How do you structure a CrossFit workout?

Tyler Spraul is the director of UX and the head trainer for Exercise.com. He has his Bachelor of Science degree in pre-medicine and is an NSCA-certified strength and conditioning specialist. He is a former All-American soccer player and still coaches soccer today. In his free time, he enjoys reading, learning, and living the dad life. He has been featured in Shape, Healthline, HuffPost, Women's...

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UPDATED: Aug 25, 2020

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Get the Basics...
  • CrossFit is based on the idea of using functional movements at a high level of intensity and combining these into a workout.
  • If you do not belong to a gym and would like to use CrossFit as a means for athletic training or simply a way of staying physically fit, you can find free daily workouts online and complete them at home.
  • Knowing some of the standard exercises often included in CrossFit programs can help you create a CrossFit workout.

Those who have looked into CrossFit as a possible fitness routine may be wondering how to structure a CrossFit workout. After all, CrossFit is, by its nature, somewhat unstructured.

CrossFit is based on the idea of using functional movements at a high level of intensity and combining these into a workout. It is a brand of exercise that combines elements of gymnastics, weightlifting, and high-intensity interval training. It claims to make you a proficient performer in each of ten fitness areas.

These areas include:

  • Cardiovascular endurance
  • Stamina
  • Agility
  • Balance
  • Flexibility
  • Power
  • Speed
  • Coordination
  • Accuracy
  • Strength

CrossFit has been used over the years to train members of the military, police officers, and firefighters, but is now being used more and more by everyday individuals to help them get in shape or maintain a high level of physical fitness. Modified forms of it are even used by some with children or the elderly.

Many gyms now offer CrossFit programs that you can take part in, or you can find free CrossFit workouts online that you can do at home. The benefits of CrossFit include its ability to provide a very efficient workout that includes many areas of fitness in a relatively short amount of time.

Critics of the program claim it can easily lead to injury so be sure to consult a doctor before taking part in a CrossFit routine and make sure you know how to properly perform all of the exercises you are attempting.

If you want to get your feet wet before stepping into a CrossFit box, sign up for an Exercise.com PRO account today for access to CrossFit-style workouts, personal trainers, and more.

How Do You Structure a CrossFit Workout at the Gym?

If you exercise at a gym that is affiliated to offer a CrossFit program you are all set because it will be structured for you. Typically, a CrossFit class is structured following this order:

  • Warm-up
  • Skill development segment
  • 10-20 minute high-intensity workout
  • Cooldown

Each workout is referred to as the Workout of the Day or “WOD.” If your gym does not offer a CrossFit program you can still take part in CrossFit by using equipment that is available to you at the gym.

One of the most difficult aspects of CrossFit at home is making sure you have the proper equipment to vary your workout as much as CrossFit would like you to. Through the use of a gym, you can complete CrossFit workouts you have found online, where equipment variety is not an issue.

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How Do You Structure a CrossFit Workout at Home?

If you do not belong to a gym and would like to use CrossFit as a means for athletic training or simply a way of staying physically fit, you can find free daily workouts online and complete them at home. Some materials that will be helpful to have include:

  • A set of barbells and dumbbells of various weights
  • An adjustable jump rope
  • A medicine ball or a few different weights
  • A pull-up bar
  • A set of kettlebells

It is also helpful to have gymnastics rings and a climbing rope if possible. Typically, most people workout with CrossFit in a pattern of three days on, one day off. Some variations on this routine include one day on, one day off, which is often beneficial for beginners; or five days on, two days off, which often works better for the more experienced athlete or someone who wants to structure their workout routine so that they only work out during the week.

How Do You Structure a CrossFit Workout in Terms of Which Exercises to Include?

One of the major attractions of CrossFit for many people is the fact that it incorporates so many different exercises that vary from workout to workout so boredom is not a problem. Still, if you are trying to structure your own CrossFit routine, the sheer variety of exercises it can include can make it seem overwhelming. Knowing some of the standard exercises often included in CrossFit programs can help. These include:

  • Pull-ups or body rows for those who cannot complete a pull-up
  • Chin-ups
  • Squats
  • Jumping rope exercises
  • Jumping onto and off of a box
  • Medicine ball tossing combined with squats
  • Tricep dips using parallel bars when possible
  • Short, powerful sprints
  • Short sprints while carrying various weights
  • Push-ups, which can be modified and done with your knees down or by pushing against a wall for those who need to
  • Deadlifting barbells of varying weights
  • Rope climbing

One of the greatest benefits of CrossFit for strength training is its variety. Of course, this also makes it a challenge for anyone attempting to do this workout plan from home rather than a fully equipped gym. However, with a bit of planning, you can structure a CrossFit workout that will meet your goals.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

How many days a week should I work out?

A minimum of three days a week is recommended.

Can I work out twice in one day?

You can, however, it important that you do not overtrain and injure yourself. If you plan on tackling two-a-days, it is imperative that you program rest days into your routine.

Can I exercise if I am sore?

If you are mildy sore, it is okay to exercise. However, if your muscles are very sore, either take a rest day or train the unaffected body parts.

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