Adaptive Athlete Michael Mills: CrossFit, Core and Concept2

Oct 18, 2019

Photo: Dre Strohm

Wheelchair athlete Michael Mills gives practical advice to other athletes considering trying the RowErg or SkiErg: “Really, just start.”

Michael Mills says he has “found so much JOY from CrossFit and what it has given me.” Mills is in charge of the Mayhem Adaptive Online Program, a program that follows side by side with the Mayhem Athlete program created by CrossFit legend Rich Froning. Mills adapts workouts for adaptive seated and standing athletes.

For wheelchair athletes, he says it can be difficult to get in cardio workouts. Pushing around in a wheelchair does not provide the same intensity as a SkiErg or RowErg workout. “Using a [RowErg] or a SkiErg, you are using different muscles and body parts from a regular going out and pushing around.” Specifically, Mills has gained core strength. “Using the Concept2 [Indoor] Rower over the last few years has made my lower back and core stronger. I am able to bend down now and pick things off of the floor without using my arms to lift myself back up. My upper body functions better because of the Concept2 [Indoor] Rower!”

Mills’ first experience with a Concept2 RowErg or SkiErg was when he started CrossFit. Mills was paralyzed by a drunk driver at the age of 16, but he is clear: “I did not let it stop me, slow me down and control my life.” He soon incorporated sport into his new life, and spent many years weight lifting, wheelchair racing and competing in triathlons. After trying more extreme races like Spartan and GoRucks, he found CrossFit.

Mills completed a world record by pulling an SUV the length of a football field in his wheelchair. This garnered him attention from the CrossFit community, who invited him to try Murph (a well-known CrossFit workout). “People ask why I came back. Well, I was HOOKED! I did my first Murph in a little over two hours and thirty minutes. Last year, I was able to do Murph in under an hour.”

“CrossFit has given me more than I could ever give it back,” explains Mills. And yet, Mills continues to give! Mills love push/pull type workouts and graciously shares his favorite workouts for seated and standing athletes:

RowErg

  • 21/15/09 Calorie row
  • 21/15/09 bench press @60% of your 1 rep max.
  • Rest 5:00 repeat workout again.

SkiErg

10 Rounds

  • 3:00 AMRAP (As Many Reps As Possible)
  • 200 meter ski
  • With time remaining max Mute Sports Split Ropes™ (seated) or double unders (standing)

Score is max Split Ropes or max double unders.

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