Fancy A Deadlift WOD? 19 Of The Best to Destroy!

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Ask any “bodyweight ninja” (the guy we all know who wants nothing more than to crush some bodyweight workout) what the last exercise he wants to see in a workout is.

“Heavy deadlifts” he’ll whisper, a slight shudder running down his spine as he imagines the beautifully-horrible sound of touch-and-go deadlift repetitions.

Deep down, though, he knows he loves a good deadlift WOD.

And with good reason!


What other type of CrossFit workout is going to fatigue the body with running, rowing, swinging, and kipping only to ask you to essentially win a powerlifting competition halfway through?

Fran” doesn’t

Cindysure as heck doesn’t

You’re gonna need to do something that involves a little bit more…iron.

Top 19 Deadlift WODs

If you want to develop a bulletproof central nervous system with a matching endurance capacity to boot, try to go “Elite” on a deadlift WOD from our Top 19 Deadlift WODs list:

50 Deadlifts

Equipment: Barbell, bumper plates

I would say this is as “simple” as it gets, but anyone who has tried to rip off 50 heavy-ish deadlifts would disagree with the statement.

Mat Fraser uses this as a regular benchmark in his programming. If you’re thinking about signing up for HWPO, better be ready to test this one a lot!


Equipment: Barbell, bumper plates

We did a whole breakdown of DT a few months back. TLDR? It’s hard, even if the deadlifts aren’t that heavy.

DT is a real “thinking man’s” deadlift WOD since it requires a bar-dropping strategy. The good news is, if you really like DT, you’re going to see another variation or two this workout later on this!

2023 SAPT Games Qualifier Triplet

Equipment: Plyo box, pull-up bar/rack, barbell, bumper plates

I actually did this one a few months ago (twice, actually; as bad as this camera angle is, it was much worse before).

Pretty boring viewing, I know!

From my first-hand experience, the box jumps sap your explosiveness and the toes-to-bars kill your core. As a result, that “light” barbell feels much heavier!

Adam Brown

Equipment: Barbell, bumper plates, plyo box, wall ball

The hero WOD, Adam Brown, really ups the ante, doesn’t he! You can tell by those standards that it isn’t designed for even “average” CrossFitters.

The heavy barbells throughout and “rest” periods comprising of box jumps and wall balls make these the two longest rounds of your life.


Equipment: Barbell, bumper plates

Linda can be tough in the garage. Unless you have 3 barbells, you’re going to be switching weight out or using your wife’s barbell at some point (like I do!)

Try it in your Globo gym and see how long it takes for someone to commander your bench!

It’s worth it, though; this is a fun deadlift WOD. There is no greater feeling than realizing you’re about halfway through the workout after only 3 rounds!

Big Sexy

Equipment: Barbell, bumper plates, pull-up bar/rack, gymnastics rings

This is another one that isn’t really made for beginners.

To be honest, it is difficult to figure out who it is made for.

If you are “Big Sexy” and can blow through the heavy barbell movements, the gymnastics might kill you. If you’re a bodyweight ninja, good luck (on those thrusters, especially).

A deadlift WOD that has not something for everyone!


Equipment: Barbell, bumper plates

One of the OG CrossFit WODs, Diane is a programming favorite. You’re guaranteed to come across it in one form or another on a monthly basis!

As a lover of deadlifts and handstand push-ups, Diane is my bread-and-butter WOD (I actually discussed why it is the greatest CrossFit WOD ever!) That being said, that middle set of 15 deadlifts gets me every time…beware!

2020 Romanian Throwdown Qualifier – WOD 3

Equipment: Barbell, bumper plates, dumbbell, pull-up bar/rack

Remember how I mentioned earlier that doing 50 heavy deadlifts for a workout is no joke? Our Romanian friends heard that and said “hold my beer”.

This workout starts with 55 heavy deadlifts!

Think you can dumbbell snatch and do chest-to-bar pull-ups with the best of ’em? Try it after deadlifting Diane + 10!

The Seven

Equipment: Barbell, bumper plates, pull-up bar/rack, kettlebell

The good thing with this one is that there are probably one or two movements here that you’re pretty good at.

The bad news is, the other 5 or 6 are pretty hard (and the deadlifts are heavy!)

If you’re new, scale those deadlifts, thrusters and kettlebell swings. You want to be able to do another deadlift WOD next week…right?


Equipment: Barbell, bumper plates, plyo box, pull-up bar/rack, wall ball, jump rope

When you finish up those pull-ups and check the board for the next exercise, you’ll find yourself shouting the WOD name over and over again.

What an appropriately named deadlift WOD!

You know it’s tough when the deadlift portion might be the least of your worries!


Equipment: Barbell, bumper plates

Remember how I mentioned that you see variations of Diane everywhere?

Enter Donny

It’s bad enough that the reps are doubled, but getting to the last set and realizing it’s as big as the first set was is rough.

Just promise me one thing: you won’t go out at your Diane pace on this one!

K9 Kitt

Equipment: Barbell, bumper plates, dumbbells

Looking at these times, you’d think that everyone should scale. Then again, 21 rounds are 21 rounds.

You have over 130 deadlifts in this one (don’t let that light weight lull you into complacency!) and close to a mile of weighted carries. Settle in for a long, hard ride!

Mr. Joshua

Equipment: Air runner, GHD, barbell, bumper plates

The runs in this one are surprisingly therapeutic. No time under tension and a chance to run away from the horrors from the GHD and heavy barbell.

But each run just feels a bit…worse. Your central nervous system starts to fry from 125 deadlifts and your core is completely shot.

If you just ran home (or upstairs) on the 4th or 5th run, nobody would think worse of you…I promise.

Double-rep Light DT

Equipment: Barbell, bumper plates

As promised, DT’s little, but more hyperactive brother!

Personally, I think these standards are a little off; good athletes will blow through this one as fast as they do regular DT.

For the rest of us mortals, those light deadlifts are a welcome reprieve!


Equipment: Concept2 rower, barbell, bumper plates, pull-up bar/rack, gymnastics rings

Nothing here really screams “oh wow..I better watch it..this is gonna suck!”

…but in my experience, those are the most dangerous ones!

For most people, I think the ring dips are going to be the silent killer. Break these early and often if necessary…63 rings dips are 63 rings dips…at least we all know the benefits of dips are numerous!

2020 CrossFit Open Workout 3

Equipment: Barbell, bumper plates

Diane is tough.

Donny is horrible.

CrossFit Games Open Workout 20.3 (also featured in 18.4) is a KILLER.

Really heavy barbells and handstand walks replace the back end of Donny. Diane serves as an appetiser, just to wear you out.

What percentile above are YOU doing this one in?

Original 300

Equipment: Pull-up bar/rack, barbell, bumper plates, plyo box, kettlebell

Man, oh man, did Gerard Butler and crew look cool.

Man, oh man, did we all look ridiculous doing this one at the Globo gym.

Even those guys who hate CrossFit have probably given this one a go; it was pretty much a rite of passage for all male gym-goers between 2007 and 2010.

It seemed so hard back then…if only we knew what was in store for us!

The Gunslinger

Equipment: Barbell, bumper plates

We’ve been wall walking in CrossFit for years. However, in 2020 when these burst onto the CrossFit Open scene, we were all in for a rude awakening!

High-rep wall walks (with those tough Open standards) really take it out of you. Knowing you have 27 heavy-ish deadlifts after that first set of 9…well…I wouldn’t fault you for resting on your stomach for a bit after that last wall walk!


Equipment: Barbell, bumper plates, plyo box

30-minute AMRAPs require a certain type of determination.

30-minute AMRAPs without a long run to break it up and with constant, heavy deadlifts take “next-level” determination!

This is the ultimate “no space”/”little space” workout. If you have a barbell, something to jump on, and 30 minutes to kill, McGhee will be waiting for you with open arms!

CrossFit Deadlifts

The deadlift is one of the foundational movements of CrossFit. It is usually taught early on to those new to CrossFit and can be used as a progression to more complicated lifts. With time, people grow to love the deadlift so much that they’ll purchase special deadlifting shoes to help them in their quest to lift a half ton!


In most regards, the CrossFit deadlift is no different than what you would see at a powerlifting meet or from the old, grizzled, Chuck Taylor-wearing guys at the Globo gym. You slap on some weight, position yourself over the barbell, and pull to lock-out.

However, you’ll rarely see anyone go for a set of 10 or higher at the gym. At the powerlifting meet, each person will do exactly 3 repetitions on the platform.

After reviewing the deadlift WODs from the list you probably realize that CrossFit deadlifts come in packs.

Big packs.


With high-rep sets required in every deadlift WOD, most CrossFitters opt to touch and go. These fast reps rely heavily on the stretch reflex to assist with every rep after the first one. Not having to break the tension on every rep seeds things up and delays fatigue.

Touch-and-go reps still must reach lock-out to count and “bouncing” the barbell and plates is not permitted in any deadlift WOD.

In most cases, deadlift WODs do not permit Sumo deadlifting. In most qualifier, competition, or open workouts there is generally a standards note saying something to the degree of “arms must be inside the legs”. This is a more annoying way of saying “no Sumo deadlifts!”

If you’re okay with not Sumo deadlifting all the time and like to simply “grip and rip” every once in a while, you might find CrossFit deadlifts to be the greatest things since sliced bread!


Benefits of CrossFit Deadlifts

The slightly unique execution of CrossFit deadlifts bring about some slightly unique benefits.


We’re probably never going to see any 500-plus pound deadlift WODs. The top powerlifters don’t need to worry about getting bumped by a CrossFitter.

But consider the sheer volume that a workout like Diane presents. In 2-10 minutes, you end up deadlifting over 5 tons!

A good deadlift WOD helps to get big deadlift volume in.


Don’t get me wrong, pulling 4+ plates aside is a war! Those few seconds feel like lifetimes going by as the bar slowly climbs up your leg and you pray that your grip holds out!

Then, as quickly as it all started, you drop the bar, take a seat, and chill for awhile until your next set.

Talk about a boom-bust cycle!


A good deadlift WOD, the intensity is dialed in for the duration of the workout. Whether a compact WOD like Diane or DT or more of a grind like Mr. Joshua, the intensity doesn’t let up.

And those deadlifts keep coming back to remind you how much you love them!

Performance under fatigue

It is one thing to do a 5-set of 315-pound deadlifts after a few warm-up sets and a little rest. It is another thing to do your last 9-set after about 70 total heavy deadlifts, some handstand push-ups, and handstand walks thrown in!

It is admirable to be able to handle adversity and to keep fighting through a deadlift WOD. Being able to perform when heavily fatigued builds mental toughness and prepares you for similar stimuli in other tough WODs.

Downsides of CrossFit Deadlifts

I would argue that the benefits of CrossFit deadlifts outweigh the costs, these downsides should be highlighted.

No Sumo Allowed!

Maybe you’ll get lucky in a competition or qualifier and the rules won’t explicitly say “No Sumo Deadlifts”. You can sneak in a few reps and then “beg for permission, instead of asking for forgiveness”.

If you’re a Sumo enthusiast, though, you’d probably prefer to not have to play these little games. Do yourself a favor and get good at CrossFit deadlifts so you can dominate deadlift WODs.

Can’t Go as heavy

As we previously mentioned, you’re not likely to see any world record deadlift weights programmed into a deadlift WOD. With so many reps and other heavily fatiguing movements, this is expected.

You’ll have to wait for a different opportunity to bust out your dedicated deadlift bar! Don’t even think about using a hex bar!

If you want to go really heavy, don’t worry about touch-and-going like you would with CrossFit deadlifts.


Conclusion? Go do a Deadlift WOD!

Deadlift WODs require true grit. There is no better sign of mental toughness than grinding though the first 20 minutes of a killer deadlift WOD and still picking up a heavy barbell to close things out.

I don’t suggest going extremely heavy or high volume on your first try. However, even a scaled version of Diane is sure to put hair on your chest and surely builds character.

Hit your deadlift WOD quota for the week? Great! Now read up on the 34+ muscles you worked on each rep!

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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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