skip to Main Content
a woman uses a rowing machine

If you’ve been training long enough to establish a solid fitness baseline, you may be ready to dial up your routine. Enter the chipper workout.

“A chipper incorporates a series of exercises done for higher reps at lighter to moderate weights, where you complete all the reps ­assigned to one exercise ­before moving on to the next,” says Bryce Morris, ­Alpha coach and group-training coordinator at Life Time City Centre in Houston.

The length of the workout combined with the different types of moves (typically foundational-strength exercises, plyometrics, and sprints) means you’ll feel challenged throughout the duration of the workout — and that’s the point, Morris says.

“The goal is to keep moving and maintain good form and technique while you’re tired, challenging both your strength and endurance.”

Mastering the chipper means bumping against your limits without pushing too far. The primary rule is that you must complete all distance or reps of one move before going on to the next.

If completing all the reps assigned to an exercise feels daunting, break it up. For example, if 10 reps is your cap for a move, do seven reps and take a short break before getting back to work to do another set. “Know yourself,” advises Morris.

Beyond testing your stick-to-it-iveness, chipper workouts are fun and versatile. “You get to work your entire body,” he says. “They can be done with little or no equipment, and you can put your favorite exercises in the same workout.”

This workout is designed to challenge but not break you. After reading through it, decide how you want to divide it up. Then gather your equipment and start a timer. Besting your previous time is a fun way to challenge yourself when you attempt this workout again.

Build Your Own Chipper

  • Avoid stringing together exercises that target one muscle group (such as squats, lunges, and box jumps), or that overly tax one area of your body (such as following grip-heavy pull-ups with farmer carries).
  • Choose exercises that challenge all of your muscles in different ways. For instance, follow a total-body exercise with upper-body, lower-body, core, and cardio exercises. And include a combo of strength, endurance, and power.
  • Use lighter weights so you can concentrate on speed while keeping your form sharp.
  • Break up the reps into manageable sets to make sure you don’t need to pause or rest for too long between any exercises.

The Workout

Perform this total-body chipper once per week and follow it with an active-recovery day.

Equipment

A rower or treadmill, a sturdy box or step, a set of dumbbells, and a jump rope.

Exercises

  • Row x 500 meters
  • Plank With Shoulder Taps x 50 reps per side
  • Box Jumps x 25 reps
  • Dumbbell Walking Lunges x 50 reps per side
  • Jump Rope x 200 reps
  • Burpees x 25 reps
  • Row x 500 meters

1.  Row

x 500 meters
Alternative: 800-meter fast walk at 2 percent incline

  • Start seated in the rower with your hands grasping the handles, hips and knees bent, arms straight, head neutral, back straight, and shoulders level.
  • Initiate the drive with your feet. As your legs straighten, lean back slightly and pull the handle toward your body. Finish the pull with legs straight and the handle at or just below your ribs.
  • Return to the starting position by first extending your arms until they’re straight, then leaning forward at the hips.
  • Once your hands have cleared your knees, allow your knees to bend and gradually slide your seat forward. Repeat.

2. Plank With Shoulder Taps

x 50 reps per side
Alternative: Plank with alternating leg lifts
Rep breakdown suggestion: Five sets of 10 reps or 10 sets of five reps

  • Start in a plank position with your hands under your shoulders, feet slightly wider than hip width, and core engaged.
  • Lift your left hand and tap your right shoulder, making sure not to rotate your pelvis as you lift.
  • Return your left hand to the ground.
  • Repeat, tapping your right hand to your left shoulder.
  • Alternate sides for the number of reps assigned.

3. Box Jumps

x 25 reps
Alternative: Alternating box step-up x 25 per side
Rep breakdown suggestion: Five sets of five reps

  • Stand with your feet at hip width, about a foot behind a plyo box or other sturdy elevated surface.
  • Hinge your hips and lower into a mini squat, feeling the weight in your engaged glutes and heels as you swing your arms back.
  • Explosively reverse the motion — extend your hips and legs as you swing your arms forward for added momentum to jump with a powerful hip pop onto the box.
  • Land gently on the balls of your feet with knees soft, then plant your feet on the box. Don’t land with your heels hanging off the box or on your knees and hands.
  • Straighten your legs and drive through your hips to stand tall.
  • Step down one foot at a time, alternating legs after each jump.

4. Dumbbell Walking Lunges 

x 50 reps per side
Alternative: Body-weight reverse lunges
Rep breakdown suggestion: Five sets of 10 reps per side or 10 sets of five reps per side

  • Stand with your feet together, torso upright, and a dumbbell in each hand. Take a step forward with your right foot.
  • Keeping your torso upright, slowly bend both legs until your left knee comes close to the floor.
  • Drive off your back leg to stand up and take a long step forward with your left foot and complete the same movement sequence on that side.

5. Jump Rope

x 200 reps
Alternative: Skip in place x 100 reps per side
Rep breakdown suggestion: Sets of 10, 25, or 50 reps

  • Stand tall with knees slightly bent.
  • Keeping your elbows in close to your body, your arms bent, and your hands holding the rope handles, jump with both feet and use your wrists to power the jump rope.
  • Stay up on the balls of your feet and keep a soft bend in your knees.

6. Burpees

x 25 reps
Alternative: Dumbbell thrusters
Rep breakdown suggestion: Five sets of five reps

  • Stand with your feet together and your arms at your sides.
  • Bend your knees, squat down, and place your hands on the ground shoulder width apart.
  • Hop your feet out behind you into a plank position, and, keeping your core engaged, lower down into a push-up.
  • Press through your hands to push up off the floor and hop your feet back in toward your hands.
  • Stand up and jump into the air, bringing your hands up over your head. Land back in standing position and squat down again to begin the next rep in one fluid motion.

7. Row

x 500 meters
Alternative: 800-meter fast walk at 2 percent incline

WEBEXTRA

Build Your Own Chipper

  • When designing your own chipper workout, avoid stringing together exercises that target one muscle group (like stringing together squats, lunges, and box jumps), or that overly tax one area of your body (such as following grip-heavy pull-ups with farmer carries).
  • Choose exercises that challenge all of your muscles in different ways to make it a total-body workout. For instance, follow a total-body exercise with upper-body, lower-body, core, and cardio exercises. And include a combo of strength, endurance, and power.
  • Use lighter weights so you can concentrate on speed while keeping your form sharp.
  • Break up the reps into manageable sets to make sure you don’t need to pause or rest for too long between any exercises.

This article originally appeared as “Feeling Chipper” in the September 2021 issue of Experience Life.

Photography by: Kelly Loverud; Styling: Pam Brand; Fitness Model: Anna Taylor
Jennifer
Jennifer Blake

Jennifer Blake is a Minnesota-based strength coach and fitness writer.

Thoughts to share?

This Post Has One Comment

  1. Great info from Coach Bryce! His work outs are always goal focused, challenging & fun. He is such a motivating & knowledgeable coach!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

City and state are only displayed in our print magazine if your comment is chosen for publication.

ADVERTISEMENT

More Like This

Strength Made Easy
By Andrew Heffernan
You don’t have to sweat and strain to get strong. This two-month, field-tested strength-training program will show you another way.
a man performs a split squat while a personal trainer watches
By Nicole Radziszewski
Built around full-body primal movements, this challenging workout maximizes strength, burns fat, and amplifies athleticism.
Person jump roping
By Lauren Bedosky
High-intensity intervals transform jumping rope from child’s play to a fat-burning, coordination-building workout.
Back To Top