In certain bodybuilding circles, there are some words you simply don't use. And CrossFit is one of them—right? Actually, a large and growing number of bodybuilders are more exhausted with beefing with CrossFit than they are with CrossFit itself. And honestly, it's very hard not to respect what athletes like Mat Fraser and Tia-Clair Toomey, the newly crowned winners of the 2018 CrossFit Games, are capable of.
We're all lifters, so let's just lift, and respect each other! And let's face it: While there are plenty of things that happen in a box that no bodybuilder is up for, there are a number of WODs that are that special bad kind of fun that every diehard lifter can dig in and enjoy.
Ready to bury the hatchet? Do it by giving these five popular WODs (Workout of the Day) a try. They all bridge the divide between aesthetics and functionality, and honestly, may actually help with your gains.
There won't be any prescribed weight ranges for these workouts—just a few recommendations. Really, just do each exercise to the best of your strength and endurance abilities, and use the form you know how to do—this is not the time to learn a brand new technique!
Don't let the feminine title fool you; CrossFit's lady-named workouts are notoriously nasty. You actually might have heard of a routine like this one in the bodybuilding universe. Arnold Schwarzenegger had a tendency to superset chest and back a lot, and these two exercises were his favorites.
If you need to use light weight for the bench and an assistant for pull-ups, that's fine. Just choose a version of the exercise that's challenging, but still allows you to get a lot of reps.
Now, you might look at this workout and think, "What's the big deal? It's only one superset." What makes these workouts challenging is that you're chasing either max reps or a faster time—or in this case both. You start the clock when you start your first rep, and don't hit the stop button until you finish all 5 rounds.
Every second you take to catch your breath or grab water counts toward your time, so if you're competitive—and I know you are—you're going to want to waste as little time as possible. If you absolutely must take a few breaths between rounds, go for it! You're not trying to pass out. Just don't take too much time, because you're up against the clock.
That's where this workout will feel different from a normal bodybuilding split. You won't have the luxury of resting for a few minutes between sets, so your muscles won't have time to fully recover. You're going to notice the difference and feel the burn, but it's that ability to push through and keep going without rest that will lead to bigger gains down the road.
If you're looking to add more volume, use this WOD as a kickoff to an intense chest and back session, or keep it in your arsenal of quick, muscle-building workouts when you're low on time.
I know what you're thinking: "Clean and jerks? For a bodybuilder?" Rest assured, the "jerk" part of this workout has always been generously defined. Clean and presses or push-presses are just fine. Heck, when Bodybuilding.com athlete Laurence Ballenger did Grace as part of the Brute Showdown competition, he basically did upright rows and push-presses. So, do what you can, as long as it's safe.
No matter how you do it, the clean and jerk, or press, is truly a full-body movement, and a great way to either start your shoulder routine as a pre-exhaust, or to finish off your delts (and lungs) at the end.
The prescribed weight for Grace is 135 pounds for men and 95 pounds for women, but don't let that standard guide you. If you choose to go light, try to do all 30 reps in a row. If you'd rather work for power, go a bit heavier and take short breaks when you feel it's necessary. Just remember that the clock is always ticking, so don't let your time off get carried away.
Running on a treadmill for long periods of time can be boring, even if you're listening to an amazing podcast or watching your favorite show. So why not take advantage of this HIIT-style workout and break up your cardio with some bodyweight calisthenics?
This will be a full-body challenge from the feet up. Start with a hard 1/4-mile run, either outside or in the gym, then perform the four exercises in the order listed. Cap it off with an additional run at the end—hence the "sandwich." Record your time, and try to beat it in the future. But seriously push it for that quarter-mile!
Do this WOD in place of cardio, as a primer for leg day, or as a killer finisher after hitting upper body.
This is a less well-known workout than some of the others on this list, but the killer combination of heavy lifting and anaerobic sprints will serve your muscle-building efforts well—and maybe make you revisit your most recent meal a bit along the way.
Start with a set of 10 back squats, using a weight you know you can handle for 10-12 perfect—and I mean perfect—reps. Going too light is far better than going 1 ounce too heavy! And make sure you sprint at a speed you can handle without risking serious injury.
Once you rack the weight, go right into your sprints at the nearest open space, or if you're in the gym, hop on the closest treadmill. Sprint for 80 yards, about 0.04 miles or the length of a basketball court if you sprint down and back.
Return to the rack, and do 9 reps followed by another sprint. Repeat until you've performed all 10 sets, counting down the back squats until you finish with 1 rep on the final round. Use this WOD as a warm-up before you hit hamstrings and calves.
Protocols like this do exist in the bodybuilding world. Exercise physiologist Jim Stoppani, Ph.D., has designed workouts that call for weights and cardio back to back, as has Kaged Muscle founder Kris Gethin. Weightlifting and sprints are both anaerobic exercises, and both are capable of building muscle and burning fat.
Keep in mind that the weight you use for the back squats should be light enough for 10-12 perfect reps, and make sure you sprint at a speed you can handle without risking serious injury.
This one is a bit more "CrossFit" than the others here, but it's fun enough—in a mean way—that it's worth opening your mind to try. Workouts that are AMRAP, or "as many rounds as possible," is the other end of the forced-exertion spectrum from the timed workouts elsewhere on this list. Rather than trying to get the fastest time possible, you're simply trying to complete as many rounds as possible. Both methods are effective intensity-boosters, which means both have their place in your muscle-building routine.
This workout combines explosive leg work with intense upper-body strength exercises, making it a great warm-up for almost any split. Choose a kettlebell weight that is challenging but safe for 10 reps, and opt for a box or bench between 12-20 inches high.
If you don't have rings, you can always use parallel bars or a bench, but you won't get the same focused intensity because your triceps won't have to work to stabilize like they would on the rings. This move is a keeper.
If you like this AMRAP format, you can keep the same 10-minute time limit and substitute any three non-competing strength-building exercises. Just make sure you hit at least two different muscle groups so you can push hard without having to take a rest.