This chaotic fast-paced routine is rite of passage for many CrossFitters.


“The Ladies,” as they are known in the CrossFit vernacular, have a collective reputation that is anything but flattering. Punishing and unforgiving, a better name for these workouts might be “widowmakers.” Helen may be the most demure of the bunch, with only three rounds, covering three total movements, but what she lacks in diversity, she more than makes up for in intensity. “Helen is gorgeous in its simplicity and what it does to the body,” says Jason Leydon, founder and head trainer at CrossFit Milford in Connecticut. “This is one of those classic CF workouts — it’s not heavy, it’s not too short. It is just right to have everybody get super nasty with it.”

Coach Says:

  1. DON’T HOLD BACK “There is no hiding in this workout because if you try to hold back and rest on the KB swing or pace out the run, then that time will get away from you quickly.”
  2. RUN WITH PURPOSE “Having the big engine to sustain the run is important. Those who can maintain or even increase their run splits as they get into the second and third rounds will outpace everyone else.”
  3. KNOW THYSELF “If you know your max time in the 400 is 60 seconds, then don’t try to set a new PR on the run. Just hold it around 1:10 to 1:15 and look to keep that pacing throughout so you can still function in the other modalities with good effort.”
  4. KB CONSERVATION “Keep that neutral spine intact during the KB swings. Your midline will be taxed from the running position, so make sure you maintain a tight core and neutral spine to allow for efficient movement.

The Workout

  • 3 Rounds for Time:
  • 400-Meter Run
  • 21 Kettlebell Swings (Men: 55 pounds | Women: 36 pounds)
  • 12 Pull-Ups*

* To scale Helen down a bit, use resistance bands or perform jumping pull-ups on the bar. You also can shorten the run or use a lighter kettlebell.

Degree Of Difficulty

  • Technical: 4.0
  • Metabolic: 10.0
  • Volume: 5.0
  • OVERALL: 6.33 (out of 10)


  • Firebreather: 7 minutes or less
  • Excellent: 7 to 7:30
  • Good: 7:31 to 8
  • Fair: 8:01 or more

* “The main thing is understanding and dealing with that pain for those seven to 10 minutes,” Leydon says. “You can’t stop, but you have to keep telling yourself to slow down a bit. Learning how to truly get to that dark place and perform as long as you can while you are there is the key.”

For more workouts and tips from Jason Leydon, visit CrossFit Milford’s official site at crossfitmilford.