The Linda WoD: Goal Times, Tips, and Safety

A male weightlifter sets up for a power clean.
Getty Images.

Though CrossFit’s claim to fame is its “constantly varied” workouts, there are a few particular movements that don’t show up often in CrossFit WODs. One of those is the bench press. In fact, the “Linda” WOD is the only CrossFit benchmark workout to include the bench press, which, in most other sports that involve lifting weights, is a staple exercise. WOD stands for workout of the day.

In CrossFit, a benchmark workout is one you retest over time to measure your fitness progress, with the “Girl” benchmarks being the most widely known and used. The Girl WODs comprise a group of special workouts designed by CrossFit founder Greg Glassman, all of which intend to measure different key aspects of fitness.

These WODs all consist of at least two elements of CrossFit’s 10 general physical skills: cardiovascular/respiratory endurance, stamina, strength, flexibility, power, speed, coordination, agility, balance, and accuracy.

Linda, in particular, tests your strength, power, speed, and stamina. 

Curious yet as to what this CrossFit Girl workout entails? Linda is as follows: 

10-9-8-7-6-5-4-3-2-1 reps of this triplet: 

  • Deadlifts at 1.5 times your body weight
  • Bench presses at half your body weight
  • Cleans at 75 percent of your body weight 

The rep scheme means you complete 10 deadlifts, 10 bench presses, and 10 cleans; then nine of each; then eight of each; and so forth until you complete all of the rounds, all the way to one rep of each movement. 

The Linda CrossFit "Girl" WOD

Score: For time. Try Linda and record your best score.

Goal Times: Beginner: 28-32 minutes. Intermediate: 19-25 minutes. Advanced: 14-17 minutes. Elite: 11-13 minutes.

Equipment Needed: Three barbells, bumper plates, a bench, and a barbell rack.

Level: This WOD may not be appropriate for beginners who have yet to demonstrate proper form in the three lifts. Linda is best suited for intermediate to advanced athletes. 

Benefits

CrossFit programs workouts based on the aforementioned 10 general physical skills to train people for what it calls “general physical preparedness” or GPP. The idea behind GPP is that it prepares you for anything life might throw at you — think of it as being very well-rounded instead of highly specializing in one area. Every Every CrossFit WOD tests some, if not all of the 10, but each one is focused on a few main skills. The Linda WOD encompasses, mainly, the following four of the 10 general physical skills. 

Strength

As a weightlifting workout, Linda primarily tests your strength. Deadlifts, bench presses, and cleans all require the ability to push, pull, and catch weight with great form.

Because the prescribed weights are percentages of your own body weight, the strength-building stimulus of this WOD is exponential: The more muscle you gain, the heavier the weight prescribed weight becomes, thus improving your strength every time you complete the Linda WOD.

Speed

You may not think of Linda as a speedy WOD — in the CrossFit world, anything over 10 minutes is regarded as a lifetime — but advanced and elite CrossFit athletes know that the goal to finish any “for time” workout is to go as fast as possible.

Linda offers the benefit of challenging your capabilities with the barbell, those capabilities being fluidity and speed. 

Power

Deadlifts and bench presses require strict strength, while power cleans require power and explosiveness. The Linda WOD tests your ability to maintain that necessary explosiveness, along with proper form, for 55 power clean reps.

Building power via the clean can translate to all sorts of benefits, from increased hamstring strength to better posture

Stamina

Although most people equate stamina with cardio-heavy workouts, stamina applies to weightlifting, too. As defined by the Oxford dictionary, stamina means “the ability to sustain a prolonged physical or mental effort” — there’s no distinguishing between cardiorespiratory exercise and resistance exercise. You have a great deal of rounds and reps to get through when performing the Linda WOD: Your muscles will endure a lot and muscular endurance plays a huge role in stamina. 

Step-by-Step Instructions

Setup for Linda

Linda is kind of a tricky WOD because you will need three different barbells. It’s just not efficient to load, unload, and reload your barbell for the three different weights you’ll need — it would take an hour to complete this workout that way! You will also need a bench and a barbell rack for the bench press.

Before you start the WOD, make sure you have all of your barbells set up in a way that makes it easy to transition from movement to movement — minimizing time in the transition periods can improve your time by more than you think. Make sure you have safety clips on all of your barbells to keep the weights in place, and ensure that the barbell rack and bench are sturdy.

How To Deadlift

1. Start standing with your feet at hip or shoulder-width, with your feet directly under the barbell.

2. Hinge at the hips, and then the knees, to bend over and grasp the barbell with a firm grip. Your hands should be just outside of your shins. 

3. Make sure the barbell is grazing your shins — keep it this close to your body throughout the entire lift. 

4. Find your neutral spine position and brace your core. 

5. Pull the barbell off the ground in a controlled manner, using the strength of your hamstrings, glutes, and quads. Resist the urge to round your back, and keep your shoulders retracted. 

6. Fully extend your hips and knees so that you are standing up straight. 

7. Lower the barbell back to the ground in a controlled manner. Do not just drop the barbell or bend over and place it on the ground. Reverse the movement by sending your hips backward and keeping the bar close as you descend. 

How To Bench Press

1. Lie with your back flat against the bench. Your face should be beneath the barbell. 

2. Reach up and grab the bar with your hands slightly wider than your shoulders. 

3. Straighten your arms to unrack the barbell.

4. In a slow, controlled manner, lower the bar to your chest. It should gently tap your mid-chest.

5. Without flaring your elbows, press the bar back up until your arms are straight.

How To Power Clean

The power clean is a very technical Olympic lift that has five distinct phases: the setup, the first pull, the second pull, the catch, and the finish. Each phase is essential to completing the lift with good form. Find a full step-by-step how-to of the power clean here

Common Mistakes

While Linda is a pretty simple WOD that just consists of a triplet, it actually leaves quite some room for error, especially when it comes to lifting with proper form — here’s what to look out for. 

Failure to Set Up Properly

Like I mentioned in a previous section, there’s an art to setting up for a WOD like Linda. Not only is proper setup essential to keep you safe, but it can also improve your score for the WOD.

When you set up for Linda, make sure your barbells are relatively close to each other to minimize time spent transitioning. The bench press barbell will be on the barbell rack, while the deadlift and clean barbells will be lined up on the floor. Don’t forget safety clips! You don’t want any plates flying off of the barbell mid-workout.

Common Deadlift Mistakes

For the deadlift, the most important thing is to initiate the pull with your legs, rather than your back. While the deadlift does indeed work your lower back, you want to offset the pressure with power from your legs, glutes, and hips.

Other technique mistakes include improper foot placement (your feet should be at hip or shoulder width), jerking the bar off of the ground (the pull should be controlled), and rounding your back or shoulders (keep your spine neutral!).

Learn more about proper form for deadlifts.

Common Bench Press Mistakes

When you bench press, be aware of the following form mistakes: flaring your elbows, overly arching your back, not touching the bar to your chest, lifting your head or your hips off the bench, and not keeping your feet planted on the floor. 

Learn more about proper form for bench pressing

Common Power Clean Mistakes

As the power clean is a highly technical Olympic lift, a lot can go wrong. Don’t let that scare you from practicing this beneficial movement, but do know that improper form can easily lead to injuries on explosive movements such as the clean.

When performing the clean, make sure you don’t: jerk the bar off the ground too quickly; fail to fully extend your hips (straighten your legs); allow the bar to drift away from your body; or catch the bar in a poor front-rack position. 

Learn more about proper form for power cleans.

Modifications and Variations

As written, Linda is a tough workout, but there are plenty of ways to modify this Girl WOD to suit your current fitness level. 

Scale the Weights 

For many people, deadlifting 1.5 times their body weight is unmanageable — not to mention doing it 55 times. Likewise, bench pressing half of your body weight and cleaning 75 percent of your body weight might just be too much. Don’t hesitate to scale the weights down to something more doable. 

Add Intentional Rest Periods

Advanced and elite athletes can likely sail through the Linda WOD without many breaks in between reps and movements. If you’re just starting out, however, the sheer number of rounds and reps might feel intimidating. By pre-planning rest intervals, you can take some of the pressure off.

A good strategy is to intentionally rest after each set (i.e., after the 10 deadlifts, after the 10 bench press, and so forth). It’s better to pace yourself than to burn out!

Eliminate the Early Rounds

All in all, the full Linda WOD has 165 reps. That’s a lot, especially when the weights are heavy! To reduce overall volume, you can eliminate some of the early rounds. A good starting point is the round of eight, which makes the total volume 108 reps. 

Dumbbell Linda

If you are pregnant, injured, or have a limited range of motion, performing Linda with dumbbells rather than barbells might prove more comfortable.

Dumbbells often allow for more fluid motions, particularly in the Olympic lifts, which includes the clean. You can choose to complete all three movements with dumbbells or pick whichever ones suit your needs. 

Safety and Precautions

Warm-Up Properly

Before engaging in any physical activity, particularly intense exercise, you should complete a general warmup and a specific warmup (if needed). For the Linda WOD, start off with three to five minutes of easy cardiovascular exercise, such as rowing or cycling. Then, move into some dynamic stretching to open up your joints and loosen your muscles. Finally, complete a specific warmup to prepare your body for the demands of Linda.

You should perform reps of the deadlift, bench press, and power clean with an empty barbell and gradually add weight until you reach the weight you’re going to use for the workout. 

Cool Down 

Once you complete Linda (congrats!), make it a point to cool down. Your body needs time to return to its resting state — help your heart rate slow down and calm your nervous system by engaging in a couple minutes of easy cardio exercise, static stretching, and foam rolling. This will help your body recover quicker so you can get back in the gym for your next session. 

Fuel and Hydrate

Linda is by no means an easy WOD. Make sure you can get through it by fueling your body with carbs and protein before your workout, as well as hydrating prior to starting. Refuel with more carbs and protein, plus electrolytes. 

Consider Injuries 

If you’re injured, talk to your CrossFit coach about modifying the workout to accommodate your needs, even if your injury is mostly healed. It’s always better to modify than risk re-injuring yourself or worsening an existing injury.

Was this page helpful?