The Top 9/11 Workout + 5 Contenders

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The 9/11 workout helps us to remember…

…and if you can remember September 11, 2001, you remember it as being the worst.

The absolute worst.

Just an awful day for the world, for the United States, and, most specifically, for the people directly affected by the terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon.

As awful as September 11 was, in the days, weeks, and months to come, remarkable stories of heroism and courage began to emerge. A lot of these stories are almost too incredible to be believed, although, for many of those who survived to tell their stories first-hand, they were simply “doing their jobs.”

Man…what does that attitude sound a lot like…?

9/11 workout

The demeanor of just about all of the men and women who CrossFit Hero workouts are named after!

As you can imagine, there have been a number of 9/11 workouts dedicated to those who lost their lives on September 11 and the heroes who made the ultimate sacrifice to ensure this loss of life was kept as low as possible.

As another anniversary of the attacks quickly comes upon us, we’re going to discuss a few of the most famous 9/11 workouts commemorating the victims and heroes from that dark day. Start training for these now; nobody wants to scale any of these workouts!

The Top 9/11 Workouts

9/11 Tribute WOD

Equipment: Air runner, plyo box, barbell, bumper plates, kettlebell, Concept 2 rower

This is the big one.

This is the one you see programmed in CrossFit classes around America (the world?) on September 11 every year. Not only is it a tough friggin’ 9/11 workout, it is chalk full of symbolism.

The symbolism of any of the numbers (2,001-meter run and row, 11 reps of all exercises) should be fairly obvious. As for some of the others:

  • The 125-pound thruster weight symbolizes the 125 people who died in the Pentagon
  • The 110-pound push jerk weight symbolizes the number of floors in each of the Twin Towers
  • The 175-pound power clean weight symbolizes the American Airlines Flight 175 number (the plane that was crashed into the South Tower)
  • The 170-pound deadlift weight symbolizes the combined flight numbers of American Airlines Flight 77 (the plane that was crashed into the Pentagon) and United Airlines Flight 93 (the plane that crashed into an empty field after passengers fought back against the hijackers, attempting to retake control of the plane)

If these numbers don’t get the juices flowing (adrenalin and tears), I don’t know what does!

The 9/11 Stair Climb Workout

Equipment: Stairmaster

This “challenge” has sparked a large following as well as the establishment of a number of dedicated non-profit organizations. These groups organize formal 2,071-step challenges in large buildings around America each year, with individuals and teams competing against one another for the fastest ascent times.

The Association of Memorial Stair Climbs is one of the largest parent organizations supporting these 9/11 Stair Climb Workout events, and the Wichita 9/11 Memorial Stair Climb puts on one of the more well-known and attended versions.

If you don’t happen to have a 110-story building handy, you can use a Stairmaster or can elongate the event by continuously running up and down any large section of steps.

Lucky enough to have the Burj Khalifa Building nearby? Maybe give the informal “Rx+” version of this workout a try like competitors did at the 2022 Dubai Fitness Challenge.

An extra 50 floors and 838 additional steps…in vests!

The “Never Forget” 9/11 CrossFit Workout Variations

Equipment: Ruck, sandbag, plyo box

…did someone say “vest”? I’ll raise your vest and raise you a ruck!

While the elevation and number of steps may not be as “high” (ha!) as we just saw in the Dubai Fitness Challenge, our friends at Go Ruck put together a very spicy 9/11 workout a few years back.

The sandbag? Get used to it! It (and your trusty ruck) aren’t going to leave your side for the duration of this workout. Truth be told, those initial 2,001 meters are probably going to be the hardest, but step-ups and thrusters after ~1.25 miles lugging ~90 pounds around…say goodbye to your legs!

Never Forget (Anchor Down)

Equipment: Concept2 rower, barbell, bumper plates, pull-up bar/rack, air runner

After the symbolic row, this one jumps into a battery of challenging but manageable familiar CrossFit exercises. Unlike the first 9/11 workout on this list, the weight on the barbell remains the same, making for easier programming. Like the first workout, there is plenty of symbolic numbers (2,001, 9, 11, 110).


Between the symbolism and the challenge, you’ll never forget this one.

Never Forget (CrossFit 301 Elite)

Equipment: Barbell, bumper plates, kettlebell

This is an oldie, but a goodie from the good people at CrossFit 301 Elite!

This one is definitely more kettlebell focused than the others, but the numerology (2,001, 9, 11) are all present. Although the 9 rounds appear daunting, all of these movements are pretty manageable, so you should be able to keep moving at a constant pace for the duration of this 9/11 CrossFit workout.

Never Forget

9/11 workout

Equipment: Sandbag, barbell, bumper plates

Something…kinda stands out with this 9/11 workout, doesn’t it? I mean, if that weight is heavy for you for overhead squats or you’re not particularly adept at handstand push-ups, I guess those parts could be hard…

…but that heavy sandbag carry really makes the workout. As you can see from the “Good Time to Beat” from above, you can either move that bag…or you can’t. If you’re in the latter category, just keep thinking about everyone who suffered on September 11 to help you get through this difficult portion of the workout!

Never Forget

9/11 WODs enable us to pay tribute to the memories of people from all walks of life who lost their lives in one of the most devastating terrorist attacks in history.

There is a reason why Hero WODs hit us so much differently than other workouts.

As CrossFitters, we’re the types of people who can appreciate hard work, dedication, and sacrifice…no matter how small our temporary and minor gym “suffering” is in comparison to those who have made the ultimate sacrifice.

If you’re able to perform a 9/11 WOD, whether it be the 9/11 stair climb workout or a dedicated “Never Forget” 9/11 CrossFit workout or something else, try your best to do so. Don’t let the memories of the victims and heroes from that day fade away.

If you’re interested in learning more about the Hero workout of Hero workouts, take a look at our articles on Murph and his beginner-friendly variant workout. The story behind these workouts has to be read (or seen!) to be believed!

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Tom, CrossFit Level 1 Trainer, ISSA-CPT, PN1-NC, DPA, CAPM has been CrossFitting for over 10 years. He has participated in a number of team and individual CrossFit competitions across Europe and the United States. He was the 2012 Chick-fil-A Race Series champion (North Georgia Circuit) and has put together a few gnarly garage and basement gyms in his time!

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