CrossFit often pays tribute to fallen servicemen with a “hero” workout named in their honor. “DT” honors United States Air Force Staff Sergeant Timothy P. Davis, who was killed by an IED in Afghanistan on Feb. 20, 2009, while supporting Operation Enduring Freedom.

As with many CrossFit workouts, DT doesn’t appear too difficult. It’s composed of three exercises—the deadlift, hang power clean, and push-press—all using a 155-pound barbell. It starts with 12 reps of the deadlift, followed by nine reps of the power hang clean, and finishes with six reps of the push-press, and is repeated as a circuit for five total rounds. On paper, the number of reps per round seems manageable; the weight isn’t that heavy, and five-rounders are standard in the CrossFit world. But experiencing this WOD and reading about it are worlds apart. The sequence of movements is part of what makes it so difficult. The workout takes you from pull to push, from power lift to Olympic lifts, targeting the metabolic pathways that are the route to increased athletic performance.

Ripping of 12 deadlift reps at 155 pounds takes just a few seconds. For stronger athletes who have proficiency with a barbell, the set of nine hang power cleans is equally fast, and six push jerks are over in a few clicks of the clock. Round 1 is behind you before you know it, and Round 2 isn’t much more difficult. But regardless of how experienced you are, the wheels start to come of in Rounds 3 and 4. The forearms start to blow up, grip strength begins to fail, and the demands on the cardiovascular system become extreme. As in many other CrossFit workouts, the final round is the difference maker. Athletes with the right blend of skill, strength, and fortitude will hang onto the bar no matter how badly they’re hurting, but I’ve seen many athletes get to the final round of hang power cleans only to squeeze out nine singles, dropping the bar after each rep.

If this is your first attempt at DT, try breaking the exercises into mini sets, putting the bar down for a few seconds to at least allow grip-strength recovery. A lot of CrossFitters find it helpful to divide each exercise equally into thirds: This would mean that you do three mini sets of four reps on the deadlift, three sets of three on the power clean, and three sets of two on the push press. It’s not an invitation to lollygag, but it can help ensure proper form. You won’t get a medal for never putting the bar down, so if you’re totally gassed, put the bar down as many times as you have to and never compromise form and safety for the sake of expediency. Keep your back flat on the deadlift, always drive from the hips (and don’t pull with your arms) on the hang power clean, and keep perfect posture on the push-press, with your head slightly forward in the finish position. Yes, there is a speed component to CrossFit workouts; the ability to get a lot of work done in a short period of time is at the heart of the CrossFit philosophy and helps drive the competitive nature of the CrossFit community. But remember—especially if you’re new to CrossFit—you need to move at your speed, not someone else’s. You can’t start comparing yourself to other Cross-Fitters until you’ve been at it for a long time.

And never forget why CrossFit created these hero workouts in the first place. Timothy Davis gave his life in service of his country. A little bit of pain in the gym is just a small reminder of his sacrifice.

SAFETY FIRST: A 155-pound deadlift won’t turn any heads, unless you blow your back out and collapse. Always keep your back flat.


155-LB DEADLIFT: 12 Reps


155-LB PUSH PRESS: 6 Reps