The bench press is one of the most common barometers of physical strength, yet it remains one of the most infrequently used exercises in all of CrossFit. Why? In short, CrossFit is founded on functional movements characterized by their ability to produce power. By performing lifts that require the athletes to move large loads over long distances quickly, CrossFit programming guarantees that workouts achieve the highest level of intensity. Due to its relatively low power output as compared with a snatch, thruster, or clean, the bench press is seen less often in CrossFit, but it’s still performed because of its obvious effect on upper-body strength.

One CrossFit workout in particular uses only the bench press. The workout is simply 10 heavy singles—not including any warmup reps or sets. Once you get into the working sets, pick your own load and rest as needed between efforts. Remember, each single is meant to be as heavy as possible. You can adjust the weight as needed after each single or you can use the same load for all sets. The workout is designed to build strength and is also used to test pressing strength over repeated efforts, so there’s an endurance component too. 

A Benchmark WOD

Another CrossFit workout that uses the bench press is Lynne, a benchmark WOD named after a small but mighty powerlifter who discovered CrossFit in 2003 and is still a member of the CrossFit headquarters staff. This workout bearing her name was first posted to in April 2005 and consists of five rounds of as many bench-press reps as possible at your own body weight, followed by max reps for pull-ups. You can rest as needed between movements and rounds; there is no time element to this workout.

While Lynne might seem at odds with other CrossFit tests, it’s deceptively challenging. The workout calls for 10 maximum-rep sets—a Herculean task requiring strength, muscular endurance, and mental toughness. In most workouts, I pick and choose when to hit the gas pedal based on the movements and rep scheme. For Lynne, choice is removed: You’re forced to hit it as hard as you can each time you touch the barbell or pullup bar—meaning 10 encounters with those harsh, grinding reps on the edge of failure. Lynne herself once said, “I hate me after Round 3.”

The pull-ups can be any style—strict, kipping, or butterfly. Depending on your proficiency with each type of pull-up, you may opt to use different techniques, often in the same set, in hopes of getting the best score. You score this workout by recording total reps per round. For example, 10 reps in the bench press plus 12 pull-ups in one round would give you a score of 22.

I consider Lynne a great option when I’m lost for workout ideas. Benching is always fun, and doing max-effort pull-ups for five rounds is no joke. Sometimes it’s about doing things in your wheelhouse and having fun, and Lynne is a great way to get reps on the bench, work your upper body hard, and improve your fitness level all at the same time.

The Workouts

Note: Don’t even think about doing these in the same day, or the same week, for that matter. Your pecs and triceps are going to need ample recovery time from the high intensity bench pressing.

CrossFit Bench

After warmup, perform 10 heavy singles in the bench press, resting as long as needed between reps. The weight should be as heavy as you can manage for each rep.


5 Rounds of:

Body weight
Bench x Failure

Pull-up x Failure