The origin story of “Fight Gone Bad” is now a thing of CrossFit legend. When world-renowned UFC fighter B.J. Penn went to CrossFit founder Greg Glassman looking for a workout that would mimic the trials of a bout in the Octagon, Glassman devised a devastating test: three five-minute rounds containing high- power compound exercises meant to work every muscle in the body and re-create the intensity of a real mixed martial arts battle.
When Penn was lying on the floor trying to catch his breath after the brutal workout, Glassman asked whether the new circuit felt anything like a fight. “It’s like a fight gone bad,” Penn replied, supplying the name for one of CrossFit’s most challenging—and notorious—workouts.
What makes Fight Gone Bad so...bad? Just like an MMA fight, the clock runs for five minutes each round with no stopping during those five minutes. At the top of every minute, you immediately move to a new exercise: wall-ball shots (20 pounds to a 10-foot target) are followed by sumo-deadlift high pulls (75 pounds), box jumps (20 inches), push presses (75 pounds), and rowing. Athletes have only one minute of rest between rounds. During each exercise, you’ll wonder how 60 seconds could seem so endless; during the rest phase, you’ll wonder how 60 seconds could be so short.
Each rep of the first four exercises counts as a point, and the rowing score is measured in calories (easily tracked on any Concept2 rower, shown at right). Have a partner count your score each round and add all the rounds up for your final score. Two-time CrossFit Games champion Rich Froning has scored just over 500 on Fight Gone Bad (or FGB, for short), and men’s scores over 400 are considered very good. Step in the ring, record your score, and then try Fight Gone Bad again after a few months to see if your fitness has improved.
In the event that you find yourself flying through three rounds of Fight Gone Bad, you could always up the ante to a “championship bout”—and go for five rounds, just like a UFC title fight (appropriate, since Penn has held champion- ship belts in two weight divisions). Just don’t mistake three rounds for being a scaled-down version of the workout. Chances are, the original will be all you can handle.
QUICK TIP: If you don’t have access to a Concept2 rower, you can use burpees, kettlebell swings, or battling ropes as a substitute.
Fight Gone Bad is three rounds of the following exercises – for 1-minute each:
Wall Ball Shot
Using a 20-pound Dynamax ball, squat low and explode upward, throwing the ball up at a target 10 feet high on a wall. Catch the ball and repeat.
Sumo Deadlift High Pull
In a sumo stance, grab a 75-pound barbell with an overhand grip and perform a deadlift. From there, explosively pull the bar up to your chin.
Jump onto a 20-inch box. The rep is complete when the hips are completely extended.
Bend and extend your knees to press a 75-pound barbell overhead to full lockout.
Rob Orlando is a competitive strong-man and CrossFit athlete who owns Hybrid Athletics in Stamford, CT. hybridathletics.net