Why CrossFit? For one thing, it's incredibly effective, as proven by the tens of thousands of ripped dudes around the world hoisting barbells in “Nice Snatch” shirts.

But you don’t have to know how to do a muscle-up or a power clean to reap the benefits of CrossFit’s high-intensity, constantly-varied workouts. These workouts are short—but what they lack in total time, they make up for in intensity, so keep rest times short (or don't rest at all, if possible). Focus on good form and reduce your weight if you’re struggling to complete the prescribed number of reps.

Before starting any of these WODs (that’s “Workout of the Day” in CrossFit-speak), complete a warmup like an 800m run, five minutes on a stationary bike, a couple rounds of jumping jacks, air squats and lunges, or a 500-meter row. Follow that with some static and dynamic stretching, focusing on the muscles you’ll be using in that workout. And finish each workout with a long stretch and foam rolling.

Each of the following five workouts uses one of the main structures of a CrossFit workout: Baseline, EMOM (Every Minute, On the Minute), AMRAP (As Many Rounds as Possible), Chipper, and Benchmark. You might notice that none of these workouts involve a barbell; it’s important for beginners to establish the cardiovascular base needed for CrossFit’s intense, fast-paced workouts first. Nail all of these and you’re ready to hit your local box where a CrossFit coach can work with you on the barbell movements you’ll see in many other WODs.

 

Baseline

A baseline workout is used to establish, well, a baseline for performance. Try this workout first and come back to it throughout your training to check your performance. It should improve each time. (Don't forget to keep a record of your times.)

  • Row 500 meters
  • 20 Air Squats
  • 20 Push-Ups
  • 20 Sit-Ups
  • Row 500 meters

EMOM

Set a timer for 15 minutes. At the beginning of each new minute, perform the following movements in succession. The remaining time in the minute is your rest time. So move quickly to maximize your chance to rest! To scale: Instead of toes-to-bar, perform knees-to-elbows if you don’t have toes-to-bar just yet.

  • 3 burpees
  • 5 toes-to-bar

AMRAP

Set a timer for 15 minutes and perform as many rounds as possible of the following sequence in that time. Try not to rest between rounds and definitely keep a pen and paper handy to record how many rounds you complete! To scale: Use a band for the pull-ups or perform jumping pull-ups.

  • 200 meter run
  • 10 dumbbell overhead press
  • 10 pull-ups
  • 10 wall balls

Chipper

The chipper gets its name from the way you approach this monster WOD: by chipping away at it. It generally includes high reps and a number of exercises, done in succession. You’ll likely need to give yourself some rest time in this one but be strict about it—watch the clock and try not to rest for more than 10 seconds at a time. To scale: Step-up and back down instead of jumping for the box jumps.

  • 10 burpees
  • 20 box jumps
  • 10 burpees
  • 30 kettlebell swings
  • 10 burpees
  • 30 alternating lunges
  • 10 burpees
  • 20 air squats

 

Half Cindy

Some of the hardest WODs in CrossFit are the ones named after women. Cindy is a great example of a WOD that looks easy but gets utterly exhausting fast. Cindy is programmed at 20 minutes but try going with 10 minutes for your first time. To scale: use a band for the pull-ups or perform jumping pull-ups.

10-Minute AMRAP of:

  • 5 pull-ups
  • 10 push-ups
  • 15 squats