The CrossFit Cindy Workout Explained and Scaled for Every Skill Level

Each time you gear as much as carry out a CrossFit WOD (exercise of the day), the sport is an element bodily and half psychological. Typically, you get your self able to face down heavy weights for an impossible-sounding variety of reps. Different occasions, you’ll see the WOD on the board and say to your self, “Is that every one?”

The CrossFit workouts that you just underestimate from the outset are sometimes probably the most harmful of all of them. With solely three body weight workouts to talk of, the CrossFit Cindy exercise is one such exercise. It’s straightforward to overestimate your talents whereas underestimating the problem this 20-minute WOD will pose.

Three people doing air squats.
Credit score: fizkes / Shutterstock

In the event you go in with out figuring out what to anticipate, Cindy is certain to current surprising challenges. Learn on to arrange your self to get by way of this WOD as successfully as doable — irrespective of your expertise degree.

Editor’s Notice: The content material on BarBend is supposed to be informative in nature, but it surely shouldn’t be taken as medical recommendation. When beginning a brand new coaching routine and/or food plan, it’s at all times a good suggestion to seek the advice of a trusted medical skilled. We aren’t a medical useful resource. The opinions and articles on this website aren’t supposed to be used as analysis, prevention, and/or therapy of well being issues. They aren’t substitutes for consulting a certified medical skilled.

What Is the Cindy Exercise?

The CrossFit WOD Cindy might look straightforward, but it surely’s not a exercise to be trifled with. It made its debut on the CrossFit web site in early 2005, two years after the publication of the original benchmark workouts Angie, Barbara, Chelsea, Diane, Elizabeth, and Fran.

Cindy is comprised of three body weight workouts: pull-ups, push-ups, and air squats. It’s an AMRAP workout, which suggests you’ll be performing as many rounds as doable inside the time cap — on this case, 20 minutes.

Some analysis has been carried out about this exercise’s affect on the physique, and it has discovered that doing Cindy requires a excessive degree of cardiovascular fitness. (1) Research individuals skilled in CrossFit have stated that Cindy feels tougher to do (the next rate of perceived exertion) than exercises targeted on double-unders and power cleans. (1)

So in case you had any doubts about Cindy’s degree of toughness, analysis suggests it’s best to assume once more.

The Exercise

Right here’s what Cindy will appear like written out on the board at your local CrossFit box:

20-minute AMRAP:

You’ll be able to scale every motion as essential to be sure to can go for all 20 minutes.

What Are Good Cindy Occasions?

Like all WODs, you really want to pace yourself to efficiently get by way of Cindy. The sooner you go on the outset, the longer your rest periods may need to turn out to be later within the exercise. Listed here are some benchmarks to goal for relying in your ability degree.

  • Elite: 24+ rounds
  • Superior: 19 to 23 rounds
  • Intermediate: 13 to 18 rounds
  • Newbie: <10 to 12 rounds

In fact, inside each expertise degree, athletes have totally different strengths and weaknesses. Maybe you’re a typically intermediate athlete however pull-ups are your arch-nemesis. Or perhaps you’re an intermediate-level lifter however an professional at bodyweight movements. Assess your efficiency based mostly in your skill with this exercise, and goal to enhance accordingly.

Methods for the Cindy Exercise

For the uninitiated, CrossFit workouts may appear like an entire lot of chaos. Simply go, go, go along with no thought behind it. And whereas to go, go, go half is usually true, skilled CrossFitters know that technique is the secret.

Have a Recreation Plan

Even seemingly easy CrossFit WODs require well-thought-out plans. Break up your units wherever and each time it’s good to. Strive as a lot as doable to devise this technique beforehand.

Base your plan in your present degree of cardiovascular health and your skill to carry out these explicit workouts. In the event you can carry out a most of two pull-ups at a time, for instance, goal to separate the pull-up units into singles. You may also determine to change the motion (performing leaping pull-ups) or use an alternate train fully (inverted rows).

Three people doing pull ups.
Credit score: Floor Image / Shutterstock

No matter your recreation plan, realize it nicely sufficient that you’ve an thought of what your targets are even when the fatigue units in.

Plan Your Transitions

You may need deliberate to go unbroken throughout all your pull-up sets. However even the best-laid plans can pale within the face of an intense WOD.

Have a backup plan in thoughts in case issues go south halfway by way of the exercise. This exercise is extraordinarily powerful on your upper body, so in case your push-ups begin failing halfway by way of, know what your different plan is. Are you going to carry out the motion out of your knees or on a wall? 

In the event you plan to change to wall push-ups mid-workout, achieve this proper after your pull-ups. That means, you received’t be wasting your seconds transitioning between actions. Purpose to make every part as clean as doable for your self whereas additionally respecting your capability.

Simply because it might be sooner within the second to leap up from your push-ups to begin your air squats doesn’t imply you’ll be capable of maintain it. As an alternative, maybe plan to step up out of your push-ups to standing place from the beginning of the exercise. Planning for how one can transition will prevent each time and power — together with if you’re altering your authentic recreation plan.

Breathe Between (And Throughout) Units

This a part of the technique is each easy and really tough — don’t hold your breath at any level. It would really feel simpler within the second to carry your breath whilst you’re cranking out these push-ups. But it surely’ll come again to chew you in case you’re not respiratory the entire means by way of. 

To seize extra oxygen, your physique will pressure you to take extra pauses between reps or sets. Keep away from this by coaching your self to breathe as steadily as doable all through.

In between units, attempt to avoid gasping for breath. As an alternative, take longer, slower breaths by way of your nostril if doable. This sample of respiratory may also help calm your physique and your respiratory a lot sooner than chaotic gasps for air. If you’re gasping for breath uncontrollably, contemplate slowing down and even stopping your exercise.

Learn how to Scale Cindy for Newcomers

Even in case you can’t but do a pull-up, don’t write Cindy off. You’ll be able to nonetheless make it a high-intensity, cardio-centric bodyweight extravaganza.

Use Various Motion

Being unable to do a motion doesn’t imply you’re unable to do a WOD. Simply because you’ll be able to’t do the Rx (as written) model doesn’t imply you’ll be able to’t do it in any respect. As an alternative, decide to modify your movements and even use alternate options. Listed here are some methods to change it up.

Pull-Up Alternate options

Push-Up Alternate options

  • Knee Push-Up
  • Incline Push-Up
  • Wall Push-Up

Air Squat Alternate options

Half Cindy

If the full-blown Rx version of Cindy appears to be like like lots to you, you’re not unsuitable — these three strikes are deceptively powerful. That’s very true in case you’re pushing your self for 20 entire minutes.

As an alternative, contemplate performing a Half Cindy. Maintain the identical rep scheme (5 pull-ups, 10 push-ups, and 15 air squats), however solely carry out the exercise for 10 minutes. This may supply an immense challenge to newcomers however assist you to hold a way more manageable quantity.

Intermediate athletes might have been within the CrossFit recreation for greater than six to 12 months, or they could be coming over from being very skilled athletes in different sports activities. No matter your background, listed below are some potential choices for modifying Cindy for intermediates.

Modify Actions

Intermediate-level athletes may nonetheless require modifications of the movements. Your push-ups and air squats could also be unimpeachable, however your pull-ups could be in extraordinarily tough form. Even in case you’re no beginner, don’t be ashamed to lean into the assorted motion modifications obtainable to you.

Three-Quarter Cindy

You began out doing Half Cindy, however you’re going to maneuver on. When you’ve crushed the 10-minute model, you may nonetheless not be able to go the complete 20 minutes. In that case, attempt a Three-Quarter Cindy. You’ll be doing the identical actions and the identical rep scheme, however this time, for quarter-hour.

Learn how to Scale Cindy for Superior Athletes

Even in case you’re at a complicated degree, you may nonetheless want to change some actions. Perhaps you’re coming back from a shoulder injury, for instance, and have to do rows as an alternative of pull-ups in the meanwhile. 

However in case you’ve carried out Cindy just a few occasions earlier than and a prepared for a good larger problem, attempt these Cindy variations on for measurement.

Onerous Cindy

Don’t get us unsuitable — Cindy by itself is tough sufficient. However in 2022, CrossFit posted a WOD known as Onerous Cindy, which goals to make the unique benchmark (you guessed it) even tougher.

As prescribed, the Onerous Cindy exercise appears to be like like this:

20-minute AMRAP:

  • 5 Weighted Pull-Ups
  • 10 Push-Ups With Toes on a Field
  • 15 Squats Holding a Plate

Girls: 25-pound vest, 24-inch field, 35-pound plate

Males: 35-pound vest, 30-inch field, 45-pound plate

Athletes of any gender can scale the precise weights and field peak as wanted. 

Cindy Filled with Grace

What do you get if you add a bodyweight-only WOD to a weightlifting WOD? The combo often called Cindy Filled with Grace. You’ll mix Grace’s clear & jerks with Cindy’s body weight strikes to supply a dastardly twist to this three-cycle, timed exercise.

Right here’s how the Cindy Filled with Grace exercise goes:

Three cycles for time:

Girls: 95-pound barbell

Males: 135-pound barbell

* Every spherical right here is comprised of 5 pull-ups, 10 push-ups, and 15 air squats. So, one full cycle of Cindy Filled with Grace will whole 15 pull-ups, 30 push-ups, and 45 air squats (plus the clear & jerks). You’ll do all that thrice.

For the Grace-style element, athletes of any gender can scale the weights as wanted.

Extra on CrossFit Coaching

Congratulations — you now know every part there may be to know in regards to the CrossFit Cindy exercise and the way finest to face down that clock. However in case you’re looking for much more CrossFit WODs to problem your self with, verify these out:


  1. Maté-Muñoz JL, Lougedo JH, Barba M, Cañuelo-Márquez AM, Guodemar-Pérez J, García-Fernández P, Lozano-Estevan MDC, Alonso-Melero R, Sánchez-Calabuig MA, Ruíz-López M, de Jesús F, Garnacho-Castaño MV. Cardiometabolic and Muscular Fatigue Responses to Completely different CrossFit® Exercises. J Sports activities Sci Med. 2018 Nov 20;17(4):668-679.

Featured Picture: fizkes / Shutterstock

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