Helen Workout Tips

The workout Helen is used in CrossFit as a benchmark workout and a test of overall fitness.

This is a simple workout as it doesn’t take much gear and you can do anywhere (even on the back of a ship if needed).

There are no excuses not to try the workout “Helen”. Check out these tips and improve your time.

Helen workout

Complete 3 rounds for time

400 meter run

1.5 pood (55 lbs) Kettlebell swing 21 reps

Pull-ups 12 reps

*If no kettle bell use dumbbell or sand bag.

If you cannot do regular pull ups do Australian pull ups or ring rows. You can also substitute with jumping pull ups.

This is a tough workout no matter how you slice it.

But in order to improve your time that is the best way to do it. Break each movement down in to parts and them work on each one.


#1. Go to a track and establish your 400 meter run time as a baseline. Put that in your training log. Dont have a training log? Get started here:

#2. Perform short sprint workouts to increase your speed and cardio.

#3. Learn the kettle bell swing using mostly hips and arms like a pendulum swing.

#4. If you don’t have a kettlebell then use a dumbbell. If you don’t have a dumbbell then make a DIY sandbag tips here:

#5. Establish the weight you can swing 21 times unbroken. If less than 1.5 pood (53 lbs) then continue to work with the lower wait till your form gets better and endurance increases to get you ready for prescribed (Rx) weight.

#6. Establish how many kipping pull ups you can do on one bar session. Put that in your training log. If not 12 then work on jumping pull ups, Australian pull ups, ring rows and negative pull ups.

#7. Work on your grip strength. More athletes fail on pull ups due to falling off bar with a weak grip. Perform bar hangs, farmers walk, towel pull ups and rope climbs for example.


#8. Now put it all together with a half Helen (3 rounds).
200 meter run

10 kettle bell swings (scale weight as necessary)

6 pull ups

Note time and weight in your training log.

#9. Once you master half Helen then jump up to full effort and scale weight as necessary.

#10. now go full Rx (as prescribed, not scaled) and note your time.

#11. Turn up some rocking tunes and make sure to have a buddy to time you and cheer you on.

#12. Prepare yourself mentally before you do the workout Helen. Visualize success and lowering your time.

#13. Some of you may not have room to run. If not then make a shuttle run with the space that you have. So if you have 25 meters – then do 16 shuttle runs going down and back. This is how you can do the workout Helen even if your on a ship in the middle of the Pacific ocean.

#14. If you don’t have a kettle bell, then use a dumbbell. If no dumbbell then use a sandbag. You can easily make a sand bag with a trash can bag (doubled) and some sand. Wrap with duck tape. If it breaks then wrap it again with more tape. See the video below on how to make a sand bag or sand ball.

How to make a DIY Sand ball

Check out Wall Mounted Pull Up system at Christians Fitness Factory

Helen workout CrossFit times

Beginner – sub 13 minutes

Intermediate – sub 11:30

Advanced – sub 10:30

Elite: sub 9:00

CrossFit Games athlete Travis Meyer 6:34

James Fitzgerald 6:59

Questions from athletes in our gym.

Question: What is a good intermediate Helen workout time? Anything in the 11 minutes range is very good.

Question: Do you have a pair of shoes you recommend for CrossFit workouts?

Yes; we like the Reebok Men’s Crossfit Nano Training Shoe as an all around shoe.

It will work out good for the Helen wod or any routines with a lot of running.

Question: Where can I find out more info about CrossFit? Check out the CF main website here:

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