The Best & Worst CrossFit Workouts You Can Do

Some CrossFit WODs are well thought out, while others come together haphazardly. Here’s how to choose the quality workouts from the ones that don’t stick.

What draws many to CrossFit is the variety that is lacking in many linear forms of training. In CrossFit, you can take two, three, or more movements and call them WODs. Easy, right? In theory, yes. However, part of the challenge of being smart and a coach who truly cares about the results and well-being of your students is resisting the urge to mix up moves in order to “outdo” your class. It’s the quickest way to immortalize yourself and the sport in a “CrossFit fail” YouTube video. Some workouts are so random that you wonder if a trainer threw every exercise in a raffle and started drawing them out of a hat. That being said, worthwhile coaches generally hit the nail on the head and measure progress well.

Here are my nominations for two of the best and two of the worst workouts of all time, with an explanation below. After this article you will be able to see what goes into a solid WOD and you will never waste your time and safety on a shitty workout again.

One of the best: king kong

3 rounds per time:
1x deadlift – 455 lbs
2x Muscle-ups
3x Clean – 250lb
4x push-ups

The payloads are so specific and immutable because you don’t do King Kong by halves. This WOD is the goal, rather than a means to get there. The beauty of this is in its simplicity. No complicated rep schemes, no fancy exercises, just heavy weight and body strength. King Kong is a perfect test of brute force that, with enough hard work, anyone can pull off.

Take Home Lesson: Keep your WODs simple.

One of the worst: Last”

Deadlift 50x (135/95 lbs)
50 double kettlebells
swings (53/35lb)
50x push ups
50x Clean and Jerk
(135/95 pounds)
50x pull-ups
50 kettlebell potatoes
(53/35 pounds)
50x box jumps (24/20in)
50x wall climbs
50x Knees to elbows
50x double unders

Even a YouTube video describing Miagi mentions: “it has no rhyme or reason.” It has been around since 2008 and is nothing more than a poorly designed beatdown on box members. The workouts should beat the crap out of you, but provide some sort of purpose and gain.

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Take Home Lesson: Don’t beat yourself up for no reason. You’re looking at injury when your form breaks down, especially if you include complex moves like the clean.

One of the best: OPT repeatability

3 rounds at 100% effort:
Row 250m
10x kettlebell swings
(70/53 pounds)
10x burpees
10x kettlebell swings
(70/53 pounds)
10x burpees
10x kettlebell swings
(70/53 pounds)
Row 250m
Rest 12 minutes between each round.

One of the toughest workouts I’ve ever done, but also brilliant in design and purpose. This WOD tests your recovery ability. After going all out in the first round, your job is to maintain and not let your performance slip in subsequent rounds. The amount dropped suggests your body’s ability to regenerate ATP, disburse lactic acid, and recover to a near-normal state. The final 250m row at the end of round three feels like riding a sled straight into Hades’ fiery underworld. Take Home Lesson Hitting balls against the wall is fine when there is a worthwhile purpose and the exercises are kept simple, minimizing the risk of injury.

One of the worst: McCluskey

Three rounds of:
9x Muscle-ups
15 burpee push-ups
21x pull-ups
run 800m

This is a “hero” WOD created for the late Sergeant Jason “Mick” McCluskey and I want to make it clear that this criticism is not a slight to him, just irresponsible training. This workout is made up entirely of pulling (with a bit of running for good measure). The rep schemes may seem low, but you’re doing 27 muscle-ups and 108 pull-ups. Your training week is likely to go haywire with searing DOMS.

Take-home lesson: Overdosing on pulling movements without any balance of other muscles isn’t the smartest choice. Workouts that heavily favor particular planes of motion should be avoided in favor of a more balanced WOD.

Expert: Patrick McCarty is a CrossFit trainer and master level competitor in CrossFit. Owner of, he is also the author of

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