On separate occasions Dangers, HeeHee & I have all had an encounter with a neighbourhood local.

“You’re rowing wrong,” the man informed us.

He proceeded to demonstrate animatedly how he believed a rowing stroke should look, “You need to keep your hands above your heart,” he advised us, his hands held high overhead at the back of his imaginary rowing stroke, “That’s the best way to keep your heart rate high!”

It was difficult not to laugh in his face.  Obviously it was not worthwhile trying to explain to him that we’re not rowing with the goal of elevating our heart rates but with the intent of crossing the finish line quickly (don’t worry, the heart rate thing is going to happen anyhow).

It sounds really ridiculous when you hear someone giving such absurd advice, as if that’s how Olympic rowers are powering their crafts through the water but then I look around at CrossFit rowers mid-WOD and see a dozen different rowing strokes that look nearly as silly, as if folks are trying to make each stroke less efficient and less effective so that they can work harder than required and take longer than necessary to cross the finish line.  Seriously guys, it’s time to slow down and really focus on rowing mechanics.

You don’t seem to believe it when I say it (even though I’m just passing on the words of two time Olympic rower Will Dean) so I’ve borrowed Games athlete Kirsti Eramo to help convince you.  Here’s some key takeaways from her video:

1) Maintain a flat back (midline stabilization!), do not let yourself round forward at the front of your stroke
2) Drive with your legs first BEFORE you start to pull with your arms (core to extremity activation)
3) Reverse the order on the return, arms and then legs
4) Back angle: 1 to 11 o’clock, do not lean back excessively
5) Horizontal chain with no slack or wobble
6) Do not pause at the back of the stroke
7) Hold the edge of the handle (effective grip & stance)

It is all about efficiency.  500m may sound short but it is a 4x 500m with 3 minute rests between.  That’s 2K and I promise if you’re rowing hard your rest intervals will begin to feel very short.  We will be working on all these things in class Monday.

Monday WOD
We have 7 rowers available in the gym.  Wait listed members will have access to the airbikes or ski erg or a 400m run (first come, first choice).  Zoomers can also substitute light sumo deadlift high pulls for the row.   Our tech session will be row-specific.

Warm Up:
1 min Row 1-11 o-clock back angle
1 min Row driving with your legs BEFORE arm pull
1 min Row returning arms then legs
1 min Row with correct grip
1 min Row with no pause at back of stroke
1 min Row with horizontal chain
2 mins Row with nose breathing only

Programming Row/Rest Intervals

4 Rounds:
500m Row
3 min Rest

Rowing Subs: Echo 1.5K, Airdyne 600m, Ski Erg 300m, Run 400m, 50 SDHP empty bar

Cool Down
Forearm Rock
Downward Dog Rock
Pigeon Rock