Angie, Fran, Helen, Karen. Any CrossFitter knows these names and they can inspire dread. I did a little research (of course) and according to the National Weather Service, storms have short, distinctive names because they are less “prone to error” than other systems. The most destructive storms leave an impact and their names shall be forever remembered. Do many people remember the 1938 hurricane that devastated Connecticut, or the 1900 hurricane that nearly wiped out Galveston, TX? Probably not unless they are sciency, geeky types. They occurred before the modern naming system (The system started in 1953 with female names, added male names in 1978 for Pacific storms with the male names added to the Atlantic storms in 1979.) I would bet you can find a lot of people who know Hurricane Andrew, Superstorm Sandy, and Hurricane Katrina. You might find folks who know of Hurricane Camille, despite the passage of time. Why are they easier to remember? They wiped out a lot; AND, they have names.
Aside: for you geeky types, Andrew was 1992, Sandy 2012, Katrina 2005 and Camille was 1969. Look them up, they are all in the top 10 worst hurricanes in the United States ever.
I found an article by Greg Glassman from 2003, when the first Benchmark workouts were being created (Benchmark Workouts) and he said, “… anything that leaves you flat on your back and incapacitated only to lure you back at a later date certainly deserved naming” (Glassman, 2003).
When athletes look at these workouts they can certainly be intimidating! Anyone who has spent more than 2 minutes in a CrossFit box notices the leaderboard with these benchmark names and impressive looking times next to them. For us, when a woman’s name shows up on the WOD, we know we will be left a puddle of sweat, barely capable of movement in the classic ‘CrossFit Recovery Position’
But CrossFit is all about making everyone the best they can be. So we are going to show you how to scale these workouts (not all at once…don’t panic) so anyone can do them. And since we are also about data, science and classification, we will do them alphabetically! We’d also like to remind you that we are NOT coaches, these are just things our coaches have said in our box, either to us, or to other athletes.
Let’s start with Angie.
Angie was one of a group of the first named WOD’s. The link mentioned above provides a great explanation as to WHY they were created and how they are supposed to work your various muscle, aerobic and nervous systems, so there is no need to rehash that here. Seriously, go read the article. It’s good and explains a lot (just finish this first).
Angie is 100 pull-ups, 100 push-ups, 100 sit-ups, 100 squats all for time. Even the strongest, fastest folks around will probably have to break that up into various sets. (The Guinness Book of World Records has 232 consecutive pull-ups as the most and 7306 as the most in a 24 hour period.) So one way to “scale” this workout would be to do each move in sets of 5 or 10 or whatever number you could handle.
How to scale pull-ups: kipping, using various bands to remove some of the bodyweight, using multiple bands, jumping from boxes of various sizes and ring rows (move the rings closer to perpendicular to the floor to make them harder, move them to various angles to scale them).
How to scale push-ups: doing them on your toes, but not to full depth, on your knees, on your knees to less than full depth, putting your hands on a box, putting your hands on a wall.
How to scale sit-ups: less range of motion (hands to tops of knees). Your coach probably has some great ideas here!
How to scale squats: go to the depth the athlete is capable of doing, utilize a box to decrease range of motion, use a wall ball to help the athlete learn depth and keep good form.
Depending on the size of the class and the facilities of the box, one could break up the rounds into sets, 10 sets of 10 of each move. You could even do a “half Angie”, or a “partner Angie” utilizing the variations listed above for different athletes (we’ve seen this at our box with the Hero WOD Murph). You should do the scaling that works for YOUR abilities and above all, do what your COACH tells you to do. They are the experts, not us!
The point is, this is a benchmark workout, and if performed scaled, should still leave the athlete in a puddle on the floor, AND give them a point from which to know where to improve so the next time, they get faster, or perhaps do half the push-ups on their toes before going to their knees!