While one of the cornerstones of CrossFit is that it’s constantly varied, with different workouts being programmed every day, there are certain WODs that are periodically repeated. We’ve discussed one such workout, known as “Fran,” in a previous blog, and now it’s time to tackle another. Therefore, if you’ve ever found yourself wondering, “What is Cindy in CrossFit?”, you’re in the right place! Here, we’ll answer that question by dissecting the Cindy workout piece by piece. We’ll then provide some pointers so you can crush this workout the next time it’s programmed at your box.
Cindy is a high-intensity 20-minute workout featuring three movements: pull-ups, push-ups, and air squats. This WOD is an “AMRAP,” meaning you complete “As Many Rounds As Possible” of each movement within the allotted time. One round of Cindy consists of 5 pull-ups, 10 push-ups, and 15 air squats. Your score is the number of rounds and reps you complete within the allotted 20 minutes. The goal is to move consistently, with proper form and technique, and get through as much work as possible. Scores typically range around 10-12 rounds for beginners, 13-18 rounds for advanced athletes, and 20-25 rounds for elite athletes.
Cindy is one of many “benchmark WODs,” which are standardized workouts that measure your progress as an athlete. You keep track of your score so that, when you re-do the workout 6 months or a year later, you can see how you’ve improved. Read more about the purpose of benchmark WODs here!
Breakdown of the Exercises
The pull-up is a well-known upper-body exercise that targets the muscles in the back, chest, shoulders, and arms. The movement starts by hanging from a pull-up bar with elbows completely extended and finishes once your chin is above the bar. The CrossFit world is home to many variations of pull-ups. In this workout, most athletes perform either kipping or butterfly pull-ups. Both styles allow you to create momentum with your core and lower body to assist the motion. See the videos below for demonstrations. For those who don’t have these movements yet, feel free to perform them strict, with a band, as jumping pull-ups, or swap for ring rows. Butterfly, kipping, and strict are considered “Rx”, or “as prescribed,” for this workout, but it’s always more important to find the option that works best for you!
The push-up is another great upper body movement that challenges your shoulders, arms, chest, back, and even core! Start in a plank position with your arms extended. Without letting your knees touch the ground, lower your body until your chest contacts the floor. Then, push your body back up until your arms are fully extended and you have returned to the starting position. These are the standards for completing a push-up “Rx.” However, like the pull-ups, there are always ways to modify if needed. Scale the movement by keeping your knees on the ground throughout each rep instead. Alternatively, only keep your knees on the ground as you push up. Then, lift them off the ground as you lower down. This provides you with assistance as you rise and a challenge as you descend.
The Air Squats
The air squats are your time to rest your upper body during Cindy, as they instead utilize lower body muscles. Air squats are bodyweight/unweighted squats. With feet roughly hip width apart, push your hips back and bend your knees to descend toward the ground. Once your hips pass below the level of your knees (known as “parallel”), drive yourself back up to standing. Hips must pass below parallel at the bottom of each rep and extend fully at the top for the squat to be considered “Rx”. To scale this exercise, you can change the depth of the squat. Only go as low as you are safely able to with correct mechanics. For additional details about the air squat and recommendations to improve your form, check out this blog!
Tips for Completing Cindy
We’ve discussed the “Rx” versions of each movement above as well as options for scaling. Remember, it’s ALWAYS better to pick a variation that allows you to maintain good form and move at the desired intensity. Think of it this way: if you can only do 1 Rx pull-up right now, it’s not an efficient or effective use of your time to try to perform Rx pull-ups in a workout where the goal is to complete 50-100 of them. You should pick a variation of each movement that allows you to complete the reps in either large or unbroken sets across the whole 20 minutes. It will help you grow stronger and fitter in the end!
This workout is about consistency and endurance. You don’t want to go too hard too fast and burn out after the first several rounds. To avoid this, consider how you could break up the reps to play off your specific strengths and weaknesses. For example, if push-ups are harder for you, break them up into 2 sets of 5 reps from the start. If air squats are your jam, pick up the pace while doing them to make up some time. Having a plan like this in place can help you maintain a better pace across the whole workout.
Gymnastics movements, like the pull-ups in Cindy, are known for promoting buildup of calluses on your hands. Unfortunately, these calluses can rip, leaving you with minor but unpleasant wounds. Learn all about how to protect your hands during Cindy in this blog post!
As with any workout, be sure to physically prepare your body before beginning. Hydrate and eat to provide yourself with enough fuel to complete this taxing WOD. Warm up appropriately to prep your muscles, heart, and mind for the challenge ahead.
Final Thoughts About Cindy
Now, the next time you find yourself thinking, “What is Cindy in CrossFit?” you can remember that it’s one of many killer workouts used to not only improve your strength and conditioning but also to help you track improvements across your fitness journey. It combines 3 fundamental bodyweight movements that challenge your entire body to work as hard as it can. Remember that, while it can be exhilarating to push yourself like this, you should always prioritize moving correctly and safely over anything else. Come visit us at CrossFit LPF to try Cindy, and countless other exciting workouts, today!