Helen CrossFit Workout 2024 (My Best Tips & Tricks For You)

As a fitness enthusiast, I’m always on the lookout for workouts that challenge and excite me. That’s why I’m thrilled to talk about the Helen CrossFit workout, a well-known CrossFit benchmark WOD (Workout of the Day) that has been testing athletes since its introduction. This fiery workout is a favorite among CrossFit communities around the globe for its potent combination of speed, strength, and endurance.

all you need to know about helen crossfit benchmark workout in one infographic including structure and goal times of the wod

“Helen” encapsulates the essence of CrossFit by demanding a high level of fitness across multiple domains. The workout itself is elegantly simple yet deceptively challenging: three rounds for time consisting of a 400-meter run, 21 kettlebell swings, and 12 pull-ups. It’s a race against the clock, pushing you to dig deep into your energy reserves and keep the intensity high.

Step-By-Step Workout Structure

The Helen CrossFit workout, a renowned benchmark workout, excites me every time. It’s a thrilling blend of cardiovascular endurance and strength that tests my speed, power, and endurance. Let’s dive right into its structure!

Round Structure:
Helen consists of three rounds. Each round is strategically designed to push my limits, keeping the intensity high.
  1. Run: Each round starts with a 400-meter run. I focus on keeping a steady pace that challenges me but allows me to maintain form and conserve energy for the upcoming exercises.
  2. Kettlebell Swings: Following the run, I tackle 21 kettlebell swings. Proper form is crucial here to engage my core and drive the movement through my hips, not just my arms.
  3. Pull-ups: The round culminates with 12 pull-ups. It’s vital for me to maintain a good rhythm and ensure full range of motion for each rep.


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Throughout the workout, my goal is to complete all three rounds as quickly as possible, recording the time it takes me to finish. This is the essence of a ‘for time’ WOD (Workout of the Day).

Sample Tracking Table:

Round400m RunKettlebell SwingsPull-upsTotal Time
Possible timing for the Helen CrossFit Workout

Adapting the Helen CrossFit workout to my current fitness level is also possible, whether that means adjusting the kettlebell weight or substituting movements, ensuring I can feel that same rush and sense of achievement with every version of Helen I take on!

Do you want to level up or down? Here are your options:

Equipment for the Helen CrossFit Workout

For the Helen CrossFit workout, my equipment setup is key to nailing the performance. I always ensure I have the following:

  • Kettlebell: Central to this workout are kettlebell swings. For men, I use a 1.5 pood kettlebell (that’s about 53 pounds or 24 kilograms), and for women, a 1 pood kettlebell (roughly 35 pounds or 16 kilograms). The weight can vary based on my strength level and grip endurance.
  • Pull-Up Bar: I need a sturdy pull-up bar for those 12 pull-ups in each round. It’s where I test my grip and upper-body strength. If I’m outdoors, any high bar or a rig that can support my weight will do.
  • Running Track: For the running segment, a clearly marked 400-meter track is ideal. If I don’t have access to a track, any measured stretch of ground where I can safely run the required distance works.

Here’s what I keep in mind when setting up:

  • Space: I ensure there’s enough space around my equipment to move freely and safely.
  • Accessibility: Setting up my kettlebell and pull-up bar close to each other minimizes transition time.
  • Safety: I double-check that my pull-up bar is securely fastened to avoid any mishaps during the workout.

With my equipment prepped and ready, I’m all set to take on the dynamic challenge Helen throws at me!

Free PDF Workout Plans For You.

Are you in need of motivation? Here are some powerful workout plans with PDF downloads you can choose from:
Pamela Reif Workout Plan
30 Day Peloton Workout Plan
Beginner Calisthenics Workout Plan
Andy Galpin Workout Plan

Benefits of the Helen CrossFit Workout

I’m thrilled to share the transformative effects of the Helen CrossFit Workout, which is a powerhouse for bolstering upper body strength, carving back muscles, and enhancing cardiovascular endurance. Let me take you through the specific advantages.

Upper Body Strength

The vigorous kettlebell swings and pull-ups in the Helen workout are fantastic for building my upper body strength. Every time I grip that kettlebell or bar, I know I’m working my arms, shoulders, chest, and core. It’s exhilarating to feel the progression as I power through each round.

  • Kettlebell Swings: Engage shoulders, core, and grip.
  • Pull-Ups: Demand strength from biceps, triceps, and back.

Back Muscles

My back muscles certainly get a workout too! The pull-ups specifically target my upper and lower back muscles, which are essential for a well-rounded physique. This functional strength is crucial not just for CrossFit games, but it also translates into everyday activities.

Primary Muscles Worked:

  • Latissimus dorsi (lats)
  • Trapezius (traps)
  • Rhomboids

Cardiovascular Endurance

Lastly, the run element in Helen is where my heart rate really spikes, promoting cardiovascular endurance. Whether I’m sprinting or pacing myself, I’m pushing my heart and lungs to adapt to the high intensity, improving my overall stamina and endurance.

Run Components:

  • 400-meter run each round
  • Builds endurance and speed
Boat Interior Design running track in sunset light ready for crossfit wod
by Pinterest

Performing The Different Movements

I’m excited to dive into the specific movements of the Helen CrossFit Workout! We’ll look at the correct technique for kettlebell swings, explore variations of pull-ups, and share insightful running tips to maximize your Helen WOD performance. Fasten your laces and prep your gear—it’s time to get moving with precision and power!

Kettlebell Swings Technique

When I perform kettlebell swings, the focus is on fluid motion and power. Here’s how I break down the movement:

  • Starting Position: I ensure my feet are shoulder-width apart with the kettlebell on the ground between my feet.
  • Grip: I grip the kettlebell with both hands, palms facing me.

The Swing:

  • Power Phase: I bend my knees slightly, hinge at the hips, and swing the kettlebell back between my legs.
  • Ascending Phase: I powerfully extend my hips and knees, swinging the kettlebell up to chest level or higher, keeping my arms straight.
  • Control: My core remains tight throughout the movement, and I make sure not to hyperextend my back at the top of the swing.

Pull-Ups Variations

Pull-ups are a staple in my routine, and they add a layer of upper body strength to the Helen CrossFit Workout.

  • Strict Pull-Ups: I keep my body straight, pull myself up until my chin is over the bar, and then lower back down with control.
  • Kipping Pull-Ups: For a bit more speed, I use a kipping pull-up, where I incorporate a swing motion from my hips and legs to propel my chin above the bar. It’s essential to master the hip snap to make these efficient.

Running Tips

Running is about pacing and stamina. My tips for maintaining speed without burning out are:

  • Start Steady: I begin with a steady pace that I can maintain throughout the workout.
  • Breathe: I focus on my breathing to keep it consistent and to help pace my run.
  • Form: Even when I’m tired, I pay attention to my running form—keeping my shoulders relaxed and my head up.

Each movement in the Helen CrossFit Workout challenges different aspects of my fitness, from power in kettlebell swings to endurance and speed in the run and pull-ups. By focusing on the technique and variations of these exercises, I know I can strive for better performance and time in my next Helen WOD. Let’s get after it!

Boat Interior Design man in gym hanging on pull up bar performing pull ups as part of helen crossfit workout
by Pinterest

Scaling Options

When I first approached the Helen workout, I knew that scaling was key for my progress, especially as a beginner. Customizing each component to match my level made the workout achievable and allowed me to improve steadily.

Running: If the 400-meter run feels daunting, I start with a shorter distance or a walking pace. It’s all about keeping the heart rate up without burning out too quickly.

Kettlebell Swings: The prescribed weight of 1.5 pood for men and 1 pood for women can be scaled down. I sometimes use a lighter kettlebell to maintain form and prevent injury.

Pull-Ups: This part is often the most challenging for many, including me. Here are the modifications I’ve tried:

  • Banded Pull-Ups: A resistance band provides support and helps me to complete the pull-up motion.
  • Ring Rows: I keep my feet on the ground and pull my body upwards, which really helps build my upper body strength.
  • Jumping Pull-Ups: I stand on a box or platform and jump into the pull-up, focusing on the negative phase.
  • Kipping Pull-Ups: As I progressed, incorporating a kip helps me to use momentum and complete more reps.

For intermediates, these modifications still apply. I focus on smaller sets with minimal rest to maintain intensity, or increase the kettlebell weight slightly.

Tailoring the Helen CrossFit workout to my fitness level keeps me excited and engaged while fostering continuous improvement. Whether we’re beginners or at an intermediate level, scaling options ensure that we can all enjoy and benefit from Helen WOD!

Boat Interior Design woman  in gym training in sling trainer to get fit for crossfit
by Pinterest

My Experience With This CrossFit Workout

The moment I stepped into the realm of CrossFit, the Helen WOD was an elusive beast I had heard athletes at my gym rave about. Intrigued and eager, I decided to take on this notorious benchmark WOD.

First Encounter:

  • Round 1: It started off exciting; the 400-meter run seemed doable. I powered through.
  • Kettlebell Swings: 21 reps felt heavy, but I managed with determination.
  • Pull-Ups: 12 reps where every pull pushed my limits.

My lungs were on fire, and I began to appreciate the workout’s deceptive simplicity—devised to test not just strength but endurance and willpower.

Progress Over Time:
As weeks turned into months, I saw a transformation.

  • My running pace increased.
  • Kettlebell swings moved from scaled to the prescribed 1.5 pood.
  • Pull-ups became smoother, less of a challenge and more of a rhythm.

Each time I completed the Helen workout, I’d shave off precious seconds, marking my progress—a true testament to the effectiveness of CrossFit’s varied, high-intensity approach.

Frequently Asked Questions about Helen CrossFit Workout

What is a good Helen time for CrossFit?

A good time for the Helen CrossFit workout is around 9 to 10 minutes for advanced athletes. This challenging workout consists of a sprint, kettlebell swings, and pull-ups, testing your speed, strength, and endurance.

What is the heavy Helen CrossFit workout?

The heavy Helen CrossFit workout is a more intense version of the classic Helen, featuring increased kettlebell weight (up to 70 lbs for men, 53 lbs for women) and possibly weighted pull-ups, pushing athletes to their limits.

What is the Helen strategy?

The Helen strategy involves pacing the 400-meter runs to maintain energy, breaking the kettlebell swings and pull-ups into manageable sets to minimize fatigue, and ensuring swift transitions between exercises to optimize time.

How many rounds is Helen CrossFit Workout?

The Helen CrossFit workout consists of three rounds, combining a 400-meter run, 21 kettlebell swings, and 12 pull-ups in each round. It’s designed to be fast-paced, requiring both cardiovascular and muscular endurance.

What is your time for the Helen CrossFit workout? Tell me in the comment section. Make sure to also try CrossFit Back Workouts and Lower Body CrossFit Workouts.

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