Most of the articles that talk about the “hardest CrossFit workouts” or “REALLY SO HARD CROSSFIT WORKOUTS OMG!1!!!1” start off by telling you all about what makes a CrossFit WOD “hard”.
I think you know what makes a workout hard (and what makes a workout suuuuuck).
So we’re skipping all of that and jumping into the list.
(one caveat: no long AMRAPs made the hardest CrossFit workouts list. Too easy, to just coast for most of the workout. If you wanna finish any of these bad boys, you gotta put in the work (with the exception of “The Worst Minute”…you’ll understand this one!))
Table of Contents
The 21 Hardest CrossFit Workouts
Equipment: Barbell, bumper plates, plyo box
The work here is certainly a lot, but the thing that makes Ship so hard is the “danger” factor.
3-foot high box jumps under heavy fatigue!
I would suggest that you get a soft box for this one, but I don’t know if they make them that high. Take these slow unless you want to say goodbye to your shins…in many cases, the hardest CrossFit workouts can be (slightly) dangerous WODs!
Equipment: Jump rope, barbell, bumper plates, pull-up bar/rack, air runner
Any one of these movements are somewhat reasonable, but combine them all and…yowzerz!
The double-unders are numerous, overhead squats are heavy and runs are long. Start tripping up those double-unders, particularly on the second round, and you’ll want to throw in the towel.
I would suggest doing as big of sets of overhead squats as possible, but at 135 pounds…definitely easier said than done!
As a side note, I have no idea how this didn’t make the list of the top double-under workouts of all time!
The Worst Minute
Equipment: Assault Bike
Yeah, I get it’s an AMRAP and you can take things pretty easy, but hey…it’s only a minute. How hard can it be?
Yeah…that looks REALLY hard.
I’d wager that if you truly commit to going all out on this one, you’ll be more smoked than you are at the end of Cindy or some other long AMRAP!
You need your own garage gym for this one; you’re not going to be able to drive after this one!
(Granted, if you choose to take it easy for the minute, this one probably doesn’t rise to the level of one of the hardest CrossFit workouts of all time!)
CrossFit Open WOD 5
Equipment: Barbell, bumper plates
The interesting thing with this beast is that only two CrossFit Games champions were able to complete this in the “elite” time
Think about how hard that makes this one…CrossFit Games champions can’t go elite on it!
84 thrusters (ugh) and 84 bar-facing-burpees (kill me).
All you need is a barbell and little space, though; perfect for the garage…right?
Equipment: Concept2 rower, jump rope, air runner
If you’re really good at double-unders and you like to run, this one might not be that bad. You may even find it to be slightly enjoyable.
But look at what happens to a bunch of these CrossFit Games athletes when they push this:
Lots of cramping, passing out, and…tripping over own feet (due to exhaustion).
I’ve done this one a few times…definitely one of the hardest CrossFit workouts in my book!
Oh, man…Turkish getups…with 2-pood/70-pound kettlebells?! That alone is going to disqualify, like, 97 percent of people from going Rx on this one.
Then those kettlebell swings and overhead squats…this one might be the hardest CrossFit workout.
No times to beat with this one. Just know that if you can finish this one, you deserve a medal.
Equipment: Air runner, plyo box, wall ball
Okay, okay…I know. We went from an objectively hard (hardest?) CrossFit workout to…Kelly?
I’m probably (definitely) projecting here, but Kelly is the hardest CrossFit Girl for me. The combination of wall balls (as many as Karen has) and box jumps always makes me legs…well..I’ll let Charlie Murphy explain
Yes…my legs always feel like linguine during this one!
You don’t think it’s so hard? Well good for you…have you met my friend Andrew?
Equipment: Concept2 rower, barbell, bumper plates
2.5 miles of rowing and half the thrusters that Kalsu throws at you…
There are really only two main things to know before going into this one:
- You need to pace the first row before the thrusters. If you don’t, you might not finish.
- That second row is going to be sooooooo much worse than the first one….so much worse.
For those who think Kelly is so easy, do these two back to back.
I dare you.
Equipment: Barbell, bumper plates, pull-up bar/rack, plyo box
Forget the box jumps on this one (they were a mistake of an inclusion, but if you want a real challenge, have at it!)
This one has a bit of a Kalsu feel with the 100 thrusters and some would argue that the bench presses and pull-ups are harder than the 5 burpees. Thankfully, you get to pace yourself with these and don’t have that impending doom as the clock counts down each round.
Make those thrusters count each round!
Equipment: Air runner, pull-up bar/rack
Do I really need to go into this one? I mean, I used to run 10 miles a week! You want me to do that in a WOD and then bust out one-and-a-half GI Jane workouts?!
If you hate running, I think it’s pretty easy to say that this is the worst of the hardest CrossFit workouts.
Hydrate and carb load before this one.
Who is Eleanor Campbell
Equipment: Concept2 rower, air runner
Save yourself the effort of calculating…you row 5,500 meters and run 5 miles.
How often is it in a workout that you’d kill to do some barbell work, gymnastics, or…anything other than what you’re currently doing?
The Who is Eleanor Campbell (for real, is she one of these people?) workout gives you a lot of time to think about this.
Equipment: Kettlebell, pull-up bar/rack, plyo box, air runner
5 miles of running…a ton of swings, pull-ups, and box jumps.
And a few push-ups thrown in for good measure.
When the elite athletes aren’t expected to finish within 50 minutes, you know it’s a hard one. Try to rest a bit on the runs and push-ups.
Mat Fraser’s Hardest WOD
Equipment: Assault Bike, GHD
An EMOM?! What?! How hard could it really be?!
Well, let’s let the man himself explain (skip to 1:42)
I mean, if the GOAT says it’s the worst of the hardest CrossFit workouts, you know it’s just gotta be bad!
Equipment: Air runner, pull-up bar/rack, gymnastics rings
Looks easy enough, but have you ever tried to do a muscle-up with a vest?
How about thirty of them?
Yeah, try those along with 2.5 miles of running and 300 squats (all soooo much harder in that vest) for good measure and you’ll understand why this is one of the hardest CrossFit workouts.
Equipment: Kettlebell, GHD
You probably think the heavy (heavy) swings are the killers here….nah.
The GHD sit-ups blow up your core. Like, you need to watch yourself on this one. The first sets of 30 probably won’t be so bad. Those last few sets, though…man…I hope this is you…
Equipment: Air runner, barbell, bumper plates, plyo box
Well, the good news is, you get a lot of built-in rest here.
By that I mean 4 minutes…and these short (2-minute) periods come before and after big runs.
Then you have all of those squat cleans and box jumps (again, watch your shins here) to really wear you down.
Make sure you really rest during those rest periods!
Equipment: Barbell, bumper plates, parallettes
55 decently heavy squat cleans with a high, high-skilled gymnastics movement. Tough.
Like a few others on here, you might have 3-5 percent of people (…maybe) who can do these movements as prescribed. What makes for one of the hardest CrossFit workouts more than really hard movements?
Highway to Hell
Equipment: Assault Bike
Look closely…”every 2 minutes…on the display screen”.
If this was every 2 minutes…yeah, this would be the hardest CrossFit workout…like…by far!
As it is, this one is still incredibly tough and you gotta go hard on that bike as soon as you start pedalling each time. You can rest a bit on the non-bike portions, but…nah, just go hard throughout.
Equipment: Wall ball, barbell, bumper plates
To be honest, the hardest part of this one is keeping track of all of those rounds. 30 of them…
This one has a really big pacing element. Get into a rhythm with each round, set yourself up accordingly, etc. and this one might not be that hard, but…
(it’s still hard)
Equipment: Air runner, weighted vest, pull-up bar/rack
Some would argue that vested Murph is numero uno when it comes to the king of the hardest CrossFit workouts.
Not a bad contender, for sure.
Murph is hard enough without a vest or with one of the many scaled versions. You wanna go elite in Murph, you’re gonna have to work. You throw on a vest…jack that difficulty up by about 100!
Vested Murph is definitely a contender, but I would argue that Kalsu is the hardest CrossFit workout.
Equipment: Barbell, bumper plates
What? ANOTHER EMOM?
Yeah, burpees and heavy thrusters for a long time.
But the thing that makes Kalsu…well…Kalsu is that impending doom every minute that those burpees are coming again…and again…and again.
Kalsu seems to go on forever. Kalsu seems to go on forever with two of the worst exercises in CrossFit.
Kalsu is the hardest of the hardest CrossFit workouts of all time.
The Hardest CrossFit Workouts: Post-game Comments
Have you given one of these bangers a try? If so, you’ll probably notice that they all fit into one of two major categories:
- They are long endurance grinders
- They contain really difficult or complicated movements
Most of the other hardest CrossFit workouts lists include WODs like Fran or DT. These certainly aren’t the easiest WODs, but a 3-to-6-minute workout and a workout that includes deadlifts, cleans, and jerks don’t fit into my definition of “hardest”.
Do you think I made a mistake here including CrossFit Open 14.5 instead of 19.5?
Was I wussing out, including things like Kelly?
Let me know what you think!
Need an especially hard CrossFit WOD while you’re on the road? Give one of these hotel CrossFit workouts a try (I did Dumbbell Badger at the hotel in Playa Del Carmen awhile back. I was pretty much set for the day after that!)