The Meaning Behind Hero WODs

by Gabriel “gaberock” Avilla, CF-L2

What are Hero WODs?

Hero Workout of the Day (WOD) are an important part of CrossFit. Officially, CrossFit describes Hero WODs in the following terms:

 “Military, law enforcement, and first responder communities were amongst the earliest proponents of CrossFit. Their intensity matched with the fitness CrossFit provides is a match made in heaven. When a service member dies in the line of duty, a CrossFit Hero workout is created in their name. Hero WODs are an opportunity to reflect on the sacrifices of the fallen – to speak their names and honor their memories. These workouts have been a tradition of workout gyms since 2008.”

A few Hero WOD facts:

  • CrossFit used Hero WODs since before 2008. However, they took a strong foothold in the CrossFit community in 2008.
  • They are usually very challenging and difficult. Overall, they are designed to be a little bit beyond most of the daily WODs.
  • As of 18 May 2023, has had 1,075 Hero WODs listed.
  • At CrossFit Hampton Roads, we perform Murph and Chad on an annual basis, around Memorial Day and Veterans Day respectively.

Why Hero WODs are important

Obviously, first and foremost, Hero WODs pay tribute and honor to those who have given the ultimate sacrifice.

For a community built around fitness and hard work, a few moments of silence just isn’t enough. Our love is shown by sweating, labored breathing, ripped hands, bleeding shins…and the drive to keep on going. CrossFitters show love and respect a little differently than most. We use our mental and physical fortitude. We push ourselves to uncomfortable places in an attempt to say ‘thank you for your sacrifice’.

Say their Names

All benchmark WODs in CrossFit have names. Sometimes they are comical like “Burn the Bird”. The originals are known as ‘the Girls’ which as imagined all have girls’ names, such as Annie, Fran, Diane, and Grace. 

But those aren’t named or designed for real people. Hero WODs are different. Hero WODs have a face, or sometimes many faces, associated with them. They are bittersweet.

As much as possible, we should all take a moment to honor people who have placed their own lives in danger to help and save others. However, every Hero WOD also means someone lost a child, sibling, parent, or friend. More importantly, it means there is one less good person in the world, and the world needs as many good people as possible.

Hero WODs are hard, but they are not as hard as the pain felt by ones who carry the full burden of the loss. Hero WODs are not about you. Even if you set a PR on the WOD, you are missing the big picture. Arguably, if you are suffering throughout the WOD…good. Imagine the loved ones of the fallen and how much they have suffered, and use that feeling to power through. A Hero WOD is temporary, but a loss of a loved one hurts for much longer. Hero WODs will always be the hardest, and most sacred WODs, as they should be. The next time one is on the whiteboard, remember why we do them. Pay your respects the CrossFit way.

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