CrossFit DT is a famous hero WOD that involves familiar movements and only a few pieces of equipment.
It is straightforward enough for beginners to perform, however, in recent years, new variations have been introduced to challenge even elite CrossFitters.
As you might expect, most of these variations are…like…a lot more difficult than the “OG” version of the workout. Let’s check ’em all out today!
Table of Contents
What is CrossFit DT?
DT includes three barbell movements, all performed with either 155 pounds for men or 105 pounds for women. The movements are deadlifts, hang cleans/hang power cleans, and push jerks. The flow of the workout looks like this:
One of the appealing factors of CrossFit DT is its utter simplicity. With this workout, you’ll need a barbell, only a couple of different weight plates, and about 20 square feet of space. Perfect for your garage or home gym!
The actual movements in DT are regularly programmed and performed in CrossFit, making them very familiar to most of the athletes who attempt it.
While the succession of movements, weight, and overall stimuli might make the exercises feel different or more difficult, you can rest assured they are the same old deadlift, hang clean, and push press you have come to know and love (or loathe!)
Good DT Scores
Want to know where you stand in the CrossFit DT pecking order? The nice people at wodtimecalculator.com make it easy for you to compare your scores to others:
I can live with being an average CrossFit DT-er. What do you think of this chart?
CrossFit DT Alternatives
For those of you taking a look at the workout and are a little concerned, fear not! There are a couple of different scaled versions of the workout.
Give one of these two a try:
DT is one of those Hero workouts that not only gets programmed a lot, it is also used as a common benchmark WOD. If you improve on your score over time, you can safely conclude you have become a fitter athlete!
For those of you who want more of a challenge, take a look at how DT was programmed during the 2015 CrossFit Games:
Same old rep scheme; significantly heavier weights:
More recently, the 2022 Rogue Invitational presented a version of CrossFit DT with an entirely new stimulus added:
An Echo Bike cardio element:
The Echo Bike calories were the same for men and women, making this version slightly more challenging for the female competitors.
Interestingly enough, none of the men who completed the workout beat the “Elite” time.
CrossFit DT Stimulus
DT presents an interesting ascending stimulus to just about everybody who attempts it. Most people can deadlift more than they can hang clean (how do think you got that barbell into the hang position in the first place?) and can hang clean more than they can push jerk.
As a result, each individual hang clean feels more difficult than each individual deadlift. Similarly, each individual push jerk feels more difficult than each individual hang clean.
The descending rep scheme helps to balance these stimuli out. The intended effect is that the first set of deadlifts will feel as hard as the first set of push jerks.
The key word here is “intended”. In reality, things can play out very differently.
I’ve mentioned before that Olympic lifts are not my strong suit. In contrast, I can easily rep out deadlifts and different types of shoulder-to-overhead movements (like push jerks). As such, those 45 hang cleans are looming specters in a workout that would otherwise be one of my favorites.
Depending on which lifts you prefer or are better at, the deadlifts might be a slog or the push jerks might take every ounce of effort.
I guess that’s what makes it so “fun”!
DT is one of those workouts that appears simple and innocent enough on paper. The hang clean and push jerk weights are slightly concerning, but almost half of the total repetitions are light deadlifts.
But things begin to spice up really quickly. Who knew you could redline 1 minute into a workout not named Fran?
CrossFit DT Grip
An important stimulus you may have not considered is the effect that heavy-ish barbell work has on your grip. With each round of hang cleans, the barbell feels more difficult to grasp.
The toll on your grip combined with your elevated heartrate is a special kind of suck. The redline you’re now experiencing feels that much worse when you realize you’re not even halfway through!
CrossFit DT Strategy
This workout is all about two things:
Pacing and dropping the bar
There is a bit of a learning curve with DT and just about everybody logs a better time on their second attempt, even if only a few days have passed.
Figuring out the general flow of the workout is paramount to determining your best pace.
I would advise a slower-than-intended pace, particularly if you have never done the workout before.
If things feel a little too easy, amp up in the intensity in the last round.
Dropping the bar in DT
You may have already played out a scenario in your head where you complete a round of DT unbroken.
If so…how does your grip look during the deadlifts?
In order to go unbroken, you had to have a double, over-hand grip.
It is possible to quickly change the direction of a hand while cleaning the barbell with a mixed grip, but it is not recommended. The potential for injury is too high, particularly for such a small “reward”.
Instead, accept that you’re going to drop the bar in this workout.
With a little planning, you can determine where these drops should take place. This will avoid using any additional precious energy.
Ultimately, you have some flexibility with your inevitable drops, but three non-negotiables for me with DT are:
Always drop the bar after the 11th deadlift in each round
Always drop the bar after the 8th hang clean in each round
Always go unbroken on the push jerks
Consider the following:
Do your first 11 deadlifts with a mixed grip. If 11 unbroken deadlifts seems a bit daunting, don’t hesitate to drop the bar after the 6th and 11th reps. You waste A LOT less energy dropping the bar during the deadlifts than during either of the other two movements.
Before your 12th deadlift, switch your grip to your clean grip. Lift the bar and pause (if you don’t pause you have completed a power clean and won’t get credit for your final deadlift or for your first hang clean). Proceed with your hang cleans.
Things are trickier with the hang cleans since most people will have trouble getting through these unbroken. Try to limit your drops here (ideally after the 5th rep and definitely after the 8th rep) as best you can.
Your plan for the push jerks should be to go unbroken every time. If you need to rest up a little more before each set to ensure you are able to go unbroken, feel free to do so. A little extra time here is much better than having to clean the bar into position an extra time.
After your 8th hang clean, drop the bar, rest as needed. When you’re ready deadlift it into position, complete your final hang clean and immediately begin push jerking. You want your reps to be good and controlled, but the faster you can complete these 6 reps and drop the bar, the better.
If you pace well and plan your drops, CrossFit DT becomes a nice “thinking man’s grind!”
Hero WODs are incredible additions to CrossFit and are special because of the people they represent. These men and women made the ultimate sacrifice in service to their countries and communities.
When you learn more about the hero associated with the WOD you’re about to grind through, you experience an unexplainable extra little “push”.
Something like, “look at the sacrifice this person made; I can surely push a little harder in this workout!”
DT honors United States Air Force Staff Seargent Timothy P. Davis. Seargent Davis was deployed in Afghanistan in support of Operation Enduring Freedom. He was killed on February 20, 2009 when an improvised explosive device struck his vehicle.
Go Do CrossFit DT…NOW
CrossFit DT is one of my favorite hero workouts and is one that is hard to avoid. DT’s movement combinations are regularly sprinkled in to training metcons and competition WODs.
You may as well learn to love it!
Just promise me you’ll keep the dropped deadlifts and hang cleans to a minimum!
Tangled with DT and ready to try your first CrossFit “Girl”? Karen and her 150 wall balls are waiting for you!