The Lynne CrossFit WoD: Goal Reps, Tips, and Safety

A man performing a bench press with a barbell and weights in a gym.

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CrossFit, the popular functional fitness regimen with licensed gyms across the world, is in part known for its “Girl” workouts of the day (WoDs). These Girl WoDs are infamous for their grueling properties. Designed to challenge even the elitist of CrossFit athletes, the Girl workouts encompass some of the toughest CrossFit movements ever developed. 

In contrast, some of the Girl WoDs include the most basic of exercises—the ones you would likely see people performing at any given time in any given gym. The Lynne CrossFit WoD is one such workout. It includes just two movements, the bench press and the pull-up, both of which most people are familiar with. 

Yet CrossFitters from all over regard the Lynne WoD as one of the toughest CrossFit benchmark workouts. This may be partly due to the workout’s unique structure that leaves the level of toughness up to you. 

The Lynne “Girl” WoD is as follows: 

5 rounds for time:

  • Max bench press (bodyweight)
  • Max pull-ups

Rest as needed between movements and rounds.

The "Lynne" CrossFit Girl WoD

Score: The Lynne WoD is scored for reps, meaning you aim for as many reps as you can possibly get on each set. 

Goal Reps: Beginner: less than 100 reps. Intermediate: 125-225 reps. Advanced: 250-350 reps. Elite: 400+ reps.

Equipment Needed: Barbell, bumper plates, barbell clips, pull-up bar or rig

Level: This WoD is challenging, but can be modified for all fitness levels, including beginners.

Every Girl WoD has a history; the Lynne WoD is no different. A version of the Lynne WoD was first posted as an unnamed workout on the CrossFit main website on May 12, 2004 (workout 040512, as the WoDs used to be named as the date they were posted). The benchmark version used today was first posted on Friday, April 8, 2005 (workout 050408).

The Lynne WoD is named after Lynne Pitts, a former competitive powerlifter and CrossFit athlete who eventually became a CrossFit HQ employee. 


According to The CrossFit Journal
, Pitts posted an incredibly impressive score on the CrossFit website. CrossFit’s then-CEO Greg Glassman noticed and named the workout after her, writing in the comments, “Congratulations, Lynne! This workout will bear your name from here on!”

Benefits

Every CrossFit Girl WoD offers a unique set of benefits. When you do the Lynne WoD, you can expect to gain upper body strength, improve your muscular endurance, and learn how to make mind-muscle connections. 

Upper Body Strength

The bench press and pull-up combo in the Lynne WoD makes for a spicy upper-body workout. Bench pressing works your pectoralis muscles (chest), as well as your shoulders and triceps. Pull-ups—kipping or strict—work your biceps, upper back, lower back, shoulders and chest. 

Muscular Endurance 

Muscular endurance refers to how long your muscles can sustain an exercise. Repeating max sets of an exercise is a fantastic way to build muscular endurance, because you push your muscles to their maximum capacity, whereas training at submaximal sets may only result in submaximal improvements. 

Mind-Body Awareness and Smart Pacing

There’s something very unusual about the Lynne WoD: you can take as long as you want with it. 

“Wait, what?!” most CrossFitters would ask, even advanced athletes. It’s an unusual concept indeed for CrossFit, a sport wherein the typical goal is to move and finish as quickly as possible. 

Thus, the Lynne WoD presents a unique challenge for CrossFitters. You must be in tune with your body to pace yourself smartly and move smoothly through all five rounds. Of course, you can rest as long as you want between movements and rounds, but it’s a good idea to have a timeframe in mind unless you want to work through the Lynne WoD for an hour or more. 

This practice of careful pacing with weightlifting can help build mind-body awareness, or the art of listening to your body speak, a crucial skill for exercising in general.

Step-by-Step Instructions

To reach your optimal potential on the Lynne WoD, follow these step-by-step tips for setting up and for each movement. 

Set Up for the Lynne WoD

For the Lynne WoD, you’ll need to set up a barbell loaded equal to your body weight. Make sure your bench is sturdy and your barbell is racked at an appropriate height. Ensure the area is clear of stray objects for safety. If you plan on taking breaks in between sets and rounds, it’s a good idea to keep your water bottle nearby to sip on during rest intervals. 

How To Bench Press

It's important to maintain good form throughout a bench press to reduce risk of injury and ensure you get the maximum benefits.

  1. After your bench and barbell are set up, lie face-up on the bench. Your feet should be flat on the ground, with your shoulders and lower back pressing into the bench. It’s okay to have a small arch in your lower back, but don’t overextend. 
  2. Grip the barbell with your hands slightly wider than shoulder-width. Make sure the bar rests snugly in your palm. Wrap your hand all the way around the bar. 
  3. Straighten your elbows to lift the bar out of the barbell rack. 
  4. With control, lower the weight to your chest. Make sure to keep your elbows tucked close to your torso—don’t let them flare out. 
  5. Once the barbell grazes your sternum, begin to extend your arms to push the weight back up. 
  6. The rep is completed when you lock out your elbows at the top. Once you lock out, begin to lower the barbell for another rep. Keep repeating until you reach your maximum capacity or are just short of failure.

How To Do Pull-Ups

This how-to discusses kipping pull-ups, which are the accepted standard in CrossFit. If you’re interested in doing strict pull-ups for the Lynne CrossFit WoD, see this step-by-step guide.

  1. Jump or step up to grip the pull-up bar. Place your hands slightly wider than your shoulders. Wrap your palm and thumb around the bar fully, making sure to get a full grip on the bar. Don’t rely on just your fingers to keep you up. 
  2. The “hollow” position is the first part of the kip. Visualize yourself lying face-up on the ground, pressing your lower back into the ground, with your legs and shoulders lifted. Try to mimic that same position while hanging from the bar. You must engage your core to achieve the hollow position. 
  3. The arch is the second portion of the kip. To move from the hollow into the arch position, push your head through the window of your arms, arch your back, and send your feet behind you. To visualize, picture a string attached to your hands and feet, pulling them closer together.
  4. Kipping involves alternating between the arch and hollow positions: Begin in the hollow position, transition to an arch, and move back to the hollow position. 
  5. As you move into the second hollow (at the tail-end of the kip), use your arms and back muscles to pull your body up until your chin surpasses the height of the bar. 
  6. Once you reach the top position in the pull-up, lower yourself by extending your arms with control. Think about pushing away from the bar to transition back into the arch position. From there, perform another kipping pull-up. Repeat until you finish a max-rep set.

Common Mistakes

Working out in general presents opportunities for mistakes and potential injuries, but CrossFit—due to its emphasis on speed and heavy lifting—can be particularly dangerous if you don’t use the proper technique or push yourself too hard. Watch out for these common mistakes to have a safe experience with the Lynne WoD. 

Doing too Many Reps in the First Round

Yes, the workout prescription says you should perform maximum reps for each set and each round, but don’t take that to mean you should work to failure on each set. Instead, pay attention to your body (remember the mind-muscle connection mentioned earlier?) and stop a few reps short of failure. This ensures you won’t have to take excessive rest intervals and will still be able to achieve an impressive number of reps on each round.

Loading Your Barbell too Heavy

The barbell weight is also prescribed. As written, athletes perform the Lynne WoD with a barbell weighing the same as their body weight. So, if you weigh 150 pounds, you would load the barbell with 150 pounds. 

If you can’t bench press your body weight for more than a few reps, you should reduce the weight. At the very least, you should be able to perform five reps with your body weight on the bar for each round. If that doesn’t sound doable, go lighter.

Not Using an Appropriate Pull-Up Modification

Similar to the above, consider modifying the pull-ups if you can’t do more than five or 10 kipping pull-ups. In the Modifications and Variations section below, you’ll learn about several pull-up modifications to try. 

Modifications and Variations

As with all CrossFit workouts, you can modify the Lynne WoD to match your current fitness level. If the Lynne WoD is too difficult for you as written, try one of these modifications for movements, or one of the Lynne variations below. 

Workout Modifications

If you need to, you could make modifications to the entire workout. This could mean adding in specific rest intervals, specifying the rep count, or both. For example, if you don’t jive with the idea of unlimited rest intervals or maximum reps, you could do the following: 

  • 15 reps bench press
  • 15 pull-ups 
  • Rest two minutes

Any variation of that could give the Lynne WoD more structure, which is helpful for beginner athletes. 

Bench Press Modifications

If the prescribed bench press doesn't work for you, try one of these options.

Dumbbell Bench Press

For people with limited mobility, dumbbell bench presses can offer a way to work with chest and shoulder muscles without tightness or pain in the shoulders or upper back. To do a dumbbell bench press for the Lynne WoD, choose dumbbells that are light enough for you to perform high-rep sets while maintaining good form. 

Grip Modifications

For people with shoulder injuries, a standard bench press grip might aggravate the injury, causing pain or tightness. To avoid this, experiment with grip widths. You can try a narrow grip or a wide grip, but make sure to maintain the following key techniques while bench pressing: 

  • Maintain the natural arch of your back (don’t overextend or overflex)
  • Maintain a solid, engaged core (avoid rotating one way or the other)
  • Lift the barbell slowly and with control 
  • Keep the shoulders pressed into the bench

Pull-Up Modifications

If you aren't quite ready for a true pull-up, any of these modified versions will do just fine in the Lynne WoD.

TRX Row

TRX or suspension rows are a great way for beginners to get used to a pulling motion. This exercise trains a horizontal pull rather than a vertical pull, but still increases back and core strength. 

Jumping Pull-Up

Jumping pull-ups offer a way for beginners to practice good pull-up technique without overtaxing the arms, shoulders, or back. To do jumping pull-ups, place a box or bench beneath a pull-up bar. When standing on the box or bench, your chin should be slightly lower than the bar. 

With your feet flat on the box, bend your knees and extend your arms. Then, jump and pull to get your chin over the bar. 

Banded Pull-Up

Like jumping pull-ups, banded pull-ups offer a way to offset the resistance of your body weight. This modification involves wrapping a thick resistance band around a pull-up bar and putting your feet in the other end. Here’s a helpful video demonstration of banded pull-ups.

Pregnancy Modifications

If you’re pregnant, pull-ups may feel uncomfortable or painful because of the pressure on your abdomen. Some pregnant women find success substituting TRX or suspension rows in place of pull-ups, or simply a barbell or dumbbell bent-over row. 

Injury Modifications

If you’re injured, ask your coach about specific modifications you can make to avoid aggravating your injury further. People who have shoulder or back injuries should take extra caution with this WoD. 

Beginner and Advanced Versions

Beginner "Lynne"
  • 5 rounds of: 

    • Max reps bench press at 50% of bodyweight
    • Max reps jumping pull-ups 

    Rest as needed.

Advanced "Lynne"
  • 5 rounds of: 

    • Max reps bench press (bodyweight)
    • Max reps strict pull-ups 

    Rest two minutes between rounds.

Safety and Precautions

Before attempting the Lynne CrossFit WoD, make sure to take some simple but effective precautions. The following can help you avoid injury, dehydration, and exhaustion. 

  • Do a thorough warmup, complete with some light cardio to get blood flowing, dynamic exercises for your shoulders, and mobility work if needed. 
  • Eat before you start the workout. 
  • Hydrate before the workout and also keep fluids nearby during the workout. 
  • Cool down with some light movement and stretching. 
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