Benchmark Workouts and their Place in CrossFit
Benchmark workouts have been around for what seems like forever. “Girls” like Annie (5040302010 reps of doubleunders and situps), Grace (30 clean and jerks for time), and everyone’s favorite, Fran (21159 of thrusters and pullups) show up on whiteboards all over the CrossFit world and even make their way into competitions like the CrossFit games. These workouts are the truest test of one’s fitness, according to the CrossFit community. They can range from all bodyweight movements, like Annie, or heavy barbell complexes, like Grace.
The nice thing about these workouts is that they standardized to some extent; the workout themselves never really vary, save for scaling movements or weights slightly. Think of benchmark workouts as another tool in your CrossFit arsenal. They are ideal for tracking progress during your CrossFit journey. Keep some things in mind when completing, tracking, and retesting your benchmark workouts.
Hug your goat!
Work your weaknesses. Don’t avoid Karen because you hate the idea of completing 150 wall ball shots for time. The benchmark workouts as a group are allencompassing, but they truly can only be this way if you actually try all of them once!
Write down your results.
CrossFit workouts lend themselves to being tracked. Benchmark workouts results especially should be written down or tracked online. There are some great resources online for workout tracking. Most of them even take into consideration scaling options. It is important for you to not only see your times improve but also see how much you have progressed as a CrossFitter in general. Use journaling as an opportunity to express how you were feeling/felt about your results. Sometimes a bad day can lead to a bad workout; make sure to document that!
Being a CrossFitter means we don’t “specialize.” We work on everything we can all the time. If you want a faster Fran time, don’t just work on thrusters and pullups. Remember that in order to improve in CrossFit, you have to work on all movements, not just one or two. You may even notice an improvement when you walk away, so to speak, from these movements for a bit and do some accessory work.
Test and retest on a schedule.
It goes without saying, there should be a good amount of time in between testing and retesting these type of workouts. Depending on your current training regimen, testing every few months is probably a good enough gauge of improvement. If you started a new meal plan, for example, you may want to test a benchmark within the first week of the new plan and again at the month mark. If you test too often, you may feel frustrated with the lack of improvement. Testing not often enough can lead to same result. Try to get yourself on a regular schedule to keep track of your gains!
There’s no “secret” to improvement when it comes to CrossFit benchmark WODs. Track your progress, work those weaknesses, and you will be on you way to a Fran PR!
Meaghan, a former collegiate water polo player and rower, has been a member of the CrossFit community since 2013. She is the webmaster for her box, CrossFit Unlocked, and she has her own blog “Barbell Broad: A Lady’s Take on the Lifting Lifestyle.” Meaghan can be found on Instagram @barbellbroad.
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