “gym math.” Pick a weight you feel comfortable with. The heavier you go, count on physically doing fewer reps. So is it better to have a bar at 95, 115, 135 or 155? Only you can decide that, but I wouldn’t go too light or too heavy.
If you can do the Elephant strictly with a one weight barbell, then you are a boss, no question about it! Most people however, need to break it up a little with a kettlebell. One armed snatches with a 55/35 is a way to keep chipping away at the goal and getting your reps in, while giving yourself a little bit of break.
So say you did 30 lifts with a barbell at 95 pounds. That is roughly 2,850 pounds.
You could take a 55 pound kettlebell and bang out 15 one-arm snatches per arm for a total of 30 reps at 1650 pounds. Thus far with these reps you would be at 5,600 pounds. You have to figure out how you are going to tackle the last 1,400 pounds.
Lastly, if you are so tired and are simply just trying to finish then you have some options.
Grab a lighter bar and do your work with that. After a heavier bar, this will seem easier and will help you get across the finish line.
Another option would be to grab the heaviest medicine ball you can and get to the wall. It will take more reps going 20 pounds at a time, but you will give your arms a little bit of a break. 30 wall balls with a 20-pound Medicine Ball is 600 pounds.
Regardless, plan out how you want to accomplish the workout and execute. If you find that you were able to crush a 7,000 pound Elephant then you could do it the same with a time cap, increase the weight of the barbell, or lift a larger elephant.
To recap the exercises, you can snatch, clean and jerk, clean, shoulders to overhead, push press or strict press using a barbell. Just remember it has to go to the ground each time. Using a kettle bell, you can do overhead snatches, clean and press or Turkish get ups. If you get tired, try an empty bar or walls balls.
Keep a note of your exercises handy if you choose to split up movements and add a kettle bell. Now, you’re ready to address the elephant in the box.
Workout 3 “CrossFit Golf”
WOD: MetCon, Chipper
Scale: Movements, # of Reps/Weights
The third workout today holds a sweet-spot for me as it was the last workout I did at my old box before moving back home to the West Coast. The coach asked me what I wanted to for my final workout and I gave him a few ideas. I didn’t realize I was about to go golfing.
This workout can be done alone, but like golf, it’s better with at least 2 to 4 people. More people equals a better workout.
Pick 9 exercises, aka holes. Picking them randomly from a hat adds some fun to it. The ideal goal is to do each set of exercises unbroken. You can also add exercises into the routine that don’t require breaks, but rather require time. Examples of this would be a 50-calorie row, or how long it takes to do 100 sit ups or 50 box jumps.
You count your breaks at each “hole” as strokes. If you break twice before the end, you would give yourself a score of 2 for that hole. The end of an exercise doesn’t count as a stroke. So if you have 50 push ups and you break once at the 25th rep, but finish the last 25 unbroken, you would only count one stroke.
For timed movements, you record your time and strokes are assigned at the end for your placement among the group. If four people row and you finish fourth, you would receive a stoke score of 4 for the row.
Between exercises, you may rest while you record your score. Feel free to rest as little or as much as you need to, however the clock is ticking. At the end of workout the fastest time gets 1 stroke, second fastest gets 2 strokes, etcetera, so there is some strategy at play. You could take long breaks, go unbroken or have low stroke counts at each hole and still end up ahead of someone who finished quicker but was so tired that they had to break more frequently.
Feel free to change the exercises or reps as you see fit. However, if you choose to incorporate timed workouts, stick one or two at the beginning and one or two at the end. Further, these timed exercises should be done in order; so the first is first and the last is last. Every other exercise can be done in any order. Fore!
Workout 4 Rowing + Bowling = Rowling?
Scale: Meters Per Frame, Extra Games
This is a rowing WOD that you can do with a group or alone. The goal is to pull and get as close to the target distance as possible. For those who have been on a C2 Erg rower, you know that if you stop pulling at 90 meters the final counter will stop slightly above 100 meters.
The setup works like this: You will row 10 “frames” at 100 meters each with minimal rest between each frame. You could do 200, or 250 meters if you really wanted an extra challenge.
First, set up the rower with any damper setting you feel comfortable with. Everyone begins and tries to get as close to 100 meters as possible. Only full pulls are allowed and you must place the handle back in the metal catch before the counter stops. Each round you record how far from 100 meters you are; over or under doesn’t matter.
So with that example of 112 meters, you would personally record a score for 12. If someone gets 100 on the nose? They get a score of 0.
Some variations of this add an extra “frame” at the end of the final frame if a strike is achieved, similar to real bowling. If another 0 is achieved on the next frame, the person can replace a previous frame with a 0.
Once the workout is completed, the person with the lowest score is the winner, just like in real bowling. Besides bragging rights, they can pick the exercise or exercises that the entire group, including the winner, will do. Now, take the bottom 1-3 scores and add them together; this will be the number of reps the group has to perform.
So not only did you do a series of 100 meter or perhaps (200/250) rowing sprints, you get the added bonus exercises at the end. If you go through 100 meters fairly quickly, then try a second or third game.
If you workout on your own, do WODs at home or have gotten a little bored with some of your local programming, then these workouts might be just the ticket to jazz up your fitness regimen. Enjoy!