Looking to switch up your gym routine to keep you motivated through the festive season? This fun CrossFit workout might be just the thing…

The busiest month of the year has officially arrived, and our diaries are filled with mulled wine-based catch-ups with friends, family gatherings and nights curled up on the sofa watching Christmas films. With so many wholesome activities on offer, going to the gym might not seem all that appealing, mainly because working up a sweat isn’t very festive.

And although it’s completely fine for your training to take a backseat during the festive season, we all know how good movement is for our bodies and our brains. If you’re looking for the motivation to get to the gym this month, and listening to Christmas songs while you lift isn’t your style, we have the perfect workout to help you feel strong, fit and festive in equal measure.

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The 12 Days of Christmas workout is a classic CrossFit WOD (workout of the day) that will test your endurance (and your patience). Based on the traditional 12 Days Of Christmas song, there are 12 movements in this workout and one movement is added per round, for a total of 364 reps.

“It’s a fun, festive way to train, but it’s still a really tough workout,” says personal trainer Hannah Ashby.

You’ll need a range of equipment for this full-body workout including a barbell, a kettlebell, a box, a skipping rope, a plate and you’ll also need to station yourself near a pull-up bar. However, the great thing about this style of workout is that you can include whatever exercises you’d like, as long as you stick to the format, so you can tailor it to your likes and dislikes.

What is the 12 days of Christmas workout?

This workout is “for time”, meaning you have to try and complete all the reps in the fastest time possible. The movements are as follows:

1 sumo deadlift high-pull

2 thrusters

3 push presses

4 power cleans

5 power snatches

6 kettlebell swings

7 pull-ups

8 knees-to-elbows

9 box jumps

10 double-unders

11 burpees

12 overhead walking lunges

If you’re confused about the format, think of the Christmas song. You start with one sumo deadlift high-pull, then two thrusters and one sumo deadlift high-pull, then three push presses, two thrusters and one sumo deadlift high-pull, and so on – making your way to the 12th movement before moving back down through them all.

You can choose whatever weights you want for this workout, but as a general guide, a 25kg barbell, 16kg kettlebell, 10kg plate and 20-inch box are recommended for women.

How to modify the 12 days of Christmas workout

This is a challenging workout, with a huge variety of movements that incorporate weightlifting and fitness, so it’s definitely OK to make modifications. Here’s an idea of how you can modify each movement:

Sumo deadlift high-pull

This movement incorporates a sumo deadlift, which means your feet are wider than shoulder-width apart and your grip on the barbell is narrower than shoulder-width apart. From there, bend your knees and push through the floor to lift the barbell up. As it reaches hip height, shrug your shoulders to bring the barbell up towards your chest, with your elbows pointing upwards.

To modify this, you can do a traditional deadlift with a barbell or a dumbbell.


To complete a thruster, front rack the barbell so it sits on your shoulders with your grip shoulder-width apart and your elbows pointing forwards. Squat down and, as you move upwards, drive your hips and push the barbell overhead, locking out your arms.

“To modify this, use a lighter kettlebell instead of a barbell, especially if you struggle with front rack mobility,” Ashby recommends.

Push presses

A push press is similar to a thruster but with no front squat. To complete this movement, front rack the barbell with your elbows pointing downwards. Bend your knees slightly before pushing the barbell overhead.

“To scale the movement, lower the weight. If an empty barbell is too heavy, then use two lighter dumbbells,” Ashby says.

Power cleans

A power clean is a traditional Olympic weightlifting movement. Place the barbell on the floor and find a grip that is comfortable, usually just wider than shoulder width. Bend your knees and bring your hips low so you’re squatting slightly and hold the barbell with your arms straight, keeping your back straight too. Lift the barbell off the floor, keeping it close to your body and driving through the hips until it lands in a front rack position, bending your legs slightly as you catch the bar.

Lower the weight to modify this movement or use a dumbbell. You can also replace this with squats or deadlifts if you’re unfamiliar with the movement.

Power snatches

The power snatch is another Olympic weightlifting move. Start with the barbell on the floor with a wide grip, bend your knees and lower your hips before driving upwards with your entire body, keeping the barbell close to you and shrugging your shoulders to bring it overhead, locking out your arms. Bend your knees slightly as you catch it overhead and then return to the floor. Read our full guide to the barbell snatch here.

To modify this movement, lower the weight or use a dumbbell to do single-arm snatches.

Kettlebell swings

Hold the kettlebell in both hands in front of you, keeping your arms straight. Hinge from the hips to drive the kettlebell forwards up to shoulder height. “Make sure it’s a hinge movement and not a squat to avoid back injuries,” Ashby recommends. Read our full guide to kettlebell swings here.

Use a lighter kettlebell to scale this movement.


Hold on to a pull-up bar with your hands shoulder-width apart and facing away from you. Pull your entire body weight up until your chin is over the bar.

To scale this movement, wrap a long resistance band around the bar and put one foot in it to help distribute your body weight or jump up to the bar before pulling yourself up for extra drive.


Hanging off the pull-up bar, with your grip slightly wider than shoulder-width apart and your arms fully extended, bend your arms slightly to pull your knees up towards your elbows, flexing at the hips.

If you struggle with this movement, you can do sit-ups instead.

The RX version of this workout calls for a 20 inch box for women.

Box jumps

Standing with the box one short step in front of you, bend your knees slightly and bring your arms behind you before jumping upwards onto the box. Land with a slight bend in your knees before stepping back down onto the floor.

To modify this movement, simply step on and off the box.


A double-under is a skipping movement where the skipping rope passes underneath you twice per one jump. Read our full guide to double-unders here.

To modify this movement, switch to single skips.


To complete a burpee, put your hands on the floor, shoulder width apart and jump your feet back to a plank position. Bring your chest to the floor before pushing yourself back up, jumping your feet to meet your hands, standing up and jumping with your hands in the air.

To modify this movement, don’t bring your chest to the floor and/or don’t jump at the top of the movement.

Overhead walking lunges

Hold a plate above your head with your arms locked out, lunge forward with one leg, bringing the opposite knee to touch the floor behind you.

“To modify this movement, hold the weight at your chest or complete the lunges without a weight,” Ashby recommends.

For more workout ideas and tips, head to the Strong Women Training Club.

Images: Getty

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