Who’s on First: The Beginner’s Guide to CrossFit Terminology

By March 13, 2019 January 30th, 2020 No Comments


You have just signed up at your local CrossFit gym. You bit the bullet and are ready for a big change and this seems like the perfect fit for you! You probably called around, maybe even went to the box (see item #1) and signed up. Now before you take your first class, you have to go through an On Ramp. Maybe it’s called Foundations or Fundamentals, but it’s a few one on ones or small group classes to teach you all the awesome movements you’ll be adding to your arsenal to make you fit AF. But now you’re done. It’s time for your first class, and every time you go to sign up you look at the workout and you don’t understand half of what this stuff is. So you sit at home. Because who the hell thought all these abbreviations and weird words were cute?!

Fear not! That’s why we have a cheat sheet. A list of the most common CrossFit terms explained so you can head to class ready to tackle whatever is coming your way. And on the way you can enjoy the awesome faces you can look forward to making for posterity.

1.Box: That gym you just joined? In the CrossFit world, it’s called a Box. Sure you’ll be stepping or jumping on them at some point, but the actual physical facility where you are now learning to become a superhero is your new “box”. Why? My best guess is because that’s what they are. Giant boxes full of weights and bars and ropes and surprises.

2.WOD: Here’s your first abbreviation! WOD stands for “Workout Of the Day”. I guess the “t” gets left out because nobody wants to do a “WOTD”. The workout of the day is what you’ll be doing that day! It is different everyday and it’s different from box to box (see what we did there? We’re making sure you’re paying attention.). Some boxes do their own programming, some use the workouts from CrossFit HQ, and some outsource to others.

3.Metcon: This stands for “Metabolic Conditioning”. Usually the WOD will have some kind of Metcon at the end. It’s a style of training that isn’t new, but definitely has become popular due to CrossFit. The term describes short bouts of higher-intensity training meant to increase metabolic demand and increase energy usage. Just think of it as the part of class that gets your heart pumping. There are also many types of Metcons, let’s take a look at those now.

4.AMRAP: “As Many Reps As Possible”. These are pretty straightforward. We tell you the movements and how many reps you must complete of each. You continue to cycle through those movements for the amount of time we tell you. They may be 5 minutes long, they could be 30. This term encompasses many different styles of Metcons; the short sprints and the long grinders (not like the app). Sidenote here; the opposite type of workout would be one “for time”. In those, we tell you the movements, how many reps, and how many rounds, and you get it done as fast as possible.

5.EMOM: Here we go, more abbreviations. This one is “Every Minute On the Minute”. Once again, leaving the poor, neglected “t” out. The way these bad boys generally work is the coach will give you anywhere from 2 – 5 (it could be more, but 5 sounds nice) movements. Minute 1 you do the first movement as many times as possible in 60 seconds. Minute 2, you do the same thing, but with the 2nd movement. Smell what I’m cooking yet?

6.Chipper: When you see “Chipper” on the board, expect to be counting… a lot. Chippers are usually a great way to get high volume (lots of reps) in a short amount of time. Typically chippers have descending rep schemes, so you’ll start with a high number of reps and slowly work down to smaller sets. AND in a chipper you usually only perform each movement once. So you may have 100 air squats. Once you do all of those and have buns that Suzanne Somers would envy, you move onto your 80 push-ups. Then the next movement and rep scheme until you have done all the things and counted all the numbers. It has been said that chippers get their name because they chip away at your soul. You’re gonna love it. It’s fine. We’re all fine.

7.Tabata: Tabatas are, in a nutshell, a very specific form of High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT). In a typical tabata you perform a movement as many times as you can in 20 seconds. You rest for 10 seconds and then repeat until you have completed 8 rounds. You can adjust these for your needs, do multiple movements, adjust time or rounds, but that’s the standard. Fair warning: they sound easy but they are not to be underestimated.

8.Double-Under: Double-Unders. Dubs. DUs. If you ever see someone leaving the box looking like they fought a bear and lost, it’s probably because they are learning how to do double-unders. It’s jumping rope, but harder. Everytime you jump up, you (fast like Superman) rotate the rope faster so that it rotates twice before you land. Who knew that years on the playground were actually preparing you for CrossFit?

9.HSPU/ SDHP: So, let’s start with me telling you that these are two TOTALLY different movements. They are the Handstand Push-Up and the Sumo Deadlift High Pull. But I wanted to warn you that sometimes you will see things abbreviated like this (cute, right?). Next time you see these, don’t panic. Just show up. If you get there and learn what it is, know that you will either be doing it, or a coach will be giving you a great scaled option to get you moving and maintain the desired stimulus. Basically, we’ll make sure you still get an awesome workout.

10.Fran/ Murph: Who are these people and why won’t you people shut up about them? CrossFit has a number of named WODs that we consider benchmarks. The idea is that you do them once a year or so, and it is a measurable way to track your progress. They can usually be divided into two categories; the Girl WODs and Hero WODs. According to CrossFit Founder Greg Glassman, he named the benchmark workouts after girls in a similar way that storms are named after girls by the National Weather Service. He felt that because these workouts are so physically demanding they leave you feeling as though a storm hit you. And then the Hero WODs are usually incredibly grueling workouts named after first responders or members of the military that have fallen in the line of duty. No snarky comment here. Finishing a Hero WOD is incredibly humbling and meaningful.

11.Back Rack/ Front Rack: These words are usually placed in front of any type of weighted movement. “Back Rack” means behind the neck and “Front Rack” is in front of the body. So back rack lunges would mean you are doing lunges down the floor with the bar resting on your traps/shoulders. Those are a good time.

12.Clean/ Snatch: Get your mind out of the gutter. These two are movements, they refer to the two Olympic lifts. In a “clean” the barbell starts from the floor and through a series of pulls, you lift the bar like a badass and get it all the way from the floor into the front rack position. The “snatch” starts the same, except you have a wider grip and end with the bar overhead. These take a long time to learn and an even longer time to master. The only way to get better at them is to practice and accept that you will probably not be super awesome at them for a long time. Which leads me to a side note: don’t cherry pick workouts! Work on these as much as possible and don’t avoid them because they’re hard. They’re supposed to be.

13.Jerk: Not you. Maybe? I don’t know. We don’t know each other, but I want you to know I think highly of you. A jerk is a way to get your barbell from either the front or back rack to over your head. There’s a couple ways to do it, but just know we aren’t saying mean things about you. It’s a real thing. I swear.

Are you exhausted? Well perk up, buttercup, because now that you have finished this and worked out your brain muscle, it’s time to take all the newfound knowledge to class. Go forth. And may the force be with you.



Whether you are just starting your fitness journey or a seasoned pro looking for something new, we’d love to meet you!  And guess what? Your first class is on us. Click HERE to schedule your FREE Jumpstart Class and let us show you what makes Roux Fitness different!

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