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WODs From Hell

Ten competitive CrossFitters share the most grueling workouts they've ever endured. Yes, they all lived to tell about it.

Some workouts are tougher than others. You might breeze through a “Diane,” struggle with a “Nancy” and barely get through a “Daniel.” But then there are the WODs that exceed mere tough status — the workouts that beat you down, make you play mind games with yourself, then beat you down a little more. The ones you don’t just remember for the next day or the next week — three years later, you’re still telling stories about that one hellish workout. We love to hear the tales, which is why we asked 10 CrossFit athletes to recall the most painful, mind-numbing WOD he or she has ever encountered. Here are their stories.


WOD From Hell Casualty:


Height/Weight: 5’10”, 200 pounds
Residence: Broomfield, Colo.
Recent Placing: 2012 CrossFit Games, 16th.

WOD From Hell:

15 barbell cleans (155 pounds/100 pounds)

30 toes-to-bars

30 box jumps (24”/20”)

15 muscle-ups (females: 10 muscle-ups)

30 push presses (40-pound dumbbells/25-pound dumbbells)

30 double-unders

15 thrusters (135 pounds/95 pounds)

30 pull-ups

30 burpees

300 feet overhead walking lunges (45-pound plate/25-pound plate)

Burke Says: “The most memorable — and most grueling — workout that I have done to date would be the 2009 Games final chipper. What was so grueling about that workout was that it was miserably hot and at the end of a very long two days. To look at the final chipper today, it seems pretty easy. But back in the day, 15 muscle-ups, toes-to-bars and thrusters at 135 pounds were all pretty difficult movements. The worst part of the workout ended up being the final part: overhead walking lunges. I was off to a pretty good start for the first 150 feet, but as I turned around and saw that last stretch, the workout hit me like a ton of bricks. I could barely hold the plate off my head. People in the crowd were yelling things that I couldn’t make out. I eventually made my way to the finish line and collapsed. That was the hardest WOD I’ve dealt with yet. I’d do five ‘Frans’ before I would do that again!”


WOD From Hell Casualty: 


Height/Weight: 5’11”, 210 pounds
Residence: Atlanta
Recent Placing: 2013 CrossFit South East Regional, 3rd

WOD From Hell:

Three Rounds of:

7 deadlifts (345 pounds)

7 ring muscle-ups

Three Rounds of:

21 toes-to-bars

21 wall balls

100-foot farmer’s carry (100-pound dumbbells)

28 burpee box jumps

100-foot farmer’s carry

3 muscle-ups

Petro Says:“I would say the toughest WOD I have done was at the 2012 South East Regionals, Event 6. It isn’t the hardest one I’ve ever done based on the movements and weight, but it was the toughest thing I’ve ever had to do since starting CrossFit because of the condition I was in going into the workout. The 2012 Regionals was the first competition I had ever done, and I was not prepared mentally or especially physically for the workload at that competition. By the time Event 6 came around, my back had locked up and I was more sore and tired than I ever thought I could be. My entire last year of training has been spent making sure I never feel like that again. I will never forget the feeling I had during that workout.”


WOD From Hell Casualties:


Height/Weight: 5’9”, 150 pounds
Residence: Studio City, Calif.
Recent Placing: 2013 CrossFit Southern California Regionals, 2nd


Height/Weight: 5’6”, 148 pounds
Residence: Victoria, British Columbia, Canada
Recent Placing: 2012 CrossFit Games, 16th

WOD From Hell: 

Pendleton 2 Event at 2012 CrossFit Games:

Swim: 700 meters

Bike: 8 kilometers

Run: 11 kilometers

Voigt Says:“The toughest workout I have ever encountered would have to be the triathlon at the 2012 Reebok CrossFit Games. This was the toughest workout for me for many reasons: 1) I had never done a triathlon before; 2) the swimming turned out to be a distance I had never done before; 3) on the bike, it was incredibly hard to catch any type of speed because it only had one gear, and for half of the ride, I was carrying the bike because the sand was too soft to ride through; and 4) on the run, having no idea how long it was and turning out that it was long! There were so many hills and switchbacks that you never knew where the top was. At about every quarter-mile, there would be a Marine standing post telling you that you were almost done, but after a while, you figured out that they were just being nice.”

Hay Says:“Most grueling WOD? There have been so many. I think I’d have to go with Camp Pendleton. This girl does not like to run 11 kilometers, ever — let alone after a swim, bike and, don’t forget, one of the worst parts of it, which was the beach run at the very start. That was so yuck! Soft sand, carrying flippers, scared to death of what sharks were waiting to go all Jaws on me! The toughest part of the WOD, though, was toward the end of the run. I really had no idea how much farther it was, and I was just done. I think I kind of whimpered/cried for a minute, thinking, ‘I just don’t want to do this anymore, but there’s no way out except to find the finish line!’ Usually in WODs, you know you can always stop, even if you never intend to. You still know you have that option. On that run, with no one around and no idea where the finish line was, well, that was very, very tough.”


WOD From Hell Casualty: 


Height/Weight: 5’9”, 198 pounds
Residence: Morrison, Colo.
Recent Placings: 2012 Outlaw Open, 1st; 2013 CrossFit Southwest Regional, 2nd

WOD From Hell:

20 hang squat snatches

50 double-unders

30 kettlebell thrusters

50 double-unders

40 toes-to-bars

Burpee broad jumps (across convention center floor,

roughly 20 yards)

40 barbell step-ups

50 double-unders

30 alternating single-arm kettlebell snatches

50 double-unders

20 bar muscle-ups

Hathcock Says:“For me, the toughest WOD ever was the final workout from the Outlaw Open [Nov. 30 to Dec. 2, 2012, in Palm Springs, Calif.]. It was awful. I never want to do it again unless a competition calls for it. I think it was so brutal because it was the end of the competition, but also because there were so many reps of kettlebell snatches, kettlebell thrusters and weighted step-ups. I was wrecked, and things were seemingly taking forever to get through. I will not be programming that for myself ever.”


WOD From Hell Casualty: 


Height/Weight: 5’9”, 170 pounds
Residence: San Jose, Calif.
Recent Placing: 2013 CrossFit Northern California Regionals, 9th

WOD From Hell:


For Time:

50 deadlifts (135/95 pounds)

50 double-kettlebell swings (55/35 pounds)

50 push-ups

50 clean-and-jerks (135/95 pounds)

50 pull-ups

50 kettlebell “taters”

50 box jumps (24”)

50 wall climbs

50 knees-to-elbows

50 double-unders

Hogan Says:“My toughest workout was probably “Miagi.” It’s a ridiculously long chipper that felt terrible by the second exercise, which left little room for hope. I remember doing burpees, endlessly, and thinking to myself, ‘What am I doing?! This is insane!’ Without a mental edge in a long workout like that, my motivation can tank fast, making the workout feel even more grueling. I think the 50 wall climbs was where I went a little crazy and didn’t know what was going on.”




Height/Weight: 5’2”, 132 pounds
Residence: Eugene, Ore.
Recent Placing: 2012 CrossFit Games, 15th


Height/Weight: 5’5”, 175 pounds
Residence: Canton, Mass.
Recent Placings: 2012 CrossFit Games, 8th; 2013 CrossFit Northeast Regional, 1st

WOD From Hell: 

Finals of the 2010 CrossFit Games:

Three Rounds of:

30 push-ups

21 overhead squats (65/95 pounds)

Wall rope climb between each element

(seven-minute cap)

Three Rounds of:

30 toes-to-bars

21 ground-to-overhead (95/65 pounds)

(seven-minute cap)

Three Rounds of:

5 burpee wall jumps

20-foot rope climbs (3 men/2 women)

(12-minute cap)

Brost Says:“Hands down, the final event of the 2010 CrossFit Games was the most mentally and physically challenging WOD I have experienced. All athletes were locked in a room, and each heat of athletes went into the workout completely blind. We had no idea what to expect, including what equipment to wear. I was just over six months into my CrossFit career, pretty exhausted, and my hands were completely torn up. The final stage of the three-workout finale included 20-foot rope climbs; after a couple times up the rope, I simply could not climb anymore and was unable to complete the WOD in the prescribed time.”

Malleolo Says:“My most brutal WOD was in the 2010 Games, the last event, which consisted of burpees over a wall and rope climbs.The movements themselves were not the only factors that played a role in this. The heat was unbearable — it was over 120 degrees on the floor — and my hands were burning on each burpee.It was the last day of the Games.I’ll never forget feeling like I couldn’t even do a burpee, let alone a rope climb. I will never forget that moment!”

WOD From Hell Casualty: 


Height/Weight: 6’1”, 212 pounds
Residence: Fayetteville, N.C.
Recent Placing: 2013 CrossFit Mid-Atlantic Regionals, 6th

WOD From Hell:


AMRAP in 20 Minutes:

20 thrusters (135/95 pounds)

20 pull-ups

20 burpees

Schrader Says:“It’s hard to say a worst workout ever, but somewhere near the top of the list would have to be “Sage.” Every CrossFitter knows how potent the combination of thrusters and pull-ups is. Now, make the thrusters heavy, add in everyone’s favorite burpees and then extend the time out to 20 minutes. It’s just straight pain threshold the whole time. It’s not like it takes long, either — thrusters at 135 pounds aren’t comfortable, so they get you breathing right from the start, and there’s no letting up or easy portion the remainder of the time. It’s very hard to get five rounds on this workout — and Josh Bridges got six.”


WOD From Hell Casualty: 


Height/Weight: 5’3”, 135 pounds
Residence: Fort Worth, Texas
Recent Placing: 2013 CrossFit South Central Regionals, 4th

WOD From Hell:

2012 CrossFit Games Chipper:

10 overhead squats

10 box jumps

10 fat-bar thrusters

10 power cleans

10 toes-to-bars

10 burpee muscle-ups

Repeat in reverse, beginning with toes-to-bars

Ruiz Says:“The hardest WOD I have ever done was probably the chipper at the 2012 CrossFit Games. I went into it thinking I would blow through it, but my body wasn’t cooperating. It was also mentally and emotionally grueling because I knew that it might be my last event at the 2012 Games. I wanted to do extremely well, but I physically couldn’t, and that was very frustrating for me. I was failing reps with loads that are normally fairly easy (at the end, I could barely snatch 105 pounds for the OHSes), and it beat me up inside for a while afterward. It’s hard when the crowd is cheering for you to finish and you can’t pull through. I felt like I let everyone down, but looking back I realize moments like that are valuable learning experiences. Failing is part of the process so long as you pick yourself back up and keep going. For me, that WOD was a perfect example of just that.”