On paper, Helen is simple and straightforward – running, kettlebell swings and pull-ups. It’s a great test of strength, speed and endurance that you can repeat over time as a benchmark workout to gauge your progress and fitness improvements.

The Workout

3 Rounds for Time:
400 Meter Run
21 Kettlebell Swings (50/35 lb)
12 Pull-Ups

Helen begins with a 400-meter run followed by 21 kettlebell swings (50 pounds for men, 35 pounds for women) and 12 pull-ups. Repeat this for a total of three rounds. Your score is the total time it takes you to complete all three rounds.

The History

Helen is a classic benchmark WOD. It’s another one of “The Girls” and first appeared on the CrossFit main site in August 2003.

Strategy and Scaling

Helen is meant to be a fast workout. Move quickly, pace yourself and keep the kettlebell weight light. If your lungs are burning and your grip starts to fail toward the end, you’re doing great.


Pace yourself on the run so that you’re able to do the kettlebell swings and pull-ups unbroken (or with very few breaks). This should be a pace where you’re pushing yourself to run fast, but not to an all-out, max effort.


Try to do the kettlebell swings and pull-ups unbroken (or break them into only two sets). If you find yourself taking lots of breaks:

-Use a kettlebell weight that allows you to do 21 kettlebell swings unbroken.

-Sub pull-ups for ring rows.

If you’re in the process of building your running fitness, sub in a shorter run (200 meters) or a row.

After completing Helen, make sure you cool down and record your time so that you’re ready for this benchmark WOD the next time it shows up on the whiteboard.

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