The Annie WoD: Goal Times, Tips, and Safety

The Annie Workout of the Day is a benchmark workout for CrossFit athletes.

A girl jumps rope in a CrossFit gym.
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In 2003, CrossFit founder Greg Glassman developed a series of workouts meant to test the limits of CrossFitters across the globe. There are now nearly 30 of these intense workouts that test the strength, endurance, and agility of their triers — and they’re all named after girls

Walk into any CrossFit gym and you’ll likely hear the names “Fran,” “Helen,” “Grace,” and “Diane” tossed around. It’s common CrossFit lingo, and the athletes are probably talking about their best scores or how much the workout hurt. 

One popular girls WoD, “Annie,” is named after Annie Sakamoto, one of the first trainers at the first-ever CrossFit gym in Santa Cruz, California. Sakamoto played an important role in the development of CrossFit, appearing in the CrossFit Games as a team member and individual athlete multiple times. 

Her namesake workout was first posted on the CrossFit website as the workout of the day (WoD) on September 7, 2005, and it’s been a staple in CrossFit gyms ever since. 

Annie is completed as follows: 

  • 50-40-30-20-10 double-unders
  • 50-40-30-20-10 abmat sit-ups

How to do the Annie WoD

Score: Annie is scored “for time,” which means you complete the WoD as fast as possible.

Goal times: 10-12 minutes for beginners; 8-10 minutes for intermediate athletes; 7-8 minutes for advanced athletes; less than 6 minutes for elite athletes.

Equipment Needed: Jump rope and abmat.

Level: Annie is suitable for all fitness levels, but some athletes may struggle with the jump rope (double unders) portion.

Benefits

A relatively simple workout in terms of rep scheme, Annie combines an advanced skill with a simple core exercise to challenge your endurance and agility.

Core Strength

All in all, Annie includes 150 sit-ups, an impressive number for any athlete to complete. 

Speed

This Girls WoD is meant to be quick — extremely quick. How fast can you complete 300 total reps? For elite athletes, 50 double-unders takes 30 seconds or less and 50 sit-ups might take 60 seconds. The more you practice Annie, the faster you’ll get. 

Endurance

Because this workout is so quick, it may not seem like Annie challenges your endurance. But don’t be fooled: Double-unders leave even the most elite athletes short of breath, and 150 sit-ups is a true test of muscular endurance in the core. 

Agility

Agility is defined as the ability to move quickly and easily. Attributes associated with agility include coordination, alertness, dexterity, gracefulness, and sharpness. Double-unders require incredible agility to perform correctly, and you can expect to become more proficient at this skill every time you complete Annie. 

Step-by-Step Instructions

Now that you know the history behind Annie and how it can improve your health and fitness, it’s time to give this benchmark WoD a go. Here’s how to set up and get a score you’ll be proud of. 

Equipment and set up

For the Annie WoD, you’ll need a jump rope and an abmat. Any jump rope will do, as long as it’s suited to your height and you feel comfortable with it. Most CrossFit gyms stock plenty of abmats, which are small floor pads that mimic the curvature of your spine. Abmats help you reach full range of motion in the sit-up and reduce the risk of injury to your spine and tailbone. 

How to do abmat situps

When done correctly, abmat sit-ups are an incredibly safe and effective core exercise. This movement is similar to an abdominal crunch, but abmat sit-ups involve a larger range of motion to challenge your core muscles and flexibility. To do an abmat sit-up, follow these steps: 

  1. Start by sitting on the floor with the bottoms of your feet touching each other (knees pointing to the sides). 
  2. Lie all the way back, using the abmat to support your lumbar spine, and touch your hands to the floor behind your head. 
  3. Use your abdominal muscles to lift your torso back up into the seated position. 
  4. Continue leaning forward: The rep is complete when you touch your hands to your feet.

How to do double-unders

All CrossFitters can agree on one thing: Double-unders are not easy to learn. This advanced skill involves swinging the rope twice under your feet during one jump, rather than the usual one swing per one jump. 

Double-unders require a few key components to be successful:

  1. A slightly higher jump 
  2. Quick wrist movements 
  3. Arms close to body 
  4. Nearly straight arms and legs (see “Common Mistakes” below)

Double-under tip: Get your own jump rope! Your gym probably has enough for everyone, but getting your own means you practice with the same rope length, width, and handles every time, which means you can become more comfortable more quickly. 

Common Mistakes

To get your best Annie time yet — or to blow your first attempt out of the water — avoid these common Annie mistakes.

Failure to warm up properly

You should warm up before any workout, especially a tough one like a Girls WoD. Warming up will prime your body for exercise, making sure it’s ready for the intense stimulus it’s about to receive. Spend a few minutes on a general warm-up and follow with a 10-minute specific warm-up (more on that under Safety and Precautions below).

Abmat sit-up technique mistakes

CrossFit uses standards for some movements to ensure all athletes complete workouts in the same way. Sit-ups are one of those movements with standards: Make sure you don’t get a “no rep” by avoiding these common mistakes. 

Hands don’t touch the floor overhead: A correct abmat sit-up involves full range of motion of the abdomen, which means your shoulders should touch the floor and your arms should reach overhead to touch the floor behind you. In a competition, you might get a “no rep” if you don’t bring your hands all the way to the floor.

Hands don’t touch the feet: Similarly, full range of motion in the abmat sit-up also involves reaching your hands to your feet. This standard is in place to discourage athletes from only sitting halfway or a quarter of the way up. 

Double-under technique mistakes

Double-unders take months, if not years, to perfect. Most CrossFit athletes are familiar with the sting of plastic jump ropes on their skin during the learning phase — temporary red marks or welts become a kind of badge of honor, like a silent way of saying, “Hey, I’m getting there!” 

While learning double-unders, many people commit these common mistakes. 

The “donkey kick”: This occurs when athletes excessively bend their knees during the jump. During double-unders, your knees should remain only slightly bent to absorb shock. Kicking your lower leg up behind you presents the risk of getting the jump rope caught on your foot, reducing your efficiency, and ending up with one of those infamous red jump rope welts. 

Arms too far from the body: A key component of efficient double-unders? Keeping your arms close to your body. Often, athletes think they need to swing their entire arms to generate more force with the rope, but the opposite is true. Good double-unders involve a gentle, but fast, flick of the wrists. Your elbows should remain close to your torso. 

Modifications and Variations

Every CrossFit workout is modifiable. If you can’t complete the 50-40-30-20-10 reps of double-unders and sit-ups as prescribed, modify it in a way that suits your needs and fitness level. Here are a few ways to modify Annie for fitness level, pregnancy, and injuries. 

Single Unders

The double-under is a tough skill to learn: It takes most CrossFitters at least six months to one year to become proficient, and that’s with diligent practice. If you can’t do double-unders yet, do single-unders (regular jump roping) instead. For benchmark workouts like the Girls, the rep count usually remains the same. However, some CrossFit coaches might encourage you to double the reps to get the same cardiovascular stimulus. If that’s the case, you’d complete Annie as follows: 

  • 100-80-60-40-20: single-unders
  • 50-40-30-20-10-: abmat sit-ups

Reduced Reps

If you’re just starting out at CrossFit or exercising in general, the rep scheme for Annie might be too much. You can reduce the reps however you like (or however your coach recommends), but here are two popular reduced versions: 

  • Cut out the round of 50: 40-30-20-10, double-unders (or single-unders) and sit-ups
  • Halve the rep scheme: 25-20-15-10-5, double-unders (or single-unders) and sit-ups

Modifications for Pregnancy

For some women, jumping rope and sit-ups are two challenging movements during pregnancy. If you’re pregnant and feel uncomfortable with either of these movements, try these modifications. 

Instead of double-unders:

Single unders. If you can do double-unders, but find that they make you feel uncomfortable during pregnancy, try doing single-unders, which are much gentler. 

Plate hops. Using a thin bumper plate (10 or 15 pounds), hop and touch your toes to the plate. Hop back to the ground for one complete rep. 

Cycling. Most CrossFit gyms have at least one wind-powered (motorless) stationary bike. Cycle for as many seconds as there are reps. For instance, cycle for 50 seconds for the round of 50 double-unders. 

Instead of sit-ups:

Plank hold. Hold one second for each rep. For example, 30 sit-ups equals a 30-second plank. 

Cat and cow. This gentle yoga pose (Chakravakasana) works your abdominal and back muscles. Do the same number of reps as you would sit-ups. 

Modifications for Injuries

Even with a current injury or pre-existing injury that limits range of motion, most people can complete some version of Annie. Neither jumping rope nor sit-ups require any ranges of motion that typically aggravate injuries (like pressing your arms overhead or squatting), but be sure to talk with your coach about modifications if you feel any pain doing either of the movements. 

Variations of Annie

“Annie on the Run” or “Rannie”: A popular variation of Annie, this WoD adds a 400-meter run to the end of every round, so the workout is completed like this: 

  • 50 double-unders - 50 sit-ups - 400m run
  • 40 double-unders - 40 sit-ups - 400m run
  • 30 double-unders - 30 sit-ups - 400m run
  • 20 double-unders - 20 sit-ups - 400m run
  • 10 double-unders - 10 sit-ups - 400m run

A 400-meter run can take anywhere between 90 seconds and three minutes, depending on each athlete’s speed and endurance, so expect “Rannie” to take significantly longer than the original Annie.

Toes-to-bar Annie: This variation of Annie follows the same rep scheme as the original Annie, but it replaces sit-ups with toes-to-bar. Toes-to-bar is an advanced movement that requires proficiency in the kip, good grip strength, flexibility, and a strong core. Toes-to-bar involves hanging from a pull-up bar or rig and flexing your hips to bring your toes all the way to the bar that you are holding. 

Safety and Precautions

You should take precautions before any workout, especially one where you’re going to give an all-out effort. Before completing Annie, make sure you cross these items off your pre-workout checklist. 

Do a general warm-up

A general warm-up primes your body for exercise by increasing blood flow to your muscles, slightly elevating the heart rate, and loosening up your joints. A general warm-up should last at least five minutes, but ideally 10 to 15 minutes. Walking, jogging, cycling, jumping rope, rowing, or other monostructural movements are fantastic for warming up, as are dynamic stretches to loosen up your major joints.

Do a specific warm-up

A specific warm-up involves exercises that mimic the movements you’ll do during the workout and engage the muscles you’ll need for good performance. For Annie, this can include practice reps of single-unders or double-unders, calf raises, and easy core exercises.

Hydrate and eat before

To get your best score on Annie, it’s important to hydrate and fuel your body prior to the workout. If you want to eat a full meal before working out, do so two to three hours beforehand. You can eat snacks or a small meal 30 to 60 minutes before working out. Carbohydrates are your body’s main source of fuel, so be sure to include some in your pre-workout fuel!

Wear the right shoes

Annie involves 150 reps of jumping rope. If you don’t wear proper shoes, your feet, ankles, calves, and knees might take on unnecessary wear and tear. Good shoes for jumping rope would have adequate cushioning and fit your feet snugly. Make sure to lace up tightly to avoid tripping or getting the rope caught on your shoe! 

Cool Down

The cool down is probably the most overlooked and under-appreciated aspect of fitness. Many people complete an intense workout and then rush off to fulfill other obligations. But taking just five to 10 minutes after a WoD can save you a great deal of soreness. Try these stretching recommendations post-Annie: 

  • Cobra
  • Wheel pose
  • Anterior shoulder stretch
  • Cross-body shoulder stretch
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Article Sources

  • BOXROX. (2019). Annie | BOXROX. [online] Available at: https://www.boxrox.com/crossfit-workouts/travel-wods/annie/.

  • Journal.crossfit.com. (2019). Article - CrossFit: Forging Elite Fitness. [online] Available at: https://journal.crossfit.com/article/cfj-pregnancy-a-practical-guide-for-scaling.

  • WODwell. (2019). "Annie" WOD. [online] Available at: https://wodwell.com/wod/annie/.