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Benchmark WOD – Cindy

May 22, 2013

On Wednesday, doctor the benchmark WOD is “Cindy, information pills ” a AMRAP 20 of 5 pullups, order 10 pushups, and 15 squats.  This may be the quintessential CrossFit WOD – it requires little equipment (a pull-up bar and a stop watch), it doesn’t seem too hard at first and the fitter you get, the tougher this Cindy gets.  It is simple and elegant in it’s design and execution.

10 rounds is a great goal for a new athlete, 20 rounds is a great score for a fit athlete, 25 rounds and above is face melting fitness.

If you have 1 pull-up, I recommend doing the entire WOD as prescribed.  That means you do 1 pull-up, then stand around until your strength comes back, then do your second, working up to 5.  If you have the ability to do 1 pull-up, you likely have the ability to do the pushups and the squats.  Take your time and get an RX score.  Over the coming weeks and months, your fitness will expand, and this WOD will become something you attack.

On Scaling

Generally, athletes will scale the pullups first.  I recommend body pulls or using the band over jumping pullups here.  With all the squatting, I would prefer you to reap the benefits of pulling your body weight.  Just like the pullups, if you can do 1 real push up, do that, then rest until your strength comes back.  If you have to scale, knees are acceptable, then wall pushups.

For nearly every one squatting is doable and for the really fit, the squatting is fast.  That doesn’t mean you squat poorly.  Maintain a good lumbar curve, keep your chest up and keep your weight on your heels.  I promise, you can see some ugly squatting at the end of this.  Please maintain good position.

Pick the the things you are good at in Cindy and attack them, using your weakness to rest.  If the pullups are slow, take your time here, then attack the pushups and squats quickly and get back to pullups.  You will catch your breath as you allow your strength to restore.


There can be, like 9 million transitions in Cindy.  Each one can shave seconds of your rounds.  Dropping immediately from a pull-up into a pushup will save time.  I try to transition directly from a pushup into a squat – it’s kind of like a burpee.  I pull my legs to my hands, setting my feet then stand up hard through my heels for squat 1.  Think about your transitions and try to repeat your transitions each time.

Hand care (Chalk)

Cindy can be a lot of pullups.  Your hands will get sweaty and doing pushups will wipe chalk from your hands.  As I’ve said before, keeping your hands dry can be just as important as keeping them chalked.  We have towels, but they tend to go quick so you may want to bring a small hand towel to dry your hands.  Make sure you shave your calluses before the WOD.  I recommend shaving them down the night before (or in the morning).  Sometimes shaving can leave your hands a little sensitive.  If you have the tendency to tear, tape your hands.  I’ll be taping before the 100s WOD at Regionals.  I tore last year on the big pull-up WOD at Regionals.  120 pullups on a bar warmed by the San Jose sun – that sucked. PLEASE DO NOT tape the pull-up bars.

Hydration and Nutrition

To me, 20 minutes is rather long for an all out effort (which is what Cindy should be).  If you are RX’ing or have an ideal scaling option, you will be working your ass off from the call of 3-2-1 Go! to TIME!  Make sure you are properly hydrated throughout the day.  I recommend not eating within 2 hours of tackling Cindy, as your body may prioritize others things (like breathing and pumping blood) over what’s in your stomach.  Eating before 20 plus rounds of Cindy is a pretty good way to meet Pukie.

Shoes (or lack thereof)

I recommend weightlifting shoes for Cindy.  They will help you on the squatting.  But, you may find weightlifting shoes uncomfortable on pushups or heavy on pullups.  Over time, I recommend you get used to it, as I believe the benefit of weightlifting shoes are that great.  If you find yourself going to your toes in your shoes, you may want to try going barefoot.  This will put you well on your heels.  This may not be an issue anymore with the Nano’s and Inov-8s.  Chuck Taylor’s (or my sweet Adidas Rod Laver’s) are good for this WOD.

Working in a group

You will get your best score on this WOD if you develop your own little workspace (sometimes called your phone booth).  If classes are crowded, I would prefer to run 2 heats to allow for the best scores.  If you go first, I recommend running or rowing to flush your legs after all the squatting.  Keep the pace conversational, at work at 60% of your perceived exertion rate.  If you go second, I recommend 3-5 intervals on the rower, air dyne or running.  2 minutes work, 2 minutes rest to fill the lungs with air and get you blood going.


If you have never gotten 20 rounds before, this is a conservative way to try.  Basically, you do a round at the top of each minute, then rest for the remainder of the minute.  My recommendation here is to get through the movements as quickly as possible, giving you the most time to rest.  At one time a round took me just over 30 seconds (so I would get 28 or so seconds of rest a minute).

The good thing about OTM is that is you feel good, you can pick up the pace in the last 5 minutes (or wherever you choose) and sprint to the finish.

“Guns A’blazing”

I would only recommend using this approach if you are extremely confident you will get 22 or more rounds and are looking to get more.  Basically, go out hard and try to hang on.  If find with this approach, I may do 2 rounds a minute for 5 minutes, then slow to 2 rounds every 90 seconds, finally slowing to a round a minute.  Keeping focus over the whole 20 minutes can be tough.

Of course, you can try all different combinations – 2 rounds then rest 30 seconds, do a round then rest 5 seconds (or 10).  It’s up to you, but be thoughtful about your plan.  Expect a coach to ask you what your plan is.


Bill leans in the work.

Workout of the Day



5 Pullups

10 Pushups

15 Squats

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