The Chelsea WOD: Goal Times, Tips, and Safety

Pull-ups, push-ups, and squats round out this workout of the day.

push ups

 Getty Images

Chelsea is part of the “Girls” group of workouts that CrossFit uses as a benchmark to assess progress over time. The Chelsea workout of the day (WOD) is a bodyweight routine that only requires a pull-up bar. But just because the concept is simple, don’t expect the workout to be easy. This benchmark WOD will test your strength, endurance, and ability to perform exercises with strict form over time. 

The goal of Chelsea is to perform 1 round of the workout every minute for 30 minutes (it's an EMOM workout, which stands for Every Minute on the Minute). If you cannot complete a round before the minute mark, the workout is over. For this workout, the round includes the following exercises:

  • 5 pull-ups
  • 10 push-ups
  • 15 bodyweight or air squats

The Chelsea Crossfit WOD

Score: You will record your results and compare it to a previous timed Chelsea WOD or use it as the starting benchmark and set goals to meet the maximum number of reps. If you make it to the 30-minute mark, you will have completed 150 pull-ups, 300 push-ups, and 450 air squats. But if the workout ends before the 30 minutes, record the number of rounds you completed as well as the time you ended. 

Equipment Needed: Chelsea is a bodyweight-only workout, but you do need access to a pull-up bar. You may also want to have a band or ring rows if you plan on scaling the pull-ups.

Level: Chelsea is meant for all levels of CrossFit athletes. 


If you are crunched for time and need to squeeze a full-body workout into your day, Chelsea is your girl. Since Chelsea is a full-body workout, it targets all of the major muscle groups and boosts your cardiorespiratory system.

Upper and Lower Body Strength and Endurance

During your 30-minute routine, you can expect to feel the muscles in your upper and lower body working. More specifically, your lats, shoulders, biceps, and core will be tested when performing pull-ups, while your chest, triceps, shoulders, and core will get a nice pump repping out the push-ups. Bodyweight squats will challenge your quadriceps, glutes, hamstrings, calves, and core muscles with every rep. 

The Chelsea WOD challenges both muscular endurance and strength. When a muscle or group of muscles is required to sustain repeated contractions against a resistance for a period of time, typically an extended period, you’re targeting muscular endurance. Muscular strength, on the other hand, requires your body to produce the maximal amount of force for a particular exercise. 

Cardiovascular Endurance

CrossFit workouts like Chelsea are not just about boosting muscular strength and endurance. They also target your cardiovascular system. When you perform a round every minute on the minute, your heart rate will skyrocket and stay elevated throughout the entire workout. This gives you an excellent metabolic workout that burns calories and improves your cardiorespiratory system

Step-by-Step Instructions

Before beginning the workout itself, there are a few important steps to take. Check to make sure you have all of the tools needed to complete the workout, including a timer and a pull-up bar. Always make sure to do a short warmup consisting of dynamic exercises such as leg swings, knee hugs, walking lunges, high knee skips, windmills, etc. to gradually transition your body from a resting state and reduce the risk of injury.

Chelsea is an EMOM routine that requires you to perform each exercise for the specified number of reps, each minute on the minute, with a goal of completing 30 minutes of exercise. To complete the rounds:

  1. Position a clock or timer in front of you. If using a timer, set it for 60 seconds. 
  2. On the minute mark, do 5 pull-ups, 10 push-ups, and 15 air squats. If you complete the exercises before the minute mark, you can rest. 
  3. Repeat the three exercises on the minute, every minute for 30 minutes total. 
  4. Record your results. 

How to Do Pull-Ups

You can do a straight pull-up, butterfly, or kipping pull-up. 

  1. Stand under the pull-up bar and grab the bar using a pronated grip (palms facing away from you). 
  2. Lift your body off the floor and pull yourself up until your chin breaks the horizontal plane of the bar (a little above level with the bar). 
  3. Pause, then lower back down and repeat without letting your feet touch the floor.

How to Do Push-Ups

  1. Lie facedown on the floor. 
  2. Position your hands about three inches wider than shoulder-width apart, push yourself up into a full plank position. 
  3. Fully extend your elbows and lower your body to the starting position.

How to Do Bodyweight or Air Squats

  1. Stand with your feet hip-width apart, and toes pointed slightly out. Weight should be in your heels. 
  2. Engage your core, keep your chest up, and bend your knees to squat down like you’re getting ready to sit in a chair. 
  3. Raise your arms out in front of you and squat down until your thighs are slightly below parallel. Gaze straight ahead. 
  4. Pause at the bottom of the squat. Take a deep breath, then exhale as you straighten your legs and squeeze your glutes as you return to the starting position.

Common Mistakes

Even though you’re not loading up a barbell or pushing heavy weight, you can still make mistakes that can make this workout less effective, and possibly cause injury. 

Speeding Through the Exercises

Every minute on the minute workouts require you to keep up a certain pace. That said, going too fast, or faster than your body is ready to perform, could lead to bad form and potential injuries. Remember to pace yourself. If you cannot hit the 30-minute mark, that’s okay. Do as many rounds as possible, with a goal of increasing your time each workout.

Performing the Workout Too Often

The goal of a benchmark workout is just that—to be a benchmark. Chelsea and the other benchmark WODs are not designed to be part of a weekly routine. You should only perform the Chelsea WOD every few months to track your progress.

Not Modifying the Exercises or Time

Whether you’re new to exercise, CrossFit, recovering from an injury, or just want to ease into these intense workouts, this is not the time to go all out if you’re not ready for a high-intensity level. If your fitness level is not where it needs to be, it’s okay to modify the exercises so that you can complete them safely and effectively.

Modifications and Variations

The Chelsea benchmark WOD is easy to modify. One way to scale back is to decrease the number of repetitions for each exercise. For example:

  • 4 pull-ups
  • 8 push-ups
  • 12 bodyweight squats

If this feels challenging, stay at this rep scheme for a few benchmark workouts before tackling the full rep scheme. 

You can also modify how you perform the exercise. If you decide to go this route, consider having a trainer or CrossFit instructor walk you through the modification, especially if it involves using any equipment. To modify the pull-up, you can use equipment to assist you, including a pull-up band, ring rows, or TRX straps. 

If you need to scale the push-ups, consider doing them on your knees, with your hands on a bench, or using a bar for support in a squat rack. If you have issues with your knees or hips and need to shorten the range of motion for squats, only go down as far as you can, with the goal of working towards a full squat. 

Another way to scale the workout for beginners or someone returning to exercise after an injury or time off is to reduce the time. Rather than 30 minutes, start with 15 minutes. As you get stronger and you’re able to perform each round in under one minute, you can add time until you reach the 30-minute goal. 

Safety and Precautions

The Chelsea WOD is a routine you can do at the gym, a CrossFit gym, or at home if you have access to a pull-up bar. That said, if you’re new to the exercises or you have questions about proper form, it’s a good idea to do this workout at a CrossFit gym under the guidance of an instructor or personal trainer. If you’re not a member of a CrossFit gym, ask a personal trainer or physical therapist to walk you through the proper form and technique. 

Also, before you begin any WOD, make sure your body is warm and ready to work. A proper warmup will give your body a chance to slowly raise the heart rate and prepare your muscles for exercise. Your warmup should include a series of dynamic exercises as well as some type of gentle cardiovascular movement such as walking or jogging prior to setting the timer. This will ensure that your body is warm and ready for the intensity of the workout. It also helps prevent injuries. 

Do not attempt to do this workout, or any WOD, without adequate hydration and fuel. Make sure you eat at least one to two hours before performing the Chelsea benchmark. If you’re drinking water throughout the day, you should be hydrated. Bring a water bottle with you when doing the workout and sip on it when you have rest time after completing a round. 

And finally, make sure to cool down after you finish Chelsea. The 30-minute benchmark does not include a cool-down phase, so it’s your responsibility to spend at least five to 10 minutes, bringing your heart rate down and getting your body to return to a pre-workout state. This is also an excellent time to stretch and hydrate. 

By Sara Lindberg
Sara Lindberg, M.Ed., is a freelance writer focusing on health, fitness, nutrition, parenting, and mental health.