More Than Just Workouts - The Box

More Than Just Workouts

The handstand push-up is part of JT There are a lot of ways to thank or pay tribute to our veterans on Veterans Day. CrossFit has always been close with its ties to the military and has been...
Handstand push-up

The handstand push-up is part of JT

There are a lot of ways to thank or pay tribute to our veterans on Veterans Day. CrossFit has always been close with its ties to the military and has been at the forefront of giving thanks and paying homage to those who serve our country. I remember my first “Murph” (a Hero WOD tribute to Michael Murphy, which consists of a 1-mile run, 300 air squats, 200 push-ups, 100 pull-ups and finishes with another 1-mile run) because at the time, it was the longest and most challenging workout I’d ever accomplished outside of the two triathlons I had completed some years before. But aside from the physical demands of this workout, I was familiar with Murph’s story (the same one from the movie and book Lone Survivor written by his friend and fellow Navy SEAL Marcus Luttrell), and I can clearly remember being overcome by emotion while I fought to finish this grinder. Reflecting on what Murphy and his men went through that day as well as all the sacrifices our brave soldiers have to make on a daily basis really struck a chord with me as I scanned the room so see my fellow CrossFit athletes sweating and suffering alike.

There’s no reason or no possible way to compare a workout, no matter how taxing, to the hardships and struggles of combat. In the CrossFit media world, terms like “battle” and “fight” and “killing” get thrown around a little too frequently in my opinion. Yes, your workout was brutal, but did you really battle? But that’s a topic for another time.

The point is that people love CrossFit for a lot of reasons and one is the attention they pay to the military communities around the world. Hero WODs, as they are affectionately known, are some of the most physically and mentally challenging for any CrossFit athlete to come up against.

Here are three of my favorites (aside from the aforementioned Murph):


Workout: 21, 15, 9 reps of handstand push-ups, ring dips, push-ups

Seems simple enough with the classic style of the 21-,15-, nine-rep scheme and a triplet of movements. All bodyweight, so it should be no problem, right? Ah, no. I don’t think I have ever failed push-ups so bad in my life as I did on the round of 15 on this workout. Not only did it kick my ass, but I was actually on singles on push-ups as I stared at my arms and wondered, What just happened to me? If you haven’t tackled this one, you should. Result for me, December 2010: 13:09 (I’m sure my dips and HSPU were not as prescribed.)


Workout (as my affiliate completed it for time purposes): 15-minute AMRAP of 100-meter sprints, 10 pull-ups, 100-meter sprints, 10 burpees

The actual workout is for 10 rounds of these four movements, but I don’t think that they had a sundial available to time me. As prescribed, the workout would have taken me all morning to complete. Luckily, our classes usually cap at 30 minutes so we can stay on schedule. I plan on tackling this as a full workout someday, but the 2,000 meters of sprints mixed in with 100 pull-ups and 100 burpees is not for a beginner.

Result for me (as we did it), November 2011: five rounds


Workout: three rounds for time of 30 95-pound squat cleans, 30 pull-ups, 800-meter run I did a version of this twice that we called “Baby Badger” and was scaled down. I did this one in 2011, cutting the weight to 75 pounds and reducing reps to 15 and again in 2012 at 95 pounds. Even though I did a modified “less manly” version of this beast, both results were grueling. If you plan on paying tribute to this Hero, be sure to give yourself plenty of time to complete it.

Result for me, May 2011: 22:04 (at 75 pounds); June 2012: 20:14 (at 95 pounds)

I think there is a mentality out there that you are not a “man” if you are doing these WODs scaled and you are somehow not honoring the memories of the fallen. That’s a matter of opinion, but I applaud anyone who takes the time from their lives and schedules and tackles these difficult workouts. Scaled or not, these workouts are damn difficult and a great way to challenge yourself and improve your fitness while you take the time to reflect on all that these people did for you and your country.

What are your favorite Hero WODs? Post your favorites and your results to the comments on our Facebook page. God bless our military present, past and future.

Stay on the Grind.

Jamie Toland
CFL-1 Trainer
Twitter @JTolgrinder