Hero Workouts

CrossFit is awesome because it’s an effective fitness program that everyone can do.  We all know that now, although you might have doubted that second part before you took the plunge and tried it out.

What really drew me into CrossFit in the beginning though was another reason I thought it was awesome, and something I hope you all feel too.  When you define yourself as a CrossFitter, you become part of a massive community that stretches across the globe, from people that regularly attend classes at their local “box,” to people that follow CrossFit.com WODs and complete them as they can with their home equipment.  After you finish your workout each day, you can compare results with your friends but also faceless but very real online profiles that have previously completed that workout.  These other people provide you motivation, and you in turn provide it to them.
Another subset of this CrossFit community are the warriors that use CrossFit as their fitness program, both at home and when deployed.  There are thousands of airmen, marines, soldiers and sailors that get together with whatever equipment they can muster to throwdown in cramped, dusty bases around the world, because they are proud members of the CrossFit community, and because they know it works.  There are police officers, firefighters, and other first responders that workout together after their shifts or even in between calls, because they know that they need to stay physically and mentally prepared for that next big one.
And sometimes, tragically and heroically, one of them falls in the line of duty.  As their family and friends mourn their loss, their local CrossFit community is also hit hard.  To memorialize their life, a Hero workout is written on the board, and completed in honor of them.  Many of these are submitted to CrossFit, Inc., and if approved that is when we see new Hero WODs populate CrossFit.com programming.

Those of you that have taken on a Hero workout know that they are very physically demanding – maybe a little bit heavier than normal or an extra-long timeframe is expected.  Because of that, they are also mentally and emotionally taxing.  All of this extra suffering is meant to pay homage to the fallen warrior, and put ourselves just briefly in their shoes.  After all, this workout is something they would have gladly taken on, if they could.
When you walk in the gym for a Hero workout, begin to prepare yourself mentally for a battle.  It’s not going to be easy, and it shouldn’t be.  Your coach will help you scale the workout appropriately for your current fitness level, including any dings or dents you’re dealing with.  But it’s meant to be a challenge, so make sure you lean into it.

In addition to taking on the workout with a fiery spirit, we also want to respect the warrior, the workout, and each other, by completing each movement to the best of our ability, and accept coaching and scaling if we can’t.  There is absolutely no place in these workouts for half-assing a squat or otherwise counting reps that shouldn’t.  When I was at a SEALFIT event, one of the trainees decided to cut a couple reps out of his push-up sets during “Murph”.  Unbeknownst to him, one of the coaches was watching and counting, and all of a sudden he had 3 Navy SEAL instructors surrounding him, asking him point blank if he was cheating their brother.  In our case at CFKI, nobody in the gym will be able to watch every single rep of your workout, except for you.  Make sure every one of them represents everything you have to give.

We are now two weeks into our Hero Month, which means that at least two Hero WODs will appear in the Monday-Friday programming each week, as well as one on Saturday.  So far we’ve done eight Hero workouts in twelve weekdays!
Having laid out the significance and the relative intensity of Hero workouts, there are a few things we want to take especially seriously for the rest of May in terms of recovery, meaning getting ourselves repaired and ready for the next challenge.  This is probably something that should have made its way to your inbox earlier in the month, but better late than never, yeah?
We all know recovery is important, but many of us don’t prioritize it as much as we should to optimize our results.  When we’re talking about adding more stress to the body with longer, heavier workouts, the following should be at the top of your mind to keep your body primed and ready to go:
– Hydration – Drink your bodyweight in ounces of water each day.  It’s easy to do if you always have your water on you, and it’s really easy not to do it and to fall way behind on hydration and get yourself into a bad spot during a long workout if you forget.  Avoid too much alcohol or caffeine.
– Sleep – Aim for the same bedtime each night, and turn off the TV and phone a half-hour before bedtime so your brain is ready for sleep.
– Mobility – Last but certainly not least, prioritize your pre-WOD mobility so that you don’t get hurt, and stick around for some smashing and flossing after the WOD to cool down your muscles and improve your range-of-motion for next time.  Spend an extra 15 minutes each day stretching and mobilizing, and it will pay off with less little injuries and more consistency in the gym!

On Memorial Day, we will culminate the Hero Month with “Murph”, and then the following weekend will be our 12-hour Hero Challenge on Saturday, June 3rd.  It’s my favorite month of the CrossFit year!


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