The Seven WOD: Goal Times, Tips, and Safety

Named in Honor of Seven Fallen CIA Operatives

In December 2009, seven CIA officers who were posted on a remote base in southeastern Afghanistan were killed by a terrorist posing as a potential Al Qaeda informant. In May of 2010, CrossFit dedicated The Seven WOD to them and added it to their Hero WOD series.

The workout consists of 7 rounds for time, 7 handstand push-ups, 7 thrusters, 7 knees-to-elbows, 7 deadlifts, 7 burpees, 7 kettlebell swings, and 7 pull-ups. Athletes complete 7 rounds as quickly as possible and then record their time. 

If you’re a beginner looking for a challenge, don’t shy away from this WOD, scale down the weights if need, or modify some movements to make it challenging and doable for you. CrossFit is meant for everyone to find their strongest self. 

Score: This is a workout for time. Athletes complete the allotted amount of rounds and record their time. Beginner athletes should aim to complete the workout in 35 to 40 minutes, intermediate athletes 30 to 35 minutes, and more advanced athletes should aim for under 30 minutes. 

Equipment Needed: You will need a wall for handstand push-ups, two barbells (the thruster weight is 135 pounds for men and 95 pounds for women—the deadlift weight is 245 pounds for men and 165 pounds for women). Scale your weights down from there if needed.

You will need a pull-up bar for performing your knees to elbow and the pull-ups, as well as a kettlebell. The prescribed weight is 70 pounds for men and 55 pounds for women. Scale down from there if necessary. 

Level: Hero WODs are usually more challenging than your daily CrossFit workout. For that reason, they are usually enjoyed by more seasoned athletes, but that doesn’t mean anyone can’t try a Hero WOD. Beginners are welcome to try this and scale as needed.

Benefits

This WOD will exhaust your entire body. You’ll be using your upper body and shoulder strength on the handstand push-ups and pull-ups, and be pushing for that extra quad muscle on the thrusters, deadlifts, and kettlebell swings (make sure to get that strong hip motion). The burpees, although exhausting, are somewhat of a rest from the more challenging movements.

Step-by-Step Instructions

  1. Set your clock and begin with 7 handstand push-ups at the buzzer. Handstand push-ups are performed against a wall. The athlete gets into the handstand position against the wall with their hands slightly wider than shoulder width. (Kipping handstand push-ups are allowed here and suggested over strict handstand push-ups.) To perform a kipping handstand push up, the athlete lowers their head to the ground, tucks their hips and legs, then rapidly extend the hips and legs as the arms press up. Keep your abs tight. The rep is counted when the arms are fully extended and in line with the body.
  2. Perform 7 thrusters. A thruster is a front squat, which is followed by a push-press immediately following. Power clean your barbell, drop into a front squat, make sure your chest is up, weight is in your heels, and elbows are high in the front rack position. After lowering into the front squat, immediately stand and press the bar overhead.
  3. Head over to your pull up bar and perform 7 knees to elbows. A slight kipping motion will help you maintain momentum here.
  1. Back to the barbell for 7 deadlifts. Make sure to keep your back straight and use your legs.
  2. Perform 7 burpees. Although it's tough, do your best to breathe through these.
  3. Pick up your kettlebell and perform 7 kettlebell swings. Make sure to use your strong hip extension to get the weight to eye level.
  4. Back to the pull-up bar for 7 pull-ups. Any unassisted pull-up is fine here—kipping, strict, or butterfly.

Common Mistakes

Don’t Rush

The most common mistake athletes make with this WOD is trying to rush through it too quickly. At first glance, this WOD doesn’t seem too challenging—after all, it’s only seven of every movement. But don’t be deceived—this workout is way harder than it looks.

Be sure to keep a consistent pace throughout. You don’t want to expend all of your energy in the beginning because by round three you’ll be gasping for air. One way to help maintain a good pace is by keeping to a certain amount of time per round. So, see what it takes you to finish round one, then try and maintain that pace for the next six.

Know When to Break

Since this is a timed workout, you don’t want to stop too long between rounds but you also will need to take a breather at some points throughout the workout. So, figure out when is the best time for you—take strategic rests so that you optimize your performance. 

The best time to take a rest is in between working the same muscle group in a row. For example, the handstand push-ups will really work your shoulders, but so will the thrusters. So, instead of stopping at the end of the round after the pull-ups, go straight into the handstand push-ups—then, rest your shoulders for a few seconds before burning them out again with the thrusters. 

Don’t Get Ahead of Yourself

This is a long workout and will probably take you over 30 minutes, but don’t think about any of that while you’re doing it. Just focus on the movement you're doing when you get there. Get through that and then move on to the next. Worrying about how much you have left will only make you anxious and take away from your performance in the moment. 

Push That Last Round

It’s the hardest part of any workout, but that last round needs everything you’ve got. You’ve paced yourself well up until now, so just let it all out and go hard until the end. 

Modifications and Variations

Like all CrossFit WODs, there are many ways to modify The Seven. Here is the most popular scaled version of the workout:

  • 7 rounds for time
  • 7 push-ups
  • 7 thrusters (105 pounds for men and 65 pounds for women)
  • 7 knees to elbows
  • 7 deadlifts (205 pounds for men and 135 pounds for women)
  • 7 burpees
  • 7 kettlebell swings (55 pounds for men and 35 pounds for women)
  • 7 ring rows or banded pull-ups

Athletes can scale the weights down more if they are more comfortable. Just remember, you don’t want to make the workout too easy. Hero WODs are meant to hurt and make you stronger, so going slightly heavier than what you may be comfortable with isn’t a bad thing. Just be sure what you are experiencing is not pain or discomfort, in which case, you'll need to adjust the workout for your safety.

Safety Precautions

The Seven WOD, like most Hero WODs, is not easy. But it doesn't mean you shouldn't try. Scale down weights and movements as necessary. If you are overcoming an injury, are pregnant, or have any type of health problem, scaling is encouraged. You will still get the same stimulus while avoiding injury.

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