It's been almost two decades since CrossFit emerged from a small gym in Santa Cruz, California, and it's been growing like a weed ever since. The reason why is no surprise: Millions swear by it as the hardest, best damn workout you'll ever do.
Count RSP Nutrition athlete Hannah Eden among those who was transformed. The founder and owner of PumpFit Club in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, is a believer in many of the principles and tenets of CrossFit, building not just her own athletic, rock-hard physique, but taking her clients through the challenging paces of a WOD—that's shorthand for "workout of the day" to neophytes.
From these grueling daily challenges, you can learn a helluva lot about training, whether you're ready to train for the Open each spring or just borrow some basic elements for your own routine.
Here, Eden shares five of her favorite CrossFit-inspired ways supercharge any fitness regimen.
1. The Timed Set
If a "set" for you means something has to be a specific number of reps, Eden says you're probably holding yourself back. "If you tell someone that they should do 10 reps, they'll get there, and even if they might be able to do one or two more, they'll probably just stop," she says. "By repping for time instead of a preselected number, however, you're much more likely push yourself further."
This is why for her conditioning work, she loves timed sets. The instructions on these workouts are simple enough: Start when the clock starts, stop when it dings. What happens in the middle? You survive.
One other great thing about the timed set is that you can really dial in the work-to-rest ratio, periodizing your rest periods to build peerless conditioning. That's the approach that Eden takes in the popular RSP Triple Threat 4-Week Fitness Plan. By day 23 of the program, you're only allowed 30 seconds of rest every 2 minutes!
2. The AMRAP
In an AMRAP or "as many rounds as possible" workout, the time on the clock gets longer—say, 10 or 12 minutes. Your job is to do a set amount of work—and then do it again and again. Often, the first couple of rounds are easy enough. But by the end, you'll be counting every last second.
Eden further ups the ante by adding reps to rounds as the AMRAP routine goes on. Here's how that looks in one of her favorite two-move burners:
3. The Timed Circuit
For many lifters, a "workout" is an arrangement of exercises broken down into sets, with rest periods between those sets. Perhaps you'll do four sets of an exercise with 60 seconds or so of rest between each before moving on to the next movement. There's space for this style of training in CrossFit, but boxes also feature plenty of time-based circuits where the goal is simply to finish a huge pile of work and improve on your time.
"Some of the best WODs involve a timed circuit," Eden explains. "Your task is simply to complete a group of exercises as fast as you can." A number of these have become iconic—and not only among CrossFitters—for the simple reason that they are fun, incredibly challenging, and accomplishments to pepper into your program when you need a kick in the ass. The Filthy 50 and Murph WODs are two examples in which you strive to improve your PR—your previous personal record—each time you do it.
Here's one of Eden's favorites that can be done in any gym:
4. The EMOM
The every-minute-on-the-minute, or EMOM, workout isn't unique to CrossFit. But coaches like Eden have helped turn it into a training art, crafting seamless series that allow a lifter to get a serious full-body strength, muscle, and conditioning workout in less time than it takes to watch a sitcom.
The key: Don't try to do everything every minute! Alternate lifts with minutes, allowing certain body parts or energy systems to rest while others open the throttle. Don't worry: Everything gets worked by the end!
5. The Mixed Modality Circuit
"CrossFit is constantly varied," Eden says. "It is generalized, not specialized. This style of hybrid training will enhance muscle growth, strength, strength endurance, and overall fitness levels." Nowhere is this truer than in circuits that mix bodyweight, Olympic lifting, and conditioning work, a common blend in CrossFit training.
While everything else in this article can be done in a more general facility, this circuit is one that likely requires access to more dedicated CrossFit equipment, or at least one of those CrossFit-knockoff rooms that many commercial gyms have these days. It will also require some proficiency with Olympic lifts. So if you're not ready, then scale as necessary, and do the work to build up to it!
While they might not always admit it, many lifters these days read CrossFit workouts for inspiration, even if they don't perform them as written. Why? Because they're full of interesting combinations, tools, and challenges that could help anyone, in any gym, get a new stimulus to grow and change. The key, Eden says, is this: "Bring your imagination to every workout!"