ParaWOD Benchmark #4: Elizabeth


We’re nearing the end of Benchmark Week at Crossfit Impavidus, and today’s benchmark was another new one for me, but very adaptable.


21-15-9 reps of:
Clean 135 pounds
Ring dips

For this workout, the clean movement is going to be the most difficult for someone who is sitting down. I’ve written in the past that you can accomplish this with kettlebells, either one arm at a time or with both. Another adaptation we can do is with the barbell, starting with it resting on your knees and pulling it up in the clean motion until you can bring your elbows underneath. This is a new movement for me, but I wanted to stick as close to the RX workout as possible.

21-15-9 reps of:
Clean 135 pounds = barbell clean (33lbs)
Ring dips = ring dips, and yes, we do it strict

The clean is going to be a challenging motion with the bar if you lack core muscle control, as I do. As the weight increases, consider either a torso strap or having a spotter hold you in place. Also consider that since the weight is starting on your knees to be careful not to load it up too heavily. Instead, consider placing the weight on boxes to keep your knees free from damage.

Here is my motion-in-progress, as I learn how to get used to this movement. The key for me is to keep the bar as close to the torso as possible in a pulling motion, getting it as high as possible before pivoting the elbows underneath. The tendency will be to just want to flip it up in an inverted curling position, but that’s not the motion we want.

To get a better look at what the clean motion looks like by someone much stronger and more advanced than I, watch Zach Ruhl’s clean + press movement to see how he gets the bar into position.

For the ring dips, if you can get up into position out of the chair, you will experience the most benefit of the ring movement because of how the rings force you to activate all of your stabilizer muscles. If this motion is too difficult, a dip station or matador is an easy replacement.

I finished the workout in 4:39, a solid starting benchmark, but next time, the weight must go up!

Thanks to Coach Lori for her video work!

ParaWOD Benchmark #3: Jeremy spoke

For today’s benchmark at Crossfit Impavidus, we move to a WOD that I’ve never attempted before, but presents similar challenge as FRAN.


Three rounds, 21-15-9 reps, for time of:
Overhead squats

For this workout, the modification is similar to FRAN in that we switched the squat to a shoulder press. As I noted for my Fran post, it was time to go up in weight.

Also, for burpees, my coaches at Crossfit Nassau came up with an approximation that they call “Chair get-ups,” or more cleverly, “Chirpees.” This movement requires another support mechanism like a box, parallette, or something stationary. The goal is to get out of the chair and then back up in it again using the stationary object. One down-and-up movement equates to one burpee.

Three rounds, 21-15-9 reps, for time of:
Overhead squats = shoulder press (75lbs)
Burpees = chirpees/chair get-ups

My final time of 5:55 was a solid first benchmark for this workout. I am glad I went up in weight, because this one felt more like a shoulder workout. While I did the 21 reps unbroken, I had to break down the middle set.

For the chirpees, I alternated hands, changing which arm was pushing off the stationary object vs which hand was holding the chair.

Thanks to Crossfit Nassau and Crossfit Impavidus for making this happen!

ParaWOD Benchmark #2: Annie Get Your Jump Rope


It is Benchmark Week at Crossfit Impavidus. Yesterday I said hello to Fran, and amazingly, my wife is just fine with me spending time today with Annie. Here is our 2nd benchmark:


50-40-30-20-10 rep rounds of:

  1. Double-under jump-rope
  2. Sit-ups

I have actually been looking for a replacement for double-unders for some time now. It is a rare Crossfit combination of agility, endurance, and hand-eye coordination. In the past my coaches have attempted such things as firing medicine balls at my head, but it’s not quite the same thing. This time around, Impavidus owner Conan came up with a nifty adaptation. And by ‘nifty,’ I mean ‘tortuous.’

Instead of a jump rope, I’d be using a climbing rope. Battle jump-rope FTW.

50-40-30-20-10 rep rounds of:

  1. Double-under jump-rope = one swing forward or backward over head with climbing rope
  2. Sit-ups = medicine ball crunches (14lbs)

Conan got pretty fired up with joy watching me struggle. Not because he’s sadistic (probably) but because he could see I was struggling with the very same things able-bodied people struggle with when trying to get the double-under technique mastered.

My final time was 11:11, but given that this was my first attempt with the battle jump-rope, I expect to improve the next time Annie shows up on my doorstep.

Thanks to Coach Conan for the inspiration and for Coach Lori who provided the video footage.

ParaWOD: Fran for everyone


In the basking glow of the 2015 Crossfit Games, my gym Crossfit Impavidus is using this subsequent week as the Week of Benchmarks.

First up, everybody’s favorite speed workout, FRAN.


  1. Thrusters (95lbs)
  2. Pull-ups (chest to bar)

What is great about this workout is that within my own family, now my wife, my 10 year old daughter, and I can all do it at various levels of scaling. My wife completed the workout as prescribed (RX), my daughter did jumping pull-ups and light weight for thrusters, and my modification is this:

  1. Thrusters = shoulder press (65lbs)
  2. Pull-ups = Pull-ups, and yes, we do it strict

Here is a short video of me doing the middle round of my pull-ups:

As you can see, I had my coach hold my feet straight in front of me in order to keep them from swinging and landing awkwardly, which is a concern when I am trying to do so many, so quickly.

My final time of 4:46 was approximately 2 minutes faster than the last time I attempted this workout, which tells me that the next time I attempt it I need to make it a bit harder. I will accomplish this by going up in the weight for the press. While I still don’t think I can do the 45 presses at the RX weight of 95lbs, I should be able to go up to at least 75lbs on my next attempt.

Thanks to Crossfit Impavidus and Coach Traci for helping me set my new PR on Fran!

ParaWOD hearts Helen

ParaWOD had to go on a bit of a vacation as I recently relocated from NJ and my beloved Crossfit Nassau to Northern VA. CFN is the gym that took a risk on me as an adaptive athlete, and through their coaching and encouragement it gave me the confidence to not only improve my quality of life through the workout regiment, but also to create this very site.

My new gym, Crossfit Impavidus, is a worthy successor. Every coach I’ve worked with is excited to see where we can take things next.

And today, the place where we took things was the WOD called HELEN.

This workout is a great one for para-athletes because it is easily adaptive and scalable.’

3 Rounds for Time

  • 400m Sprint
  • 21 Kettlebell Swings (24kg)
  • 12 Pull-ups


  • 400m sprint = 400m sprint. If you don’t have a good chair for moving quickly, consider doing a row for 200m.
  • 21 KB Swings = 21 KB Swings. If you are in a sitting position, your range of motion will be limited. Try to get the KB as far down in front of you as possible, and then raise it up using your deltoids. You won’t have the kick that comes from your hips, but at the very least you will get most of the range of motion.
  • 12 Pull-ups = 12 Pull-ups. Do it strict!

Coach Anna spotted me on the KB swings so I could keep my balance, but for everything else, it was straight-forward. Better yet, this was a great workout for my 10 year old daughter to do as well. We both scaled it, and she managed to finish ahead of me. But we both finished under 15 minutes, which means that this will be a great workout to do again and today’s work serves as a solid benchmark.

Thanks to Coach Anna and Crossfit Impavidus!