The Arnie WOD: Goal Times, Tips, and Safety

A woman prepares to lift a kettlebell in a CrossFit gym

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In CrossFit, the popular training methodology with a worldwide affiliate network, there’s a special subset of workouts called the Hero WODs. These WODs honor fallen heroes who served in the armed forces, emergency medical services, law enforcement, and fire rescue. 

CrossFit Hero WODs typically encompass the most difficult types of CrossFit exercises, as the intention is to honor a fallen hero through hard physical work. These workout are often described as brutal and grueling, but the sentiment behind them is respect and admiration.

The Arnie CrossFit WOD is one hero workout, dedicated to Los Angeles County Firefighter Specialist Arnaldo "Arnie" Quinones. Arnie, 34, was killed in the line of duty on Sunday, August 30, 2009 during a fire rescue mission near the City of Palmdale, California. Arnie is survived by his wife, Lori, and his daughter, Sophia Grace, who was born a few weeks after Arnie gave the ultimate sacrifice. 

The Arnie Hero WOD is as follows: 

For time, using a single kettlebell: 2 pood (32kg/70lb) for men, 1.5 pood (24kg/53lb) for women.

  • 21 Turkish get-ups, right arm
  • 50 kettlebell swings
  • 21 overhead squats, left arm
  • 50 kettlebell swings
  • 21 overhead squats, right arm
  • 50 kettlebell swings
  • 21 Turkish get-ups, left arm

The Arnie CrossFit WOD

Score: The Arnie WOD is scored for time, meaning you complete all the reps as fast as possible.

Goal Times: Beginner: 45-60 minutes. Intermediate: 40-45 minutes. Advanced: 35-40 minutes. Elite: Less than 35 minutes.

Equipment Needed: One kettlebell

Level: This WOD is very advanced and shouldn’t be attempted by beginners without modifications.

A pood is a unit of measurement that originated from Russia (Russian: пуд, pud). It was a primary unit of measurement for a long time, and it’s equal to 40 funt (фунт, Russian pound), 16.3807 kilograms or 36.121 pounds. Although the term has fallen out of favor, some CrossFit aficionados and kettlebell instructors still use poods to measure kettlebells.

Benefits

The Arnie WOD lends itself to many benefits; here are a few.

Core Strength and Stability 

All three movements in the Arnie Hero WOD require some level of core stability and strength: Kettlebell swings require the least of the three, while Turkish get-ups fall in the middle and single-arm overhead squats require an elite level of stability. Practicing the movements in this workout (on their own or as part of a WOD) can improve your core strength and stability tremendously. 

Mobility 

Likewise, all three exercises in the Arnie WOD require some level of mobility—again with kettlebells being the most friendly and single-arm overhead squats being the most gnarly. It’s not a good idea for people with poor mobility to attempt the Arnie WOD as written, but everyone can perform some version of this WOD (modifications described later) to improve their range of motion.

Muscular Endurance

With such high rep ranges, it goes without saying that the Arnie WOD can improve your muscular endurance, which refers to how long your muscles can perform under a given load (i.e., weight). Anyone who can complete 50 kettlebell swings in a row (although you don’t necessarily have to) has phenomenal muscular endurance.

Step-by-Step Instructions

All you need for the Arnie Hero WOD is yourself and one kettlebell, so there’s not much set up to do. Just make sure you have a clear space that’s a safe distance away from others—between kettlebell swings and Turkish get-ups, it’s best to stay far apart. 

How to Do Turkish-Get-Ups

Turkish get up gif
 VeryWell / Ben Goldstein

Speaking of Turkish get-ups, you’ll need to know how to perform this complex maneuver for the Arnie WOD. Turkish get-ups are probably one of the most functional exercises you could ever do, and they’re one of the toughest, too. This move requires extreme coordination and stability. 

Here’s how to do the Turkish get-up:

  1. Lie on your back on the ground. Bend your right leg and put your right foot flat on the floor. Hold the kettlebell in your right hand, with your arm extended as if you just did a chest press. Your knuckles should point up to the ceiling. Position your left arm at a 45-degree angle with your torso, keeping both your left arm and left leg flat on the ground. 
  2. Roll onto your left elbow, and then extend your left arm so your left hand is supporting your torso. You should be sitting tall, with your right leg still bent and left leg still extended in front of you.
  3. After sitting up, press your hips up into the air so you’re in a quasi-bridge position. Remember, the left leg is still in front; the right leg is still bent. Your right arm should still be pressed high into the air, supporting the kettlebell.
  4. In one swift motion, pull your left leg in—pull it as far behind your torso as your hand, and place your knee on the ground to wind up in a half-kneeling position. Your left hand is still on the ground. 
  5. Push off the ground with your left hand so your torso is upright, your left knee is on the ground, and your right foot is planted. 
  6. From the kneeling position, simply stand up with the kettlebell overhead. The rep is now complete.
  7. Getting up is only half of the movement—now you have to get back to the lying position so you can start another rep. To lower yourself, send your left knee back as if you’re going into a reverse lunge. Then, plant your left hand on the ground. Stick your left leg back out in front of you and lower your buttocks to the ground. Finally, lie down with the kettlebell in the extended chest-press position.

How to Do Kettlebell Swings

kettlebell swing
Extreme Photographer / Getty Images

Kettlebell swings are yet another functional exercise that trains essential movement patterns. This move will leave you out of breath and feeling a deep muscle burn in the legs and shoulders. Here’s how to do it: 

  1. Stand with your feet about shoulder-width apart. Hold the horn of the kettlebell with both hands. Allow your arms to fully extend, but tighten your upper back muscles (think about squeezing your shoulder blades together). Make sure your grip is tight. 
  2. Bend your knees just slightly and send your hips back (the hip hinge). Squeeze your glutes and hamstrings forcefully to send the kettlebell forward and upward. 
  3. As you fully extend your hips, utilize your upper body to pull the kettlebell up overhead. The rep is complete when you fully extend your elbows overhead.
  4. With control, lower the kettlebell back to the starting position, and go directly into another hip hinge to start the next rep.

How to Do Single-Arm Overhead Squats

Single-arm overhead squats are one of the most difficult movements ever introduced to the CrossFit training regimen. This exercise requires extreme flexibility and range of motion, not to mention strength and stability in the core and shoulder. The truth is, not many people have the requisite mobility and stability to access this position. 

If you’re up for trying single-arm overhead squats, here’s how to do them: 

  1. The first portion of this exercise, naturally, is to get the weight over your head. You’ll need to either clean-and-press or snatch the weight above your head, into a fully extended single-arm overhead position.
  2. Start with your feet in your usual squat stance (usually about hip or shoulder-width apart). Hold your kettlebell in a strong overhead position, with your shoulders and back muscles fully engaged. Take a breath and engage your core. 
  3. Send your hips backward and bend your knees. Keeping your heels flat on the ground, lower until you reach the endpoint of your range of motion. The most important thing in the single-arm kettlebell squat is to keep your non-working side (the side without the kettlebell) tight, engaged, and upright. Do not let your torso twist or collapse. 
  4. Once you reach the bottom position, press through the heels to stand up. Keep your torso as straight as possible the entire time.

The single-arm overhead squat can be a hard movement to visualize—not to mention to master. Here’s a helpful video demonstration to help you understand proper form for the single-arm overhead squat.

Common Mistakes

If a CrossFit trainer were to list every possible mistake a trainee could make during the Arnie Hero WOD, they could write an entire book. Here, we discuss the most common (and most dangerous) mistake that applies to every movement in the Arnie WOD. 

Attempting the WOD Despite Limited Mobility

Mobility is easily the number-one limiting factor for people attempting the Arnie Hero WOD. All three movements—Turkish get-ups, kettlebell swings, and single-arm overhead squats—require great overhead mobility. Turkish get-ups have an additional need for hip and spinal mobility, while single-arm overhead squats require an elite level of mobility in the hips, ankles, knees, shoulders, and spine.

The single-arm overhead squat is truly an extreme position. While anyone with decent mobility can perform kettlebell swings and Turkish get-ups, few people can perform single-arm overhead squats. 

It’s unwise to attempt the Arnie WOD as written without the requisite mobility. If you do, you put yourself at risk for injury, primarily in your shoulders and upper spine. 

Here are a few signs that you have limited mobility and should modify the exercises in the Arnie WOD:

  • During kettlebell swings, you can’t lock your elbows out directly overhead. 
  • During Turkish get-ups, you can’t pull your supporting leg through to achieve the kneeling position. 
  • During Turkish get-ups, you can’t keep your working arm fully extended. 
  • During overhead squats, your core collapses forward or twists.
  • You can’t reach full depth during overhead squats.
  • Your heels raise off of the ground during overhead squats.
  • You can’t keep your working arm fully extended during overhead squats.

Modifications and Variations

Fret not: If any or all of the above apply to you, you can choose to modify in a few ways. 

Use Less Weight

For people with limited, but not poor, mobility, lowering the weight can give them the ability to access deeper ranges of motion in these exercises. 

Russian Kettlebell Swings

This is an option for people with limited shoulder mobility. Instead of swinging the kettlebell overhead, swing it to face level.

Turkish Sit-Ups

If the “get-up” part is the problem, you can train core stability and spinal range of motion by performing only the sit-up portion of this movement.

Barbell Overhead Squats

The barbell counterpart to kettlebell overhead squats is a great overhead option for people who lack the core stability needed for single-arm overhead squats. This way, you can support the weight with both arms, and you’re forced to keep both sides of your core engaged.

Single-Arm Front Rack Squats

If the overhead portion is the problem, single-arm kettlebell front rack squats (the weight rests on your shoulder) offer a way to train unilateral core strength while still challenging your squat mobility. 

Barbell Front Rack Squats

Finally, if the above two options still don’t offer enough mobility allowance, try barbell front squats. This type of squat still trains mobility in the hips, ankles, and upper back. 

Safety and Precautions

The most important precaution you can take for the Arnie WoD is scaling properly, as discussed above. Make sure to talk to a qualified trainer about the best modification options for you. Once you have your scaling down-pat, here are a few other safety items to keep in mind: 

  • Hydrate and eat before the workout to avoid symptoms like dizziness, lightheadedness, and fatigue.
  • Perform a thorough and proper warm-up that primes your shoulders, hips, back, wrists, knees, and ankles (AKA, your whole body) for the Arnie WOD. 
  • Establish your workout space to avoid the possibility of harming others (and ask fellow CrossFitters around you to do the same).
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Article Sources
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  • CrossFit Level One Training Guide, Second Edition. CrossFit; 2019.

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