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My first crossfit Cindy [Article]

Posted by Pascal Landshoeft

Apr 17, 2015 12:39:00 PM


My first crossfit Cindy

After the marathon in Vienna I was able to go directly back into the gym. This week and until the end of April I will not run. Based on this I mixed in some more crossfit bodyweight WODs and finished Cindy for the first time completing 16 rounds.

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What is it ?

Cindy is one of the AMRAP exercises of crossfit meaning as many rounds as possible. The time limit is 20 minutes. In these twenty minutes you do as many circles of

  • 5 pull ups
  • 10 push ups
  • 15 air squats

as possible. The pull ups can be kipping or strict pull ups. Most likely you will accumulate more rounds if you can do the kipping pull ups, which I have not practised yet. A crossfit basics course might come in handy here, but the tips from barbell shrugged said that you should not even attempt kipping pull ups before you can do 5 muscle ups straight. As I can’t do that, I won’t even risk pulling my arms out of my shoulder by attempting to kip.

Why is it called Cindy?

I did not figure out the actual reason yet. What I do is that it is part of the “girls” a complex of workouts in Crossfit which are used to benchmark people against each other. Examples are Angie, Barbara, Chelsea, Fran, Elizabeth, G.I.Jane… you get the gist of it.

How does it feel ?

If you are reasonably fit at first glance this workout looks like child play and I was very confident to rack up a good score without too much hassle. Again I was very wrong. After round five I already slowed down and from round seven on I started to sweat. Round 8 had me breaking up the pull ups into 2 2 1 rather than doing 5 straight. I varied the pull up grip here and there to get more out of the workout. Overall it was very challenging to keep a steady pace during the entire 20 minutes.

I think this is where the beauty of this workout is, that you have to keep going for 20 minutes no matter what and can determine your own pace. This is what I love about marathon running and crossfit, that you compete within a clearly defined structure against yourself and others. This is more tangible than “losing weight” or getting “fitter” as it is measurable.

Is this workout for beginners?

No Cindy is not for beginners because of the pull ups. In my current gym many do box pull ups or pull ups with bands. You can scale it using these techniques if you wanted to, but I would say focus on first being able to do 5 unassisted pull ups straight before having a go with Cindy. Otherwise I can imagine that I would be a very frustrating experience.

 What about intermediates?

I think this workout is perfect for intermediates like me. It develops your upper strength with the pull ups, your core with the push ups and the legs with the air squat. For me it was great to see that may squat depth and explosiveness are improving and mixing in some air squats here and there without a bar on your neck makes you feel the power you have developed. By adjusting pace and how fast you perform the repetitions you can make this an all effort for time, a session for working on perfecting your form on the various moves or work on your explosiveness. It felt for me like going for a steady pace is the best tactic.

For advanced athletes ?

I would personally say yes as long as you can still push the amount of rounds. However based on the data on beyondthewhiteboard I think once you have reached somewhere between 25 to 30 rounds for Cindy it has reached its maximum potential and you should move on to more challenging workouts including muscle ups, handstand push ups or other demanding bodyweight movements.

Should you do the pull ups kipping or strict?

Kipping pull ups use your entire body gaining momentum from the legs through the hips up into your arms so you reach your level of exhaustion not as fast as with strict pull ups by taking advantage of your entire body and physics. However this is a complex movement which requires very string joints and good body coordination. The danger of crossfit in my opinion is that people want to do too much too fast. Stick with the strict pull ups for the beginning and work on your muscle up to then move on to the kipping pull ups. I am far away from that myself.

How high is your risk of injury?

That depends on your fitness level. The worst that can happen during Cindy is that you fall down from the highest point of the pull up to the ground. In that case you are not very high up and there is nothing attached to you that comes crushing down on you (like the back squat). Therefore it is fairly low if you are fit enough. It gets dangerous when you are not able to control either the strict or kipping pull up. If you move down too fast (strict) or if your body can not handle the movement pattern (kipping) you might injure your joints are ligaments of the arm. The air squat and push up should be no problem.

How often should you do Cindy?

Depends on your goals. I you want to get the best possible result for this particular work out dig in and do it every second day. What I personally do is making my way through all of the crossfit WODs for which I am confident that I can perform the movements, which is quite a lot. As I have done Cindy quite recently now, it won’t come up again that soon using this pattern.


Cindy is a great workout for everyone who has mastered the pull up, but has yet to master the muscle up. The continuous movement will challenge your ability to dose your power wisely and keep going while lactic acid is building up in your muscles. It makes you sweat and stronger and can be with little to no equipment (pull up bar). A good work when you are travelling and how no rack around.

Further reading

On the deadlift

On the squat

On the bench press