The Chief WOD

The Chief WOD in CrossFit is as follows:

Five 3-minute AMRAPs:

AMRAP in 3 minutes

135 pound Power cleans, 3 reps

6 Push-ups

9 Air squats

1 minute rest in between each cycle. Repeat for a total of 5 rounds.

The Chief WOD first appeared on CrossFit main page programming in 2008. It was written to honor Chief Petty Officers (former and present) in the United States Military.

It is popularly used as a benchmark WOD to test strength, bodyweight endurance and cardio fitness.

How to Follow The Chief CrossFit WOD

young girl doing push ups

Here's everything you need to know to follow The Chief WOD correctly.

Correct Form 

The movements this workout use are all foundational CrossFit exercises. Here are some quick guidelines for each:

  • Power cleans: Keep your back tight and the bar close to your body. Catch low and avoid muscling reps until you fatigue to conserve energy. Use a hook grip if it feels comfortable. It's also advisable (unless your clean is very high) to drop reps from the top to conserve energy.

  • Push ups: Lock out each rep. Keep a tight belly and core when you descend to the bottom. To make your push-ups extra challenging, try doing The Chief with the hand-release variation.
  • Air squats: Kick your hips back to the wall, let your knees follow. Keep your arms out for balance and maintain a "proud" chest. Get to parallel. Drive through your heels. Lock out each rep.

The major form piece to focus on is the power clean. Dropping from the top will conserve energy for your forearms, but you may need to practice first to get the rhythm right.

Tips 

When you do The Chief for the first time, keep these tips in mind for getting a great score:

Drop your cleans. Read the information in the form section above for why.

  • Perform this workout with plenty of space around you. You'll be dropping the bar a lot, and you don't want to hit things nearby as you drop to do push-ups or have to stop doing squats to catch your bar.
  • Catch your breath during squats. 3 minutes is short enough that you shouldn't stop moving at all during the rounds, especially early on. It's better to slow down a bit on squats to get your breath under control than to stop altogether.
  • Write your scores down in between rounds. It's very difficult to keep track of five separate sets of rounds. Whether with chalk or a marker, keep score as you go.

The Chief is a great benchmark fitness CrossFit workout and one where you can test and retest your max rounds a few times per year without blowing out your muscles.

Benefits of The Chief WOD

man carrying barbel

Here are some benefits you'll gain from performing The Chief CrossFit WOD:

  • The Chief WOD develops muscular strength, cardio endurance, and mental toughness.
  • It's a great workout to practice fast transitions during. Many CrossFit Games and Open workouts use AMRAP Wods like The Chief with short rep schemes and lots of transitions. In truth, sometimes the people that come out on top in a workout like this are the athletes that manage the clock the best. Use The Chief CrossFit workout to practice this for yourself.
  • It's very easy to scale this WOD. Unless you're an absolute beginner don't scale the weights or reps; simply reduce the number of rounds from 5 to 3.
  •  It's a great workout to focus on technique. Let your mind go and work your butt off while maintaining flawless form on basic exercises like push ups and air squats.
  • You can easily make this workout more road-friendly, too if you need to. Sub in a kettlebell for the barbell and do a kettlebell clean or snatch instead.
squats(1)

For more CrossFit guides like this one, check out our workout guides. Good luck on The Chief!

Ben Kissam

Ben Kissam

I help college athletes maximize their 4-year sports window and succeed after graduation.

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