The Cindy WOD: Scoring, Tips, and Safety

How many reps can you do in 20 minutes?

Low angle view of young female doing chin-ups
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Cindy is one of the “The Girls," a group of benchmark workouts created by CrossFit that are used to measure an athlete’s performance. They are meant to appear irregularly as the workout of the day because they are supposed to benchmark your changes in performance over time. Cindy made her debut appearance as the workout of the day (WOD) in 2005 and was eventually added to the list of benchmark workouts, all given female names.

Cindy is a 20-minute AMRAP (as many rounds and reps as possible) of 5 pull-ups, 10 push-ups, and 15 air squats. The goal is to complete as many rounds and reps as you possibly can in 20 minutes. This may not sound too grueling off the bat, but 20 minutes is a long time—proper pacing is key for this workout. 

Beginner athletes should aim for anywhere from 11 to 13 rounds. Intermediate athletes should aim for 13 to 16 rounds, and advanced athletes should aim for 18 or more rounds. If you can maintain a one round per minute pace throughout the entire workout, you are in good place athletically.  

Even if you are a Crossfit newbie, Cindy is a great cardio and bodyweight workout that will build strength and get your heart pumping. Complete the workout every few months and try to beat your old score.

Score: The goal of Cindy is to get as many rounds and reps as you can of 5 pull-ups, 10 push-ups, and 15 air squats within the 20-minute time cap.

Equipment Needed: Cindy is that it is a bodyweight-only workout. You do need a pull-up bar, but other than that, no added weights are required. If you are planning on scaling the pull-ups, you may require a set of rings for ring rows or a band for banded pull-ups.

Level: CrossFit’s benchmark workouts are meant for athletes of all levels. The idea is to use these workouts as a measure of your progress over time.

Benefits

Cindy is a body weight workout. The three movements that the workout is comprised of are simple to understand and can be scaled or varied for all levels. The WOD itself works the upper body and shoulders through pull-ups and push-ups and the quads and glutes through the air squats.

Step-by-Step Instructions

  1. Begin Cindy by setting your timer for 20 minutes. At the sound of the buzzer begin the workout by performing five pull-ups. The type of pull-ups performed is your choice. If you are doing the workout RX (as prescribed by CrossFit), banded pull-ups, ring rows, jumping pull-ups, or any other modification is not allowed. Kipping, butterfly, or strict pull-ups are all allowed. According to CrossFit movement standards, a proper pull-up requires your chin to break the horizontal plane of the bar and each pull-up must start from the dead hang position.
  2. Next, perform 10 push-ups. Begin lying on the floor face down, hands shoulder-width apart and legs extended all the way out. Push up with your arms until a complete lockout, then lower back to the ground with chest and thighs touching.
  3. Perform 15 air squats on the ground. Remember to keep your weight in your heels, chest up, and break parallel with each squat. This means the hips sink below the knees on each squat. Try not to break up the air squats into too many sets in order to save on time.
  1. Cycle through five pull-ups, 10 push-ups, and 15 air squats as many times as you can within the 20-minute time cap. Every rep counts. 

Common Mistakes

Staying Near Your Pull-Up Bar

Many athletes like to spread out their workout area when they have space—but when it comes to Cindy, this isn't the best strategy. Once you have a spot for your pull-ups, do your air squats and push-ups as close to that area as you can. This will alleviate any transition time and keep you moving.

Pacing Yourself

Moving too quickly right away will only burn you out halfway through. Keep a steady pace in order to ensure you can keep moving for the entire 20 minutes. If you're a beginner, your best bet is to not even worry about the clock—just keep moving as best you can until the time is called.

Worrying About Other Athletes

It's easy to get caught up with what everyone around you at the gym is doing, especially during a benchmark workout. But, you'll be much more efficient if you stay focused on yourself and your own movements.

Modifications and Variations

Modifications to CrossFit WODs are always welcome and even encouraged for many athletes. Whether you are a beginner, overcoming an injury, or are just trying to take it easy, there are many ways to modify Cindy. The pull-ups, which can scare away many beginner athletes, are commonly modified through ring rows, jumping pull-ups, or by using a band around the pull-up bar. Your CrossFit coach should be able to help you find the best modification for you.

The push-ups can also be modified by performing them on your knees. This will lighten the load and make it slightly easier to push up from the ground. Just make sure your butt doesn’t drop during each motion. 

Safety and Precautions

Since Cindy is a pretty self-explanatory WOD, it can be done by CrossFitters of all levels. The key is to know what you are capable of and how to push your limits properly without getting hurt. This is a long workout, so make sure you are properly hydrated before beginning the WOD and keep a steady pace throughout. A good warm-up beforehand is important as well.

  

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