You already know that some of this sport’s toughest workouts are unloaded bodyweight WODs, but did you know that empty barbell WODS can also be seriously hard? We’ve listed down nine workouts that require a barbell without weight plates.

Psst! Don’t forget to check out our full collection of barbells.

9 Empty Bar WODs to Break a Serious Sweat

1. Jackie

• 1,000-meter row
• 45-pound thruster, 50 reps (empty Olympic barbell)
• 30 pull-ups

Whenever a workout is named after a girl, you know to be afraid. Indeed, that’s the appropriate emotion to have going into Jackie. While this workout will only take somewhere between six to 14 minutes (depending on your fitness level), it’ll mess you up faster than you can say “Greg Glassman.

The row will tax your forearms before you hit the thrusters — which are designed to tax your central nervous system. And those final 30 pull-ups? They’re taxing even if you know how to butterfly.

2. Five Rounds for Time

• 15 empty barbell thrusters
• 10 burpees over the bar

Harder than it looks, this couplet is a lung burner! The goal here is to hold onto the empty barbell and do all five rounds of the thrusters unbroken. During those fourth and fifth rounds, your legs, core, and shoulders will be feeling it.

female athlete performing burpees

3. Empty Barbell Mile

• 25 back squats
• 25 front squats
• 25 OH squats
• 400-meter run
• 25 strict press
• 25 push press
• 25 push jerks
• 400-meter run
• 50 hang squat cleans
• 400-meter run
• 50 hang power snatch
• 400-meter run

Courtesy of CrossFit Apex in Souderton, PA, the empty barbell mile is intended to be a partner, synchro workout. Yep, that means each athlete grabs a barbell and completes all of the reps.

First, you’ll wreck your glutes, hamstrings, and quads with 75 reps of varying squats. Then, after a quarter mile run, you test your shoulders with 75 reps of shoulder press variations. After a second 400-meter run, you’ll hold on for dear life as you try to cycle 50 hang squat cleans. After a third 400-meter run, you’ll complete 50 hang power snatches before finishing the mile with your last loop. Talk about a full-body burn!

4. Two-Minute AMRAP

• Barbell bicep curls

A finisher workout courtesy of ICE NYC in Manhattan, New York, this two-minute burner will make you look more pumped than Dave Lipson. Keep the reps clean, making sure not to kip or use momentum to get the barbell up. If you can’t do 15 unbroken reps with the 45# barbell, use either the 35# or 15# instead.

male athlete holding barbell for empty barbell WOD

5. Filthy Fifty

• 50 box jumps
• 50 jumping pull-ups
• 50 kettlebell swings
• 50 steps walking lunge
• 50 hanging knee-to-elbow raises
• 50 push press, 45 pounds
• 50 back extensions
• 50 wall ball shots, 20 lb. ball
• 50 burpees
• 50 double-unders

Filthy Fifty is a classic chipper workout. With 10 different movements and 500 total reps, the empty barbell only makes up 10% of the WOD. However, after the jumping pull-ups and hanging knee-to-elbow raises, you’ll be shocked by just how much your lats, shoulders, and core feel that push-press — and those wall balls after? Brutal.

6. Empty Barbell “CrossFit Total”

In 15 minutes with an empty barbell complete the following:
• Max reps back squat
• Max reps push press
• Max reps thruster

A variation on the CrossFit Total, this empty barbell WOD requires some strategy. How long do you get to rest between movements is up to you, but at the 15-minute mark, whether you still have more gas in the tank to thruster or not, you have to put the barbell down. The goal here is to move efficiently and quickly. If you ever pause for more than three seconds — for instance at the top of a squat or at your chest between push presses — that round is up.

7. Empty Barbell Karen

• 150 empty barbell thrusters for time

Karen, or 150 wall balls for time, is another classic. Try it with thrusters — which mimic the wallball — instead. Use this as a benchmark, repeating it every six months or so to test how much you’ve improved.

8. Three Rounds for Reps

In 4 minutes, complete:
• 5 ring muscle-ups
• Max empty barbell bench press
• Rest remaining time

The next time you and a buddy are in the mood to completely destroy your chest, try this 12-minute workout. The 5 ring muscle-ups will tax your shoulders and chest just enough to make that bench press spicy. The time you get to recover should be enough time to prep your body for five more ring muscle-ups, but how much will your bench reps drop? Time to find out! Just make sure you have a spot. Can’t do a ring muscle-up? Scale it to ring rows.

9. Empty Barbell Fran

• Empty barbell thruster
• Pull-ups

What’s a better way to prep for the gym (and life) than trying another variation of Fran? There’s nowhere to hide in this WOD, and while it might be quick-quick-quick (think two to four minutes of work), you’ll probably still be graced with the Fran cough. After you’ve tried it with butterfly or kipping pull-ups, do it with strict pull-ups.