The Roy WOD: Goal Reps, Tips, and Safety

A woman preparing to perform a deadlift with a barbell.

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CrossFit, the worldwide fitness phenomenon largely credited with the rise of functional fitness, develops workouts designed to increase “general physical preparedness,” or your ability to weather whatever life throws your way. The majority of CrossFit workouts intend to maintain your ability to do things like put away groceries, play with your kids, and enjoy recreational activities.

However, there is one special subset of CrossFit workouts designed for something very different. The Hero WODs, as they’re called, are designed to commemorate military, law enforcement, emergency response, and firefighting heroes who lost their lives in the line of duty. 

These WODs are less about general physical preparedness and more about honoring the grueling physical distress these heroes endured. Thus, the Hero WODs are some of the toughest workouts known to CrossFitters and non-CrossFitters alike (and there are more than 100 of them). 

You may be familiar with some Hero WOD names, such as the popular Memorial Day workout, “Murph.” These are not the same as the “Girl” WODs, but they’re just as difficult to complete.

The Roy WOD is one Hero WOD, developed in honor of Marine Corps Sgt. Michael C. Roy, 25, of North Fort Myers, Florida. Roy was assigned to the 3rd Marine Special Operations Battalion, Marine Special Operations Advisor Group, Marine Corps Forces Special Operations Command at Camp Lejeune, and he died supporting combat operations on July 8, 2009 in Nimroz Province, Afghanistan.

Roy is survived by his wife Amy and three children, Michael, Landon, and Olivia. This commemorative workout was first posted on the CrossFit main website as the workout of the day for Tuesday, July 27, 2010 (100727), and it has since become one of the more popular Hero WODs.

To complete the Roy CrossFit WOD, do the following: 

5 rounds for time:

  • 15 deadlifts (225 pounds for men; 155 pounds for women)
  • 20 box jumps (24 inches for men; 20 inches for women)
  • 25 pull-ups

The Roy CrossFit WOD

Score: For time. Complete the rounds and reps as fast as you can.

Goal Times: Beginner: 25-30 minutes. Intermediate: 20-25 minutes. Advanced: 15-20 minutes. Elite: Less than 15 minutes.

Equipment Needed: Barbell, bumper plates, box, pull-up bar

Level: Intermediate, but can be modified up or down.

Benefits

The Roy WOD is unique in that it contains three of the most basic, foundational movements in CrossFit. Yet when combined, these three exercises can feel debilitating. The upside, however, is that you’ll enjoy ample fitness gains (after the inevitable soreness wears off).

Deadlift Proficiency

For elite athletes, deadlifts at 155 pounds (women) and 225 pounds (men) may not seem heavy. But for most people, those numbers are serious weight. At 15 reps each round, the Roy WOD forces athletes to keep their deadlift form tight and clean, lest you suffer lower back soreness for days to come. Plus, moving straight into box jumps means you must spare your quads and pull largely with your glutes and hamstrings, further reinforcing good deadlift form.

Upper Body Strength

The obvious upper body exercise in the Roy WOD is the pull-up, but you may be surprised at how much deadlifts train your upper body. It won’t take long to notice, though. After your first round of pull-ups, when you get back to the deadlift bar, pay attention to how your latissimus dorsi (“lats”) feel.

You’ll be forced to tightly engage your lats, trapezius muscles (“traps”), rear deltoids, and even your triceps to support the weight of the bar and maintain good deadlift technique. It's essentially an isometric contraction in the upper body, and research shows that isometric training can improve strength.

Cardiovascular Endurance

Box jumps: some people hate them, some people love them. Usually, the people who love box jumps are also the people who love burpees, running, rowing, and other cardio-heavy moves. That’s because box jumps will fire up your heart and lungs really quickly if you’re not in good cardiovascular shape. Take this as an opportunity to train the most important muscle of all: your heart.

Muscular Endurance

In addition to improving cardiovascular endurance, the Roy W ODcan help build muscular endurance. Muscular endurance simply refers to how long your muscles can sustain tension or movement—with 15 deadlifts, 20 box jumps, and 25 pull-ups for five rounds, the Roy WOD can certainly test the limits of your muscular endurance. 

This is an important component of fitness that often gets lost underneath the hype of cardio endurance and pure muscular strength. You need great muscular endurance for activities such as hiking, kayaking and, no surprise here, long CrossFit workouts like the Roy WOD.

Step-by-Step Instructions

For the Roy WOD, you’ll need a barbell, bumper plates, a box, and a pull-up bar. Follow these steps for an efficient setup:

  1. Load your barbell with the weight you’ll use for the workout. Make sure to add clips to prevent plates from rolling off of your barbell. 
  2. Place your box for box jumps nearby. 
  3. If you’re doing the workout in a box gym, claim a spot on the pull-up rig near your box and barbell so you don’t have to waste precious seconds walking too far.

How to Do Deadlifts

  1. Stand in front of the barbell. The bar should hover over the tops of your feet, about two inches in front of your shins. Hinge at the hips and bend your knees to grip the bar with your hands about shoulder-width apart. 
  2. Make sure your neck is in line with your spine and your back is in a neutral position (maintain your natural curve). Take a deep breath and engage your core. Think about drawing your navel into your spine. 
  3. With your core engaged and your feet firmly planted, use power from your hamstrings, glutes, and quads to stand up with the barbell. Fully extend your hips at the top. 
  4. With control (and your core still tight!), hinge at the hips and then bend your knees to lower the barbell back to the ground. Rest, or go in for another rep starting at step two. Repeat until you finish 15 reps.

How to Do Box Jumps

  1. Set up a plyometric box so that it’s sturdy and doesn’t wobble with pressure. 
  2. Stand with your feet planted about six to eight inches away from the box. 
  3. Hinge at your hips, sending your buttocks backward and bending the knees just slightly. Swing your arms back for extra momentum.
  4. Use power from your calves, hamstrings, glutes, and quads to jump up and forward simultaneously, landing with your feet planted on the box.
  5. One foot at a time, step down from the box and reassume the start position. Keep going until you reach 20 reps.

How to Do Pull-Ups

Kipping pull-ups
 Getty Images.

This how-to for pull-ups covers the kipping pull-up, which is the accepted standard in CrossFit. For information on strict or standard pull-ups, read Verywell Fit’s step-by-step guide to pull-ups.

  1. Grip the pull-up bar with your hands roughly shoulder-width apart. You may use a narrower or wider grip based on your preference.
  2. Tuck your pelvis and draw your navel into your spine to “hollow” your body. At the same time, engage your lats and your quads. Your body should look like a shallow boat. To visualize the hollow position, picture yourself lying face-up on the ground pressing only your lower back into the floor.
  3. From the hollow position, send your feet behind you and arch your back, pushing your head through the window of your arms. This should all be one smooth motion. 
  4. After reaching the arch position, once again send your body into a hollow position, this time bending your elbows and pulling your body upward. Use the momentum you gained from the arch position to propel your chin over the bar.
  5. Once your chin surpasses the height of the bar, lower yourself back down, reassuming the arch position. From there, go into another rep and keep repeating the kipping process until you complete 25 reps.

Common Mistakes

Every time you decide to work out, you decide to take on inherent risks. To avoid common exercise-related injuries and health conditions, do your best to avoid these common mistakes you might come across during the Roy CrossFit WOD.

General Mistakes

These mistakes apply to the whole workout and can occur with regard to any of the three movements in the Roy WOD.

Failure to Pace

Any time you see a WOD with five rounds, your immediate instinct should be to carefully pace the workout. If you start with a sprint, you’ll quickly peter out and may not be able to finish the WOD—at the very least, the last couple of rounds will be unsparing.

Failure to Scale

Likewise, if you fail to scale or modify (modification options below) as needed, you risk injury and an unfinished workout. If any of the movements are too heavy or too difficult, scaling can preserve the intended stimulus of the workout and ensure safety.

Deadlift Mistakes

The deadlift, though a foundational and functional movement, is often performed incorrectly. Keep these common mistakes in mind and try to avoid them as you complete the Roy WOD.

Rounded Back

During a deadlift, you should maintain a neutral spine. This means the natural curve of your lumbar and thoracic spine should be present, without overly flexing or extending. A big part of maintaining a neutral spine is engaging your core.

Faulty Bar Path

During deadlifts, remember to keep the bar close to your body. If you start with the barbell too far away from your body, you risk injuring your hips or lower back. Keep the bar so close that it grazes your legs on the way up and down.

No Full Extension

Fully-extending your hips when you stand up signifies the completion of a rep. If you don’t fully extend (i.e., straighten your legs completely), you have not completed the deadlift. Full-extension ensures you maintain proper movement patterns, as well as get the best results from your deadlifts.

Box Jump Mistakes

In theory, the box jump exercise is very simple. In practice, however, box jumps can be extremely challenging, partly due to fear of jumping and missing. Avoid these common box jump mistakes to prevent injury during the Roy WOD.

Landing on the Toes

When you land on the box, your feet should plant firmly, and your entire foot—from big toe to heel—should be on the box. Landing on your toes or with your heel hanging off the box can result in instability, which may lead to a stumble, fall, or rolled ankle.

Jumping Down

You may have seen athletes jump on a box, jump back to get down, and quickly rebound for another jump. Don’t do this if you want to spare your Achilles tendon. Instead, gently step down from the box one foot at a time. You’ll still be able to quickly rep out your box jumps with this method.

Pull-Up Mistakes

Pull-ups are often riddled with mistakes, especially in beginner attempts. Here are two of the most common pull-up mistakes.

Inefficient Kip

If you’re doing kipping pull-ups for the Roy WOD, make sure to practice your kip so it’s smooth and efficient. A choppy kip—one that looks like multiple-segmented movements rather than one smooth motion—can significantly reduce your pull-up efficiency, and you’re probably better off doing strict pull-ups.

Chin Doesn’t Reach Over the Bar

No matter which type of pull-up you choose to do for the Roy WOD, make sure your chin surpasses the height of the bar. Otherwise, the rep is not complete. 

Modifications and Variations

Always consider modifying CrossFit workouts or choosing a different variation if the workout is too tough as written. On the other hand, if you’re an elite athlete and a workout doesn’t seem difficult enough, you can modify the WOD to make it more challenging.

Deadlift Modifications

There are a number of ways to change up how you perform a deadlift.

Reduce the Weight

If 225 pounds or 155 pounds is too heavy for you to complete 15 good deadlifts, the first thing you should try is reducing the weight. This is a simple, effective method that still allows you to complete all 15 reps for all five rounds with good form.

Dumbbell or Kettlebell Deadlifts

For people who can’t perform deadlifts with a barbell, due to pregnancy, injury or any other reason, dumbbell or kettlebell deadlifts offer a similar stimulus with more leeway for a limited range of motion. Make sure to choose weights with which you can perform all 15 reps with proper technique.

Box Jump Modifications

Try implementing of the these variations for box jumps as needed.

Use a Shorter Box

The Roy WOD calls for a 24-inch box for men and a 20-inch box for women. For people who are not familiar with box jumps, it’s worth using a smaller box to get used to the movement. Box jumps are a fantastic exercise for developing cardiovascular endurance and power in the lower body, but they aren’t worth an injury just for the sake of “going RX.” Use a shorter box if you think you might injure yourself with the prescribed box height.

Step-Ups

Many people can’t perform box jumps because of various reasons. Some common box jump contraindications are pregnancy, arthritis, and knee, hip, or ankle injuries. Fear is also a common reason for avoiding box jumps, and a bona fide one. If any of those situations apply to you, consider doing step-ups instead—simply step onto the box instead of jumping onto it. Just make sure to perform an even number on each leg. That would come out to 10 on each leg for each round during the Roy WOD.

Pull-Up Modifications

If you haven't quite mastered a pull-up yet, one of these options is bound to suit your fitness level.

TRX or Ring Rows

Suspension rows on a TRX or gymnastics rings (most CrossFit gyms have gymnastics rings) can help beginners develop a pulling motion. Suspension rows develop a horizontal pull, rather than a vertical pull, but still transfer to pull-up strength. To learn how to perform suspension rows, check out this step-by-step guide to TRX rows.

Banded Pull-Ups

Banded pull-ups are common in CrossFit gyms, although some experts think they can preclude pull-up development. This pull-up modification involves wrapping a resistance band around a pull-up bar and placing your feet in the band. 

The resistance band offsets your body weight, making it easier to propel yourself above the bar. If you decide to do banded pull-ups, make sure you maintain excellent pull-up form so that your hard work transfers to unassisted pull-ups as you get stronger.

Jumping Pull-Ups

Jumping pull-ups serve as a fantastic way for beginners to get familiar with the pull-up motion. By using strength from your legs, you can focus on correctly engaging your back, shoulders and chest for pull-ups. 

To perform jumping pull-ups, place a box beneath a pull-up bar. Stand on the box (when standing, the bar should be about parallel with your chin). Grip the bar and extend your arms, simultaneously bending your knees. At this point, you should be hanging from the bar with your toes supporting your body on the box. Jump up and pull until your chin surpasses the height of the bar.

Beginner and Advanced Versions

Beginner Roy WOD
  • 5 rounds for time of: 

  • 15 deadlifts (135 pounds for men, 95 pounds for women)

  • 20 box step-ups (20 inches for men, 18 inches for women)

  • 25 TRX rows

Advanced Roy WOD
  • 5 rounds for time of: 

  • 15 deadlifts (225 pounds for men, 155 pounds for women)

  • 20 box jumps (30 inches for men, 24 inches for women)

  • 25 chest-to-bar pull-ups

Safety and Precautions

Everyone should take care to ensure their own safety and the safety of others when exercising. In a CrossFit gym, this means:

  • Clearly establishing your workout space and asking others to do the same
  • Controlling any weights used to ensure they do not roll near another exerciser
  • Cleaning your space and equipment after you finish working out

In terms of your own safety, you can take the following precautions to avoid injury: 

  • Complete a thorough warmup to ensure your muscles and joints are primed and ready to perform deadlifts, box jumps, and pull-ups.
  • Wear any protective gear you may need, such as grips, knee wraps, or other forms of support (see the best protective wrist wraps for 2020).
  • Eat and hydrate before you start the workout to avoid dehydration or hypoglycemia (low blood sugar), dizziness, or lightheadedness.
  • Refuel with protein and carbohydrates after the workout to aid muscle recovery.
  • Complete a cool-down that allows your body time to revert to its resting state.
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Article Sources
Verywell Fit uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
  1. Lum D, Barbosa TM. Brief review: Effects of isometric strength training on strength and dynamic performanceInt J Sports Med. 2019;40(6):363-375. doi:10.1055/a-0863-4539

Additional Reading
  • CrossFit Level One Training Guide, Second Edition. CrossFit; 2019.