The Top 23 WODs for Beginners

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Whether you just caught the CrossFit Games on TV and are ready to conquer the world of CrossFit or you’ve been contemplating CrossFit for awhile and are finally ready to take the plunge, the reality is the same.

You’re a CrossFit newb!

This is arguably the best and most exciting time of CrossFitter’s career as you get to learn a bunch of new movements, put your body to the test daily, and get in really good shape really fast.

…but not too fast.

@wasatchcrossfit

I know you’re ready to handstand walk for miles and lift your brother’s motorcycle over your head, but you’re going to have to get used to the movements and to the workouts first.

Thankfully, our list of the top WODs for beginners involve scaled versions of the most important movements while still being as fun and interesting as the most challenging CrossFit workouts.

Don’t expect any boring, overly repetitive (unless by design!) WODs here!

Do expect to get a lot better at CrossFit by the time you’ve made it through all of these!

The Top 23 WODs for Beginners

2022 CrossFit Open WOD 1 “Foundations”

wods for beginners

Equipment: Dumbbell, plyo box

What better way to start off the top WODs for beginners than with a CrossFit Open workout?!

To be honest, CrossFit HQ does a pretty good job of adapting these for athletes of all fitness and ability levels. 22.1 was no exception.

Anyone who hasn’t done more than a couple consecutive bear crawls may scoff at the movement, but I can assure you that these are no joke…especially over the course of 15 minutes. The scaled dumbbell snatches and box step-overs will help to develop good movement patterns for their respective Rx versions!

Scaled Triple 3

Equipment: Concept2 rower, jump rope, air runner

Triple 3 is a beloved CrossFit Games, CrossFit regional, and popular CrossFit competition workout. In most cases, time constraints require a bit of scaling (I did a version that cut the row to 1,000 meters and the run to ~2 miles at a competition before) so there is no shame in doing this version of the workout.

The row is a challenging distance and the looming mile run to close things out ensures that athletes don’t go “too hot” out of the gates. 150 single unders will do a number on your cardiovascular system and your calves, for sure!

Single Annie

Equipment: Jump rope

Another one of our WODs for beginners with 150 single unders, in Single Annie, you get to break your jump rope work up a bit. Like the Rx version, 150 sit-ups await you although the reps can be scaled down a bit more if you’re concerned about over-working your core.

2022 CrossFit Open WOD 2 “Foundations”

Equipment: Barbell, bumper plates

Another CrossFit Open workout that includes a trademark Open component.

A repetition ladder!

Those first few rounds seem to go by sooooo fast, but reality kicks in around Round 6 or 7…when you realize you’re nowhere close to being halfway through!

Taking on a WOD with this structure will prepare you for future iterations of ladder WODs in future Opens…because you know they’re coming again!

Banded Cindy

Equipment: Pull-up bar/rack, band

One of the most popular “CrossFit Girls”, Cindy is an excellent CrossFit benchmark workout.

For those who aren’t quite ready for a 20-minute AMRAP or for a lot of Rx’ed pull-ups, it can be one of the best WODs for beginners.

At 10 minutes, you move quickly and confidently without too much worry of “red-lining” and throwing a band up to the pull-up bar will ensure that you avoid all sticking points. With some pull-up practice under your belt, you should be ready for Rx’ed Cindy your next time around!

Scaled Lorenzo

Equipment: Air runner, med ball

Medicine ball cleans are a somewhat…odd movement that you don’t see too often. However, they are excellent for prepping the body for the barbell clean movement pattern to come. Getting used to these, with some long run and familiar bodyweight-movements thrown in, will have you ready for the empty barbell Olympic lifts to come in future WODs.

Scaled Quarter Murph

Equipment: Air runner, pull-up bar/rack

Murph…one of the all-time greatest CrossFit Hero WODs…also one of the all-time greatest WODs for beginners!

You know what else is great about Murph? It can be scaled in a number of ways! You will always have the opportunity to honor the legacy of this valiant American solider.

For those who aren’t quite ready for 25 straight Rx’ed pull-ups, swapping jumping pull-ups into Quarter Murph is an excellent way to keep the spirit of the workout.

CrossFit.com 210223

Equipment: Barbell, bumper plates, Air runner

One of the CrossFit.com, main site WODs, 210223 provides the opportunity to practice one of the more grueling CrossFit movements (thrusters!) with relief that descending weights and complexity always provide!

The trade-off? You gotta do more reps and longer runs…

Nobody ever said CrossFit was “fair”!

2023 CrossFit Open WOD 1 “Foundations”

Equipment: Concept2 rower, wall ball, barbell

CrossFit Open workout 23.1 (a repeat of 14.4) is considered to be one of the greatest CrossFit Open workouts of all time.

It should come as no surprise that its Foundations version is one of the all-time great WODs for beginners!

With this one, the movement variety is really high, keeping things interesting for the duration of the workout. In some ways, the lighter weights create a greater challenge than the Rx version provides (cleaning an empty barbell requires a significantly greater range of motion!) so definitely don’t sleep on this one!

Scaled Michael

Equipment: Air runner, GHD

Another classic Hero WOD, Michael’s scaled version retains all of the same movements as the original.

In fact, it would probably be better to simply call this one “1/2 Michael” due to the rep scheme.

2023 CrossFit Open WOD 2 “Foundations”

Equipment: n/a

The only major difference between this version of 23.2 and the Rx version is the lack of the pull-up after each burpee. Like, the Foundations version of 23.1, in some ways, this can make the workout more difficult due to the greater number of burpees that can be performed (due to the missing pull-up requirement)!

To be fair, don’t expect to match Baptiste Linet‘s or Simon Loh’s scores from above (unless you decide to do the most scaled version of each exercise and you already possess a good level of fitness…a level where you really SHOULD NOT be doing WODs for beginners), but you may find you’ll do more burpees than your Rx friends did!

Scaled Karen

Equipment: Wall ball

Fewer reps with a lighter ball…”simple”, right?

As anyone who has done high-repped wall ball sets can attest, 100 straight wall balls is anything but simple.

My suggestion? Use this as practice for developing a workout strategy. Whether you stick to 10 sets of 10, 5 sets of 20, or 20 sets of 5, pick a strategy and stick to it. Learning this skill will be very valuable for future workouts of this kind…to include regular Karen!

CrossFit.com 220722

Equipment: Pull-up bar/rack, gymnastics rings, kettlebell

220722 provides an excellent opportunity to get a lot of practice with scaled movements that will eventually lead to pull-ups, ring dips, and heavy kettlebell swings.

And…you get 15 whole minutes to practice all of the movements!

Heck, after all of that practice, you might be ready for the Rx’ed movements right after you finish this one!

Scaled Helen

Equipment: Air runner, kettlebell, pull-up bar/rack

Your run is the same as in Helen with a lighter kettlebell and pull-ups of a jumping variety. If your fitness level is good and you just need some practice with the movements themselves, don’t be surprised if you get a similar time to a friend doing the Rx version.

Scaled Badger

Equipment: Barbell, pull-up bar/rack, gymnastics rings, air runner

Like the 23.1 Foundations WOD above, the empty barbell cleans here will provide their own kind of challenge. Be especially careful with these; if you hold on to the barbell for too long, your grip may be too smoked for the ring rows that follow.

Expect an elevated heart rate throughout the duration of this one.

Get used to that elevated heart rate…that’s the way that your WODs are going to feel moving forward!

2023 Scaled Age-group Qualifier 3

Equipment: Climbing rope, barbell, plates

Bench presses and scaled rope climbs are introduced in this one…two exercises that if you have any fitness experience, you’ve probably done, in some variety before. Be careful, though, because doing familiar exercises in a gym setting where you have little pressure to move at high speeds and a more singular focus is very different than doing them in the context of a WOD.

CrossFit.com 230404

Equipment: Dumbbell, pull-up bar/rack

The dumbbell snatches here (which can be done from a hanging position or all the way from the ground) are a little heavier than in some other varieties we have seen so far. Also, the knee raises are more challenging than the sit-ups from some of the previous WODs for beginners on this list.

Light Grace

Equipment: Barbell, bumper plates

Although the weight is about half of what Grace entails, 30 clean and jerks and still 30 clean and jerks!

Like the Scaled Karen WOD above, consider your pacing strategy here (if you can go unbroken on this one, you should probably try a version with heavier weights!) and try to stick to it. Remember what your strategy was and what your time was as you prepare to give regular Grace a try!

Scaled Angie

Equipment: Pull-up bar/rack, gymnastics rings

Half the reps and a few scaled entries do not discount the body-weight variety that Scaled Angie provides. These are big sets and with 200 total reps involved, this is another WOD that you might want to set pre-determined breaks on.

If you can handle the knee push-ups, you can increase the challenge by doing Rx’ed push-ups.

Barbell Nancy

Equipment: Air runner, barbell

The overhead squat is one of the most technically complex versions of the squat movement. As such, you might want to get some experience with some of the other WODs before you tackle this one. Also, at 5 rounds, this one has a good amount of running (to go along with the 75 total overhead squat reps).

If you’re dead set on this one, but can’t quite hit depth or have trouble in the overhead position, give it a try with a broomstick or PVC pipe. You’ll get a lot of the same stimulus and will be training your body for weighted overhead squats to come!

Light Fran

Equipment: Barbell, bumper plates, pull-up bar/rack

Made it through the first 20 WODs for beginners and ready for a bit of a challenge? It may be time for your first shot at Fran!

The weight is slightly lower than the Rx weight and you’re expected to do “big boy” pull-ups here (scale to jumping or banded if necessary), but you can expect the patented “Fran Lung” experience all the same!

CrossFit Total

Equipment: Barbell, bumper plates

An excellent benchmark WOD that can be used to find your baseline strength levels in a few of the foundational movements. Try this one (take your time…there is no rush with these!) and be sure to keep track of your maxes for each lift. It will be fun to look back an see how far you’ve come!

CrossFit Total II

Equipment: Barbell, bumper plates

Once you’ve gotten a little more experience with CrossFit and are more confident in Olympic-style movements, give “The Other CrossFit Total” a try. Like, the “OG” CrossFit total, this WOD provides a great opportunity for you to gauge progress in these movements!

Go Do One of the Top WODs for Beginners!

All of the WODs on our list are modified versions of other CrossFit workouts. However, just because they are scaled a bit does not mean they aren’t challenging or that you can’t scale them in ways that are most appropriate for you.

If you’re still learning the movements or growing in strength, don’t feel the need to rush through these as quickly as possible. A focus on form and developing good movement patterns will pay off in spades moving forward. In contrast, if you are confident in the movements and you have a good strength foundation, look at these WODs as means of building that special kind of “CrossFit Endurance” that no other sport can quite mimic!

@refinedandstrong

The most important thing is that you actually get out there and get moving; these WODs prove that there are CrossFit workouts for those of all levels of fitness!

As excited as you are right now to get started, you gotta get equipped first! Check out or list of the best CrossFit shoes for beginners to make sure your feet are properly “covered” for the challenges ahead!

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AUTHOR

Tom, CrossFit Level 1 Trainer, ISSA-CPT, PN1-NC, DPA, CAPM has been CrossFitting for over 10 years. He has participated in a number of team and individual CrossFit competitions across Europe and the United States. He was the 2012 Chick-fil-A Race Series champion (North Georgia Circuit) and has put together a few gnarly garage and basement gyms in his time!

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