Cindy WOD: Setup, Safety, and Scaling

Cindy WOD is highly-regarded among the most famous CrossFit workouts. Most coaches even offer it as an appropriate WOD for beginner fitness enthusiasts. 

Cindy WOD is a benchmark workout that measures an athlete’s progress in a set period of 20 minutes. It’s divided into three blocks of pull-ups, push-ups, and air squats. Cindy’s goals are determined by the number of rounds an athlete can do in those 20 minutes. Cindy WOD is used regularly to measure a CrossFitter’s progress throughout their training years. These three “simple” bodyweight exercises are perfect for testing CrossFitter of all fitness levels.

Cindy is a straightforward WOD with no tricky acrobatics or confusing machinery. This is what makes it an iconic workout. If you are to join the CrossFit community, you need to know the basis of Cindy and the primary safety rules. Of course, your coach will indeed explain the workout, but coming prepared with theoretical knowledge will make this WOD even more effective. 

What is Cindy WOD?

cindy wod 101

Cindy is a benchmark WOD practiced in every corner of the CrossFit world. This is a truly an iconic WOD. Everyone in the community knows it and carries nostalgic memories of it. 

However, Cindy cannot be considered a workout for beginners. It’s practiced throughout all the training years to measure the progress. Cindy offers the perfect balance of simplicity and effectiveness. It includes no tricky machinery and is accessible even outside of CrossFit gyms. 

Unfortunately, I found no official information pertaining to the creator of Cindy. Unlike is another popular “girl” WOD Linda – created by Greg Glassman. However, no matter the creator, it’s already become a universal WOD. 

Cindy is an AMRAP workout. (“meaning as many reps s possible,” more on CrossFit terminology in CrossFit 101). An athlete has to complete several rounds of three-exercise circles: 

  • 5 pull-ups 
  • 10 push-ups 
  • 15 air squats 

Time: 20 minutes. 

Scaling 

Cindy scaling is relatively straightforward. First of all, beginner CrossFitter needs to reach full motion during all three exercises. It means the chin should go all the way above the bar every time and chest lower to the max also every time. 

After you reach technical perfection, scaling can be done via increasing the number of rounds per those 20 minutes. 

If you find that bodyweight exercises are no longer a challenge, adding a weighted west is the most effective scaling way to keep Cindy’s integrity! 

There is also scaling down option for total beginners – an assisted pull-up machine if you have access or rubber bands for pull-ups. Push-ups can be done from the knees or reduced to halfway only. Squats should not be a problem. 

What Are Cindy WOD Goals? 

cindy wod crossfit

Considering that Cindy is an AMRAP WOD, the goals are set in the number of rounds an athlete can complete in 20 minutes.

The official criteria set and used by CrossFit coaches are as follows: 

  • Beginner: 11-12 rounds
  • Intermediate: 13-17 rounds
  • Advanced: 19-22 rounds
  • Elite: 24+ rounds

The number of rounds is used to measure your overall fitness progress. 

How to Do Cindy WOD? 

crossfit cindy wod

Cindy WOD includes three basic exercises that most people are familiar with. Still, if you are a newbie, you should know the correct sequence and technique tips. 

  1. 5 Pull-ups: start the WOD under the pull-ups bar (if you use rubber bands or the machine, set them up beforehand). Place your hands in an overhand grip slightly more than a shoulder-width apart as the time starts. If you don’t reach, stand on a bo before the start. Then, lift your feet off the floor, engage your core, and pull your shoulders slightly back and down. Bend your elbows and reach all the way up towards the bard. The pull-up is counted when your chin raises above the bar. Lower to the starting positions (legs lifted) and repeat. 
  2. 10 Push-ups: Then, move away from the bar and prepare for push-ups. Get on the floor in a plank position, hands beneath shoulders and slightly wider. Tighten your core. Slowly bend your elbows and lower your torso until your elbows are at 90 degrees. Push back up through your hand. Do 10 reps. 
  3. 15 Air squats: STand up; keep your feet shoulder-width apart, toes slightly outward. Engage your core and squat down and slightly back. (as if you are sitting on a chair). Push through the heels and keep your back straight. Raise back up and repeat. 

This is the whole circuit and one round. Do as many rounds as you can while maintaining proper form. 

What Are Cindy WOD Safety and Tips? 

Considering the usability of Cindy WOD for beginner CrossFitters, it’s essential to provide all the necessary safety tips for newbies to avoid injuries and get used to proper techniques. 

Here are some important details: 

  • Pull-ups: the trick is in shoulder movement. At the beginning of each pull-up, retract your shoulders, tighten your back muscles, pull shoulders back, and try to bring your chest up. 
  • Push-ups: don’t drop your belly or hips! You have to keep your torso straight from head to toe. Squiz your glutes and tighten your core! Keep your shoulders from dropping as well. Don’t forget to breathe. To keep check of your form, record yourself while doing push-ups! 
  • Squats: always push from your heels; don’t push your knees closer together when lower and make sure they don’t go past your toes; pause when your thighs are parallel to the floor; engage the core and keep your chest up to avoid back pain. Remember to keep the whole foot on the ground – both heel and toes. 

What Are the Benefits of Cindy WOD? 

cindy wod benefits

Cindy comes with a variety of benefits that impact overall physical wellness. 

  1. First of all, Cindy is a significant calories burner. According to a 2014 study published in the Journal of Sport and Human Performance, Cindy burns 260 calories on average in 20 minutes (+- 56 calories depending). Which is an impressive result compared with the leading effective calorie-burners. 
  2. Secondly, it’s a basic yet effective full-body workout. Each of the three exercises targets different muscles, which trains them in a sequence that’s expertly created to give short periods of rest for each muscle group. You can track the results in overall muscle strengthening, stamina improvement, and fitness performance. 
  3. Cindy is perfect for measuring cardiovascular fitness, health, and overall endurance. Although, you should use it in complex with other workouts that measure max muscle strength to get the full picture. 

In Conclusion 

Cincy WOD is an iconic training that all CrossFitters go through sooner or later. Moreover, it becomes an integral part of their training for years to come. Thus, it’s so important to practice the proper form from the start and know the safe way to increase its difficulty. 

As CrossFit coaches use Cindy WOD to measure the progress, it’s important to keep track of your score (which is measured by the number of full rounds.) 

Despite being one of “The Girls,” Cindy is a universal workout. Both female and male athletes practice it. Overall, you’ll notice in time that girl WODs are just as challenging as male WOD. There is no stereotype of the “weak gender” in CrossFit – everyone is strong in this community. 

Sources

  1. Kliszczewicz, Brian & Snarr, Ronald & Esco, Michael. Metabolic and Cardiovascular response to the CrossFit workout ‘Cindy’.  – (Journal of Sport and Human Performance.  November 2014, DOI: 10.12922/jshp.v2i2.38.)
  2. Maté-Muñoz JL, Lougedo JH, Barba M, et al. Cardiometabolic and Muscular Fatigue Responses to Different CrossFit® Workouts. – (Journal of Sports Science and Medicine. 2018, 17(4):668-679)
  3. Ahmad A, Jusoh N, Tengah R. Acute physiological responses and performance following subsequent CrossFit ‘CINDY’ workout with Zea Mays juice. (Physical education of students. 2019;23(2):57-3. doi.org/10.15561/20755279.2019.0201)

About

Irene’s fitness journey began in 2017 with attending classes to improve her health and researching the anatomy of working out. After years of investigating trendy and “up and coming” fitness regimes, she is ready to share the tips and advice she’s learned from athletes and expert trainers of the field.