Many years ago when I discovered CrossFit, one of the things that really struck me was the commitment of this community to the men and women that serve in the military. The “Hero WODs” are the best example of this support. Sadly with the rapid growth of CrossFit, these memorial WODs have expanded as well. May is the month of Memorial Day, the day that we remember those that have fallen in defense of our country. With that in mind May will be CF Hero Month, each Wednesday during the Month of May will be Hero WOD day.
As you may or may not know CrossFit has many benchmark workouts (girl named workouts such as Fran, Helen, Cindy etc, and hero wods such as Murph, Michale, Badger etc). The benchmarks are designed to test your work capacity across broad time and modal domains. While they are fine workouts in and of themselves they are tests of capacity first and foremost. The intent and design is such that over time using CrossFit methodology athletes should see improvement in work capacity despite not training specifically for the event (benchmark).
Girls Vs Heroes
While both of these groups of WOD’s are benchmarks, I believe they have different purposes and goals. There are 21 girl WOD’s and tend to be a good mix of different time and modal domains. They are roughly half and half between the high power output time domain of 3 to 12 minutes and the low power output grinders of 15 plus minutes. There is even one that has no time element to it.
For the most part, much of the goal of CrossFit is high power output….simply put horse power. The longer a workout extends the lower the power output. We will spend approximately 70% of our time training in the 5 to 15 minute time frames training for high power output.( See What is Fitness?)
Since I have been involved in CrossFit, the Hero bench marks have sadly grown in number. There are currently 77 of these benchmark workouts. Roughly 5 % of these workouts could be considered high power output WODs. This leaves over 95% of these WODS to be low power output grinders.
We do these WODS not necessarily to improve our fitness, but to perhaps test our fitness and mental toughness. Make no mistake, these workouts are long and tough but not super intense. They are grinders, the type that force you to mentally keep yourself going. They are meant to be memorials to people who made the ultimate sacrifice in defense of our country and the freedoms we hold dear.
I think if you polled 10 people you might get 10 different answers on the idea of what a tough or intense workout looks like. For me, and what I believe is intensity in CrossFit, is the idea of High Power Output short and intense, it is what we are after, however there are some who will argue that the hero WODs are intense. I say tough but not intense. It is relatively hard for anybody to blast away at the hero WODs, at best we chip away.
Why do we do the Heroes?
While they may not be the favorite WOD to do, they have an important place. One of memorializing and perhaps even thanking those who gave their lives for us. They test our heart and our mettle, during these very long and arduous there will be thoughts of quitting, pain, fatigue and hopefully perseverance.
Honor the heroes that protect us.Or if you like the long WODs here is your chance to get them in every Wednesday in May will be hero day! With a bonus of Murph on Memorial Day!