Resources > The Complete Guide to Partner WODs

The Complete Guide to Partner WODs

There's one aspect of CrossFit that makes it unique to everything else. Something that really stands it out from the crowd and it’s the reason why so many people keep coming back for more! Partner WODs!

Partner WODs offer something that is unlike any other gym-based activity. You can pop into your local box, take a look at the whiteboard, and jump into a class with your best pal. What could be better?

There are also plenty of partner WOD types out there to keep you on your toes. Sometimes, you'll be working with your partner to complete the workout; other times, you might be working against them (in a nice way) to encourage each other to push themselves to the best of their abilities.

There are plenty of options either way, and this article will explore all the best types of partner WODs! By the end of this, you should have an idea of how they work (and be desperate to jump into them with your friends).

Generate 1,000s of Partner WODs

1,000s of Partner WODs, with full definitions and scaling options. Filter based on equipment you have and skills you both know. Download now for free.

Rated 4.7/5 based on 1685 ratings

What Is A Partner WOD?

Before we get going, let's talk about what a partner WOD is. It might seem pretty self-explanatory, but there are a couple of variations we might come across.

A partner WOD can be an EMOM, AMRAP, RFT, or anything else we're used to seeing in standard CrossFit workouts. The only difference is that you're completing the workouts with your friend.

As long as you have a partner to work with, you can complete a partner WOD. Usually, they'll ask for twice the usual amount of volume. While this might sound tricky at first, you're offered a lot more rest since your partner can pick up half of the slack for you.

Sometimes, you'll work with your partner to complete a designated number of reps. If you have strengths in an area that they don't, you can take over some of the reps. If you have weaknesses, they can take the lead. There's a lot of give-and-take with partner WODs, and a lot of it comes down to strategy and how you want to tackle it.

Remember! You can generate 1,000s of Partner workouts in seconds with our online generator and mobile apps here.

Partners performing box jumps

Via Unsplash

The Different Types Of Partner WOD

Sometimes, partner WODs look intimidating when written down. Once you've done a few, they make perfect sense, but the first couple can really make you wonder what they mean.

Thankfully, this article will help you understand the ins and outs of the significant types of partner WODs. We'll teach you the terminology and what is expected of you. From there, you can start programming them yourself to do with a partner the next time you're both in the box!

1) You Go I Go (YGIG)

Perhaps the most popular partner WODs are "You Go I Go" (YGIG) WODs. The premise is simple, one partner works while the other rests. The execution is what makes these workouts gruelling.

Generally, with YGIG WODs, the volume is doubled (or sometimes even tripled). At first glance, it might seem like they're relatively easy, considering you get to rest the whole time while your partner works, but you'll quickly realise how wrong you are.

There are two main ways to complete an YGIG WOD. Each way depends on you and your partner and how you like to challenge each other.

The first way is where you both work together. This means you come up with a pace at the start of the workout and stick to it with them. You encourage each other throughout, and overall, you have a great time!

The second way is brutal (though it's also a lot of fun). You can challenge your friend by sprinting through your reps and ensuring their rest period is as short as possible. Of course, they could do it right back, and you could end up either with the quickest WOD time of the century or the quickest burnout any box has ever seen. Either way, if you complete a YGIG as a competition with your partner every now and then, you'll have a great laugh about it.

Here are some examples of YGIG WODs:

You Go I Go:
10 Rounds For Time:
1 Round of DT (12 Deadlifts, 9 Hang Power Cleans, 6 Push Jerks)

Here, you can work with your partner to complete 10 rounds of DT (which equals 5 rounds each). You rest while they work, which is the only break you get throughout.

You Go I Go:
300 Wall Balls
Swap Partner When Reps Are Broken

The goal is simple, only one partner works to chip away at a total of 300 wall balls. The further into the workout you get, the harder it'll be to hold on, and you might force your partner back into the wall balls before they're ready to go!

You Go I Go:
30 Rounds For Time:
5 Pull-Ups
10 Push-Ups
15 Air Squats

For this one, we have to complete 1 round of Cindy (Pull-ups, Push-ups, and Air Squats) before our partner has to do the same. It works out to 15 rounds each.

Here’s a great video demonstrating how a You Go I Go workout looks:

2) Partner Chippers

Partner Chipper WODs are also a popular choice for partner WODs in general programming. Usually, we're offered a workout about twice as hard (if not harder) than a usual one.

The aim is to get through the substantial number of reps with your partner, chipping away at each movement slowly over time. This type of workout offers a compromise that you won't find in many other types of partner WODs.

For example, if the workout calls for 400 Handstand Push-Ups and you're amazing at gymnastics, you might offer to do 300 of them (over time) while your partner only does 100 (rather than the typical half-and-half split). To make up for that, your partner might offer to do 300 calories on the Assault Bike because their engine is amazing, while you only have to do 100 calories.

There's a lot of give-and-take with these types of WODs. Working out the strategy before you tackle it with your partner is what makes these ones so fascinating!

Here are some examples of Partner Chippers:

For Time:
400 Assault Bike Calories
400 Handstand Push-Ups

While 400 might sound like a substantial number of reps, it works out to be a lot easier with a partner. You can complete them at the same time (chipping away 2 reps at a time while you work), or you can complete them in YGIG style (which is much slower but allows you to rest).

For Time:
50 Toes-To-Bar
100 Power Cleans
200 Wall Balls

Again, the strategy here can make this workout much easier than it looks. Often with partner WODs, they look impossible until you realise you're working with another person to complete it.

For Time:
500 Row Calories

Here is a great example of how simple a Chipper can be. We can row at the same time and chip down the calories. If you're a better rower, you might offer to cover 300-350 of the calories, while your partner only needs to do 150-200.

Here’s a great video by Kristi Eramo-O’Connell (a CrossFit Games athlete). With the help of her husband, they run through a 40 minute partner chipper: https://youtu.be/cZlwDN3ayas?t=221

The WOD starts around 3:41 :)

3) Synchro Partner WODs

The next type is a Synchro workout. These offer something completely different to what you might expect from a partner WOD, but it's also great to build teamwork and synergy with your friends.

In a Synchro WOD, both partners complete the reps and movements at the same time. Typically, it features movements that require a certain level of coordination and endurance (like Burpees or Muscle-Ups). That way, you have to push yourself to keep up with your friend because if even one of you fails a rep, you both lose the rep!

Synchro WODs are especially great for anyone looking to compete with their friends in a team competition. They’re often a requirement for most team competitions, so the sooner you can work through reps simultaneously, the better off you'll be.

Generally, Synchro WODs look like normal workouts. They're not often as long since it's hard to keep up synchronisation for extended periods, but the aim is to complete the workouts alongside your partners.

Here are some examples of Synchro WODs:

5 Rounds For Time:
5 Synchro Burpees
5 Synchro Muscle-Ups

As we said, synchro WODs aren't often long WODs. Each partner has to complete 5 reps of each movement 5 times here before they can finish. If at any point either of them loses synchronisation, they are "no-repped."

For Time:
1000m Row
25 Synchro Burpees Over Rower

Here, both partners must complete a 1000m Row. When this happens, one partner may complete the distance quicker than the other (don't worry, we're not evil enough to make you pull at exactly the same rate). The partner that finishes first gets to rest for as long as it takes the other to finish, but then both of them have to complete 25 synchro Burpees before they can end!

For Time:
100 Synchro Pull-Ups

Synchro work is great when we're dealing with highly technical gymnastics movements. It pushes both partners to complete the reps simultaneously while managing fatigue, which is excellent for practice (and encouraging your buddies to work with you).

Here’s a demonstration of a quick synchro workout featuring Thrusters and Burpees Over Bar:

4) Cardio AMRAP Partner Workouts

We can also find the more generic types of CrossFit workouts in our partner WODs. The Cardio AMRAP is a great example, but they don’t offer a lot of rest for either partner (unless you know where to find it).

In a Cardio AMRAP, one partner must work towards a cardio-based goal (like a distance or calorie target). At the same time, the other completes rounds like in a normal AMRAP WOD. The partners switch over when the cardio-based goal is complete, and the partner doing the cardio picks up where their friend left off in the AMRAP.

These types of workouts offer a different kind of rest. While most people don't consider an AMRAP or a piece of cardio equipment as rest, when done right, they give you a chance to catch up on your breathing and focus on your technique to bring your heart rate down. Those skills transition amazingly over to everything else in CrossFit.

Here are some examples of Cardio AMRAPs:

20 Min Time Cap
Partner 1 Completes
400m Run

Partner 2 AMRAP
5 Burpees
10 Wall Balls
15 Power Snatch

In this example, one partner must complete a 400m run. The other must work on the reps that we've highlighted, and they switch over when the first partner gets back from their run. They keep switching until they hit the Time Cap!

20 Min Time Cap
Partner 1 Completes
30 BikeErg Calories

Partner 2 AMRAP
10 Muscle-Ups
10 Thrusters

This time, we're working towards calories rather than distance. To score this, we record the rounds completed by both partners at the end (the calories are there to slow them down).

20 Min Time Cap
Partner 1 Completes
5 Handstand Push-Ups
10 Pistol Squats
15 Pull-Ups

Partner 2 Completes
Row Calories

We can flip the Cardio AMRAP around and come up with the above workout. Here, we use the rounds to pace, while the main focus is racking up Row calories by the end of the workout.

5) Alternating EMOMs

Finally, we can introduce EMOMs to the world of partner WODs. EMOMs are another classic style of CrossFit workouts, but the way we tackle them in partner WODs is slightly different.

In an alternating EMOM, both partners must work on different movements throughout. There will be an even number of movements; each one must be completed every minute on the minute (as EMOMs suggest).

Battle ropes

Via Unsplash

There isn't a typical goal here, as an EMOM generally works on our technique and pacing rather than a score or completion in a certain time. Still, it's great to experience an EMOM with a partner to see how you're both getting on and bounce off each other to keep you both motivated.

Here are some examples of Alternating EMOMs:

16 Min EMOM
Min 1: 10 Pull-Ups
Min 2: 15 Calorie Row

One partner completes 10 Pull-Ups, while the other completes a 15 Calorie Row. After that, they swap movements and keep repeating until the 16 minutes are up.

20 Min EMOM
Min 1: 10 Burpees
Min 2: 12 Assault Bike Calories

Again, we just swap between these two movements for the workout. Our partner will always alternate with whichever one we're working on.

10 Min EMOM
Min 1: 5-8 Muscle-Ups
Min 2: 10-15 Handstand Push-Ups

This one is definitely up there in terms of difficulty, as it features high-calibre Rx movements. Still, it's great to work through with a partner if you fancy a true challenge!

Generate 1,000s of Partner WODs

1,000s of Partner WODs, with full definitions and scaling options. Filter based on equipment you have and skills you both know. Download now for free.

Rated 4.7/5 based on 1685 ratings

(in)Famous Partner WODs

As far as partner WODs go, there aren't necessarily any "hardcore" partner WODs like we might find in other mediums in CrossFit. Still, there are plenty of ruthless workouts that you can try with a friend, and here are just some of the best ones.

Partner Mary
20 Min YGIG AMRAP
5 Handstand Push-Ups
10 Pistol Squats
15 Pull-Ups

Mary is a classic AMRAP Benchmark workout. You get 20 minutes to complete as many rounds as possible of the listed movements. When we add a partner element, we try to get more efficient and speedy rounds out, allowing ourselves to have plenty of rest while we switch between work rounds and rest rounds.

Murph Demarcation
For Time (with Weight Vest):

Buy-In: 1000m Row

800m Run (Together)
50 Pull-Ups
100 Push-Ups
150 Air Squats
800m Run (Together)
30 Pull-Ups
60 Push-Ups
90 Air Squats
800m Run (Together)
20 Pull-Ups
40 Push-Ups
60 Air Squats
800m Run (Together)

Buy-Out: 1000m Row

Split into more manageable sections, the partner variation of Murph offers a new challenge to participants. You can work with your partner to complete the reps however you think works best. The volume or the movements and the running distance are the same as regular Murph. The Row addition is there to make sure you're getting just as tough a workout even with the rest you might get while your partner moves.

Pair Up Throwdown 2021
35 Min Time Cap:
30 Synchro Deadlifts
30 Synchro Bar Facing Burpees
400m Run

20 Synchro Deadlifts
20 Synchro Bar Facing Burpees
400m Run

10 Synchro Deadlifts
10 Synchro Bar Facing Burpees

5 Min Rest

10 Synchro Thrusters
10 Synchro Pull-Ups
400m Run

20 Synchro Thrusters
20 Synchro Pull-Ups
400m Run

30 Synchro Thrusters
30 Synchro Pull-Ups
400m Run

There's a LOT of movements in this one. It's tough because you have to commit to many moves while also staying in a rhythm with your partner. If they stop, you have to stop, and vice versa. This is an excellent (albeit brutal) partner WOD to see if you and your mate are on the same level!

Bottom of snatch

Via Unsplash

Benefits Of Partner WODs

Partner WODs are what makes CrossFit so unique. You can jump into a workout with your best pal (or worst enemy) and get a seriously good calorie burner out of it. No other sport or activity offers something quite like a partner WOD.

For that reason, we thought it was time to talk about all the amazing benefits that come with them. If you have yet to try one, maybe one of these will convince you!

Teamwork

It goes without saying that partner WODs offer a chance to work in a team, unlike a typical CrossFit WOD. You can push yourself and your partner in ways that you otherwise wouldn't be able to achieve.

You can learn from each other and pace off of each other while also giving valuable tips and encouragement to your pals when they're working, and you're resting.

Strategy

The strategy of partner WODs is what makes them so exciting to most people. Discussing how you're going to tackle the workout with your friends before you dive into them is something you can't find anywhere else.

It's also incredibly rewarding to find out you managed to get your strategy right (though it's extremely frustrating if you really mess it up!)

Uniqueness

As we've said, you can't find partner WODs anywhere else that offers the same drive to complete them. You might already notice that the partner WOD days are some of the most successful days programmed at your local box.

That's because people love the element of community and camaraderie that comes with CrossFit, and partner WODs are the perfect chance to demonstrate that.

Drawbacks of Partner WODs

It's not always sunshine and rainbows with these things. Of course, if you look at something for long enough, you're bound to find faults and flaws in its programming. Partner WODs are no different, and there are a few drawbacks you might notice.

Confusion

Thankfully, this one is a short-term drawback. Partner WODs can look quite confusing if you haven't tried them before. They don't seem to make much logistical sense from the outside looking in, and it's enough to put many people off from ever trying them.

Once you get over that fear, though and dive into your first few partner WODs, you'll learn that they're not nearly as confusing as you first thought!

Pressure

Naturally, when you're working alongside somebody else, there's a great deal more pressure to perform for them. You typically don't want to let the side down, and you'll work extra hard to not let that be the case.

Partner snatch workout

Via Unsplash

For most people, this constant pressure is a driving force of partner WODs and encourages them to push beyond their usual boundaries. For some, though, it's much harder to get into a partner WOD, especially when you're exhausting yourself trying to keep up with your fitter friend.

Our advice if you suffer from this drawback is to take it easy. Don't worry so much about what your partner is doing, as they're most likely only there to support you (even if you royally mess it all up).

Summary

Partner WODs are fascinating and enthralling. If you can get someone to come along and try one out with you, you'll find out just how amazing they can be. It's well worth pushing yourself and your mates to the limit to try and complete one!

Generate 1,000s of Partner WODs

1,000s of Partner WODs, with full definitions and scaling options. Filter based on equipment you have and skills you both know. Download now for free.

Rated 4.7/5 based on 1685 ratings

The WOD Generator App