Forget ab workouts — try this 5-move CrossFit workout Fight Gone Bad

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Do you have 17 minutes to spare? Then this five-exercise Fight Gone Bad CrossFit workout is what you should use to fill the time. It'll strengthen your cardiovascular fitness and build muscular endurance all at the same time. In fact, it's used as a benchmark tester across the CrossFit community, so there’s nowhere to hide — unfortunately for me, who decided to test it.

I recently rounded up the 5 best CrossFit workouts for beginners, and although this one doesn’t feature, it’s one of the hardest workouts I’ve done in some time. 

If you’re unfamiliar with CrossFit and want to recreate this workout at home or in your local gym, you’ll need a barbell, one box or bench, a medicine ball and a rowing machine. But if you’re less concerned about your score or weight ranges, you could scale with the best adjustable dumbbells

What is the Fight Gone Bad CrossFit workout?

This WOD only takes five moves and 17 minutes to melt your muscles and soar through your cardio threshold. The workout is supposed to replicate a mixed martial arts (MMA) fight  — five minutes on, one minute off, three rounds — and how you might feel afterward. Think jelly legs, blinding fatigue and sweat — lots and lots of sweat. 

Fight Gone Bad

3 rounds

1-minute wall balls 20/14lbs

1-minute sumo deadlift high-pulls (75/55lbs)

1-minute box jumps (20 inches)

1-minute push press (75/55lbs)

1-minute row (calories)

1-minute rest.

Score: Maximum cumulative reps after 3 rounds.

Complete maximum wall ball reps in a minute, moving straight to the next exercise on the next minute. Continue until you reach one minute of rest, then repeat until you complete three rounds total.

You won’t have time to record your reps per exercise, so add the reps as you go instead. For example, if you complete 20 reps of each exercise during the first round, your score would be 100. If you continue this way throughout, you’ll score 300 in total. One calorie on the rower represents one rep.

I tried the Fight Gone Bad CrossFit workout — here’s what happened

I didn’t quite understand what I was getting myself into. To give you an idea, a beginner's score sits under 250 reps, an intermediate score up to 350 and anything above that would be considered advanced. Elite scores have clocked in just over 400 for women and 500 for men, but anything over 300 is seriously competitive.

The key to approaching FGB is not blowing yourself out on the first round. You must stay consistent and find your strengths, tap into them and maximize your rep count, making up for your weaker and slower exercises. 

I know I’ve got a decent engine for wall balls, which happens to be the first exercise (and a lifesaver for easing in), and rowing, but my dodgy left shoulder makes the push press a struggle. For that reason, I prioritized max reps on the wall balls and rower, accepting that the push press would slow me down. 

I hit 270 reps and promptly collapsed ungraciously to the floor, legs completely gone, arms shaking, breathing ragged. If you want a workout to humble you, this is the WOD to try. Want to improve your score? Here’s how. 

How to improve your Fight Gone Bad score

There are a few ways to increase your score. 

You’ll test your explosive power output and endurance throughout the FGB. If you can’t manage 10-15 reps without resting, scale down the weight or height of the box jumps to avoid constantly stopping. 

If you can, row until the end of the minute at a consistent pace, as you’ll have 60 seconds for recovery afterward. That said, the rest feels like 20, so avoid collapsing into a heap on the floor and make your way to the starting station as you recover.

I stopped the push press at 50 seconds, giving myself 10 seconds to get correctly strapped into the rower, but otherwise worked through until 52-55 seconds. You’ll need some time to spare for your transitions and a brief breather. Some prefer working at maximum capacity for 40 seconds and taking 20 seconds to recover before the next exercise, while others work through and save rest for the designated minute.

I recommend having a plan based on previous performances. If you’ve never done Fight Gone Bad before or are unsure what your targets should be, use the first round to gauge it. Once you hit that target, you could rest, because it’ll only get harder to maintain. But you shouldn’t need to keep resting during the working minutes. 

You can get more reps faster on the barbell than box jumps, so maximize your time on the barbell where you can, spending the most time here. And most importantly, press the pedal on the last round. What have you got to lose?

You'll need to channel beast mode for this one, so good luck!

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Sam Hopes
Senior Staff Writer - Fitness

Sam Hopes is a level III qualified fitness trainer, level II reiki practitioner, and senior fitness writer at Future PLC, the publisher of Tom's Guide. She is also about to undertake her Yoga For Athletes training course. Having trained to work with mind and body, Sam is a big advocate of using mindfulness techniques in sport and fitness, and their impact on performance. She’s also passionate about the fundamentals of training and building sustainable training methods.  When she's not writing up her experiences with the latest fitness tech and workouts, you’ll find her writing about nutrition, sleep, recovery, and wellness.