This CrossFit Partner WOD Will Crush You In 15 Minutes
Two CrossFit coaches say it's their favorite partner workout E-V-E-R.
If there's one part of CrossFit I love most, it's the partner WODs. Why? Because, unless you're on a sports team, hitting the gym is a solo endeavor. You're competing against and motivating yourself. Borringggg.
But with CrossFit partner workouts, that changes. "During partner workouts, you feed off the energy of and are motivated by the other person," explains Tony Milgram CF-L1, coach at ICE NYC in New York. "Grinding through a workout with another person encourages you to push harder, rest less, and even find new limits to exceed," says Milgram. (BTW, did you know there are science-backed benefits to having a solid workout buddy?)
Plus, "partner Workouts epitomize the camaraderie and community-building element that folks love so much about CrossFit," says David Pereira, CF-L2 coach at Maxability in New Jersey and owner of NavFit. (Related: What Happens When You Date Your CrossFit Partner… And Then You Break Up)
While you might pick your running buddy by matching paces, you can pick pretty much anyone to partner with for this workout. "You don't need to be the exact same fitness level, age, gender, or experience level to enjoy a CrossFit partner workout together," says Milgram. That's because in CrossFit, every movement is infinitely scalable, so "each partner is able to alter the movement or the weight in the workout to best fit their current ability," he says. That means that Tia-Clair Toomey, The Fittest Women On Earth and someone new to CrossFit could do the workout together if they scaled it appropriately!
To give this partner WOD a try, grab a friend/bae/stranger/anyone and try the workout both Milgram and I agree is one of the best/hardest/most fun partner workouts we've ever done: CrossFit Team Series Workout 18.8.
Below, Milgram and Pereira explain what the partner workout is, how to do the movements, how to scale appropriately, and more.
The Workout: CrossFit Team Series 18.8
The goal of the workout is to complete the below movements and reps as fast as possible or to complete as much of it as possible before fifteen minutes is up. When time is up, you're done, whether you've finished it or not.
- 30 Synchronized Toes-to-Bars
- 40 Synchronized Single-Arm Dumbbell Snatches
- 50 Synchronized Dumbbell Box Step-Overs
- 40 Synchronized Single-Arm Dumbbell Snatches
- 30 Synchronized Toes-to-Bars
- 15 Minute Time Cap
At face value, this workout may seem easy (only 15 minutes?). But don't underestimate it, warns Milgram. "You're taxing a lot of the same muscles in each movement—especially your core, posterior chain, traps, and shoulders—so it gets spicy quickly," he says. (Want to try another iconic CrossFit WOD? Check out the Murph CrossFit Workout.)
You'll notice that the movements are synchronized. If that sounds extra tricky, that's because it is. "Going synchronized requires an extra dose of coordination and control within the movement," says Pereira. For instance, if your partner is lagging behind on the dumbbell snatch, you have to have enough control of the weight enough to hold it at the top until you're in-sync again. (Of course, unless you're actually submitting scores for a CrossFit competition or qualifier, that's no big deal).
This is a gymnastic-y
movement that will work almost every muscle in your upper body and core including your lats, biceps, triceps, shoulders, traps, abdominals, obliques, and grip strength. This workout calls for kipping toes to bar, a.k.a. CrossFit toes-to-bar. While you could use strict toes to bar (think: no swinging), Milgram recommends *not* doing that because strict toes to bar are less time-efficient, and will slow down the workout, keeping it from having the intended cardio effect. (Related: Why Jillian Michaels Wants You to Stop Kipping and What Rich Froning Had to Say In Response).
A. Hold onto a pull-up bar with hands just outside of shoulders, with a hook grip (thumb wrapped around the top of the bar).
B. Hang with straight arms. Initiate a kip swing by pushing the bar away from your body, swinging toes slightly forward into hollow-rock position. Then, allow your head to pop through your arms as you swing into an arch (or "superman") position. Continue alternating between these positions.
C. While in the hollow position, keep your arms straight and push down on the bar. As you do that, draw your knees up to chest-height and kick toes up towards the bar between hands.
D. As you bring legs down, pull feet out and away from bar (as opposed to dropping them straight down), and return to the arch position.
Scale it down: If you can do 12 or more toes-to-bar in a row, then do them as described above in the workout, says Pereira. Otherwise, he suggests scaling to knees to elbows. "And if your grip strength just isn't there, do V-ups on the ground," he says. (Related: How to Increase Grip Strength and Why You Should)
Single-Arm Dumbbell Snatch
An iteration of the Olympic Weightlifting barbell snatch, the one-arm dumbbell snatch takes coordination, full-body strength, balance, and power. "The movement may look like an upper-body dominant movement, but it's actually not," says Milgram. "It'll tax your lower body, core, and grip more than anything.
A. Stand with feet hip-width apart, knees slightly bent, one dumbbell positioned between feet.
B. Keeping left arm straight out in front (or out to the side) and a flat back, hinge forward (as if in a deadlift) to grab onto the dumbbell with the right hand, palm facing down.
C. In one swift movement, pull dumbbell off the floor, while extending at the hips. Keep the right arm straight until the weight passes hip-height, then shrug shoulders to pull the weight overhead, keeping it close to the body on the way up. Lock the right arm overhead, bicep by ear, standing up straight.
D. Keeping dumbbell close to body, reverse the movement to return the dumbbell with to start position between your feet. Repeat with the opposite hand.
Scale it down: The prescribed dumbbell weight is 35 pounds for women and 50 pounds for men. According to Milgram, you should be able to do 25 reps unbroken at that weight when fresh in order to use it during this workout. Otherwise, choose a lighter weight and focus on pace, he suggests. If you've never done a dumbbell snatch before, choose a 5- or 10-pound dumbbell and do the workout with the light weight, making sure to set your back before every rep, he says.
Scale it up: If you're familiar with the dumbbell snatch, try switching hands mid-rep versus at the bottom of each snatch. To do that, when you're lowering the dumbbell, wait until the dumbbell is below face level and switch the dumbbell from one hand to the other.
Dumbbell Box Step-Over
"It's a common misconception that this movement is easy because you don't have to jump onto the box," says Milgram. "But it's not an easy movement. It'll make your glutes, traps, and grip scream." (Related: The Beginner-Friendly CrossFit Workout You Can Do At Home)
This workout is written so that women are carrying two 35 pound dumbbells over a 20-inch box, and men are carrying two 50 pound dumbbells over a 24-inch box. That said, it's important to pick a box height so that when your foot is on the box, your thigh is parallel to the ground. "If your knee is higher than your hip crease when you go to step up, it's going to make the move incredibly challenging," says Milgram. As for dumbbell weight? By the time you get to the box step-overs, your grip is going to be pretty taxed. Milgram suggests picking a weight you can do 20 step overs with unbroken, when fresh. (Related: Common CrossFit Mistakes Most Beginners Make And How To Avoid Them)
A. Stand facing a box, holding a dumbbell in each hand, palms facing in.
B. Keeping shoulders back and core braced, step right foot onto the box. Step up onto the right foot, pushing off the floor with the left foot to step the left foot up onto the box as well.
C. Carefully step down with the right foot, then the left. Turn around to face the box and repeat with the left leg as the lead.
Scale it down: Go for a lighter weight (or no weight!) or opt for a lower box or step. (It'll still be hard, promise.)
Scale it up: Once you're proficient at the movement, try turning on top of the box so that when you step off the box, you're descending backward and are already facing the direction you need to start the next rep. (BTW, another CrossFit movement you should be doing is the Medicine-Ball Clean)