6/8/15 ParaWOD: battle rope swingin’, dippin’, and benchin’ your face off

Monday offered up a full Crossfit experience:

Warm-up: at your own pace

  • Band pull-aparts
  • First rib shoulder smash – let’s spend some time here.

If you use a wheelchair, or even if you spend a lot of time at a desk at your job, chances are that your shoulders over time have developed a tightening in the neck area where we have our first rib. What is a first rib? It’s way up there in a place where you probably didn’t even know you had a rib. It also gets pinched over time, which prevents arm raising abduction from its full range of motion. So what we do to mobilize the first rib is to apply a Mobility WOD technique (bookmark that web site; it’s invaluable for self-treatment) and drive a weighted bar onto the first rib. Here is what it looks like:

Bad news – this hurts like the dickens, as it opens up the shoulder area. Good news – it works, and it works fast, which you can see as you test and re-test the motion. Try it with the taped up tennis ball for extra bounds of fun/pain.


A: Bench Press – Pause on the Chest(2s); 5×5


In the words of Coach Tyler, “Bench More!”

This time around, the focus is on a slower repetition and control. Get to a weight that is about 80% of your 3 rep max, or in other words something you won’t have difficulty getting 5 reps out of. Then, we’re going to use the negative motion to slow things down (count 2 seconds) and then pause for 2 seconds at the bottom. After the pause, explode upward and re-start. Five reps, five rounds. As you slow things down, you will really feel the movement engage a lot of muscles you don’t even think about during the bench press.

B1: Dips @ 31X1, 3×6-8
B2: Pull-ups @ 21X2, 3×5-6

We got this one as well. Alternate between a dip (Matador, parallettes) and strict pull-ups (bar, rings), using the pausing effect to prolong the agony.


3 movements, AMRAP for 10 minutes.

1) Time for some battle rope! It is like double-dutch for the para-athlete.


It doesn’t really matter which movement you do, so pick one. The reason why this movement is great for the para-athlete is that it forces us to really concentrate on our core strength and balance. Swing too hard, and we will topple right out of our chairs. Get the rhythm right, and your muscles will engage and counter-engage appropriately, improving overall balance.

2) 150 meter row

3) KB press, 7 reps per arm

Once you’re comfortable with handling the rope as well as the transitioning, this is a workout where you should be able to get at least 3 rounds complete.

5/13/15 WOD: weighted dips, get up, get down, get all around

Today’s WOD provided both a good strength adaptation as well as an easily adaptable conditioning AMRAP.

The prescribed AMRAP was as follows:

Conditioning: 20min AMRAP of…
10 air-squats
10 sit-ups
10 burpees
10 barbell rows (95,65)


For the strength component, we did weighted dips on a Matador dip station.

 The basic dip movement is one of my stronger attributes, but adding weight can be tricky. If you have hip control, a belt for adding weight is the easiest way to go:

However, if you cannot keep the belt seated on your hips, you have to get creative. We took a thick rubber band and I put it on kind of like a vest, and on that band I was able to attach the belt. Now my shoulders were controlling the weight instead of my hips.

We then added weights increasingly until I hit my 3-rep max weight. I finished at my body weight + 60lbs.


  1. air squats = wall balls (14lbs)
  2. burpees = push-ups
  3. sit-ups = medicine ball crunches (14lbs)
  4. barbell rows – this one required a little bit of adjustment. Instead of doing a standing barbell row, we placed a weight bench on top of 2 boxes, and then I did the row lying stomach down on the bench.

The movements are all doable on their own, but the most difficult aspect for a wheelchair athlete is getting from one station to another. Getting in and out of a chair is one challenge that every para-athlete needs to work on. Getting up and down off of a bench is quite another, because the risk of falling is always present. However, this is all the more reason for the para-athlete to practice this movement, to be able to do it quickly, efficiently, and most important, safely.

May 1, 2015 WOD: rows, shoulder press, wall ball, pull-ups


Today’s WOD was a packed affair, but there were lots of good movements that a para-athlete can either do or swap out to make it adaptable:

Strength/ Volume
A. 1-arm Row
B. KB Windmills


10min AMRAP @ 80-90%:
3 Front Squat (wt = Monday’s BS load for 6 reps)
9 Air Squat
15 Box Jump with step down
21 Abmat Sit Ups

rest 7min

10min AMRAP @ 80-90%:
Deadlift x 7 (same weight as FS)
KBS x 14
Double Unders x 21


Phase 1

The 1 arm KB row can be tricky if you don’t have abdominal support, which I personally lack. You can either brace yourself by holding on to something sturdy (like the rig) or you can get a bench or a box and use your off-hand to support yourself. Try both a kettlebell and a dumbbell and choose the one that gives you the greatest range of motion so that you don’t bang into your chair and possibly damage your wheels (or break a spoke, which is what I did!).

The KB windmill movement will be a challenge. This is what it looks like:

From a sitting position, and without lower abdominal muscle control, it is going to be very difficult. The best way to go is to use a light weight and practice the movement going down as far as possible while still being able to return to an upright position. This movement can have real life application, because the better you can do this movement in a chair, the greater your mobility and core strength will be.

Phase 2

A number of the movements in these two AMRAPs will need to be modified, so instead, focus on the goal, which is two successive 10 minute workouts that involve constant work with no rest. Also, it is good to add in movement in and out of the chair, which always has practical application, especially when you are fatigued and need to be able to move your body.

AMRAP 1 (10 minutes)

  1. 3 KB shoulder presses (either simultaneously, or switch arms)
  2. 9 hand release push-ups
  3. 12 medicine ball crunches (heavy – 14 lbs)

7 minutes of rest to set up the next phase

AMRAP 2 (10 minutes)

  1. 5 strict pull-ups
  2. 12 wall balls (10 lbs)
  3. 15 medicine ball crunches (light – 10 lbs)