Improvement is one of the joys of any physical training. Physical changes in your body composition are great, but knowing that after weeks, months, or years of effort you can perform a specific physical challenge faster and stronger is particularly rewarding.

In my past experience as a rower, erg tests were simple. 6000m for time in the fall and 2000m for time in the spring. Now that I’m more interested in a general level of fitness, I’ve been thinking about benchmark workouts that I can compare my performance to over time.

I don’t think there is just one benchmark for all the different facets of fitness that I need.

For sheer simplicity 100 Curtis P’s @ 95# is hard to beat. It’s also a workout that I’m doing once every couple months anyway.

The timed part of “Religious Spanking” would make a great climbing test, especially if you up it to 70x Stepups rather than 50:
10 Rounds for time
50x Stepups to 20″ box with 35# backpack
5x Slasher to Halo (10x total) w/ 20kg KB
5x Pushups with Backpack

For ski season prep, 5x Leg Blaster for time is perfect

For strength and short work capacity, Rob Shaul’s military oriented “Operator Ugly” is unbeatable.

None of these tests use form-dependent exercises for a timed portion of any test. One of the issues I have with most people who do Crossfit is that their form falls apart for timed tests – which is almost every workout!. Although Operator Ugly tests things like front squats, it’s for reps, not for time. Operator Ugly does include max deadlifts in 60 seconds. However, they are “dead-stop” deadlifts. Second, they are deadlifts, which more than any lift demand you respect the form or else you get hurt.