CrossFit is full of simple, devastating workouts that leave guys in a heap on the floor. Oftentimes, the WODs that do the most damage are two-move circuits called couplets. Some good examples of couplets are thrusters and pull-ups (“Fran”), double-unders and sit-ups (“Annie”), and the CrossFit workout of the month we provide here: running and squatting. As these two exercises are real bang-for-your-buck movements considered to be foundational in the CrossFit arsenal, they pack a hell of a punch when paired up.

Performing the WOD

This WOD calls for five rounds of 400-meter runs and five reps of the back squat. There is no prescribed weight for the squats, so you have to pick a load that will be challenging for you. I’ve done this particular WOD several times, and I usually choose to squat on the heavy side—about 60% or more of my one-rep max (1RM). If I’m feeling strong and my legs aren’t sore, the weight may be close to 80% of my 1RM. Squatting more than that would force me to rack the bar mid-set, lowering the overall intensity of the workout. My goal is to do all five squats in unbroken sets each round. If I can avoid racking the bar during the set, my intensity will stay elevated from start to finish.

Running hard after five unbroken squats never feels great. The legs simply don’t move as fluidly as they should. The whole movement feels forced and unnatural. The first 100 meters are the hardest, as the legs are pumped with blood from the squats. But around the 100-meter mark, you should feel your stride coming back. As soon as it does, pick up the tempo for the remaining distance. The bulk of the time elapsed in this workout is spent running, so that’s where you can dramatically improve your score. Set the tone on your first run and then try to match the time on each consecutive run. To keep my pace fast, I usually listen to the cadence of my feet and try to maintain a constant tempo no matter how tired I am.

In all CrossFit class workouts held in a “box,” scaling as needed is not only allowed, but encouraged: If the coach does his or her job effectively, almost everyone will complete this WOD in roughly the same amount of time and everyone will put forth the same relative effort. For this to happen, picking a proper weight is critical. If you’re doing the couplet without a coach, you may miss the mark on your first attempt, but as you gain experience, you’ll sort out an appropriate weight to use. Then you can experiment with heavier loads to add to the challenge.

Crossfit Workout of the Month

Five rounds for time:

-Run 400 Meters
-Back Squat 5 Reps, choose the weight