WOD Strats – Cindy Workout – A Beastly Strategy Guaranteed to Improve Your PR
updated September 5, 2018
One of the great attractions of Crossfit workouts is that they allow you get a killer of a workout into a compressed time span. On of the best choices that you can make when you’ve only got a limited amount of time to train is the ‘Cindy’ WOD.
Don’t be fooled by the name - Cindy is one tough mother of a workout. Here is what it involves:
- 5 pull ups
- 10 push ups
- 15 air squats
But that’s not it - you keep going, and going and going . . . until 20 minutes is up. Your goal is to get as many reps as you can within the 20 minutes.
One of the great things about Cindy is that you can do it with hardly any equipment. All you will need is a pull up bar and your body. Because each of these three movements hits different muscles in your body, you will be able to move fluidly from one movement to the next without taking any rest. The pull ups are all about the lats and biceps. When you move on to the push ups, which target the chest and triceps, your back and bis get some respite. Likewise, when you do your air squats, the upper body muscles get a break.
What Numbers Should I Aim For?
We all need a goal to work towards, so here are the targets for Cindy, broken down to ability levels:
- Level 1: 15-20 rounds
- Level 2: 20-30 rounds
- Level 3: 30-35 rounds
- Elite: 35+ rounds
Scaling Up to Cindy
If you’re not ready to take on the Cindy as prescribed, don’t worry. There are a number of things that you can do to scale down this workout according to your ability levels.
Let’s take a look at them, exercise by exercise:
Perform box squats to go down to a parallel squat level. You can also squat holding a rig or a ring
Perform banded pull ups if you are unable to perform the exercise without assistance. Alternatively, you can perform jumping pull ups, ring rows, the TRX body row or banded pull downs. If you have access to one, you can also use an assisted pullup machine.
If you cannot perform normal pushups as the rounds go by, you may drop to your knees. To increase the intensity you may do push ups on an incline box, from a bench, using the TRX suspension strap or using a bar in a rack.
You may also choose to scale the entire WOD by reducing the time to 15 minutes and / or changing the rep scheme to 9, 6 and 3 (air squats, push ups, pull ups).
Let’s break down our Cindy strategies in terms of exercise.
With this version, you replace the thrusters with power cleans. Apart from this change, it is the same workout;
- Grab the Pull Up bar with an underhand close grip so that the palms are about six inches apart. Hang loosely to fully extend your body.
- Pull from the biceps to bring your chin up to the bar. At the top position hold for 2 seconds as you forcefully contract the biceps.
- Lower under control until your body is again fully extended. Repeat the movement making sure that you don’t ‘kip’ your body to use momentum to come up – it must all be bicep and back power.
Pull Ups are the hardest of the three exercises in the Cindy workout. They are the one that you will be probably fail to hit your required reps on first. When you get into 10 plus rounds, you will more than likely find yourself failing after 3 or so reps. The good news is that you will recover quite quickly. Ideally you want to be on a chin up apparatus, such as a power rack, where you can rest in an upright position where you don’t have to jump down from the bar (with a power rack you can rest your feet on the safety bars to the sides). Only allow yourself a maximum of 10 seconds between reps.
- Lie on your belly with your legs straight behind you and your feet together, the balls of your feet on the floor, and your heels in the air. Place your palms on the floor so they’re at chest level and directly under your elbows.
- Straighten your arms so that your body rises off the floor, keeping your neck straight and your chest lifted, your eyes focused on the floor slightly ahead of you, your abs held tight, and your body as straight as a board. Slowly bend your arms and lower your body toward the floor until your elbows are bent at a 90-degree angle and your upper arms are parallel to the floor; if this is too difficult, lower yourself just halfway down. Exhale then push back up to the starting position.
Of course, it is very easy to start cheating on push ups, especially when you are focused on going for time. Do not be the person who does this. You will not be benefiting yourself. All you will be doing is deluding yourself into thinking that you are fitter than you actually are. Therefore, do not start performing quarter push ups, lifting your butt up into the air or dropping your head so that you are only moving a couple of inches. Do the exercise properly, making sure to get a full extension so that your chest touches the floor and your arms are at full extension.
The air squat is a deceptively simple move. But after a while, you will be tempted to fall into improper form. Usually this will evidence itself by not maintaining a neutral spine (such as by rounding your back) or by not going down far enough on the squat. Follow these guidelines to make sure that you keep it clean:
- Stand with feet shoulder width apart, your feet parallel and toes pointing forward.
- Stretch your arms out parallel as you lower down into a squat position. Go down until your hamstrings are parallel to the floor. Keep your back arched as you sit back as deep as you can.
- Squeeze the hips forward as you push back up. Exhale as you come up. To make the exercise more challenging go into a full, deep squat.
Once you have got your form down on all three exercises, and are determined to maintain proper form once you begin to get fatigued, you need to make sure that your transitions between moves don’t waste time.
You should be able to move quickly from one move to the next in less than five seconds, even as you fatigue in the later rounds. Because you are able to rest the muscles worked on the previous exercises while doing the next one, you will able to keep pushing the fluidity of the exercises. As things get tougher, the challenge will be more mental than physical.
Break It Down
Even though twenty minutes is a relatively short period of time to work out, it is still a long time to be working out without a break, which is what you will be doing. That is why you need to break that twenty minutes up in your mind to allow you to stay focused.
We suggest breaking the twenty minute workout into four sets of five minutes. Now set a goal of how many sets you will be doing in that five minutes. So, if your goal is to get 30 rounds in twenty minutes, balance that total out over four sessions. Common sense will dictate that you will be able to do more rounds in the earlier rounds. That being the case, here is an example of how you can break it down:
- First 5 minutes = 8 rounds
- Second 5 minutes = 8 rounds
- Third 5 minutes = 7 rounds
- Fourth 5 minutes = 6 rounds
All you need to do now is to focus on hitting your five minute goal.
Break It Down
While you do not want to fatigue yourself begin, you begin the Cindy WOD, you still need to be sufficiently warmed up. Here’s how you can do it:
- Perform a few air squats, scapular hangs (pull your shoulder blades together) and incline push ups. Then perform a round of Cindy at 50 % effort.
Final Cindy WOD Tips
- Tell yourself that quitting is NOT an option. Repeat this mantra from the 15 minute mark onward.
- Focus on your breathing, slowing it down and breathing through your diaphragm
- Visualize - mentally rehearse your workout before you do it. See yourself completing your workout perfectly with no rest - and smashing out your goal. Then it is simply a matter of following through
- You can make up speed on air squats in the later rounds - just do not compromise on your form at this stage of the workout
- Keep all three exercises within close proximity of each other - you do not want to be wasting time running across the room!
Other WOD Strats
On the minute (until you complete 100 reps of thrusters).