CrossFit Rowing Seminar

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CrossFit Flagstaff had the privilege of hosting the CrossFit Rowing seminar today and we had a great day with Jonathan, our instructor!  Thank you to all those who traveled here from near and far to participate!

IMG_2565What did we learn?

  • Rowing technique, technical error analysis and correction, and new cues.
  • Rowing physiology and proper body positioning throughout the row stroke.
  • How to structure a CrossFit rowing workout. (YAY!  Stand by for some great drills this month!)
  • How to maximize rowing power and efficiency, increasing rowing power output for better workout performance.
  • Personal coaching critiques and participation in a couple rowing workouts.
  • Damper settings and Drag Factors and how they affect the row power and speed.

IMG_9644The damper setting is not ‘the resistance’. Resistance is completely different than drag, which is what the damper setting controls. The drag mimics the weight of the boat.  You create the resistance by how hard you work.  If you rower harder, you’re going to feel more resistance.  The damper setting is a personal preference.

The greater concern is the drag factor—it increases as you set the damper higher and decreases as you set the damper lower, independent of the intensity of your rowing.

A lower damper setting and lower drag factor allow you to open your joints a lot faster. If you naturally perform best at a higher stroke rate, a higher number of strokes per minute, then you’re going to probably perform best at a slightly lower damper.

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At the catch, you want to achieve an acute angle at the hip, whereas at the finish, you want to achieve an obtuse angle. While most rowers can achieve the angle at the back of their stroke, the front angle is problematic.  Many have their shoulders behind their hips, and it creates an initiation of pull from the shoulders rather than the legs.  Liken it to pulling a heavy deadlift with raising your torso first, rather than pushing off with your legs, then engaging the hips as the bar crosses the knees.

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Proper Order of Operations:  “Legs, hips, arms. Quick arms to turn it around. Arms, hips, legs.”  Close the hinge so you can spring it open and get that power that you needed to make the rowing stroke effective.

“Notice the rhythm: quick drive, slow recovery. Push, glide. Push, glide.”  Make sure your knees open before your hips. Keep your elbows long and loose until the shoulders are through the hips. Then you can bend the elbows.

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The force-curve display in the rower’s monitor is one way to evaluate the power and efficiency of your rowing stroke.  Build the force curve from the catch, adding each piece together: the kick, the swing and then the pull.

If your force curve resembles a distant mountain range, you need to work on making your transition from legs to back to arms smoother. Multiple peaks are good for hiking…but not for a force curve.

Exploding at the catch—applying great force at the beginning of the drive— results in a sharp curve and steep drop.

A flat power curve shows a steady pressure across the pull vs an increasing velocity from the hips, passing off to the arms.

The ideal curve is peaked like a haystack or a gumdrop.

Some things to consider when trying for that “ideal” curve:
  • When initiating your drive, apply equal pressure to the foot plate and to the handle to achieve a sense of weightlessness or suspension over your seat.  Drive hard with the feet and exert pressure on the handle.   This connection between seat and hands will give you a powerful start to your stroke.  You always want the seat to move simultaneously with the handle.
  • Use your hips effectively in your stroke.  Shoot for the back angle to swing from 1:00-11:00.  Continue the power application with the arms through the finish.
  • Strive for length in the hip joint at the catch, but not by thoracic flexion (rounding the shoulders forward).  You don’t want to collapse at the thoracic or lumbar spine, rather keep a good posture with a flat back.  Think Deadlift posture.

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Fast, constantly moving hands, and keeping the rower handle pushing and pulling straight out of the catch for efficiency and best use of the bungee cord pull.

IMG_9645Parting Shot workout:

2 person teams, 4 rds. each person, alternating:
3 min. to Row 500m, max burpees in remaining time

Score is total number of burpees accumulated by both teammates at the end of all 8 rounds.

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