Lots of fitness and wellness worlds come with their own complex languages. If you’ve ever walked into a CrossFit class and wished you brought a dictionary along with your wrist wraps and Nano’s, you’re not alone: The muscle-building workout has its own special language that only those who frequent the classes fully understand (a bit like in barre or boxing). What’s more, the lexicon goes way beyond “crunch” or “squat”, no surprise, considering that CrossFit class incorporates not just bodyweight movements, but components of olympic weightlifting, gymnastics, and cardio, too!
To help you become fluent in CrossFit, we tapped the ICE NYC coaches for the key lingo both first-timers and more advanced athletes need to know. Here, we teach you the basic vocab you can expect to hear during your first CrossFit class or in any situation where the CrossFit-obsessed can be found (Tinder, work parties, paleo restaurants).
The Box: Why call a gym a gym when you could call it a box? While to non-CrossFitters a box many look like a barebones gym, to CrossFitters it is WOD-heaven. You might hear CrossFitters ask each other, “What box do you go to?” if at a CrossFit competition or socialWOD.
WOD: If we’re gonna use it twice in the previous definition, we might as well define it. WOD is an acronym for Workout Of (the) Day, but it is pronounced “wad”, like of gum. Or of toilet paper. The WOD is the specific set of exercises that you will be doing during class, and it changes every day. As we say at ICE NYC, “Constantly Varied! Monotony isn’t welcome in our studio because routine is the enemy.” Take that, Running ;).
EMOM: Acronym for Every Minute On (the) Minute. For example, the workout may be to do 3 squat cleans at 80% EMOM for 10 minutes! (If you don’t know what a squat clean is, don’t worry! It’s an olympic lifting move with a barbell that we define in more depth below). Every 60 seconds you will do 3 squat cleans in a row, during the remainder of the time you get the rest before going again at the top of the minute.
Affiliate: CrossFit box. For example, ICE NYC is a CrossFit affiliate. No, this is not like McDonald's.
AMRAP: Acronym for either As Many Reps As Possible or As Many Rounds As Possible. Typically this is done within a certain time span. For example, a correct use of “AMRAP” is: 15 minute AMRAP of 7 push press (#95/65), 7 box jump (24”/20”), 7 chest to bar pull-ups will require an athlete to complete that sequence of movements as many times as possible in 15 minutes. An INcorrect use of “AMRAP” is 1 pound of turkey bacon in 15 minutes.
Athlete: At CrossFit, our gym-rats are called athletes.
RX: The Programming “Prescribed” (yes, like at the Doctor!) weight. However, in CrossFit everything is scalable so if the RX weight is 95 pounds for women and 125 pounds for men, but you can comfortably do 50 pounds, you will talk with your coach to pick a weight that will help you meet the workouts goal.
Scaling: Modifying a workout so that an athlete can still work the muscles that are being targeted by the workout, and keep up pace-wise with the intention of the workout.
#: Pounds. As in Lbs. Definitely NOT a hashtag!
Chalk: A white powdery substance that you put on your hands to help with grip on bars. Lol. We bet you didn’t need us to define this.
MetCon: Short for “Metabolic Conditioning”- the actual workout itself. Typically, the MetCon will combine strength training exercises and anaerobic conditioning drills. This is different than the WOD because the WOD includes the Metcon, warm-up, and cool-down.
Burpee: Starting from standing, athletes bend down and plant their hands, kick back into a plank position, and lay flat on the ground. The legs are then brought back in, and the movement culminates with a slight jump up and hands clapped overhead. Fall down 7 times, get up 8! (Now try doing 100 reps, for fun!).
Clean: The movement of moving the bar from the ground into the front rack position- variations include hang clean, power clean, and squat clean. We like women who can #clean.
Jerk: Moving the bar from the front rack position to the overhead position- variations include push (or power) jerk and split jerk. (Also the dude you tells you have a nice butt when you run by, #thanksIsquat).
Snatch: This unfortunately named olympic lift includes moving the barbell from the ground to overhead in one movement- variations include hang snatch, power snatch, and squat snatch. CrossFitters like to make fun of this olympic lift name and will sometimes sport witty T-shirts that say, ‘I’ve got a great snatch’. Don’t get it? Ask your mother.
Back Squat: A squat with a barbell on the back rack
Back Rack: The area that’s behind the neck, across the shoulders, where a barbell sits for things like back squats.
Front Squat: A squat with a barbell in the front rack position. The barbell will rest along your chest and shoulders in this movement.
Front Rack Position: Holding the bar as it rests on your collar bone with both elbows nice and high.
Thruster: A front squat straight into an overhead press. Bet you thought it was something dirty, eh? (Thruster, I barely know her!)
Cluster: A squat clean into a thruster- tricky!
HSPU: Acronym for HandStand Push-Up. Don’t worry, you won’t have to do this your first, tenth or even one-hundredth class (because every movement in CrossFit is scalable).
Air squat: An air squat is a squat without any additional weight.
Kipping: A movement that comes from your core, shoulders, and hips that helps you use body-made power to do moves more efficiently. It looks a bit like humping. But if you’ve ever stalked a CrossFitters Instagram, chances are you have seen people swinging from the bars in a rhythm. That rhythm is called “kipping”.
Muscle-Up: A movement in which an athlete goes from hanging from the bar or rings to being above the bar or rings. Kipping or strict are variations. It’s a sexy gymnastics move that is #goals for most athletes.
Box Jump: Also known as death for your shins! Just kidding! A box jump is just what it sounds like. You start with both feet firmly planted on the ground and you jump until both feet are firmly planted on the box and your legs extend. Then you jump or step back down onto the ground and do it again!
C2B/CTB: “Chest To Bar”- a pull up in which your chest goes above the bar.
KTE/K2E: “Knee To Elbow”- the knees are pulled up to the elbows while hanging from the bar.
T2B/TTB: “Toes To Bar”- the toes are pulled up to touch the bar while you’re hanging from said bar.
RFT: “Rounds For Time”: In a workout, for example, that is 5 RFT of 5 push ups, 5 pull ups, and 5 burpees, you will do each “round” (one round = 5 push ups, 5 pull ups, and 5 burpees) 5 times and note the time it takes you to finish (your score).
Cap: The maximum amount of time you have to complete the workout- 10 minute cap means that you have maximum 10 minutes to complete the workout! After 10 minutes the buzzer will go off and you will count your score!
But wait! How do you do that?:
*SCORING AN AMRAP/WORKOUT WITH A CAP*
Let’s say you have a working that is RFT with a time cap….
6 RFT, 10 Min Cap
10 Push Ups
5 Pull Ups
...and you complete 5 rounds plus all the deadlifts and 4 push ups. Your score for the workout would be: 5 (because 5 rounds were completed) + 19 (because you finished the 15 deadlifts and 4 push ups and 15+4=19). Math is hard.
Benchmark Workout: Benchmark workouts are workouts that are used as a baseline to test fitness- workouts like “Fran”, “Diane”, and “Grace” are examples...they can get nasty, and are usually named after women.
Hero WOD: A workout dedicated to a fallen soldier- generally, their favorite workout; “Murph” is possibly the most famous, and notorious, Hero WOD.
PR: Personal Record! Happy dance encouraged.
DOMS: Acronym for “Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness”- quad DOMS are real!
Tabata: 20 seconds of work followed immediately by 10 seconds of rest, for 8 rounds (4 minutes total). This is very ~in~ right now
DNF: Acronym for “Did Not Finish”- we usually just write a ":)" at ICE!
False Grip: A grip used for ring muscle-ups- it allows the athlete to successfully press up and out of the dip portion of the muscle up without adding any extra torque on the wrist. Mastering the false grip is crucial, but boy, does it HURT! Woah, were there a lot of words in there we haven’t yet defined? We’ll get there (we promise).
G2O: Acronym for “Ground To Overhead”- a movement that requires the athlete to move something (whether it’s a barbell, a medicine ball, or a plate) from the ground to over their head.
Fran Cough: A hacking cough or burning sensation felt in the lungs after a particularly hard and fast workout.
“A Burner”: A workout that is meant to be finished quickly, and will likely induce Fran Cough.
CFT: CrossFit Total, a combined weight of your max squat, max press, and max deadlift.
ATG: Ass To Grass- getting as low as possible in a squat.
Going HAM: Stands for “Hard as a Motherf*cker”- essentially, giving your all in a workout. Hi Kanye.
Pukie the Clown: CrossFit’s gross unofficial mascot- he symbolizes what happens to athletes that push themselves a bit too hard...and if you get to meet him, you probably won’t forget that workout!
Pistol: A one legged squat that looks really pretty done right and really works those glutes!
Touch And Go: Performing reps with no break in between. Can’t stop, won’t stop amiright?
Mixed Grip: A way of holding the barbell with one hand in an overhand grip and the other in an underhand grip- it keeps the barbell from wanting to roll away from you, and is most commonly used with reallllllly heavy deadlifts.
Hook Grip: A way to hold on the barbell by grabbing it with an overhand grip, and then tucking your thumb underneath your fingers- commonly used with Olympic lifts, but sometimes for deadlifts as well. See: Grip/Forearm Saver!
Triple Extension: A term used to describe your hips, ankles, and knees all opening up simultaneously in a lift to give you the best possible explosivity to move that heavy ish where it needs to go!
Pood: Russian measurement for kettlebells- 1 pood=16kg/35lbs. This is a lesser-used term, but it sounds cool, so we included it.
ROM: Acronym for “Range Of Motion”. Use in a sentence: “Daaaayum, look at the ROM on her squat!”
Chipper: A REALLY LONG workout with multiple reps- you’re meant to “chip” away at the reps
Couplet: A workout consisting of two movements. “Fran”, consisting of only thrusters and pull ups, is a couplet MetCon. “Fran” is also not very nice.
Spicey: Means “ouchie” but sounds cooler.
Active Recovery: Instead of taking a rest day, an athlete may choose to do something light- go for a run, body weight movements, etc. This aids in recovery by getting the blood pumping through those tired and oh so achy muscles!
Strict: The act of doing a movement without the aid of a kip- strict pull ups, strict handstand push-ups, strict ring dips- strict difficult, but strict worth it.
CrossFit Open: The initial stage of the CrossFit Games- participants sign up worldwide and Dave Castro (is a prick...it’s on a t-shirt) creates a series of 5 workouts to be done over 5 weeks. The scores are tallied, and the top athletes are then invited to compete in the CrossFit Regionals.
CrossFit Regionals: The top Open athletes go to the next stage- Regionals! There, they compete against other top athletes to earn a spot in the CrossFit Games. Castro also picks their workouts. Castro is still a prick.
CrossFit Games: The Grandest Stage of them all! (no, not Wrestlemania) held in California, until this year, where it’s being moved to Madison, Wisconsin...because cheese. Castro. Prick. All the Dottirs. Froning being Froning. Bridges and his beard. Top Regional athletes compete to see who is the Fittest Man and Fittest Woman and Fittest Team on Earth.
WOD Bully: Term for an athlete that encourages...strongly...another athlete to add more weight, go faster, or do a WOD that they otherwise would stay far away from.
The Muffin Man (or Woman): A person that is extremely chalk-happy. Of course, chalk helps with grip and is used liberally by most athletes, but this person chalks up to jump rope. They also end up with chalk EVERYWHERE, causing us to ask the question, “are there baked goods in my future?”.
Monkey Butt/ Ass Berries: A floor burn from doing too many sit ups, anywhere from the top of the tailbone to the bottom of the glutes- generally noticed during the post-WOD shower. Oh, how it BURNS.
T-Rex Syndrome: The feeling you get when you’ve done so many pulling movements that you can no longer straighten your arms out.
Gainsville: A fictional place (unless you’re from Georgia) where athletes go to work hard and make dem gainz!
Cherry Picker: An athlete that will be...strategic with their gym routine, based on what the WOD is that day.. Body weight movements? Heck yes, I’m there! 100 Burpees for time?...Rest day.
Sweat Angel: The lovely wet spot that an athlete leaves on the floor post-WOD while they lay there contemplating the meaning of life.
WOD Drunk: The feeling, after a particularly hard workout, when an athlete needs to take a minute to keep the room from spinning.
Pain Face: The face an athlete gets during a particularly difficult/heavy lift of movement. Coach Nicolas seems to have the best pain faces around!
Swolemate: An athlete that just *gets* you- you tend to partner this person almost always, and coordinate your WODs so that you can get your sweat on, and then brunch afterward.