Don't let the "Girls Named CrossFit Workouts" you see on the CrossFit website fool you. CrossFit is not a girly-girl exercise program. This high-intensity strength and conditioning program takes its moves from traditional weightlifting, bodybuilding, gymnastics and military training programs. Most of the routines work the entire body, but a few focus exclusively on legs. "That which won't kill me makes me stronger," describes these killer leg workouts.
CrossFit athletes follow daily workouts, which appear on the CrossFit website. The routines are called WOD's for "workout of the day." Participants have the option of posting their results on the website. While it's only an option, the competition motivates CrossFit athletes to work harder. In addition to the prescribed exercises, CrossFit has its own lingo. "AMRAP," for example, means "as many reps as possible." "Rounds" refers to the sequence of exercises. Most WOD's are comprised of two to four exercises, performed in sequence. Each sequence is a round. If the workout is "for time," it means you must complete the sequence as quickly as possible.
CrossFit creator Greg Glassman assigned women's names to some of the workouts. It's interesting to note that most of the predominately leg workouts received women's names. "Nancy" demands a 400-meter run, followed by the overhead squat for 15 repetitions. Perform five rounds, and do the workout for time. During the overhead squat, you keep your arms extended over your head and hold a heavy barbell. Since the exercise is performed without a spotter, CrossFit advises you to drop the weight on the floor if you feel your shoulder fatiguing. Fitness center management usually frowns upon this practice, so Nancy should come with you to an official CrossFit workout center.
Leg Day might not sound difficult at first. You must perform a walking lunge for 100 feet, followed by 50 squats and 25 back extensions. Not too bad, but you have to complete this for three rounds. Making matters worse, this WOD is performed "for time," so don't even think about resting between rounds! The squats and lunges engage your glutes, quads and hamstrings. While the back extension works your spinal erectors, it also engages your hamstring and gluteal muscles, which are already a bit fatigued from the squats and walking lunges.
The WOD named "Kelly" features a 400-meter run, followed by 30 box jumps and 30 wall balls, using a 20-pound medicine ball. You must complete five rounds and perform this workout for time. The box jump is a plyometric exercise, which requires you to jump onto a box or bench, and then jump back down. The exercise builds strength and power in the lower body. Meanwhile, the wall ball, which involves throwing the weighted ball against a wall and catching it as you land in the squat, uses similar muscle groups.
In 1999, Lisa Mercer’s fitness, travel and skiing expertise inspired a writing career. Her books include "Open Your Heart with Winter Fitness" and "101 Women's Fitness Tips." Her articles have appeared in "Aspen Magazine," "HerSports," "32 Degrees," "Pregnancy Magazine" and "Wired." Mercer has a Bachelor of Arts in psychology from the City College of New York.