Cindy, 1 of 6 original CrossFit girls workouts, is the quintessential functional fitness workout.

It uses three basic bodyweight exercises — pull-ups, push-ups, and squats — and tons of transitions to separate those who are just fit from those who are fit and smart about how they approach the WOD.

The Cindy WOD is a game of seconds. In this guide, we’ll look at the Cindy WOD, five strategy tips for getting a great score, movement standards, and how to scale.

Check out more benchmark WOD guides here.

What is The Cindy WOD?

As many rounds as possible in 20 minutes:

  • 5 Pull-ups
  • 10 Push-ups
  • 15 Squats

Watch Cindy performed on a home pull-up bar in this video.

The Cindy WOD Strategy

Here are five tips for getting a great score on Cindy.

1. Know Your Round Pace

woman pull-ups

The #1 key to maximizing your score on this workout is knowing your per round pace on Cindy.

For example, if you take an average of one minute, you’ll get a score of approximately 20 rounds.

Going even 10 seconds per minute slower will take three full rounds off your score—making this the most important part of your strategy.

20 rounds (1 minute per)  is a good benchmark to set your goal on. If body weight movements are easy for you, you may be able to do more than 20 rounds.

Athletes like Chris Spealler have been known to best 30 rounds on this workout.

Keep in mind that your ideal pace is not just how fast you can do a round, but a reasonable number you can sustain for all 20 minutes.

If you can do a round in 45 seconds but are gassed and need to rest, you’ll without a doubt be crushed by the end of the workout.

Taking us to tip #2….

2. Use The First 5 Minutes To Feel Out Cindy

woman squats

Glance at the clock before you start a new round during the first five minutes.

This will give you a chance to see how long it’s taking you per round and if you’re slowing your pace.

By the end of five minutes, you should be breathing steadily (not gasping) and have an idea of what a comfortable pace is for you.

From that point on, your goal is to sustain that pace.

Many athletes go out way too hard during the first five rounds of Cindy. They get 7 or 8 rounds, then gas out and finish with a score of only 17 to 20 rounds.

3. Eliminate (or Minimize) Transitions

transitions

Remember, this workout is about seconds. There are three transitions between each round, meaning if you take extra seconds to transition between them you will add six extra seconds to each round.

This isn’t good for your score.

Set up a whiteboard where you can write down or wipe away numbers to track your score.

You can also use poker chips, but if you have to move away from the pull-up bar to move one, you’re wasting time.

Either put them some place you can reach them or have someone count for you.

Do each set of squats under the pull-up bar so you can immediately start the next round.

4. Push-ups—They’re The Problem

Woman Pushup

In all likelihood, the bottleneck in this workout is going to be push-ups. If you aren’t good at push-ups, do sets of 7 and 3, 6 and 4, or 5 and 5 in the early rounds to save your arms.

This may be frustrating since you’re moving slowly, but you’re playing for minute 12 through 20.

If there’s stuff left in the tank then, go for broke.

5. Use This Workout To Prep For Murph

Besides being an original CrossFit benchmark, Cindy is also a great workout to practice for the hero WOD Murph.

Use Cindy as a way to mentally and physically prepare for Memorial day each year. Besides being a practical way to get ready for Murph, Cindy is a great test of overall fitness. Do it a few times a year.

Warming Up For Cindy

light cardio

Do scap pull-ups, scap push-ups, and a little light cardio to warm up your legs for Cindy. This is a long, slow, grinding workout, so don’t do a ton of cardio.

Focus mostly on movement prep, opening up the shoulders, chest, triceps, quads, and glutes.

You should wear hand grips for the pull-ups on this workout to save your hands. If you do, practice doing push-ups with them on before the WOD starts so you can make adjustments.

If you haven’t done Cindy before (or recently), do a test round of the workout about five minutes before 3-2-1 go. This will help you set your pace (#1 key or getting a good score) and also help you warm-up for the WOD.

Cindy WOD Movement Standards

Cindy is a high-rep workout. If you get a score of  20 rounds, you did 600 reps in 20 minutes.

Because of this, Cindy is also notorious for being a WOD where people skimp on movement standards. Don’t be that guy.

Pull-ups

For time and efficiency purposes, use butterfly kipping pull-ups in this WOD if you have them. Regular kipping pull-ups or even strict pull-ups work too, but your shoulders and grip will tire faster.

Your chin must go over the bar on each rep.

Push-Ups

Regular push-ups here. Make sure your chest touches the ground, your elbows don’t flare out, and you lock your elbows out at the top.

Squats

Believe it or not, people skimp on squats more than you’d expect on this workout. They aren’t the focal point of the workout, but make sure your squat form is good.

Lock your hips and knees out at the top of each rep, especially the final rep before jumping back on the pull-up bar.

The Cindy WOD Scaled

pull ups

Scale the time on this workout before scaling the movements. The pull-push-squat flow is a proven combination for testing fitness and endurance, so don’t change the order of exercises, either.

AMRAP 10 or AMRAP 15 versions of Cindy are a good way for new CrossFitters to get a taste for Cindy.

If you can’t do pull-ups, sub ring rows or jumping pull-ups.

Reduce the push-ups to kneeling or bench push-ups if necessary. And don’t scale squats unless absolutely necessary.

Cindy WOD—Wrapping Up

Whether you’re getting ready for Murph or just want to hit a CrossFit classic, this guide will help you get a great score on the Cindy WOD. We hope it helps you set a PR!

Check out Athletic Muscle’s blog for more WOD guides, equipment reviews, and benchmark workout strategy guides. Good luck!

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