Hardest CrossFit Workouts & Warning Signs to See it Coming


You walk into the gym, put your workout gear on the floor, and look up at the board.  What do you see?  Just two or three movements and a really simple looking rep scheme.  Your first thought is, “That’s it?”

Only to find yourself lying on the floor, gasping for air thinking to yourself, “That was harder than it looked!”  We’ve all been there my friends.

How does this happen?  How does a seemingly innocent looking workout sneak up on you like that?  Shouldn’t you have seen this one coming?  Why was it SO much harder than it looked on the white board?

In this article I will lay out 3 red flags you should be looking for when it comes to a workout sneaking up on you.  Then, I’ll give you my top movements that you should look out for.  You know, the ones that hurt the most.  I’ll also share with you some of the worst workouts I’ve ever done.


Red Flag #1 – The workout has a name attached to it.  This one is the most obvious.  It has a name for a reason.  If it has a name, it is designed to be hard for one of many reasons.  I actually wrote an article on the history of why workouts are named.  Check it out here!

Red Flag #2 – It looks too easy on paper.  This one should also be obvious, but for some reason it always goes right over our head.  If it looks very simple, basic, and straight forward, you better believe you are going to move, and most FAST!  Moving fast means you will hurt, bad!

Don’t be fooled by something that looks easy on paper, because it won’t be easy.  If you look at the board and are thinking to yourself, “Nice, this one should be easy.”, warning signals should be going off!

Red Flag #3 – It has a built in rest period.  This one is also hard for most to see.  I am most guilty of this one.  Look at the board and see a built in rest period and think, “Sweet.  I get to rest a minute between rounds, easy peasy.”

Think again.  That rest period will allow you to go faster when you are working, and we all know the faster you move the more it sucks.

You see a rest period, flashing red lights should be going off in your head.  Warning, warning, warning!  If not, you’ll be thinking to yourself, “Man these rest periods keep getting shorter and shorter.”


Assault Bike – There is no hiding behind an assault bike.  Full body movement.  Cycle with the legs, push/pull with the arms.  Slow down it hurts, speed up it hurts.  Good luck.  My only suggestion on how to make the assault bike more tolerable is to use the RPM’s as your guide to pace yourself properly.  Try and keep your RPM’s at a consistent number, put your head down, and just keep grinding.

Light Weight Thrusters – Anything at, or under 95/65 is going to absolutely wreck you.  Time under tension, full body movement, large distance moved, heavy breathing, you name it, thrusters require it.  Light weight will allow you to move faster and the only reason to stop is because you don’t want to move anymore, not because you can’t move.  These are ALL mental!  Nothing tests your mental fortitude quite like light weight thrusters.

Burpees – High volume, low volume, step back/forward, fast, slow, doesn’t matter.  Burpees suck and we all know it.  If it has burpees, rest assured it will be a difficult workout!


Kalsu – This is a hero workout named after Robert James Kalsu, who played for the Buffalo Bills in 1968.  He left the Bills to fulfill his ROTC commitment with the Army.  He then served in the Vietnam War and was killed in action.

Kalsu is 100 thrusters for time, with 135/95.  At the start of each minute (including the start of the workout), you must perform 5 burpees.  The workout ends when you have completed 100 thrusters.

This one gets nasty right around minute 7.  This is when you realize you aren’t even close to halfway done.  It gets mental real quick.  My best and only time is 22:38 Rx’d.

CrossFit Open 17.5 – This one burns and it burns from the very beginning.  10 rounds: 9 thrusters at 95/65, 35 double unders.  I’ve done this twice and I nearly blacked out both times.  My best time is 8:53.

Police/Fire Olympics Event #1 (2015) – When I was in law enforcement, I signed up for this event in San Diego and had a great time.  Started off with this little number:

2 minutes of max double unders, directly into a 10 minute AMRAP (as many rounds as possible): 5 deadlifts at 185/115, 10 lateral burpees over bar, 15 kettle bell swings (53/35).  I got a little over 230 double unders and I don’t remember how many rounds I got in the AMRAP.  I genuinely don’t remember anything after about minute 4.  This one was ROUGH!


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