I trained like one of the UK's top CrossFit athletes — here’s what happened

photos of Aimee Cringle doing CrossFit
(Image credit: Instagram/AimeeCringle)

Ever wondered what top athletes get up to during their training sessions? Now you don’t have to. I spoke with Aimee Cringle, top UK CrossFit athlete, to get hold of one of her go-to workouts — and it’s not for the faint of heart. 

As a trainer who attends CrossFit, I was hungry to get my hands on a replica class whipped up by competing athletes. Aimee is one of the most talked about UK female athletes in the European CrossFit scene and charged to the top of the charts in 2022, so I knew this workout would be a beasting. 

Our fitness team loves a challenge — from taking on Tom Holland’s Spider-Man workout to Chris Hemsworth’s 200-rep bodyweight workout, we’re prepared to put just about anything to the test. This routine tests strength, cardio, and skill using just three exercises in a ‘workout of the day’ (WOD) format, designed as the ultimate full-body strength and conditioning combo. 

If you have limited equipment, this tough full-body dumbbell workout builds strength with just six exercises. Otherwise, get your best wireless headphones on, crank up the music, and train like a top CrossFit athlete using this killer CrossFit workout.  

What is Aimee Cringle’s CrossFit workout?  

 “CrossFit is a full-body training routine, and this workout will work all your muscle groups,” Cringle says. 

“The bike uses your lower body (quads, hamstrings, glutes, and calves) and upper body (chest, lats, biceps, and triceps). Pull-ups also work your upper body and core muscles for stabilization. 

The hang squat clean mainly targets your lower body (hamstrings, glutes, quads). However, this move also works your upper body (traps, shoulders, lats) as you clean the bar onto your shoulders from the hang position. Your core muscles are also at work, particularly when standing up from the bottom of the squat.” 

The workout

The workout follows a WOD format of every 4 minutes for 20 minutes (5 rounds).

This means you do each of the three exercises for the set number of reps within 4 minutes, then go again every four minutes. If you complete all of the reps before the 4 minutes is up, rest for the time you have left before starting again. 

Woman on the assault bike

(Image credit: Shuttershock/ Unknown)

27/21 cal echo/assault bike

For this workout, use the assault bike until you've burned 27 calories for men, or 21 calories for women. This is a guideline, and you can scale up or down. Try to relax your grip on the bike as the other two movements require it. Keep your core engaged and try to avoid hunching. If the bike calories take longer than 1:45, scale back but keep it consistent each round. To scale, adjust weights or movements.

Aimee performing a pull up at a CrossFit competition

(Image credit: Aimee Cringle / App Comp)

15 chest-to-bar pull-ups

Chest-to-bar pull-ups are a progression that requires your chest to reach the bar rather than your chin. You can scale to strict chin-to-bar pull-ups, jumping pull-ups (jumping up to the bar and controlling the lowering ‘eccentric’ phase), or rows, but reps should be unbroken each round. 

Stand under the bar, jump up, and grip the bar slightly wider than shoulder-width with thumbs wrapped under. Hollow your body (a bit like a banana) with legs through/under the bar and stomach engaged. From here, swing to an arched position (the reverse) by propelling your legs backward and pushing your head forwards. Practice moving between the two. From the hollow position, hinge your hips and slightly bend your knees, then thrust your hips forwards and extend your legs as you drive your chest to the bar. Reverse these steps for one rep.

Aimee Cringle performing the clean part of the hang clean squat

(Image credit: Aimee Cringle/ Justin Lewis)

9 hang squat cleans @ 40kgs for women, 60kgs for men

Perform a deadlift (overhand grip), and fully stand at the top with shoulders pinned back and down and core engaged. The bar should be in contact with your thighs. Keep your weight evenly throughout your feet with your eyes forwards. Maintain a flat back as you hinge at the hips and lower the bar towards your knees, then extend your hips and knees in a fast motion as you shrug the bar upwards and receive it in a front rack position (palms facing upwards) as you perform a squat. Reset.  : 

Cringle says to aim for no more than 10 seconds difference between your times per round, so don’t go too hot on the first couple of sets. Each round should be challenging and aim to only rest during equipment transitions. 

I trained like the top UK CrossFit athlete — here’s what happened

Don’t be deceived by the limited number of exercises in this workout — what it lacks for quantity it delivers in sheer quality and a full-body blitz. As I lay on the floor afterward in a puddle of my own sweat, I briefly wondered why I sought out Aimee’s expertise in the first place, but this workout is absolutely worth the perseverance. Even if it’s just for that post-workout endorphin hit and wobbly leg feeling I am perpetually addicted to. 

First things first, yes it is a technical workout, and I would recommend foundation-level experience to master the lifts without upping your injury risk. However, you don’t need to be a sculpted God or Goddess of a CrossFitter to reap the rewards of this workout (I’m certainly not), and I like how scalable it is. Trust me, as someone with a long-term shoulder injury, you can still pack in the intensity even if pull-ups aren’t within your reach. 

I recommend dropping weight or opting for the best adjustable dumbbells if you need further scaling options, ensuring you at least have a strict chin-to-bar pull-up in your repertoire before progressing to your chest. I chose to lower the pull-up bar and perform rows instead, and if you have gymnastic rings in your gym, even better. 

The hang squat cleans require wrist mobility, so I recommend including wrist stretches in your warm-up and practicing the components separately before smashing out full reps. For example, warm up with a few rounds of hang cleans, then perform your front rack squats, focusing on lifting your elbows and achieving depth in the squat. 

Overall? It hurts. Oh, does it hurt. The echo bike is nobody's friend, and it certainly isn’t mine, but it was interesting to experience what a top UK CrossFit athlete gets up to for fun. If this is just a snippet of a typical training day, it goes to show what these athletes undertake to reach the dizzying heights of CrossFit champion glory. 

Aimee Cringle

Aimee Cringle is one of the most talked about UK female athletes within the European CrossFit scene. Her charge to the top of the UK’s CrossFit rankings began in 2018 when she placed 2nd in the Isle of Man during the CrossFit Open (the first stage of qualifying for the CrossFit Games). Fast forwarding to 2022, she  finished 1st place in the UK, leading her to compete at the semi-finals of the CrossFit Games, where she placed 12th in a stacked field of European athletes and won the first event.  

Looking for something more restorative? This bedtime yoga routine is the perfect post-workout balm, and this Pamela Reif 10-minute ab workout can build foundational strength to complement your next workout. 

You can also check out this killer kettlebell workout uses just 4 moves to sculpt your body if you're looking at other workouts.

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.