The Newport Crippler WOD: Goal Times, Tips, and Safety

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CrossFit benchmark workouts encompass two categories: “The Girls” and the Hero WODs. Every once in a while, however, a unique workout will become so popular and so widely performed that it becomes a benchmark workout despite not falling into one of those categories. 

The Newport Crippler WOD is one of those workouts. Its origin is unclear, although a simple Google search for the WOD name will return several pages of results, including a variety of individually owned CrossFit gyms with the Newport Crippler posted as the workout of the day

According to WODWell, a database of CrossFit workouts, there are several variations of the Newport Crippler WOD, and one of the oldest versions dates back to 2012. 

To do the Newport Crippler CrossFit WOD, complete the following:

  • 30 back squats (225 pounds for men, 155 pounds for women)
  • One mile run 

The Newport Crippler CrossFit WOD

Also Known As: The Crippler, Newport Beach Crippler

Score: For time. Complete the reps and run as fast as possible.

Equipment Needed: Barbell, barbell rack, plates. 

Level: The weights in this WOD are heavy, but the movements are basic. Beginners can complete this workout with lighter weights.

Goal Times: 

  • Beginner: 16 to 20 minutes
  • Intermediate: 13 to 16 minutes
  • Advanced: 11 to 12 minutes
  • Elite: 8 to 10 minutes

Benefits

The Newport Crippler WOD is a unique CrossFit workout in that it isolates the lower body. Usually, CrossFit workouts include exercises that utilize muscles from every group. That said, the Newport Crippler WOD presents some distinctive challenges, which can lead to the following fitness benefits.

Cardiovascular Endurance

Point blank, running a mile is hard. Running it fast is very hard. Running a mile fast after completing 30 heavy back squats is very, very hard. The Newport Crippler WOD will challenge your ability to keep putting one foot in front of the other when, as you might suspect, all you want to do is stop and sit down. 

Muscular Endurance 

Going straight from squats to running presents a serious challenge for your legs. You might feel like you have wobbly knees or legs full of lead during your run—don’t worry, that’s just your legs working hard and gaining muscular endurance! Muscular endurance is different from cardiovascular endurance in that it refers to how long your muscles can keep moving under a given load or tension.

Lower Body Strength

The prescribed weights for the Newport Crippler WOD aren’t light. For some, they might feel moderate, but for the average person, 225 pounds and 155 pounds is a lot to lift (especially for 30 reps!). Whatever weight you choose, you can rest assured the Newport Crippler WOD will improve your lower body strength. 

Step-by-Step Instructions

The Newport Crippler WOD looks deceivingly easy on paper. After all, how hard can it be to do 30 squats and run one mile? For most people who do CrossFit, 30 reps aren’t much, and even beginners can run a mile if they pace themselves correctly (even if walking intervals are needed). 

But, any coach can almost guarantee you that attempting a one-mile run after 30 heavyweight squats will result in Jello legs, so it’s a smart idea to approach the Newport Crippler with some strategy rather than just going all out. 

This workout should feel very tough, and your legs and lungs should be burning the entire time. It’s a quick workout, no doubt. However, that doesn’t mean you should approach it with an “all-out” mindset. Below, find some tips for pacing both the squats and the mile run.

How to Do Back Squats

Barbell back squats are one of the most foundational, functional movements in any fitness program. Everyone should master the barbell squat, and you can too by following these steps:

  1. Set up your barbell on a barbell rack at about the height of your collarbone. You should be able to duck under the bar and lift it off of the rack without coming onto your tippy toes. Make sure to clip the weights on so they don’t slip.
  2. Take the barbell off of the rack. To do so, duck under the bar, position it across the backs of your shoulders, and stand up tall. Wrap your hands around the barbell with your palms facing forward. 
  3. Engage your core. Take a deep breath and pull your navel into your spine. Keep your spine in a neutral position and look forward. 
  4. Begin the descent. Hinge at your hips and bend your knees. Lower yourself into the bottom of the squat, pushing your knees out and keeping your heels flat on the floor. Don’t allow your torso to fall forward—keep your chest high. 
  5. Drive through your heels to stand back up, fully extending your hips at the top. 
  6. Repeat steps three through five until you finish 30 reps. 

Don’t feel like you need to do all of the reps unbroken during the Newport Crippler WOD. You can attack your back squats in whatever rep scheme feels right to you, which will largely depend on the weight you choose. 

Try any of the following: 

  • Two sets of 15 
  • Three sets of 10 
  • Five sets of six
  • Six sets of five 

Tips for Running the Mile

There’s a CrossFit complex that seems to stipulate that all running must be done at maximum effort levels all the time. This is especially true for WODs like the Newport Crippler, where the bulk of (and the last portion of) the workout is pure running. 

As a certified CrossFit trainer, I’m inclined to tell you to ignore that pervasive “rule” and focus on breathing and pacing instead. Your legs, lungs, heart, and head will thank you for it, when you don’t stumble back into the gym ready to keel over because you didn’t give any mind to your pace.

Don’t get me wrong: there’s nothing wrong with going fast. The problem arises when people run too fast, too quickly. AKA, they sprint the first quarter-mile and quickly peter out, only to spend the rest of the mile attempting to sustain their pace (but can’t). 

To pace yourself for a mile run, use your average 400-meter time, multiply it by four (a mile is 1600 meters), and add a minute. Aim for that time or faster.

For example, let’s say you run 400 meters in two minutes on average. Two times four is eight, plus a minute is nine. The reason for adding a minute is because you likely can’t sustain your average 400-meter pace for 1600 meters. Plus, your legs will be tired from the squats. 

Common Mistakes

Both back squats and running can get the best of many CrossFit athletes despite being simple and foundational exercises. Keep these common mistakes in mind as you move through the Newport Crippler WOD.

Back Squat Mistakes 

30 squats might sound simple enough, but when adding in heavy weights, it's important to pay attention to possible blunders.

Rep Scheme

If you’re using a heavy weight, make sure to break up the reps in a way that makes sense for you. Trying to complete all 30 reps unbroken is generally a bad strategy unless you’re an advanced or elite athlete and feel very confident in your ability to do so. Remember that you still have to run a mile after doing the squats!

Heels Come Off Ground

This typically happens due to poor ankle mobility. If your heels come off of the ground during a squat, it can put excess pressure on your knees and spine. Add some mobility drills to your warmup if you struggle with this. 

Torso Falls Forward

This is another common squat fault due either to poor mobility or a weak core. People with tight ankles and hips might find that they can’t keep their chest up high as they descend into a squat. The same goes for people who need to work on their core strength. 

Running Mistakes

The main mistake that people make while running is a failure to pace themselves. People who don’t have much experience running tend to start too fast and end with a struggle. For the Newport Crippler WOD, remember the formula discussed earlier: take your average 400-meter run time, multiply it by four, and add a minute. Aim for that, and enjoy it as a bonus if you finish faster!

Other than pacing, be aware of a few key running technique mistakes that can make or break your run. Mainly, keep your eyes forward and chin up (don’t look at the ground), and relax your shoulders. Many people tend to shrug their shoulders up while they run, which is just a waste of energy and can make your neck sore. 

Modifications and Variations

Always talk to a CrossFit coach about scaling workouts and the best modification options for you. If you’re planning to do the Newport Crippler WOD, you can ask your coach about these modifications for squats and running. 

Back Squat Modifications 

If 30 heavyweight squats just aren't cutting it for you, try modifying down to one of these exercises instead.

Goblet Squats

For anyone who can’t load their spine with weight on a barbell—whether due to injury or just because they’re not ready yet—can try goblet squats. Hold a kettlebell with both hands at chest level. This modification allows you to use weight without overloading the spine, and a bonus is that it’s great for strengthening the core and upper body.

Bodyweight squats: Also called air squats, bodyweight squats refer to squatting with no weight. Beginners should master bodyweight squats before using weight.

Running Modifications

Those with knee problems may opt for an alternative to running, such as rowing or cycling.

Rowing

If you can’t run due to an injury or pregnancy, you can use a rowing erg instead. The standard conversion is 500 meters of rowing for every 400 meters of running, so for the Newport Crippler WOD, you would row 2,000 meters. 

Cycling

Most CrossFit gyms have stationary bikes, which you can use in place of running for any reason. Cycle half a mile for every 400 meters of running. For the Newport Crippler WOD, that comes out to two miles of cycling. 

Beginner Newport Crippler
  • 30 back squats (105 pounds for men, 55 pounds for women)

  • 800-meter run

Intermediate Newport Crippler
  • 30 back squats (135 pounds for men, 95 pounds for women) 

  • 1 mile run

Safety and Precautions

Warming up and cooling down is necessary to reduce your risk of injury when working out.

Warm Up 

A good warm-up is key to good performance. Focus on your hips, ankles, glutes, and hamstrings—you won’t be using much of your upper body in the Newport Crippler WOD, but don’t entirely neglect your arms and shoulders in the warmup. Spend a few minutes getting the blood flowing throughout your body.

Cool Down 

The Newport Crippler is going to be a tough one on your legs. When you’re done, spend a few moments doing some easy cycling or walking to keep blood circulating. Foam rolling and stretching may also help prevent post-workout soreness. 

Scale Appropriately

The most important precaution you can take is to scale the workout appropriately. It’s so important not to let ego, pride, or intimidation influence you to use a heavier weight than what’s safe for your current fitness level. In CrossFit, scaling is the number-one way to prevent injuries.

Make Space

If you’re working out in a group, make sure you and everyone around you has enough room to safely perform barbell squats. 

Know How to Bail

In the unlikely case that you go down for a squat and can’t stand back up, you need to know how to safely bail your barbell. If you find yourself stuck in the bottom of a barbell back squat, push your hips forward to shift onto your knees and simultaneously use your arms to push the barbell off of your shoulders and behind you. Your body and the bar must move in opposite directions. If you’re working out in a group, yell “Bail!” before bailing, so anyone in the path of the barbell can move.

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Article Sources
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  • CrossFit Level One Training Guide, Second Edition. CrossFit; 2019.

  • “The Crippler” WOD. WODWell; 2019.