WheelWOD qualifier #1: We’re gonna do #2

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The WheelWOD qualifier is underway, and I, along with 15 other adaptive athletes, will be competing in 3 designed workout challenges this week to decide who gets to attend the championship round. I have to humbly admit that, even though I only need to finish in the middle of the pack to advance, my chances are low given that I still struggle with some of the basic movements. That said, after my attempt at WOD #2 went, shall we say, unevenly, my coach Conan reminded me that what matters is being in the gym is just doing the work, which makes me wonder if he were recalling this famous quote from the Bull Moose:


After polling my fellow Impavidus Gym athletes, I decided to attempt WOD #2 first, which if you recall is:

a) 10 minutes to find hanging clean 1 rep max

rest 2 minutes

b) 7 min AMRAP

  • 10 Clean & Jerk from floor @ 65lbs
  • 10 Wall Balls 14lbs @ 8 feet

The rationale they offered, and I agree with it, is to get the hardest one out of the way first and then build some momentum and finish strong. Clearly this workout features two things that I don’t do well – a) Olympic lifting movements, and b) throwing medicine balls high in the air. In fact, My 16.4 workout was drastically curtailed because I couldn’t meet the wall ball standard at all.

Part A

With 10 minutes to play with, I wanted to get a few successful lifts in before I worked up to my 1 rep max. And here’s the truth – I’ve only been working on the clean movement for about 9 months, so up to this point I would struggle to get 65 lbs more than twice in a row. But with the coaching and support of Coaches Seth & Doug, I was able to hit my 1 rep max at 80 lbs. Barely.


As I’ve often written, the clean movement is an incredibly difficult challenge because I don’t have any dip drive or hip extension, which is where you generate most of your power. If you can’t get a good vertical pull on the bar, it really just feels like a negative curl, which means that you’re using much smaller muscles, as compared to the chain of muscles involving the lats, deltoids, traps, and triceps.

I spent the last few minutes of the set attempting 85 lbs. I didn’t quite get there, but I’ve read that it’s good to document your failures as well as your successes, so here it is:


I wish I could have gotten that 85 lbs, but at the end of the day, I bested my previous PR in the clean by 15 lbs. That’s not a bad day. But wait, there’s more!

Part B

For the 7 minute AMRAP, I was once again going to have to do 10 clean + jerk from the floor, which I first encountered in the Open, followed by the wall ball. I wanted to try and do both movements out of my every day chair and not my sport chair because the seating gives me a little more hip control, which helped me in Part A. Also, it gives me a little more of a height advantage on the wall balls, where I can use every inch I can get.

That said, I realized there is something to be said about not thinking things all the way through. And physics.


Yep, didn’t see that one coming!

After completing the wall ball section, I moved through 4 more C&J until the 17 minute mark. I wanted to get through that movement at least twice, but didn’t quite make it.

What’s that, you say? I can’t add? Well, you’re right.

10 minutes for 1 rep max + 2 minutes of rest + 7 minute AMRAP = 19 total minutes.

After taking an extended rest period where I thought I was done but was not actually done, we got back on the barbell and finished out the C&J with enough time to get a few more wall ball attempts in.

Despite the mishaps, I was generally satisfied with the workout because of the challenge of the movements. And then, as we were winding down, Coach Doug said to me those dreaded words:

“You should maybe think about re-doing that one”

Which is funny because Doug is an elite CrossFit Masters athlete, one of the best in the world, and he has strong feelings about  re-doing an official workout. His main argument – don’t let your ego get the best of you! However, in this case, he might be right, given that I lost precious seconds with my C&J Fosbury Flop and then forgetting how to add to 19. Doug’s argument is compelling, and if I have enough time this week, I may give it another go. Unfortunately these workouts are not just about the workout, but the entire set-up and recruiting people to help out, and I still have 2 more qualifiers to go.

At the very least, I still increased my C&J PR by 15 lbs.

Many thanks to everyone who helped me out for WOD #2: Doug, Seth, Conan, and Monica were all instrumental in getting it done. On to the next one!

WheelWOD qualifiers: which workout first?

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The WheelWOD Open 2016 is finished and we’re now on to the championship qualifiers. And guess what, I qualified to compete in this next round! (Ignore the fact that, to qualify,  I only had to pay the entry fee). Similar to the CrossFit Masters qualifiers, the WheelWOD qualifier consists of 3 different workouts, all released at once, and we get one week to complete each of them.

According to the rules, the top 9 men will advance to the championship round, which will be held in Wasaga Beach, Ontario, Canada.

Each of the three workouts will be challenging in different ways, and my first order of business is which order I should do them. Suggestions are most welcome!

Workout #1

Adapted Fran

  • 21-15-9
  • Time cap: 10 minutes
  • Seated Shoulder Press 75/35
  • Full Hang Pull up

Well hello, Fran!  This classic CrossFit WOD is in every competitor’s back pocket, and the movements are easily adaptable for a wheelchair athlete. In fact, I’ve done it several times over the years and am comfortable with both the pull-ups as well as the press. No problem, right?

Competition is a different animal. It is different because there is a higher scrutiny and a higher demand for difficult movements. Fran takes on a new visage for me because, while I can do a seated shoulder press at 75lbs, the standard requires me to be able to pick it up off the floor. Since I’ve always taken the weight off the rig, and my clean weight caps out around 65lbs, I’m more than a little concerned that I won’t even be able to get the weight into position to press it.

How will I get that weight up to my shoulders? Should I curl it? Oh my, I can already hear my coaches snickering…

Workout #2

a) 10 minutes to find hanging clean 1 rep max

rest 2 minutes

b) 7 min AMRAP

  • 10 Clean & Jerk from floor @ 65lbs
  • 10 Wall Balls 14lbs @ 8 feet

This workout combines two of my “room for lots of improvement” movements that I’ve learned during the Open. The pulling motion of the clean is and always will be problematic for me, but at the very least, I know I can get to about 65lbs in the 1 rep max. But then to have to do it 10 times per round for part b? Oh boy.

But that’s not even the most demoralizing part. During the Open in 16.4, my score was essentially capped because I couldn’t throw the 14lb wall ball high enough at 9 feet. WheelWOD gives me a little bit of a break in the qualifier, setting the target above 8 feet, but I am still unsure as to how consistently I can hit the lower target.

Workout #3

17 minute Chipper

  • 200 Battle Ropes
  • 100 1 arm alternating dumbbell snatch 25lbs
  • 50 Push ups
  • 25m Crawl
  • 5 Ring muscle-ups

And lastly, we’ve got a lovely chipper to work through. In workout 16.2, the battle ropes were my undoing in the ladder workout. With only makeshift climbing ropes tied together, I was completely gassed by the time the opening round concluded.

This time around, I did what any sensible CrossFitter would do when faced with such a recurring predicament – I bought my own battle rope. While I’m sure it will help me only in a marginal sense, I at least know that I should be able to get through the first section without too much harm done and get to the next five movements with plenty of time. The snatch will take some time, but 25lbs isn’t overwhelming, even at that volume.

The next two movements are basic body movements that I have practice in, but I have learned my lesson; nothing to be taken for granted. Get through these quickly, and I set myself up for the CrossFit dividing line – the ring muscle-up.

Can I do five of them within a few minutes? It really comes down to what day it is. Some days yes, other days, my body won’t cooperate. Perhaps this one will be on a good day.

But the first challenge is obvious – in what order do  I do the workouts???