How to program the Concept2 for Crossfit Endurance mixed intervals

A lot of folks seem to need help on how to program the Concept2 rowing ergometer to track workouts that blend distance and time intervals, as many of the Crossfit Endurance workouts do. 

As an example, one of the CFE WODs is “Tosh”:

3 rounds of:

  • Row 250m, rest the amount of time it took to do the interval
  • Row 500m, rest the amount of time it took to do the interval
  • Row 750m, rest the amount of time it took to do the interval

If you select “Just Row” from the main screen on the C2, it’s tough to keep track of the times when your lungs are burning and your legs are screaming.  There are a couple of options on the C2 that can help.

Drag Factor & Damper Setting

First, to make sure you are comparing apples-to-apples vs. your last WOD, I’d recommend checking the drag factor before you begin by selecting More Options –> Display Drag Factor.  Temperature, dust, wear and tear, and airflow restrictions can make the damper setting an inaccurate way to calibrate machine-to-machine.  You can display the drag factor and then adjust the damper to get a consistent number no matter which machine you are using.   I generally default to a drag factor of 140 for repeat intervals, sometimes 150 for single timed intervals or testing.  Remember that there is no “right number,” and a lower number isn’t “easier” – it’s more like bike gearing.  A lower “gear” feels lighter, but requires a high cadence to maintain speed.  At C2 races such as the CRASH-B, you can use whatever damper setting you want.

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Custom Workout:  Mixed Time/Distance Intervals

Next, you can select Select Workout –> New Workout –> Intervals: Variable  in order to set the machine up for a workout such as “Tosh”:

  1. Estimate your target pace for 500m.  This is easy because the display shows split time for 500m as you row, so you probably know about what to expect from previous workouts such as “Jackie.”  Let’s use 1:40 as an example.
  2. If 500m takes 1:40, then 250m will take half that (0:50) and 750m will take 1.5x that (2:30).  Those are the times you can program in for rest intervals.  These pieces are short enough that you will never be off by more than a few seconds from your actual performance.
  3. Program Interval 1 with 250m work distance, 0:50 rest time.
  4. Program Interval 2 with 500m work distance, 1:40 rest time.
  5. Program Interval 3 with 750m work distance, 2:30 rest time.

…you can program in all 9 intervals if you wish, or you can just program in one round, and then hit Menu/Back –> Select Workout –> Re-row after you finish the round.

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Why would you spend time programming vs. “Just Row”? 

The main reason is that you can go back and review your splits after the workout.  CFE usually prescribes something like “do not vary more than 3 seconds from your best pace”  I usually take a picture of the memory screen with my mobile phone after a workout, so that I can review it later and enter it into my journal or C2 Online Logbook.  If you are away from your box, you can easily post the snapshot to your box’s blog as a sort of “virtual whiteboard.”

The other reason is for personal accountability, kind of like trash talking against yourself.  If you are tired, it’s sometimes easy to row 5 seconds slower and get 5 seconds more rest.  If you have the rest intervals pre-programmed based on a target pace, then you are mentally on the hook to hit the target pace every interval or else go down a slippery slope of suffering.



Here is a great link to the menu structure on the Concept2 PM4:

Hope this helps someone out there!

One thought on “How to program the Concept2 for Crossfit Endurance mixed intervals

  1. Pingback: | NYC Endurance

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