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“Barbara”

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CrossFit Benchmark WOD

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  • 5 Rounds For Time
  • 20 Pull-Ups
  • 30 Push-Ups
  • 40 Sit-Ups
  • 50 Air Squats
  • 3 minutes Rest

Complete 5 rounds of the repetitions in the order written. After each set of 50 Air Squats, you must take a 3 minute Rest. Time each round for reference and pacing purposes.

Score is total time to complete all 5 rounds, including the prescribed rest. (Note: Do not include the last 3 minute Rest period after Round 5 in your overall score.)

Good Times for “Barbara” (estimate)
– Beginner: 50+ minutes
– Intermediate: 40-49 minutes
– Advanced: 30-39 minutes
– Elite: <29 minutes

Scaling Options

“Barbara” is meant to be done fast and relatively unbroken. This WOD is a true interval-style workout with built-in rest, which allows you to go hard during the “working” portion and recover during the 3 Minute Rest period.

To maintain the integrity of Barbara, scale the volume and/or the skill level (see: Push-Up Scaling | Pull-Up Scaling) so you can speed through the movements.

Intermediate
5 Rounds for Time
10 Pull-Ups
20 Push-Ups
30 Sit-Ups
40 Air Squats
3 minutes Rest

Beginner 
5 Rounds for Time
10 Ring Rows 
15 Bench/Incline Push-Ups
20 Anchored Sit-Ups
25 Air Squats
3 minutes Rest

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Background: "Barbara," one of CrossFit's first six "Girls" WODs, was first posted (without a name) on the CrossFit Main Site as the workout of the day for Sunday, July 13, 2003 (030713). The original version allowed 5 minutes rest between sets. It wasn't until later that year (September 27 (030927)) that the workout appeared with the name "Barbara" and specified only 3 minutes rest between rounds-the standard used in future appearances of the workout.

A September 2013 CrossFit Journal article stated: "Angie", "Barbara," and "Chelsea" are super simple (being comprised entirely of common calisthenics), very tough, dramatically reinforce the pull-up, and yet each presents a different metabolic challenge. "Angie" and "Barbara," contain pull-ups, push-ups, sit-ups, and squats. "Chelsea" contains pull-ups, push-ups, and squats but no sit-ups. For each of these three workouts the pull-ups clearly present the greatest challenge. And, in the workouts’ aftermath, most athletes expressed surprise at their significant lat, rear delt, and biceps soreness. At CrossFit the pull-up is sacrosanct and everyone needs more. "Angie," "Barbara," and "Chelsea" support these values and aims."

Tips and Strategy: Go fast and as unbroken as possible. If you need to break the reps into sets, do a "descending"/"cascading" rep scheme so the volume decreases as you go through the sets. For example, during the sets of Push-Ups: 12, 8, 6, 4.

Intended Stimulus: When athletes see that there is built-in Rest in "Barbara," they mistakenly believe that this workout will be easier than others; but in fact, "Barbara" is harder, because you can (and should) go uncomfortably fast during the "working" portion of the WOD. You should feel your arms, legs, and lungs burn deeply every time you enter a 3-minute Rest period, which should fly by, making you question whether or not your clock is working properly.

See also: ”The Girls” CrossFit WODs
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