Are you getting better at this sport—stronger, faster, better engine, more mentally resilient, etc.?  Benchmark WODs provide a complete picture of overall fitness improvement (or lack thereof) that you may want to go out of your way to complete annually. Take a look over the list. Have you done any of these this year?

1. Murph
If there’s one Hero WOD most CrossFitters retest every year, it’s Murph, and for good reason. Other than being a great community builder, Murph is a true test of bodyweight endurance and mental fortitude. It works every major muscle group in the body and can truly be a proving grounds for how much work you’ve put in since the year before: Can you string together more sets of pull-ups this year? Did you lower your mile run time? Are you air squatting to proper depth now? Is this the year for a weight vest?

2. Grace
A Barbells for Boobs favorite, Grace is a classic for a reason. Thirty clean-and-jerks for time doesn’t seem all that intimidating on paper, but once you start competing with yourself, you realize the work it takes to PR this WOD. To hit a high percentile time, you have to be able to handle a heavy weight quickly and efficiently—no stopping after the clean to set up the jerk. It’s about stringing reps, managing sets and eliminating rest time. Ask any CrossFitter and they’ll know the first time they Rx’d Grace.

3. Max Height Box Jump
It’s something we probably haven’t tested since we were kids: What’s the highest you can jump? While it seems like a fun playground game, testing a max height box jump combines accuracy and power, two of the CrossFit’s Ten Aspects of Fitness. Working high box jumps are a great way to exercise explosiveness for Olympic lifts. It’s a great measurement to retest annually to see how your strength, agility and even your flexibility (ankles and hips, anyone?) have improved in a year’s time. Plus, it’s a freaking blast.

4. 500-meter row
Knowing your 500-meter row time is a handy card to pull out when estimating rows during metcons and even longer row times or calorie rows. It’s also an exhaustive full-body sprint that can knock you out for an hour. Even a fraction of a second improvement is a huge win on this benchmark.

5. One Mile Run
Yes, you do not one, but two mile runs during Murph. However, on the first run you know you’ve got three hundred air squats coming up. On the second run, you’re just trying not to stop…or die. Truly testing your fastest one-mile run time without any other fatiguing movements gives you good benchmark to work off of for future runs or cardio during WODs. It’s an easy benchmark to retest. Try using the same route each time to keep the elevation and terrain the same for comparison’s sake.

6. Fight Gone Bad
Talk about a multiple movement test. Fight gone bad is essentially five max-effort tests for three rounds. Even a couple reps improvement on each minute can add up to a huge difference in total rep count. You’ll hit almost every aspect of fitness, from accuracy in wall ball shots to coordination on sumo deadlift high pulls, to cardiovascular endurance in the row (and really throughout the workout!). If possible, keep track of every rep in every movement. You’ll have a better picture of overall improvement in each movement.

7. CrossFit Total
There’s a reason this came up at the 2018 CrossFit Games. Testing the power lifts of the squat, shoulder press and deadlift provide a complete picture of an athlete’s strict strength, as they are the foundations to more complex movements and lifts. Are you getting stronger year-to-year? The CrossFit Total is a sure-fire way to answer that question.

Photo: Erwin Van Leewen (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0)

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