Some benchmark WODs, like Cindy, look simple. But looks can be deceiving.

The Workout

20-minute AMRAP
5 Pull-Ups
10 Push-Ups
15 Air Squats

In 20 minutes, complete as many rounds of pull-ups, push-ups and air squats as you can. Your score is the number of rounds you complete, plus any additional reps you do in your final round. (Example: 14 rounds + 8 push-ups.)

The History

“Cindy” first appeared on the CrossFit main site in January 2005. And at first glance, it might not seem that bad. It’s all bodyweight movements, and the only piece of equipment you need is a pull-up bar.

But don’t be fooled. Like Fran, this workout was also given a girl’s name, similar to how the Weather Service names storms. Why? Because it leaves you feeling like a storm hit you.

Breakdown, Strategy and Scaling

Here are a few suggestions on how to approach this benchmark workout.

Feel out the first few minutes.

If you’re brand new to this benchmark WOD, use the first few minutes to feel out your pace. Each time you complete a round, check-in with the clock and see how long it took you. If your first few rounds take about the same amount of time, then you’ve probably got a pretty good pace going. If you did the first round in less than a minute, the second round in 1:30, and the third in 1:45, then you probably went out a little too hard. Dial things back and aim for a consistent, sustainable pace that you can maintain for the remaining time on the clock.

Figure out your ideal pace.

Pacing is critical for Cindy. To help you figure out your ideal pace, you should know how long it takes you to complete one round (5 pull-ups, 10 push-ups, 15 squats). Use this as a guide to figure out the pace you should be aiming for during the 20-minute timeframe. You’ll also be able to estimate your score based on your ideal pace.

Transition efficiently.

Twenty minutes may not seem like a long time. But as you get into this workout, you’ll understand how long those 20 minutes actually take. You’ll transition between the three bodyweight movements quite a few times, so there is a lot of time to be lost – or gained! So make your transitions between movements and rounds as efficient as possible. Find a good rhythm and stick with it.


If you scale, keep a record of how you modified this benchmark workout so that you have measurable and repeatable data for the next time Cindy shows up on the whiteboard.

Scaling Options:

  • Pull-Ups: use a band or substitute ring rows
  • Push-Ups: do push-ups on your knees instead of your toes
  • Time: reduce the total time (for example, do a 15-minute AMRAP)
  • Reps: reduce the number of reps (for example, instead of 5-10-15, do 3-6-12)

A Few More Tips for Cindy:

  • Come up with a strategy for how you’ll count and keep track of your rounds. Keep your system efficient and straightforward so that you’re not wasting any time on tallying your rounds.
  • Aim for a steady, consistent pace over speed.
  • Many people experience a sticking point with the push-ups. When you start to fatigue and can’t do 10 unbroken push-ups, have a plan for how you’ll break up the reps. Maintain good form but try to rest as little as possible. Keep moving.

To learn more about Rhapsody Fitness in Charleston and our range of programs, get in touch with Team Rhapsody today.