An intriguing question for many as this is, what is the actual answer and is there a standardisation within the CrossFit curriculum?
Until very recently, there was not an internationally recognised set of levels per se within CrossFit, but there were some unofficial levels (i.e. not espoused by CrossFit LLC). These are useful to ascertain what level of CrossFit you fall into. One is more generalised, so easier to understand; whereas the other relies on data-rich analysis from many years and thousands of athletes, so is more useful to pinpoint accuracy. We will review them both. There is a 3rd (and new) option which is probably the simplest way to know your current CrossFit level.
We’ll get to that later…
The 4 Levels of CrossFit – “Athlete Skill Level”
This is a simple 4 tiered approach, split down as follows:
|1||Beginner||Beginner and capable of a beginners competition|
|2||Intermediate||Capable of Intermediate local or national competitions|
|3||Advanced||Capable of Regional or international competitions such as sanctional CrossFit events|
|4||Elite||The CrossFit Games and highest level of competition in the world. Often current or past professional CrossFit athletes|
In 2007, CrossFit Seattle opened up and Dave Werner (founder of CrossFit Seattle) devised a fairly rudimentary “Athletic Skills Level“.
Back in 2007 the internet and CrossFit were not as mature as they are today, so information was less widely available. However, this tabulation was useful back then and is still today.
Dave Werner’s CrossFit gym closed approximately 10 years later, but the table is still around and a version of it can be found below.
It outlines what each person should be able to do. Obviously, some people will fall into some categories for one aspect, then others for different aspects.
There would be a weighting and overall averaging which can be plotted in, say, a scatter chart, which would help better define which level you are at.
Glossary: BW bodyweight; TnG (touch and go); Reps (repetitions), KB (kettlebell).
|Level 1 Beginner||Level 2 Intermediate||Level 3 Advanced||Level 4 Elite|
|1. Squat||50 Air Squats||10 Air Squats||20 Alt Pistols (single leg squat) |
Back Squat 1-1.5x BW
|25 Alt Pistols|
Squat 2x BW
|2. Push||10 Push Ups||30 Push Ups|
Bench Press 1x BW
|40 Ring Push Ups|
Bench Press 1.25x BW
|60 Ring Push Ups|
|3. Rope Climb||Dead Hang Bar: 30 Secs||20ft Rope Climb||20ft Legless Rope Climb||2x 20ft Legless TnG|
|4. Core||30 Sit Ups||30 V-Ups||Overhead Squat 1x BW||Overhead Squat 1x BW 15 reps|
|5. Work||25 KB Swings||30 KB Snatch (24/16kg)||200 KB Snatch in 10 mins 24/16kg)||2 KB Clean & Jerk 150 reps in 10 mins (24/16kg)|
|6. Speed||400m Run 2:04||400m Run 1.34||400m Run 1:19||400m Run 1:04|
|7. Deadlift||0.75x BW||1.5x BW||2x BW||2.5x BW|
|8. Strict Press||0.25x BW||0.5x BW and 10 HSPU||0.75x BW and 10 HSPU||1x BW and 10 HSPU (strict)|
|9. Clean (Squat)||High-pull 0.5x BW||Power Clean 0.75x BW||Clean 1x BW||Clean 1.5x BW|
|10. Gymnastics||10 Knees to Chest||10 Knees to Elbow||20 Straight Leg Raises||Front Lever 15 seconds|
|11. Output||800m Run 4:20||800m Run 3:20||800m Run 2:50||800m Run 2:20|
|12. Row||500m Female 2:20, Male 1:55||500m Female 2:00, Male 1:45||500m Female 1:50, Male 1:32||500m Female 1:40, Male 1:25|
|13. Box Jump||10 inches||18 inches||25 inches||30 inches|
|14. Ring Dips||Dips 3||Dips 20||Dips 30||Dips 50|
|15. Pull Ups||3 Pull Ups||20||40||50|
|16. Muscle Up||Banded||1||10||15|
|18. Row (Med Dist)||2k Female 9:50, Male 8:10||2k Female 8:50, Male 7:30||5k Female 21:00, 6k Male 21:45||5k Female 20:00, 6k Male 20:00|
|19. Snatch (speed)||MedBall Clean x10||Snatch 0.5x BW||Snatch 1x BW||Snatch 1.25x BW|
|20. Benchmark||“Christine”: sub 15 minutes 3 rounds for time. 500m Row, 12 Deadlifts, 21 Box Jumps||“Helen”: sub 11:30. 3 rounds for time — 400m Run, 21 KB Swings, 12 Pull Ups||“Chelsea”: 30 minutes EMOM 30 – 5 Pull Ups, 10 Push Ups, 15 Squats||Mary: 15 rounds in 20 minutes of 5 Handstand Push Ups, 10 Pistols, 15 Pull Ups|
|21. 1-mile Run||9 mins||7 mins||6 mins||5 mins|
Things have moved on
This was compiled in 2007. The sport and standard of competition has come a long way since then.
When pitting these standards against today’s higher-level athletes, also adding in the current pool of competitive athletes from Level 2/3 upwards, the overall parameters may be higher and broader.
That said, it’s definitely a great basis to gauge your current level.
Using a graph
The table is difficult to digest, so I carried out an experiment by putting my current scorings into a scatter graph. See below how this looks:
Visualising our data to ascertain level
This scatter graph is much easier to visualise where one would sit as a CrossFit athlete utilising the ASL table.
As noted on the chart, the standard of CrossFit has come a long way since 2007. By relying on that older data, the results may be less favourable at my current level, because the overall level of CrossFit has increased exponentially in the last decade-plus.
That said, it is still a very good indicator of my level. In 15 years’ time say, this would likely be lower again with regard to plots, as I become older and the field of athletes became even more advanced.
Beyond The Whiteboard – Data-Rich Analysis
Established in 2008, this app was the first of many to start expounding all that valuable data.
It’s had the huge benefit of all that information from many 10’s of thousands of athletes over that time period to distil, analyse and allocate levels of fitness. This ranges from the 1 per-weekers to the elite.
The scoring is based on 1 – 100. It labels you quirky things like Dragon or Phoenix which gives it a little more interest than just pure stats.
8 Levels vs 10 Domains
Interestingly, BTWB analyses your fitness level over 8 levels, as opposed to the 10 domains on which CrossFit is founded. You can read more about that here.
As you enter all your workout stats after each session, it goes on the massive database, processing your scorings to provide an overall fitness level.
This is more pinpointed in its accuracy and makes for really interesting reading.
Oftentimes you might find you are right up there on certain benchmarks such as 1 mile run for time, but then right down on Max Overhead squat. This is the beauty of CrossFit played out in statistics.
Although a similar principle to the Athlete Skill Level, BTWB’s historic and constantly growing array of results in real-time provides a more accurate assessment of your current skill level.
Other CrossFit tracking Apps
There are many other Apps which do the similar things (data tracking, injury logs, diet tracking etc), but BTWB is unique in its data and athlete pool and the length of time its been around.
If you can afford to splash out on this, it’s $7.99 p/m. You need to use it for at least 1 year ideally.
This is to get 12 months of data logging. You can save $9 if you pay for it annually which brings the cost down to $81.
You can download the App on iOS or Android here.
Option 3 – The CrossFit Open – Check Your Level!
Perhaps the easiest way to know your current CrossFit Level is the simplest (and the newest) – do The CrossFit Open and use their new Levels system. This was announced in 2022.
The worldwide competition is every year, normally in March. This Best Gym Hacks article explains what ‘The Open’ is, the participation levels over the last 12 years, and its long-term plan.
In short, its a worldwide competition with a large array of sub-categories ranging from Teens, Masters of various cohorts and Adaptive.
This BGH article carefully breaks down the Adaptive Division for more information on that.
There is a total of 38 categories. 19 male and 19 female. These are broken down as follows:
|1||Male Teens 14-15||Females Teens 14-15|
|2||Male Teens 16-17||Females Teens 15-18|
|4||Male Masters 35-39||Female Masters 35-39|
|5||Male Masters 40-44||Female Masters 40-44|
|6||Male Masters 45-49||Female Masters 45-49|
|7||Male Masters 50-54||Female Masters 50-54|
|8||Male Masters 55-59||Female Masters 55-59|
|9||Male Masters 60-64||Female Masters 60-64|
|10||Male Masters 65+||Female Masters 65+|
|11||Men Adaptive: Upper Extremity||Women Adaptive: Upper Extremity|
|12||Men Adaptive: Lower Extremity||Women Adaptive: Lower Extremity|
|13||Men Adaptive: Neuromuscular||Women Adaptive: Neuromuscular|
|14||Men Adaptive: Vision||Women Adaptive: Vision|
|15||Men Adaptive: Short Stature||Women Adaptive: Short Stature|
|16||Men Adaptive: Seated Athletes (with hip function)||Women Adaptive: Seated Athletes (with hip function)|
|1||Men Adaptive: Seated Athletes (without hip function)||Women Adaptive: Seated Athletes (without hip function)|
|19||Men Adaptive: Intellectual||Women Adaptive: Intellectual|
So why is The Open good to check your current level?
As you can see, you can review your scoring against your age category. Equally, you can review your scoring against the entire field.
There are 3 weeks of workouts, 1 per week, that everybody does. These workouts are scaled for Teens and adapted for Adaptive athletes. You can choose to do the WODs RX or scaled, and your scoring is based upon your selection.
You can create Custom Leader boards in the App. This means your CrossFit Gym or local area can have its own mini leaderboard.
You can follow other athletes that you know to be of similar level too. All makes for great interaction.
What the CrossFit Levels looks like
Below are 3 screengrabs of my 3 CrossFit Open participations since 2012. Scroll down to understand what the levels mean.
It provides a very interesting take on how you are performing in comparison to the hundreds of thousands of others.
2022 – The first slide states I was in the 39th percentile in 2022 overall. (I missed 2 of the 3 WODs so scored zero for them). For WOD 22.1, my placing was up at the 87th percentile.
Worldwide Rank for 2022 was 18,550th.
2021 – The first slide shows a finish up in the 87th percentile, with all scores logged. Ranking 17,265 in the world.
2012 – (Long gap not doing the Open!) I was down in the 37th percentile. One workout I did not score which really knocked me down the order. Overall 15,705th in the world.
The CrossFit Games App is really easy to use. Toggling between #ranking and %percentile is easy – just one click.
The last slide shows the new Levels system being rolled out by CrossFit. You’ll notice I didn’t get award a a level. This is because I did not log a score for every workout in 2022!
How may people do The CrossFit Open each year?
Here’s a breakdown for the last 12 years. A noticeable peak in 2018, followed by a dip in 2019, then (a covid) trough in 2020.
The aim for CrossFit head honcho Eric Roza is 500,000 people next year.
CrossFit on ‘Levels’
Only athletes who participate in the 2022 Open will be eligible to receive a level in 2022. Following the close of the Open, all athletes who submit scores for every workout will automatically receive a level based on their overall performance.CrossFit LLC
What’s The Best Way To Check My Current Level Then?
The CrossFit Levels system is probably the best in terms of utilising and up-to-date data pool. Because it extrapolates all past and current data, you’ll get your actual level.
However…! You will have to wait until March 2023 to do that. Plus you need to ensure you enter every score – so not be ill, injured or away on holiday like I was, to be assured you get your level.
Get an App
Next best thing then is go get the BTWB App and log your figures. However…! You need to populate the Hero and Benchmark WOD, plus all your lifts. As noted earlier, 12 months of the App’s use will get you the best set of results. And it does cost a little bit of money.
So maybe the rudimentary Athlete Skill Level is for you, as much of that you probably already know.
Best Gym Hack
My suggestion is to that you print off our table, highlight all the boxes you fit into, then plot this on a free scatter graph online. You can use this tool here to do that.
The Key Takeaways
- Track your results by an App such as BTWB, or the one your CrossFit gym might use (SugarWOD, BoxMate, Wodify etc)
- Don’t get too bogged down, hung up or depressed on your performances. Remember that CrossFit is built so much upon fun. The minute it stops being fun, reassess what you’re doing and why you’re doing it
- We all have good days and bad days training
- Do enter The CrossFit Open every year if you can. (Do as I say, not as I do!) if you really want to track your level
- Plot out your skill level if you’re desperate to know your current level
Thanks for reading. Check out this article to read more about the Sport of Fitness.