How To Speak CrossFit: Viewer's Guide

Courtesy CrossFit Inc.

What is CrossFit, you ask? If you're wondering that, then you'll probably need a primer on the terms and movements you're seeing at the 2014 CrossFit Games. Fear not, we've got you covered.

CrossFit bills itself as a fitness regimen made up of constantly varied, functional movements that are completed at a high intensity. The company was started by Greg Glassman in 2000.

The CrossFit Games are an extension of the regimen -- a contest of competitors' abilities to complete a series of movements designed to test their overall fitness. Here are some of the most frequent terms and movements you'll see:

CrossFit Glossary


"As many rounds/reps as possible."


A CrossFit gym. (Used in a sentence: "What box are they from?")


"Workout of the day." (Used in a sentence: "What's today's WOD?"). Usually a combination of movements designed to encourage physical preparedness and well-rounded training.


This workout format is like a to-do list, with a series of movements to be completed as quickly as possible. It's designed to push the metabolic condition and endurance of athletes. One of the most popular chippers is called the "Filthy Fifty" and is composed of 50 reps of the following movements: box jumps, jumping pull-ups, kettlebell swings, walking lunges, knees to elbows, push press, back extensions, wall balls, burpees and double-unders.


"Did not finish."


"Did not start."


"Every minute on the minute." If a workout calls for a 10-minute EMOM of five push-ups and 10 air squats, the athlete would complete five push-ups and 10 air squats every minute for 10 minutes.


The most famous Girl WOD (see below). It is three rounds of thrusters and pull-ups; 21 of each in the first round, 15 in the second and nine in the third. (Used in a sentence: "What's your Fran time?" This is the equivalent of asking somebody what their mile time or bench press is.)

For Time

The athlete is given a specific series of movements and asked to complete it in the shortest amount of time possible. This can also be seen as an "AFAP" meaning "as fast as possible."

The Girls

Female-named benchmark workouts to help athletes measure progress against their previous scores and anyone in the community who has done the workout. (Used in a sentence: "What's your favorite Girl WOD?")

Hero WODs

Several CrossFit benchmark WODs are named after military, law enforcement and firefighters who have died in the line of service. These are typically difficult endurance workouts.


A gymnastics term, the movement helps conserve energy and forearm strength. An athlete may use a "kip" or create momentum with an explosive hip movement.


There are several platforms with prepared barbells that increase in weight. The athlete starts at the first platform, which is the lightest weight, and attempts to get to the heaviest platform by successfully lifting each platform's weight.


Personal record; an individual's heaviest weight lifted or fastest time.

Courtesy of CrossFit Inc.

A regionals athlete demonstrates the front-rack position.

Rack Position

The barbell sits on the athlete's shoulders with the grip slightly wider than shoulder width. The elbows are below and in front of the bar. In the front-rack position, the grip is loosened and the elbows are pushed up higher so that the triceps are parallel to the floor.


"As prescribed." Every movement has a standard, e.g., a pull-up must start with straight arms and finish with chin over the bar without any assistance. Weights are assigned to a workout so that everyone uses the same standards. If a modification or scaling down in weight happens, then it is a non-Rx workout.

Courtesy CrossFit Inc.

Lindsey Valenzuela, the 26-year-old 2013 CrossFit Games runner-up, attempts a clean.

The Movements

Air Squat

The athlete starts in the standing position with feet shoulder-distance apart and moves into a squatting position with the hip crease below the knee, then back to standing.

This movement is the foundation for all the key squat movements, such as the overhead squat (squat with a weight overhead), the front squat (squat with weight in the front-rack position) and thruster (squat with weight in the front-rack position, then the athlete drives the weight overhead while rising to stand).

Box Jump

From a standing position on the floor, the athlete jumps and lands with both feet on top of a box. The athlete must stand up completely for the rep to count. Men usually jump at a height of 24 inches, women at a height of 20 inches.


A full-body movement that starts in the standing position. The athlete then touches his or her chest to the ground and jumps back up to starting position as quickly as possible.


The athlete takes a barbell from the ground and explosively lifts it to a front-rack position.


A power lift wherein the athlete moves the barbell from the ground to upright standing position while making sure to drive with the legs and keeping a straight back.


The jump rope passes twice under the athlete's feet in one jump. (Triple-unders -- where the rope passes under three times -- are now becoming a popular addition to athletes' training.)

Handstand Push-Up

Starting in a fully inverted handstand position (usually heels are against a wall), athletes bend their elbows until the tops of their heads touch the ground. They then push themselves back into their handstand position.

Kettlebell Swing

Moving a kettlebell from between the legs to overhead. Kettlebell weights are usually referred to in "pood," a Russian unit of measurement. One pood equals 16 kilograms equals 35 pounds.


This can be done on the rings or a bar. Both require athletes to start from a straight-armed hang, then pull themselves up over the rings or bar to a finishing position of straight arms, with hands below the hips.


The athlete holds a barbell in rack position and moves it overhead. There are several variations of the press. In a strict press, the lower body remains stationary and the arms do the work. In a push press, the bar is pushed off the body using a "dip-and-drive" movement. A push jerk is like the push press, but athletes may catch the weight in a re-dip to allow themselves to drop under the bar to receive the weight with straight arms. The split jerk is like the push jerk but one leg goes forward and the other goes back when the athlete drops under the barbell. It is most commonly seen in the Olympic lift called the clean and jerk.


The athlete starts from a hanging position with straight arms and pulls his or her chin over the bar. There are several variations:

* Strict pull-ups require no use of the body to create momentum to get over the bar.

* Kipping pull-ups allow a swinging motion to build momentum to get over the bar.

* Chest-to-bar pull-ups require physical contact of the chest to the bar.

* Butterfly pull-ups involve a technique that allows athletes to cycle through their pull-ups in the most efficient manner.

Courtesy of CrossFit Inc

Top contender Jason Khalipa on the rower.


Using a rowing machine or ergometer, the athlete simulates rowing on crew.


Just like the clean, the snatch is an Olympic lift that starts with the weight on the ground. With a wide grip, the athlete moves the weight into the overhead position in one fluid motion.


The athlete starts in a straight-arm hanging position and crunches up in order to bring the feet into contact with the bar.

Wall Ball

The athlete starts with a medicine ball (usually 20 pounds for men and 14 pounds for women) in a front-rack position while facing a wall at about an arm's length. Then he or she squats and stands, throwing the ball to an overhead target (usually 10 feet for men and 9 feet for women).

Landon LaRue is a freelance writer and Level 1 CrossFit Trainer based out of Los Angeles. When she's not CrossFitting, she can be found eating bacon, drinking coffee and playing odd sports such as dodgeball and curling.

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