CrossFit Terms Explained

When I first started CrossFit, I thought “cleaning” meant scrubbing the floor and “jerk” referred to chicken. I seriously had no idea what any of these crazy terms meant or what to do. I’m not shy so I just asked and learned that I don’t need a Swiffer to “clean” (I just need fast elbows) and I don’t need to go to Jamaica for “jerk” (I just need to pop my head through). Phew, good thing I figured that out.

And good thing I’m helping you so you don’t need to sound as clueless as I did. Spoiler alert: everyone starting out is clueless to some degree at first. Nicole can attest to this too.

This blog post could go on forever because there are so many terms, movements, lifts and other things to know. But I wanted to cover some of the most common words and terms – from “weird” names for exercises; to fancy names for picking up heavy things and putting them back down; to the hot happenings in the CrossFit world.

Do you want to go to CrossFit

General Terms

Box =  aka gym. CrossFit gyms are called boxes. Don’t ask me why.

WOD = “Workout of the Day” – simply the workout that is programmed for that day. It always changes but it’s fun doing workouts more than once to see your improvements.

For time = Performing a workout as fast (and as safely) as you can.

AMRAP = “As many rounds or reps as possible” – Performing a workout or set of movements as many times as you can in the given amount of time.

EMOM = “Every minute on the minute” – Performing a specified number of reps of a movement at the start of every minute.

Metcon = “Metabolic Conditioning” – A type of WOD designed to test endurance and stamina.

Rx = Performing the workout as prescribed/programmed – not having to make any modifications to any of the weight or movements.

Amy Frannie


Air squats = Standing straight up then squatting down until hips are below knees, then standing back up until hips are once again fully extended.

Double-unders = A jump rope passes under the feet twice with only one jump.

Wall balls = Holding a medicine ball, squatting down and explosively standing up, throwing the ball toward a target above. (Rx is 20lbs to 10 foot target for men and 14lbs to 8 foot target for women).

Burpees = Starting from standing, bending down and planting hands, kicking back into a plank position, performing a push-up, then bringing legs back in, and finishing with a slight jump up and hands clapped overhead.

Muscle-ups = The coveted CrossFit move: hanging from gymnastic rings and explosively pulling chest above the rings to the bottom of a dip position. From there, pushing up until the arms are fully locked.

Pistols = Single leg squats.

Kipping = Using explosive strength (usually a powerful hip drive and strong pull) in order to gain momentum when performing pullups, hand stands, pushups, and dips.

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1RM = “1 rep max” – This is how heavy (how many kg/lbs) you can perform a single lift

Clean = Lifting a weighted barbell from the floor (or sometimes from another position) to the shoulders.

Jerk = Driving the barbell upward with a shallow dip – from the shoulders to overhead (sometimes landing in a split position).

Front squat = Holding a weighted barbell across the chest (in a clean position) and squatting down until hips are below the knees.

Back squat = Holding a weighted barbell across the back (resting on neck line) and squatting down until hips are below the knees.

Snatch = Lifting a weighted barbell from ground to overhead in one movement, often squatting under the bar and then standing up.

Deadlift = Lifting a weighted barbell off the ground to the hips, then lowering back to the ground

Thruster = A front squat straight into a push press (bar extended above head).

Amy Clean
Clean position

Other Good Things to Know

The CrossFit Open = The “Open” is a worldwide competition where everyone is invited to compete in five workouts over five weeks at their own/local gym, posting their scores online. From these scores, the “fittest” athletes will then compete in regional competitions. I am so glad I competed in 2014!

Regionals = After the Open, athletes advance to the Regional competitions – which narrows the field (based on location) before the annual The CrossFit Games

The CrossFit Games = Held in the summer to crown the World’s Fittest Man & Woman. The Games test athletes with a bunch of physical challenges and workouts, ranging from swimming and running to pull-ups and handstand walks – participants gain points over the events.

The Girls = A series of workouts created by CrossFit Headquarters that can show how athletes compare.

Hero WODs = A series of workouts named after military personnel or other servicemen/women.

Amy Fit Girl Tank

Gosh, I wear a lot of pink.

Hope this helps – have a great weekend!


Questions of the day…
Were you clueless when you first started an activity? What did you do?


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19 thoughts on “CrossFit Terms Explained

  1. Wall-balls, you slay me.
    Sincerely, Mitchell.

    But seriously, today’s WOD was the first time I have done a ‘tabata’ … I never realised how long twenty seconds can feel, and how short ten can be.

    Thanks for linking Nicole’s article too. Two greats posts :)

  2. I once looked up all the terms since I was seeing them on so many blogs, plus a good friend is a CrossFitter, but what seems to happen is that because I don’t do it I keep forgetting what they mean! So good refresher for me. Maybe one day I’ll actually give it a shot!

  3. love reading your cross-fit stuff. I follow some of the online workouts, so this was helpful :) hoping to join one day!

  4. This was incredibly helpful! Although I’m not sure I will ever get into CrossFit ($$), some of my friends are CrossFit regulars so at least I know what they’re doing.

  5. Great post, as always!! I was a total newb when I started CrossFit. and was wayyy to shy to ask what anything meant. I used to sit there trying to figure out what HSPU and AMRAP stood for. It was like trying to crack the Da Vinci code!

  6. I don’t think I’ve noticed your sweet custom Nanos before. Nice! I still get confused if it is EMOM or EMOTM, but I think I’m finally able to put that to rest and go with EMOM. Good knowledge drop post.

  7. New header looks beautiful!
    Even though I’m not a crossfitter, this is really interesting. Especially if there’s someone who’s a newbie I can send them your way. I can remember when I was in the fitness center in college just kind of staring at the weights. I was so grateful when one of the trainers said you want a quick run through? He gave me all the basics I needed and sparked my love!! :)

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