30 days of Crossfit = 15% peak power improvement on the Concept2 erg

Well I have my first proof point of the applicability of Crossfit to rowing, as measured by a 10-stroke peak power test on the Concept2 rowing ergometer (10 strokes as hard as possible, record the lowest split reached on any stroke).  I repeated the test 3 times on the same machine at the same drag factor, and here’s what I got:

December 28:  1:24 (590 watts)

Jan. 8:  1:22 (635 watts)

Feb. 3:  1:20 (683 watts)

That’s about a 15% improvement in peak power output after about 30 days of using Crossfit as my primary strength/power program.  Given that I am still unable to perform many of the Crossfit moves with correct form and hence am not getting full efficiency from the training, I would expect this improvement curve to continue for the near future.  This is a pretty big % improvement in a short period of time.  What remains to be seen is if my VO2max has suffered at all from the reduced overall training hours.  It’s an experiement in progress, but so far seems to be working!  I am interested in looking at Crossfit Endurance as an additional component – stay tuned on that!

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4 thoughts on “30 days of Crossfit = 15% peak power improvement on the Concept2 erg

  1. Hi –

    Great blog entries. One note regarding your peak power test – it’s actually intended to be a :10 second test rather than a 10 stroke test. I use this for my college athletes at regular intervals.

    The :10 second test is one of those “raw, country strength” things and intended as a measure of your ATP/CP system (overly simplified of course.) It’s a great for assessing 2000 meter and 6000 meter potential. If they’re are discrepancies it gives an indication that time might be best in one area of training over another.

    The reason I’m become such a huge proponent of Cross Fit is that it focuses on the areas of physical development that are typically the limiting factor for most rowers.

    1. Todd, thanks for the great insight! Question for you…what is the measurement you typically use for the :10 test? Total meters, lowest split/highest watts achieved, or average split/watts for the :10 piece? The reason I ask is that with these very short pieces, I find that the timing of the first stroke with the already-spinning flywheel can really swing the numbers, sometimes more than the absolute power applied. Interested in your experience on how to minimize this when testing your athletes? Thanks, Marc

  2. Marc,

    Sorry for the tardy response. I use watts and specifically the highest wattage on any given stroke during the 10 seconds. And you are quite correct, movement in the flywheel will have a significant impact on the results.

    Our protocol includes three tests with a minimum of two minutes rest between efforts. The “rest” is an opportunity to have the flywheel come to a dead stop or near dead stop. It would seem to me that comparing results between one testing session and another would require the same amount of time between each effort as to minimize flywheel speed variations. Much easier to do as an individual though but patience is the real key.

    There will generally be some variation between night testing and morning testing. Most folks can generate greater levels of peak power in the evening. But there are lots of things that will have an impact the results. Best to use many pieces of data over time to look for trends – this should show trends rather than a single event.

    Todd

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