Forget dumbbells — you only need this 2-move CrossFit workout to sculpt stronger muscles

A photo of a woman jumping during a burpee
(Image credit: Shutterstock)

You only need two exercises and less than 30 minutes to train like a CrossFit athlete. The benefit? You'll strengthen muscles all over and build cardiovascular fitness all at the same time.

Ever wondered what CrossFit athletes get up to during training? Here's a clue. This calorie blitzer has been curated for Tom’s Guide by CrossFit athlete Alex Gazan, who just qualified for a second CrossFit Games — so you know it’s giving maximum energy. 

It’s time to hit the pedal, sculpt stronger muscles and test your fitness threshold using just two moves. Anyone can tackle the workout below, but if you’re a complete beginner, we recommend trying one of the 5 best CrossFit workouts for beginners to get started. 

Read on for the full session plan and tips from Gazan to help you smash it.

Alex Gazan’s 2-move full-body CrossFit workout

You’ll need one rowing machine and a box or bench to complete the workout. Here it is. 

Workout: 2 minutes work / 2 minutes rest x 6-8 Rounds

Work for two minutes, followed by a two-minute rest. During the working phase, complete 24 calories for men or 18 for women on the rower, then use the remainder of the minutes to perform as many repetitions as possible (AMRAP) of burpee box jump overs. Repeat this cycle for rounds.

How to row:

  • Sit on the rowing machine with your feet strapped into the footrests but loose enough so you can transition quickly to the burpee box jump overs
  • Grab the handle with an overhand grip, keeping your arms extended
  • Begin the rowing motion by driving through your feet and extending your legs fully while keeping your arms straight
  • Once your legs extend, lean back slightly and pull the handle towards your chest, bending your elbows. As you pull the handle towards you, engage your core and lean back slightly further, maintaining a strong and stable position
  • Reverse the motion by extending your arms, leaning forward from your hips, and bending your knees to slide back toward the starting position
  • Repeat this motion with your legs, arms and core moving fluidly.

How to do burpee box jump overs:

  • Face the box with your feet shoulder-width apart
  • Perform a burpee by placing your hands on the floor in front of you and kicking your feet back into a plank position
  • Lower your chest and thighs to the floor
  • Push through your palms to raise your chest and thighs, returning to the plank position. Jump both feet forward, landing just outside of your hands
  • From the squat position, explode upward into a jump, propelling yourself onto the box
  • Fully extend your hips, landing with both feet gently on top of the box. Stand tall, then jump or step down to the other side, landing with both feet on the ground.

Verdict

There are a few ways to tweak the workout. “If the recommended calorie count feels too challenging or too easy, you can decrease or increase the calorie goal,” says Gazan. “For example, reduce it to 18/14 or increase it to 28/22 calories.”

But that’s not all you can modify. 

“If you find the burpee box jump overs too difficult or don't have access to a box, you can do regular burpees without the box jump. Ensure you maintain a good pace throughout,” advises Gazan. 

The rounds are guidelines, and you can scale up or down depending on how demanding you want the workout to be. As you get stronger and fitter, experiment with adding rounds to keep your body under challenge. “You can start with four rounds and gradually increase the number of rounds as you progress,” she says. 

Gazan advises starting with a sustainable but tough pace. You should be able to row at a moderate pace that you can maintain consistently throughout the rounds. “Avoid going all out from the beginning, as it may lead to fatigue and reduced performance in subsequent rounds,” she adds. 

The transition between the two exercises should be efficient, moving from the rower to the box burpees without delay. “Every second counts in maximizing your AMRAP score,” Gazan says. 

Either way, be prepared to be smoked after this one. But remember, you’ve got two minutes of rest, so control your breathing and walk around to maintain blood flow. Gazan recommends standing rather than sitting or lying down, as this reduces momentum. 

Depending on how quickly you can knock out your calorie row, you could be hitting burpees for at least 30 seconds. It might not seem much at first, but four rounds in, it might as well be a thousand. Keep an eye on your pace, and thank Gazan later for activating beast mode. 

Alex competing at CrossFit
Alex Gazan

Gazan is a 21-year-old CrossFit athlete who has just qualified for her 2nd CrossFit Games and won the North West region Semi-Finals of the 2023 CrossFit Games.

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Sam Hopes
Senior Staff Writer - Fitness

Sam Hopes is a level III 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.