When CrossFit workouts are at their best, they challenge your mind as much as your muscles. They push you to grind out rep after rep, battle fatigue, and utilize fitness tactics—and they very often leave you practically drowning in your own sweat by the time they’re done.
These steep challenges aren’t always easy to tackle alone. Some days, you’ll hit the gym and your motivation and focus will be off. Other days, you just want more variety in your workouts.
That’s where partner WODs come in. Adding a friend instantly makes your workout more fun, and it pushes you to work out more, according to science. It also opens up more creative programming options so you’re not just staring at the clock or counting reps. And it introduces a level of competition to your workouts, even if you and your gym pal aren’t competing directly.
Not sure where to start with these workouts? We’ve got you covered. So grab a partner and try out these buddy sweat sessions. You’ll get in shape and get quality time all at once!
The Lowdown: This one’s a great interval workout that helps you work for almost as much time as you rest if you choose the right partner. The beauty of that 1:1 work-to-rest ratio: When it’s your turn to work, you get to (and should!) go hard, because once you’re done, your body will get plenty of rest.
Directions: Complete all reps of each exercise, working to rest as little as possible. Then rest for as long as it takes for your partner to do all reps of each exercise. The moment your partner finishes, you’re back to work. Do 8 rounds each of this workout.
8 Barbell Push Press Reps
8 Burpee Box Jumps
The lowdown: The basis of this workout is CrossFit’s classic “DT” barbell complex (deadlifts to hang cleans to push jerks). Except there’s a twist in here: While you’re working through the complex your partner is rowing 20 calories. There’s not much time to rest in this one, unless you complete that barbell complex quickly. If you have shoulder issues, sit this one out, because the push jerks could challenge that joint.
Directions: You and your partner start each round at the same time, one of you beginning on the rower and the other on the DT complex below. Your partner must complete 20 calories on the rower. You, meanwhile, do the complex. (Whoever finishes first gets a little time to rest). Switch back and forth until you’ve each done 5 rounds; your score is how long it took for you to both complete the full workout.
The DT Barbell Complex: Do each move, working to never once put the dumbbell down. Start with 12 deadlifts, then do 9 hang power cleans. Finish with 6 push jerks, pressing the bar overhead as you dip at the knees and hips, then standing up.
The lowdown: This one is quick and dirty and it’s a great finisher to a strength session. Just don’t underestimate it, because it gets painful and intense quickly.
Directions: You’ll need two Airdyne bikes or Assault Bikes for this one, and you’ll work for 10 minutes. Every 30 seconds, you’ll put in 10 calories on the bike. The next 30 seconds your partner will put in 10 calories on the bike. Work back and forth for 10 minutes (so you’re each doing 10 rounds).
The lowdown: This one’s all about your legs. You’ll crush your squat pattern on the thrusters, hit your hamstrings with kettlebell swings — and you’re sandwiching serious conditioning work with those 2,000-meter rows.
Directions: You and your partner will open this workout by each rowing 2,000 meters. Try to finish this more quickly than your partner so you get more of a breather going into the 10-round workout. Once you’re into the 10-round portion, you’re using an A-B-A format. You’ll do thrusters while your partner rests, then your partner does kettlebell swings while you rest. Alternate moves until you’ve each done 10 rounds of each move. Finish with a 2,000-meter row each.
The lowdown: Here, you’re taking CrossFit’s classic Cindy workout (5 pull-ups, 10 push-ups and 15 air squats done as many times as possible for 20 minutes) and beefing it up into a team format that’ll rock your abs too. Be strategic with this one, because the knee tuck holds will wear you out faster than you think.
Directions: Start with a round of Cindy, doing 5 pull-ups, 10 push-ups, and 15 air squats as fast as you can. While you’re doing that, your partner will do hang from a pull-up bar and hold a knee tuck with thighs parallel to the ground. The kicker: If your partner loses the knee tuck, you must stop doing your round of Cindy; you resume only once they get back into the knee-tuck.
Alternate back and forth for 30 minutes.
Wall Ball Race
The lowdown: This one’s a scaled-down version of Dorie, the hero workout dedicated to World War II hero Doris Miller of Waco, Tex. And it’s basically a race to complete 150 wall ball shots faster than your partner. The trick: You’re can only do wall ball shots while your partner’s doing the 15-10-5 sequence of movements below. That competitive aspect here pushes you to both work quickly – and blast your legs in the process.
Directions: Start doing wall ball reps with a medicine ball. (Not sure how to do a wall ball? Stand holding a medicine ball at your chest and face a wall. Squat down, then stand up and throw the ball high against the wall. Catch it and immediately go into another rep.)
While you do wall ball reps, your partner will work through 15 kettlebell swings, 10 burpees, and 5 barbell ground-to-overheads (to do these, pick a loaded barbell up from the ground and press it overhead, using whatever form you want, whether it’s a push press, military press, or push jerk). Don’t have a barbell? You can use a kettlebell for this instead.
Once your partner does their 15-10-5 sequences, remember your wall ball number and do the 15-10-5 sequence yourself.
The lowdown: The game here is simple: You’re pushing for max reps of a dumbbell move, with your partner, on a 200-meter row, serving as a timer. This one’s about speed, and it’s about moving through a strength move despite being fatigued.
Directions: You and your partner will work through three 6-minute AMRAPS, resting two minutes in between each AMRAP. During each six-minute slice, one of you will do a 200-meter row; the other has to do as many reps of the required strength move as possible. Then you both switch places. Keep track of your total reps completed and see who does more.
- AMRAP 1: Dumbbell Front Squat
- AMRAP 2: Renegade Row
- AMRAP 3: Single-arm dumbbell snatch
Angie Meets Annie
The lowdown: This one combines two classic CrossFit workouts, Angie and Annie, and you’re tackling it together. Utilize strategy on this one to play to each other’s strengths; you’re a team on this one, battling through as a unit.
Directions: You’ll need jump ropes for this one. You’ll both open with 50 double-unders, getting the rope beneath your feet twice on each jump. After you finish those, you have a combined 200 pullups; break these up however you wish. Perhaps you do 10 pullups for every five your partner does, or maybe you do sets of 5s. Be tactical here.
Follow with 40 double-unders per person, and then do a combined 200 pushups. Then you’ve each got 30 double-unders, and 200 combined situps, followed by 20 double-unders each and 200 combined air squats.
Finish with 10 more double-unders, then you’re done for the day.
By Ian Creighton