What is the 2-move CrossFit ‘Midline March’ workout, and could it build full-body muscle and a stronger core?

a woman carrying two dumbbells
(Image credit: Tom's Guide)

The CrossFit WOD (that just means Workout Of the Day) is a core component of functional training and CrossFit classes. CrossFit releases a new WOD daily, hence the name, but these workouts could be done at any time and slot into any exercise regime using a set of the best adjustable dumbbells or similar.

For a “Midline March,” posted to CrossFit, you’ll perform two exercises for three rounds, working your core muscles and entire body hard. “Today’s workout is a midline march and a bit of a grind,” says the team. Grind is an understatement, and this workout has been thrown together to put muscles through the wringer from head to toe, testing core strength, muscular endurance and stability. 

Best of all, the workout is accessible for all fitness levels, from beginners to advanced athletes— as with all CrossFit workouts, contrary to popular belief. Below, I cover the dumbbell workout and how to do both exercises in more detail if you fancy grabbing a set and channeling your inner athlete.

What is the 2-move ‘Midline March’ Crossfit workout?

3 rounds for time:

  • 400-meter farmer’s carry
  • 35 GHD sit-ups

“The goal is to hang on to the dumbbells for as long as possible on the farmer’s carries and complete each round of the GHD sit-ups in 3 sets or less,” the team shares. “If you can jog with the weights, do it. Each farmer's carry should take no more than 5 minutes to complete.”

Recommended weights are 20 lb dumbbells for women and 35 lb for men. Choose a weight that will allow you to complete the workout, but if necessary, reduce the dumbbell weight, the difficulty of the sit-up, or the distance of the farmer’s carry, also known as a farmer’s walk

The beginner option sees you completing a 200-meter carry and 15 ab mat sit-ups using 10 or 15-lb dumbbells. For intermediate-level exercisers, try a 400-meter carry and 20 GHD sit-ups to parallel with 15 lb or 20 lb dumbbells. These are guidelines only, so find a happy medium if necessary.

Dumbbell farmer's carry

As soon as fatigue sets in, walking with weights becomes a real struggle. It requires plenty of core strength and stability to keep your form tight and torso upright, and because your core is working hard during sit-ups, it’s a double whammy.

The CrossFit team advises standing tall to help you “breathe more efficiently.” 

Learn how to do the farmer’s walk in more detail:

  • Hold a dumbbell in each hand, brace your stomach and pull your shoulders back and down to keep your chest proud
  • Begin walking without leaning forward, backward, or over to one side
  • Squeeze as many muscles as possible and stand tall as you walk. Avoid overstriding and take measured steps.

GHD sit-up

a photo of a man doing a ghd sit up

(Image credit: Getty Images)

GHD stands for "Glute Ham Developer," which is a piece of kit in the gym that can be used to strengthen your posterior chain — the muscles that run down the back of your body, including your glutes and hamstrings. However, flip your body to face the ceiling, and you’ve got a seriously advanced sit-up variation. 

GHD machines vastly increase your range of motion, meaning your body has further to travel and therefore, your muscles have more work to do while staying under contraction for longer. We even rated it one of the 7 best machines for building abs.

Learn how to do GHD sit-ups:

  • Sit on the pad and place your feet between the rollers, toes pointing upward
  • Position your bum just off the side of the pad, softly bend your knees and gaze forward
  • Brace your stomach to engage your core and keep your back straight
  • Lower your body back with your arms overhead
  • Touch your hands toward the floor behind you and straighten your legs
  • Perform a sit-up, bringing your torso into an upright position and extending your arms in front of you to tap the pad
  • Slowly lower down again for one rep.

Ab mat sit-up

The AbMat Sit-up - YouTube The AbMat Sit-up - YouTube
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Using an ab mat can be helpful if you’re not yet at the stage where GHD sit-ups are on the table. The ab mat bridges the gap between your back and the ground, slightly increasing your range of motion. 

How to do ab mat sit-ups:

  • Place an ab mat on the floor behind you and sit on your bum with your legs extended or the soles of your feet together and knees wide — the butterfly sit-up variation
  • Lay on the mat and engage your core
  • Perform a sit-up, drawing your chest forward using your stomach to drive your torso upright
  • Press your legs down throughout
  • Slowly lower your back onto the mat for one rep.

My verdict on the 2-move CrossFit workout:

Remember, there are 1,200 meters and 105 sit-ups to get through as fast as you can. Your form is paramount, so if you look at those numbers and don’t think the workout can be completed as written, reduce to the intermediate or beginner options. Aim for consistency rather than going in hard and having to reduce later.

I gave this workout a try and my first piece of advice is to choose a set of dumbbells that allows you to complete the dumbbell farmer’s carry without breaking too often. As the workout is written, you’ve gone too heavy if you take over 5 minutes — I aimed to carry the weights at a measured pace for 100 meters at a time before resting.

You’re looking at roughly 12 GHD sit-ups per set for 3 sets to hit the goal reps. Again, be honest and choose a variation that allows you to reach around 12 reps unbroken, even if that means performing regular sit-ups without any deficit. 

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Sam Hopes
Senior Staff Writer - Fitness

Sam Hopes is a level III qualified fitness trainer, level II reiki practitioner, and senior fitness writer at Future PLC, the publisher of Tom's Guide. She is also about to undertake her Yoga For Athletes training course. Having trained to work with mind and body, Sam is a big advocate of using mindfulness techniques in sport and fitness, and their impact on performance. She’s also passionate about the fundamentals of training and building sustainable training methods.  When she's not writing up her experiences with the latest fitness tech and workouts, you’ll find her writing about nutrition, sleep, recovery, and wellness.