18 Things To Know Before You Start CrossFit

Written by Matthew Walrath

CrossFit workouts can be intimidating, especially if you have a limited or non-existent athletic background. Even the terminology used in CrossFit workout can scare people away — there are a lot of acronyms, abbreviations and lingo that sound like a foreign language.

Thinking about getting into CrossFit? Here are 19 terms you need to understand before your first CrossFit class. That way, you'll feel confident when your coach tells you to snatch at 60 percent of your 1RM. This list includes the most commonly used abbreviations and acronyms, what they stand for, what they mean and how you might hear them used in conversation:

1. WOD

Abbreviation for "workout of the day." Mostly used as a noun, but occasionally used as a verb: “I was WODing today and PR'd.”

2. Box

Synonym for gym, but with different connotation. A gym has machines, a CrossFit workout employs a “box” and uses minimal equipment — you are the machine.

3. PR

Abbreviation for “personal record.” This is the best performance you have ever achieved on an exercise. Often used as a verb “I PR'd my squat today!” A PR is something to celebrated with a happy dance!

4. RX

Abbreviation for prescribed. CrossFit WODs are written to be scaled up for elite athletes and down for new athletes. If you hear somebody say they RX'd the workout, it means they performed it as it was written on the whiteboard.

5. 1RM

Abbreviation for “one rep max.” This is the heaviest weight you can lift for a given exercise right now. Most strength movements will be based off of a percentage of your current one rep max.

6. Max effort

Not to be confused with 1RM, this is the maximum repetitions you can do, or the fastest time you can achieve for a given exercise if you give it 100 percent effort. For example:

Max effort push ups is the most consecutive push ups you can perform without stopping.

A 500m, max-effort row is the fastest you can row 500m.


Acronym for “as many rounds as possible” or “as many repetitions as possible.” Often preceded by a time (like a 10-minute AMRAP). CrossFit workouts are scored so you can measure progress. Your score for an AMRAP is the rounds and reps you can complete in a given amount of time.

8. RFT or for time

Abbreviation for “rounds for time.” The score on this type of workout is the time it takes you to complete the WOD.


Acronym for “every minute on the minute.” Like an AMRAP, an EMOM is often preceded with a time. During this type of workout, you will perform a defined number of reps of an exercise and rest the remainder of the minute. At the top of the minute, you will repeat the exercise and continue to rest the remainder of the minute repeating this pattern until the workout is over.

10. Tabata

An interval workout where you perform 20 seconds of an exercise at maximum effort and rest 10 seconds for eight rounds. The score for this type of workout is the lowest number of reps performed in a 20-second interval.

11. Metcon

Short for “metabolic conditioning.” This is the high-intensity portion of the workout.

12. Fran

The most infamous CrossFit metcon consisting of 21, 15 and nine reps each of thrusters (a powerful movement where you move a weight through a large range of motion) and pull-ups completed for time. Being asked your fran time by a CrossFitter is like being asked how much you bench press by a teenage boy.

13. Kipping

A gymnastics skill where an explosive hip movement is used to aid an athlete in completing a bodyweight movement. This is commonly used for pull ups, dips, muscle ups and handstand push ups.

14. GHD

Abbreviation for “glute-ham developer.” This piece of equipment looks as confusing as its name sounds. It is an amazing tool for developing a supreme posterior and abdominals. It is most often used for GHD sit ups, hip extensions and to a lesser degree, for glute-ham raises.

15. Your "score"

Every CrossFit workout is quantifiable and has a score. This allows you to measure your progress over time. Your score depends on the type of workout completed. After the WOD is over, your coach may ask you, “How did you do?” They don’t mean “good,” “bad,” or “ugly.” They want a number!

16. #

Is the symbol for pounds. You may see this written on the whiteboard to describe the weight for a lift. For example, 20# medicine ball or 35# kettlebell.

17. “

Is the symbol for either inches or seconds. You will see this written on the whiteboard to describe height, for example 24" box jump is a 24-inch box jump. For time, you may see 60" max-effort burpees, which is 60 seconds of max-effort burpees.

18. '

Is the symbol for either feet or minutes. You will see this written on the whiteboard to describe distance, for example 50’ bear crawl is a 50-foot bear crawl. It can also describe time, for example 7’ AMRAP burpees is a torturous 7 minutes of burpees.

19. %

You will often see this on the whiteboard to describe the weight you should be using for each set during the strength portion. For example, to determine the weight for 5 reps at 75% of your 1 rep max, you will multiply your 1 rep max by .75.

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