Awwww….the Grace WOD. The perfect garage or home gym workout.
You got a barbell, a couple of plates, and about 20 square feet of floor space? Congratulations…you can do the Grace Wod!
Table of Contents
What is Grace in Crossfit?
One of the O.G., O.G. “CrossFit Girls” workouts, the Grace WOD is a famous CrossFit workout. The clean and jerks that comprise the workout are excellent for building barbell cycling capacity and the workout serves as an excellent CrossFit progress benchmark. You can be confident that if your Grace time gets faster over the span of a year, you’re definitely getting fitter!
Although not a “simple” CrossFit WOD, the Grace WOD is renowned for its simplicity. It looks a little something like this:
CrossFit Grace Times to Beat
30 clean and jerks at a relatively light weight…what could go wrong?
To be honest…not a lot, but if you want to rank among the best Grace athletes, you’re going to have to move it. CrossFit fan favorite Dan Bailey shows you why:
A clean and jerk every two seconds…I don’t think I can do 3 clean and jerks at that pace!
Even if you’re not quite as proficient as Dan Bailey, with a little work and practice, you can still enter the “advanced”, “competitor”, and “elite” ranks in the Grace WOD.
What is a Clean and Jerk?
You’ve come this far without knowing what a clean and jerk is?! We need to sort this out immediately!
The clean and jerk is an exercise that is most well-known in the sport of Olympic weightlifting. It was one of the early “crossover” inclusions to CrossFit and is now one of the major, foundational exercises in the sport.
As its name implies, the clean and jerk is a two-part exercise that includes the first potion (the clean) and the second portion (the jerk). In the Grace WOD, you’re going to have to be adept at both portions!
The clean involves lifting the barbell from the floor in a quick and extremely explosive manner. The bar stays close to the body as the athlete moves it past the knees and up the thighs. At this point, a fast, violent second pull takes place where the athlete rockets the barbell from the tops of the thighs, all the way to the shoulders. The athlete then extends his elbows forward to “catch” the barbell and securely hold it in this position.
With the relatively light weights prescribed in the Grace WOD, the athlete will likely immediately jerk the bar after cleaning it.
The jerk is formed by the athlete generating power by bending his legs before exploding upward, propelling the arms and barbell overhead. The athlete then “catches” the bar with his arms fully extended before calmly moving his feet together in a controlled manner to finish the lift.
Most athletes will opt for the power clean version of the clean and the push or power jerk versions of the jerk during Grace. These movements can generally be performed more quickly and take less energy. With the light CrossFit Grace weight, “squat cleans” or “full cleans” and “split jerks” are not usually necessary.
CrossFit Grace Strategy
When tackling the CrossFit WOD, you’ll almost always want to opt for one of two different strategy options. These are as follows:
Big Sets; Limited Breaks
Whether you opt for a 12/10/8 split or 10 sets of 3, splitting the work into sets allows you to benefit from touch-and-go repetitions. Touch-and-go reps can be performed faster than single repetitions and the stretch reflex that accompanies them can make each repetition more efficient than “singles”.
The downside with big sets is that the bar must be controlled for the duration of the set (with single repetitions, there is the option to simply drop the bar from overhead after each repetition, greatly reducing the overall time under tension). Large sets of touch-and-go repetitions allow fatigue to accumulate faster than singles do, requiring longer rest periods to recover in between each set.
If you opt for big sets during the CrossFit Grace workout, be ready to make adjustments on the fly! Your ambitions to go for a big set of 12 to start things up may end with you resting after 10. From here, sets of 8, 6, and 6 might make more sense than 2 more sets of 10. Being flexible with your strategy is necessary…especially on your first attempt!
Fast Singles; Very Limited Breaks
If you feel confident in your ability to consistently perform one clean and jerk after another with almost no rest, you should opt for this option. You won’t benefit from the stretch reflex that touch-and-go reps provide, but you’ll be able to briefly rest when dropping the bar at the end of each repetition.
This approach takes a degree of discipline, particularly if you are performing CrossFit Grace in a class setting. Being aware of others moving out to quick leads as they touch and go can make you questions your strategy. Know that each and every one of them will take a (big) break after the first set while you’re still singling your way to victory!
When you opt for fast singles, be aware that this strategy only really “works” if you KEEP MOVING throughout the duration of the WOD. If you think you will find yourself resting for more than a couple of seconds for a few repetitions, you should opt for touch-and-go reps and bigger sets.
Scaling the Grace WOD
There are only really two options for scaling the Grace WOD and one of them makes a lot more sense than the other.
CrossFit Grace has an intended stimulus that is entirely based on the 30 clean and jerk repetitions. These repetitions can be at 135 pounds, 185 pounds, or 95 pounds, but 30 clean and jerks always feels like THIRTY clean and jerks. As such, the most appropriate scaling option for Grace involves scaling the weight. Dropping the weights to 95 pounds for men and 65 pounds for women is a good place to start.
You can always opt for maintaining the prescribed weights and lowering the required reps, but if you can handle 135 (or 95) pounds decently well, you may as well do all 30. I wouldn’t suggest doing less than 20 repetitions with the Rx weight.
Like Scaled Grace, the advanced options exclusively involve different rep counts and weights. Unlike the scaled version, increasing the rep count still involves the stimulus that only a lot of clean and jerks can create. Back in 2014, Rich Froning capped off another CrossFit Games championship by winning “Double Grace”.
Those standards have advanced a lot in the last 10 years. Froning’s time wouldn’t even crack the “advanced” category today!
“Heavy Grace” (which officially involves 225-pound/165-pound clean and jerks) has been performed in a number of high-level CrossFit competitions over the years. The top men in the sport tackled it at the 2022 Rogue Invitational, many finishing it faster than most people do the “normal” Grace CrossFit workout!
How refreshing that you have these options if/when CrossFit Grace gets too “easy”!
Similar CrossFit Girls WODs
If you’ve participated in CrossFit for any period of time, you’re probably thinking that Grace looks similar to another “CrossFit Girls” workout.
The CrossFit Isabel workout involves 30 snatches at 135 pounds/95 pounds…the same rep scheme and weights as the CrossFit Grace workout.
The snatch is a more technically difficult movement, but it ends in an overhead lockout like the clean and jerk does.
Isabel CrossFit doesn’t repeat CrossFit Grace, but it certainly “rhymes” with it, doesn’t it?
If you’re ready for a similar challenge after finishing up Grace, be sure to give the Isabel CrossFit workout a try.
Go do the Grace WOD!
The CrossFit Girls WODs are some of the best benchmark workouts in the sport.
And Grace is up there with the best of the bunch.
Take a few minutes to find your benchmark time on the Grace WOD. You’ll thank yourself 6 months or a year from now when you’ve shaved seconds…or minutes off your time!