The Jackie WoD: Goal Times, Tips, and Safety

The Jackie Workout of the Day Tests Endurance and Upper Body Strength

Woman in pink sports bra exercises on a rowing machine.
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“Jackie” was released as part of the second group of “Girl” workouts created by CrossFit founder Greg Glassman in 2010. This group followed the original Girl workouts, which were released in 2003. Jackie was first posted on the CrossFit main website on Friday, March 6, 2009, and has since become a household name across the CrossFit community. 

Jackie — which consists of a 1,000-meter row, 50 barbell thrusters (45 pounds for men, 35 pounds for women), and 30 pull-ups — will test your endurance and upper body strength. In this article, you’ll learn how to complete Jackie step-by-step, how to modify the workout, and what precautions you should take to safely perform this CrossFit Girl WOD. 

The Jackie "Girl" WOD

Score: Jackie is scored “for time,” meaning you complete all reps of the workout as fast as possible. 

Equipment Needed: Pull-up bar, barbell, rowing erg. 

Level: Jackie is a challenging WOD, but it’s only as challenging as you make it (i.e., it’s an endurance-based workout, so going faster will be more challenging). Beginners can modify this workout to suit their fitness level. Advanced and elite athletes may not find this workout very tough. 

Goal Times: Beginner: 10-12 minutes. Intermediate: 7-9 minutes. Advanced: 6-7 minutes. Elite: Less than 6 minutes.

Benefits

Like all CrossFit workouts, Jackie was designed to test very specific elements of fitness. Usually, benchmark workouts such as the Girls combine two to five of CrossFit’s 10 general physical skills which, all together, constitute CrossFit’s ideal of “general physical preparedness” (GPP). 

Combined, the 1,000-meter row, 50 barbell thrusters, and 30 pull-ups in the Jackie WOD serve as a great assessment of cardiovascular endurance, muscular endurance, and upper body strength. 

Cardiovascular Endurance

Cardiovascular endurance, also called cardiorespiratory fitness, is a measure of how long and how efficiently your body can perform a rhythmic movement, such as running. In the case of Jackie, the cardio movement is rowing. A 1,000-meter row is no small feat, especially for beginners, and Jackie will test your ability to sustain a solid pace over the entire distance.

Muscular Endurance

Muscular endurance is defined as the ability to sustain repeated movements. Rowing on an erg is a full body movement that requires power in your hips and legs, stability in your core, and strength in your arms and back. Barbell thrusters require all of those same elements of fitness, and when performed one right after another, these two exercises will test your ability to keep moving.

Upper Body Strength

You’ll need to prime your upper back muscles, shoulders, and arms for Jackie — because this workout is going to tax them all. Between rowing (upper back), thrusters (shoulders), and pull-ups (arms and lats), the Jackie WOD is an upper body powerhouse of a workout. By periodically redoing the Jackie WOD, you can get a good sense of how much your upper body strength and muscular endurance have improved.

Step-by-Step Instructions

Jackie is a relatively simple WOD with just three common movements, but you should familiarize yourself with the proper technique before attempting this workout. Here’s how to complete the Jackie WOD, step-by-step, for your best score yet.

How To Row in CrossFit

In CrossFit, you row on a stationary erg, or simply, a rowing machine. Done correctly, rowing on an erg looks fluid and powerful, without any awkward pauses or “catching” motions. Initiate each row stroke with your legs, pushing through your heels like you would when performing a squat. After your knees and hips extend, lean your torso backward slightly and pull the erg handle into the center of your chest. Keep your elbows pointed down and back, rather than up and sideways. Learn more about rowing technique in CrossFit.  

How To Do Thrusters

A barbell thruster involves a front squat and an overhead press combined into one seamless movement. Follow these steps to complete a thruster: 

  1. Start by standing with the barbell in the front rack position. The bar should rest across your collarbones and your elbows should be pointing forward, with your triceps parallel to the ground. 
  2. Initiate the front squat by hinging at the hips, then bending your knees and descending into the bottom position. Keep your knees in line with your toes and keep your torso upright. Your core should stay engaged as you descend.
  3. Ascend from the squat (keep your core tight!) and — as soon as your hips fully extend at the top — use your arms to send the barbell overhead. 
  4. The movement is complete when your elbows fully lock out overhead. Return the bar to the front rack position. 
  5. If you have experience with barbell thrusters, you can fluidly begin another rep by descending into a front squat as soon as the barbell touches your collarbones. If you’re new to barbell thrusters, you may want to re-rack the barbell before beginning another rep. To re-rack, adjust the barbel and your feet to get into a comfortable stance. 

How To Do Pull-ups in CrossFit

There are a few variations of the pull-up in CrossFit: There’s the strict pull-up, the kipping pull-up, and the chest-to-bar pull-up. In Jackie, you’ll do kipping pull-ups. 

Kipping pull-ups involve moving your body from an arch position to a “hollow” position in order to create momentum. This momentum makes it easier for you to swing your bodyweight up to the pull-up bar, allowing you to complete more reps in less time.

Some people don't consider kipping pull-ups as "real" pull-ups, but in CrossFit, they are seen as a more efficient way to perform pull-ups. Keep in mind that efficiency doesn't necessarily correlate to ease — kipping pull-ups are still a tough movement that requires a great deal of body awareness and technical skill.


Learn more about pull-ups
or watch a video on how to perform kipping pull-ups in CrossFit. 

Common Mistakes

As with all workouts, there is room for error in the Jackie WOD, particularly in the case of barbell thrusters and kipping pull-ups. Watch out for these common mistakes. 

Pacing Incorrectly

Aside from bad form, poor pacing may be the number-one mistake made in the Jackie WOD. To avoid burning out your muscles too quickly, you must have a good idea of your rowing pace, as well as how quickly you can complete thrusters and pull-ups. Starting too fast right out of the gate can cause you to pitter out just a few minutes into the WOD, in which case you might risk not completing the workout.

You’ll want to consider your 500-meter split for the row and your set/rep scheme for the other movements. 

For example, a pacing plan for an intermediate athlete might look like this: 

  • Four minutes for the 1,000-meter row (2-minute 500-meter split). 
  • Five sets of 10 on the barbell thrusters
  • Six sets of five pull-ups 

For an advanced athlete, it might look like this: 

  • Three and a half minutes for the 1,000 meter row (1 minute, 45-second split)
  • Two sets of 20 and one set of 10 barbell thrusters
  • Three sets of 10 pull-ups

Thruster Technique Mistakes

The barbell thruster involves two movements that require good weightlifting form: the front squat and the overhead press. Make sure to avoid these technique mistakes during the thrusters in Jackie: 

  • Weak core (keep your belly tucked in and core tight) 
  • Elbows and chest dipping forward in the front squat (chest up, elbows forward)
  • Coming onto toes during front squat (keep your heels on the ground)
  • Not fully locking out overhead (extend your elbows all the way) 
  • Starting the next thruster too early (wait until the barbell touches your shoulders to begin another front squat)

Not Modifying Pull-ups

It’s a big deal to get your first pull-up in CrossFit, and you should certainly celebrate when you achieve that milestone! However, 30 pull-ups is a lot for most beginners and even many intermediate athletes. If you think you won’t be able to complete 30 unassisted kipping pull-ups, modify them for this workout. 

Here are some ways you can modify pull-ups:

If you have some experience with kipping pull-ups, but 30 still sounds like a lot, try breaking them up into small sets or even doing one rep at a time. Breaking the reps into small sets from the get-go can preserve your energy and allow you to finish the workout efficiently. 

Modifications and Variations

CrossFit designs workouts to be scalable, or adaptable to any fitness level. You can modify the Jackie WOD to be easier, harder, or even modify it to tax your body in a different way. Here’s how. 

Beginner Jackie

Beginners may wish to scale the workload of Jackie. For example, some beginners may not be able to complete a 1,000-meter row. In that case, scale the row to 500 meters. Likewise, you can scale the rep count for the thrusters and pull-ups. 

Here’s a sample beginner version of Jackie:

  • 500-meter row.
  • 25 thrusters (45 pounds/35 pounds)
  • 15 pull-ups (modified if needed)

Angry Jackie

This aptly named version of Jackie is longer and more intense than the original version, which may leave athletes frustrated with the workout. It also prescribes heavier weights. In Angry Jackie, you’ll do a 2,000-meter row, 50 barbell thrusters (95 pounds for men, 65 pounds for women), and 30 bar muscle-ups

Running Jackie

This version of Jackie is the same as the original, except the first portion is a 1,000-meter run instead of a 1,000-meter row. 

Safety and Precautions

You should take precautions to ensure safety before and during any workout, but particularly during fast-paced, high-intensity workouts like those in CrossFit. Here are some things to keep in mind when attempting the Jackie WOD. 

Fuel your body

To get your best score on Jackie, you should fuel up properly before the workout. You can eat a full meal two to three hours before the WOD, or eat a smaller meal or snack 30 to 60 minutes before the WOD.

Your pre-workout grub should contain plenty of complex carbohydrates to give your muscles energy. You can also opt to include a small portion of healthy fats to keep you full, but try to avoid large portions of high-fat or high-protein foods before an intense workout as those foods are harder for your body to digest.. 

Warm up 

You should precede every workout with a general warmup, which includes a few minutes of monostructural (cardio) movement, such as jogging, cycling, or rowing. Your general warmup can also include dynamic stretching and foam rolling, both of which are great for opening up your joints and priming your body for exercise. A good warmup lasts at least five minutes, but preferably 15 to 20 minutes. 

Mobilize for Thrusters

A proper thruster requires mobility in the hips, ankles, spine, wrists, shoulders, and elbows — so, essentially everywhere. As part of your warmup, complete some dynamic stretches and mobilizing movements to prepare for front squats and overhead presses. You might include Cossack squats, goblet squats, wrist circles and stretches, and downward dog. You may also want to foam roll your upper spine.

Prepare Your Shoulders

Between thrusters and kipping pull-ups, your shoulder will take quite a beating during the Jackie WOD. Combat any potential injuries by fully warming up and mobilizing your shoulders. Do arm circles, internal and external rotations, overhead presses with dumbbells, and other great shoulder exercises. Just be sure to keep any weights very light during your warmup so you don’t wear yourself out before the workout! 

Cool Down

After you finish Jackie, make sure to spend five to 20 minutes cooling down — after giving yourself a pat on the back, that is. Great job for completing this tough workout! During your cool down, you can go for a short walk, do some static stretches, and foam roll your legs, arms, and back. 

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Article Sources

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  1. CrossFit Level-One Training Guide. (2019). 2nd ed. [ebook] CrossFit, p.20. Available at: http://library.crossfit.com/free/pdf/CFJ_English_Level1_TrainingGuide.pdf.

  2. Glassman, G. (2002). What Is Fitness?. The CrossFit Journal. [online] Available at: https://journal.crossfit.com/article/what-is-fitness.

  3. Gordon, J. (2019). Scaling CrossFit Workouts. The CrossFit Journal. [online] Available at: https://journal.crossfit.com/article/cfj-scaling-crossfit-workouts.