ParaWOD adaptation: From burpee to chirpee

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One of the big challenges for the adaptive athlete is to figure out how standard Crossfit movements, such as dead lifts or air squats, can be translated into an adaptive movement. One of the goals of this site has been to find that elusive bridge so that the adaptive athlete can participate in normal Crossfit classes.

In our workout session today, we came up with what I think is a great substitution for one of Crossfit’s staple movements, the burpee. For the uninitiated, this is what the standard burpee looks like:

We have tinkered in the past with using various up-and-down movements to approximate the burpee, but none have really felt right. Getting into and out of the wheelchair from the floor (or a “chair get-up”) involves the right kind of movement, but requires much more strength and muscle control than you’d want for a movement that is supposed to be primarily cardiovascular. By contrast, the dip movement is easier, but almost too easy because the entire body movement aspect is missing.

My coaches at Crossfit Impavidus may have figured out just the right mix between the two. Combining the body movement of getting into and out of the chair with the vertical aspect of the dip movement, we have the chair burpee, or “The Chirpee.” (I know I’m kind of stealing this lesser-used term from another movement; we’ll just roll with it)

Instead of straight dips, the movement begins and ends in the chair with only one dip per repetition. This transition creates both the challenge of controlling your body so you don’t move too quickly, but also a brief pause of rest so that the muscles don’t burn out too quickly. The result is a movement that has high cardiovascular potential and muscle control but without the fatigue. Even better, you can adjust the dip station height to whatever you need in order to get into a vertical position.

Once again, this movement is a great life skill for wheelchair users, since we are often challenged with getting in and out of our chairs to transfer to vehicles, restaurant booths, bathrooms, etc.

Thanks to Coaches Conan, Traci, and Mike for creating this movement, and for Coach Traci’s video handiwork!

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!