CrossFit Terms Explained – Know Your WOD From Your AMRAP

The first time I tried CrossFit I left the class a little baffled. Were these people speaking an in-house code system? Thanks to training alone for many years, I believed I'd missed out on learning the new fitness terms. I quickly realised that in CrossFit there was a whole new world of acronyms I had to learn. If you’re in the same boat, don’t worry. I’ve put together a breakdown of the CrossFit abbreviations and terminology for you. If you need a primer on AMRAP, EMOM, & WOD, here's your guide.

Crossfit woman in WOD

WOD

This is the one you’ll hear and see written on the board the most. It stands for Workout Of the Day and refers to the engine/cardio-focused high-intensity workout that everyone performs to finish off an hour of CrossFit class.

An example of a WOD could be 6 rounds of 10 dumbbell presses, 20 air squats, and 10 kipping pullups.

MetCon

Short for Metabolic Conditioning. Even seasoned CrossFitters often can’t tell the difference between straight cardio/engine workouts and the MetCon.

“Cardio”, as we all call it, is characterised by long periods of training time, ability to improve stamina, and low-moderate intensity. A jog, swim, bike session, or skip rope workout are examples of cardio training.

MetCon refers to a high-intensity, short workout that makes your lungs and heart scream. The intention of MetCon training is to speed up your metabolism, hit your cardiovascular system hard, and help your body burn fat.

Sprints, interval training, shuttle-runs and anything that requires almost 100% intensity can be called MetCon training.
The evidence suggests that MetCon training builds strength, burns fat (after working out), and speeds up the metabolism much better than cardio. Maybe you’ve heard of HIIT training or Tabata Workouts. Same thing. All are workouts designed to condition metabolic pathways.

AMRAP

As Many Reps As Possible. AMRAP workouts take place within a certain time-frame and the ideas is to pump out the maximum number of repetitions of one or more exercises before the timer ends.
Example: 10-minute time-cap. 60 double unders, 10 cleans, 10 deadlifts. Complete one set and repeat.
The AMRAP count is the total number of reps accumulated in 10 minutes.

Double Under (DU)

This one’s easy to explain. But a lot trickier to perform. With double under the skip rope must pass under your feet twice for every jump. You can skip, right? Well instead of jumping once when the top comes around, jump twice. Many people struggle with this exercise, and that’s why it’s often called ‘struggle under’. Even good CrossFit athletes can find the DU a challenge. The only way to get it is to keep practising until it’s like walking. Practise a little every day. Don’t get discouraged. It could take months but it's worth the effort.

Snatch

This exercise can get a snigger outside of CrossFit circles. I’ll leave you to Google the other meanings. The Snatch is known as the fastest lift. It’s the quickest weightlifting technique employed to get a barbell from the floor to overhead. Unlike the clean & jerk (see below), the snatch is a single movement. It’s also one of the most difficult exercises you’ll encounter. To perform a solid snatch you’ll need not only strength, but agility, mobility, and precision timing.

EMOM

Every Minute On the Minute. A type of protocol in CrossFit that calls for a movement (or series of movements) every minute on the minute. Once the athlete completes the movement or exercise, they can rest the remaining time in the minute. An EMOM of 12 minutes is one complete task on the minute for 12 sets. You can’t compress the 12 sets into one continuous workout. An example might be an EMOM of one full snatch with 115lbs weight.

crossfit woman overhead movement

Rx

Pronounced as each letter “R X”, Rx means to complete a workout or exercise at the prescribed weight set by the coach. If the maximum weight for men is 80kg for a clean, then this is the Rx weight. The scaled version might be 50kg. Men and women have their own Rx numbers. Rx can also mean the number of repetitions and the version of an exercise.

A pull-up can be performed strict, with kipping, on rings, jumping start, and many other variations. The coach sets the Rx level (the most difficult) and the easier variations are called ‘scaled'.

Rx is often used as a noun. Did you Rx the WOD? Sounds like a different language to the non-initiated, right? The question translates as, “did you use the prescribed weight in the workout of the day?” To Rx something means to use the maximum prescribed weight or rep scheme.

Kipping

The kip refers to the use of momentum to complete a movement such as pull-ups, dips, and handstands. Performing movements with strict form (no momentum or explosive strength) requires a lot of strength. Many people are unable to do strict pull-ups but if they use momentum by controlling the swing of their legs to lift their torso higher, the movement can be completed. Kipping has a bad rap in circles outside (and inside of CrossFit) for being dangerous for beginners. It’s not strictly a beginner movement. It’s a way of performing reps faster and is really used for WODs and competition. Beginners should try to perform strict movements before the kipped version, but

Thruster

crossfit thruster exercise

Even if you’ve spent a lot of time in a gym or worked in a gym, the word thruster might not be familiar to you. The thruster is an exercise that involves thrusting a weight from the squatting position to overhead in a standing position with arms outstretched. It’s a tough movement and one that tests your strength, mobility, and endurance.

PR

Another acronym that often gets used as a verb. A PR is a personal record. Outside of the United States people also use PB, for personal best. To PR something is to improve your best score, lift heavier than you have before, or complete a WOD in a personal record time.

Box

The temple, the place of worship, the pain room. A CrossFit box is a place to do CrossFit Workouts, weightlifting or gymnastics training. A box is simply a big, well, box where people train in our favorite sport.

Box Jump

Not to be confused with the place of training, a box jump is a jump onto a box. It's that simple. Box jumps improve leg strength, explosive power, coordination, and when used in a WOD, cardio fitness.

There are two different sizes for men and women and most boxes can be placed on their sides for scaling. Athletes start the movement in standing postion in front of the box. The next step involves squatting slightly and then explosively throwing the arms for momentum and pressing through the legs to jump onto the box, landing with both feet flat on the surface.

CrossFit Games

The big event of the year for professional and semi-pro CrossFit athletes. The best of the best from all over the world compete in this multi-day event which includes regular CrossFit workouts (WODs) and some wildcard events like ocean swims and obstacle courses.

Chest to Bar

Chest to bar is a variation of the pull up where you bring your chest right up to make contact with the bar on every rep. The movement can be done strict or kipping. It's difficult, especially the strict version, and requires good upper body strength.

Toes to Bar

You'll see a lot of this excise in CrossFit workouts. When hanging from a pull up bar, bring your toes upwards until they touch the same bar your hands are gripping. That's one rep. It's much easier when done kipping-style. Strict toes to bar require a lot of core strength, grip strenght, and strong quads.

Sumo Deadlift High Pull

This is a popular movement in CrossFit and one that gets looks of puzzlement from newbies. You probably know what a deadlift is. A sumo deadlift is where the feet are placed further apart (much like a Sumo wrestler). A high-pull is where a barbell is pulled up to around neck height using the upper body.

An athlete performs a sumo deadlift high pull by using the sumo-width stance on the deadlift and having extended the legs fully, continues to send the barbell upwards by pulling with the arms and engaging the traps and back muscles. This video will explain it better.

Push Press

The push press is a common exercise in the gym or any training area, but it's widely used in CrossFit in WODs.

The movement is similar to a regular overhead or military press, the difference being that you use your legs to add some momentum to the upward trajectory of the bar. The push press starts in a shallow squat position. The legs are extended quickly and the arms use the momentum of the bar upwards to lift heavier weights than is possible with a regular pressing exercise.

Wall Balls

This exercise was obviously created by the devil himself. A classic WOD exercise, wall balls are punishing and unforgiving. Standing about arms length from the wall, hold a medicine ball at your chest. Squat to parallel or lower and explode back up to standing height. Take the momentum generated to throw the medicine (wall) ball upwards, aiming to touch a specific point on the wall. Catch the ball on the way down and repeat.

Greg Glassman

Not strictly speaking a CrossFit term, the founder of CrossFit is often citied. Glassman is no longer CEO of the company so it might not be polite to talk about him. Just saying.

Frequently Asked Questions

How often should you do CrossFit?

CrossFit HQ recommends a three-day-on, one-day-off pattern of training days but has also recommended a modified regimen: five-days-on, two-days-off. This works well for people that want to keep a regular pattern of weekly training. This would be the maximum recommended number of days to train in a week. We prefer one day on and one day off. How many times a week to do CrossFit depends on your goals. 3 days a week is sufficient for non-professional athletes.

What does PR mean in CrossFit?

PR in CrossFit, and many other sports, stands for Personal Record. Also known as PB, Personal Best in many parts of the world. It stands for your best personal record of achievement in an exercise, event, sports, or discipline.

What equipment do you need for CrossFit?

Strictly speaking, you could do CrossFit without any equipment. However, if you want to progress in the sport, and you're training at home, a good jump rope, a set of dumbells, a barbell and plates, and a pull-up bar would be the minimum requirements for most WODs

Why do CrossFitters have big abs?

Not all CrossFit athletes have big abs but there's no doubting that the sport will challenge your core and build functional abdominal muscles better than a regular gym workout. Strong abs help your body support itself during heavy lifting. Many of the exercises performed by CrossFitters require well-developed abdominal muscles. The CrossFit abs look is generally not desired by the body building community.

How long are CrossFit workouts?

Once the strength & conditioning or gymnastics part of the class is completed, the workout (WOD) can take anywhere from 5 to 40 minutes. Most CrossFit workouts are around 20 minutes long.

crossfit terms terminology and abbreviations. AMRAP WOD EMOM guide

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