Whether you’re just starting out in CrossFit or compete regularly in the Open, there are certain things about CrossFit that seem non-negotiable. To be a “real” CrossFitter, it may feel like you need to have membership at a box, participate in daily WODs (workouts of the day), and have access to all the cool equipment you see athletes using at the NOBULL CrossFit Games.
You may not have a squat rack in your garage or a rowing machine in your living room, but bodyweight CrossFit exercises can help you crush your WODs. Whether you’ve been a member of your local box for a while or are just curious to try it out, CrossFit might be on your list of fitness programming to try. But it’s often associated with barbell complexes, bumper plates, sandbags, and all types of out-there fitness equipment.
Fortunately for you, CrossFit also involves functional exercises that can be done anywhere. Yes, that includes your living room. Even if you can’t get to your box, there are plenty of ways to get a CrossFit-style session in. You can modify WODs and exercise templates modeled in the gym to crush CrossFit workouts at home.
The Best CrossFit Workouts to Do At Home
The ladder here isn’t a piece of equipment. Instead, it refers to the rep scheme of the workout — increasing or decreasing reps with each set. It might look something like 10-9-8-7, working your way down to one. A ladder helps you accumulate a large amount of volume in a short amount of time without totally burning out your muscles. Just doing this type of workout around 10 minutes a day can help improve your cardiovascular fitness. (1)
Typically in a CrossFit class, the goal of this type of workout is to get it done as quickly as possible. The speed of the workout easily gets your heart pumping and challenges your mental toughness. If you completed the CrossFit Open 22.2 workout, then you know the feeling.
Perform each exercise as alternating supersets: 10 burpees, one sit-up, nine burpees, two sit-ups, etc.
Workout Tip: Fatigue is bound to set in during intense workouts, so keeping your form on point is crucial for reducing your injury risk while maintaining emphasis on the target muscles.
Filthy 50 Variation
Just the name alone is enough to scare you. The Filthy 50 is a popular CrossFit WOD that involves 50 reps of 10 exercises. The nightmarish fun only ends when all 500 reps are complete. Although the original WOD uses various pieces of equipment, you can use what you have at home — maybe kettlebells or medicine balls — or you can just go full bodyweight.
This high volume, high-intensity workout is brutal, but it’s worth it given how it helps build your cardio and muscular endurance. Higher volume is also associated with greater hypertrophy, so you can build muscle without even going to the gym. (2) Doing this workout one to three times a week can help boost muscle growth. (3)
A typical Filthy 50 is done unpartitioned, meaning that you only move onto the next exercise once you finish all 50 reps of the first. Although 50 air squats might not seem like a lot at first, that number will start feeling impossibly high all too quickly. Trying to go unbroken and banging out all 50 at once might seem like a good strategy at first. But with this many exercises and this many reps, you’ll want to be a lot more strategic.
Perform 50 reps of each exercise for time.
- Walking Lunge
- Pull-Up OR Resistance Banded Lat Pulldown
- Hollow Rock
- Jump Squat
Workout Tip: To manage the sheer amount of reps, consider breaking the sets into smaller sets like 10 reps at a time until you hit 50.
You may have heard of this Memorial Day workout from your CrossFit friends posting all over social media about it. But if you’ve never tried it yourself, you have yet to experience how tough it actually is. Murph honors Navy Seal Lieutenant Michael Murphy, who reportedly did this workout before he died in 2005 in Afghanistan.
For advanced athletes, it can be done with a 14-pound or 20-pound weighted vest. But doing Murph with just your bodyweight is just as brutal. It’s extremely high-volume, so it’s often recommended to partition the reps to help you survive it physically and mentally.
The RX — prescribed — way to do Murph is to perform all the reps of the exercise without moving on to the next. However, athletes will often break up the reps into smaller, more digestible sets to spend less time fighting fatigue and more time moving. Ultimately, it’s up to you how you want to approach it.
Perform each exercise in turn, for time.
- Run: 1 mile
- Pull-Up OR Resistance Band Lat Pulldown: 100
- Push-Up: 200
- Air Squat: 300
- Run: 1 mile
Workout Tip: Murph is done for time and can take anywhere from 30 minutes to an hour or more. Since it’s measurable, jot down your time so you can continue to compare your times year after year.
An entire workout consisting of three exercises might not seem like much. But a 20-minute workout is a long time to go as hard as you can. Cindy involves the same three bodyweight exercises that Murph does, so this rep scheme is often an approach athletes will take to partition Murph reps.
This workout is an AMRAP — as many rounds as possible — with a time cap of 20 minutes. That means you’ll be completing as many rounds as possible in that time period. AMRAPs are high-intensity workouts that can help improve anaerobic power, which can be beneficial for weightlifting and HIIT (high-intensity interval training) performance. (4)
Using a time cap at home can help you push yourself harder. If you decide to do this workout again, you’re able to track your progress by how many rounds you get through. The goal of this one is to keep moving, so it’s pretty much guaranteed to get your heart rate up.
Perform as many rounds as possible. There’s a 20-minute time cap.
- Pull-Up OR Resistance Band Lat Pulldown: 5
- Push-Up: 10
- Air Squat: 15
Workout Tip: The rep schemes might not seem huge, but still make sure you’re pacing yourself so you don’t burn out halfway through.
A lot of CrossFit WODs qualify as chippers. A chipper workout gets its name from “chipping away” at a lot of reps for multiple exercises performed back-to-back . The Filthy 50 is a good example of this, because once you finish 50 reps of an exercise, it’s done. Then you’ll start chipping away at the next one.
Typically, these take longer to complete, so a chipper can test and build your endurance more than shorter, high-intensity workouts. However, a chipper can be a good approach mentally because you’ll be crossing off items off your list as you go. This can help the workout feel more attainable and accomplished after you finish a set of reps. Not to mention, it can be great for your cardio and strength.
- Walking Lunge: 50
- Mountain Climber: 40
- Box Jump OR Jump Squat: 30
- Push-Up: 20
- Burpee: 10
Workout Tip: Program the reps and exercises how you want to, breaking up your workload according to your own strengths and weaknesses.
One of the most popular workouts that uses this rep scheme is CrossFit’s Fran, which is 21 thrusters and pull-ups, 15 thrusters and pull-ups, then nine thrusters and pull-ups. You can substitute any exercises to make it more home-friendly. Depending on how many exercises you decide to use — and how intense they are — it can be a fairly quick workout, taking around 10 to 15 minutes.
Being quick doesn’t make it any easier. These short bouts of high-intensity don’t leave much room for rest and rev up your body’s cardio and other processes that may help you change your body composition. (5) And while 21 reps may not seem like a lot on paper, you’ll start feeling the fatigue halfway through.
- Jump Squat: 21
- Handstand Push-Up OR Push-Up: 21
- Jump Squat: 15
- Handstand Push-Up OR Push-Up: 15
- Jump Squat: 9
- Handstand Push-Up OR Push-Up: 9
Workout Tip: Make sure that you pace yourself. It may be tempting to blast through your first 21 reps, but know that you still have plenty to go.
This CrossFit WOD might remind you a little of Murph — with the added benefit of sit-ups in the mix. It’s another high-volume rep count, so breaking up the work into sets is a smart choice, even for advanced athletes. The worst thing you can do in this workout is burn yourself out too quickly. Even though it’s a timed workout, you want to pace yourself — 100 reps per exercise is a lot to get through.
Especially if you’re trying to beat your last time, you’ll still be moving quickly. This workout can therefore really push your cardio fitness to the brink. Grinding through a high volume of bodyweight exercises will also maximize your muscle strength and endurance.
Since they’re all bodyweight exercises, Angie can be convenient to do at home. If you don’t have a pull-up bar, you can substitute that move for a resistance band lat pulldown or even an inverted row on a stable surface.
- Pull-Up OR Resistance Band Lat Pulldown: 100
- Push-Up: 100
- Sit-Up: 100
- Air Squat: 100
Workout Tip: How to approach Angie is really up to you and your fitness level. You might split the 100 reps into 10 sets of 10 reps. If you’re a little more advanced, you might even try four sets of 25 reps.
EMOM stands for every minute on the minute. In this type of workout, you complete a set number of reps as quickly as possible in one minute. If you complete them before the minute is up, you can rest. If you don’t complete them, you continue moving into the next minute. So in this case, the clock runs the workout.
This type of workout can be grueling, but they’re helpful for boosting your cardio fitness and power. EMOMs force you to push through your reps to have more rest time. Often, the exercises included in an EMOM are ones that can be done quickly and efficiently.
This style of workout can keep you moving without taking too much unnecessary rest time in between exercises. They’re also shorter, high-intensity bouts, so you can do more work in less time.
Perform one exercise at the top of every minute. Rest for the rest of the minute, then perform the next exercise.
- Push-Up: 15
- Burpee: 10
- Plank: 30 seconds
- Repeat circuit for a total of 15 minutes.
Workout Tip: Pace yourself well throughout the work because for your plank, you can’t earn more rest by moving faster. Instead, you’ll consistently work for 30 seconds then rest for 30 seconds until the top of the next minute.
Programming CrossFit Workouts at Home
You can get your exercise in without going to the gym, but it’s important to still implement a plan of action to help keep you on track. With all the distractions at home — from the kids, the laundry, the pets, and the TV — it can be challenging to stay motivated.
Part of staying motivated is programming your workouts. The first step is figuring out your workout routine, then the next step is planning it out. With high-intensity CrossFit workouts, you don’t have to spend your entire lunch break exercising.
How Many Hours a Week Can I Do CrossFit?
Working out 150 minutes with moderate-intensity or 75 minutes with higher intensity each week can help lower your risk of heart disease, some cancers, diabetes, and all-cause mortality. (6) That equals out to about 10 minutes a day of high-intensity exercise or about 20 minutes a day of moderate-intensity exercise.
This makes quick AMRAPs, EMOMs, and other timed CrossFit workouts perfect to hit your weekly exercise goals. Choosing a ladder workout after breakfast can be a great way to get your day started. It can take just about 10 minutes of your time, depending on the ladder you choose.
If you happen to have more time, like an hour or so, you can try the Filthy 50 variation, or another type of long chipper.
How Do I Choose CrossFit Exercises?
When choosing your exercises, remember that CrossFit focuses on functional movement. These exercises mimic the moves you do everyday — pushing open a door, pulling clothes from the washer, hinging to pick up toys, squatting to grab cleaner from under the sink, or rotating to look behind you for traffic.
Functional exercises can help improve your daily life since doing these moves under resistance or with intention can help improve your everyday strength and endurance. (7)
Although an exercise like the biceps curl can help you build muscle, it’s not necessarily a movement pattern that you do on a daily basis. When you’re doing CrossFit, opt for full-body exercises that emphasize moving multiple joints at once to get the most out of your workout.
Benefits of Doing CrossFit at Home
Besides not having to leave your house, doing CrossFit at home can produce health benefits to help keep you happy and healthy.
CrossFit training in general tends to be positively associated with better endurance. (8) The more endurance you have, the better you can perform in the gym with higher volume workouts. However, endurance isn’t just for athletes. You use endurance when you walk up a long flight of stairs without getting winded or vacuum your entire house without having to stop to take a break.
Increased VO2 Max
Consistent and intense workout routines like CrossFit training at home or in a gym can help increase your VO2 max. That’s your maximum aerobic capacity, meaning you’ll be improving your cardio health. Your VO2 max can be a predictor of heart disease or all-cause mortality, so your long-term heart health might just love CrossFit. (9)
More Flexibility and Mobility
Can’t quite reach the back of that tall cabinet? It might not just be your height. People often have limited range of motion or pain during normal, everyday movements. The functional exercises that are often done in CrossFit workouts can help to improve flexibility and mobility by just training two to six days per week. (10)
Changing Body Composition
CrossFit involves resistance and cardio training, which can each produce their own benefits for your strength and overall health. Along with these benefits, you might just find that your abs start to show or your clothes fit differently.
That can be a positive for people who are looking to work toward those goals with their training. Doing CrossFit training even just two days a week can help lower your body fat percentage while increasing muscle mass and lean body mass. (9)
CrossFit in Your Living Room
Not having enough time to workout is a popular reason to not work out — enter the convenience of at-home workouts. Home workouts were made especially normalized with the rise of COVID-19, but even with gyms re-opened, you can still get your CrossFit on in your living room. You don’t need a barbell or a rowing machine to do CrossFit workouts at home. All you need is basic knowledge of functional exercises, a plan, and a pump up playlist — after that, the options are pretty unlimited.
- Greenelee, Tina, Greene, Daniel, & Ward, Nathan J. Effectiveness of a 16-Week High-Intensity Cardioresistance Training Program in Adults. The Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research. 2017; 31(9). doi: 10.1519/JSC.0000000000001976
- Krzysztofik, Michal, Wilk, Michal, & Wojdala, Grzegorz. Maximizing Muscle Hypertrophy: A Systematic Review of Advanced Resistance Training Techniques and Methods. International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health. 2019; 16(24). doi: 10.3390/ijerph16244897
- Schoenfeld, Brad Jon, Grgic, Jozo, Krieger, James. How many times per week should a muscle be trained to maximize muscle hypertrophy? A systematic review and meta-analysis of studies examining the effects of resistance training frequency. Journal of Sports Science. 2019; 37(11). doi: 10.1080/02640414.2018.1555906
- Alparslan, Mus, Yüksel, Oğuzhan. Investigation of the Effect of Amrap and Classic Crossfit Trainings in Wrestlers on Anerobic Power. International Journal of Applied Exercise Physiology. 2020; 9(9).
- Boutcher, Stephen H. High-Intensity Intermittent Exercise and Fat Loss. Journal of Obesity. 2011. doi: 10.1155/2011/868305
- Gaesser, Glenn A., Angadi, Siddhartha. High-intensity interval training for health and fitness: can less be more? Journal of Applied Physiology. 2011. https://doi.org/10.1152/japplphysiol.01237.2011
- Da Silva-Grigoletto, Marzo E., Mesquita, Marceli M A., & Aragao-Santos, Jose. Functional Training Induces Greater Variety and Magnitude of Training Improvements than Traditional Resistance Training in Elderly Women. Journal of Sports Science & Medicine. 2019; 18(4).
- Wagener, Sebastian, Wilheim Hoppe, Matthias, & Hotfiel, Thilo. CrossFit® – Development, Benefits and Risks. Sportorthopa¨die-Sporttraumatologie. 2020; 36(3). doi: 10.1016/j.orthtr.2020.07.001
- Choi, Eun-Ju, So, Wi-Young, Jeong, Taikyeong Ted. Effects of the CrossFit Exercise Data Analysis on Body Composition and Blood Profiles. Iranian Journal of Public Health. 2017; 46(9).
- Cosgrove, Sarah J., Crawford, Derek A., Heinrich, Katie M. Multiple Fitness Improvements Found after 6-Months of High Intensity Functional Training. Sports. 2019; 7(9). doi: 10.3390/sports7090203
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