Crossfit Endurance WOD Baseline: 3 x 3 minutes

This morning I did a Crossfit Endurance workout of 3 x 3 minutes on, 3 minutes off on the Concept2 ergometer.  I was tired after a late night of travel, weird time zone and business meetings, and frankly my body was not really awake and mobile.  I figured that I would have significant dropoff between pieces, but actually it was not too bad, although my splits were slower than usual.


The picture is hard to see.  The workout as prescribed called for keeping the highest average watts consistently between pieces.  I much prefer to convert this into keeping consistent meters rowed over a timed piece, which on the C2 is the same thing expressed a different way as there is a linear relationship between split time, watts, and meters.  You can use this watts calculator to do the conversion.


I rowed the three pieces as follows:

Meters Ave. split Ave. watts
883 1:41.9 330.8
870 1:43.4 316.6
877 1:42.6 324.1


Normally I would baseline this workout for a heavyweight man closer to 385 watts, but the consistency in my results was better than expected for how I felt.  I have not been on the C2 for several weeks, preferring to row on the water in my single.  Being able to channel the “feel” of water rowing really helped with consistency between pieces.  It was not about raw power, but about being able to maintain a smooth power curve for 90 strokes at a time.  I didn’t really look at the monitor during the pieces – I just visualized on-water rowing and counted out 90 strokes.

I tend to perform better in the late afternoon, so I would expect if I repeated this WOD I would use the same approach but expect sub-1:40 splits.

2 thoughts on “Crossfit Endurance WOD Baseline: 3 x 3 minutes

  1. I’d love some advice on programming rowing into a Cfit-CFE regimen. I’ve been crossfitting since February, following a disappointing finish at the CRASH-B’s (I trained using the Rojabo system with lots of LSD, low rate work) when I realized I really needed to work on general strength and all around fitness.

    CFE recently stopped prescribing rowing WODs, so after digging through the FAQ I thought the appropriate program might be:
    Monday: Crossfit, no CFE
    Tue: Crossfit + Short intervals which I assume could be defined as 8x500m?
    Wed: CF, no CFE
    Thur: CF + long intervals = 4-5x1k?
    Friday: CF no CFE
    Saturday: no CF: Time Trial. Say 5K at 85-90% race pace? (I am training for the fall head regatta season)
    Sunday: off.

    Last question: adapting to on the water workouts? I have a Speedcoach and can program intervals, but would love your thoughts on effort on the water vs. effort on the erg.

    thanks so much in advance

    1. David, thanks for reading and thanks for the questions. I am bummed that they stopped publishing highly varied workouts in lieu of pretty standard short and long intervals, as I feel the constant variation is one of the keys. Your program looks solid, but here’s some variations that I do to keep it interesting.

      In the “on-water” season, I tend to add one additional CFE workout in lieu of standard Crossfit, and I cherry-pick the Crossfit WODs to do the ones with more rowing-specific motions (deadlifts, kettlebell swings, squats, box jumps). I tend to lay off some of the gymnastic movements and overhead work during the summer and focus on that in the late fall and winter. Any day I can, I will jump on the water for a short, hard workout such as Tabatas in addition to the Crossfit WOD. The reason is that I believe there are technical aspects to high-intensity on-water rowing that atrophy during erg season and need to be practiced aggressively in order to be able to row well in addition to being well-conditioned, and doing a short rowing workout tends to keep my skills sharp without significantly affecting my ability to recover or to do the Crossfit WOD with quality. I almost NEVER sit on the Concept2 between March and November unless the weather is bad or I have a time constraint. If I still lived on the West Coast I would seldom sit on the erg at all, because I believe the combination of year-round functional strength training from Crossfit combined with on-water CFE allows you to translate that strength into power without the need for sub-optimal off-water simulation on an ergometer. I could be a nutter, but that’s my philosophy.

      I’ve listed some of my favorites from the “old” Crossfit Endurance programming below that I’ve found translate well on-water. In terms of doing the WODs on-water, I generally add 100m to the “run” distances listed on the site (so you are right to substitute 500m rowing intervals for 400m runs). For timed intervals I strap a digital watch with an interval timer onto my wing rigger crossbrace as the speedcoach is not that great for timed work/rest intervals. I also try to baseline the # of meters I should be rowing in each interval, and then try to “beat my last distance” on each consecutive interval in order to challenge myself. For really short intervals such as the 25x50m sprints which are really hard to time in the boat without spending more time worrying about the clock than about the stroke, I just try to translate it into an equivalent “# of strokes” workout, e.g. 25 strokes on, 5 strokes off which is roughly 0:45 on, 0:15 off. I count strokes and then just leave the speedcoach running on elapsed time to help he keep track of what interval I am on, stopping when it completes the 25th minute. Hope that helps.

      Some old CFE favorites:

      Tabata Intervals: 8 x (20 sec on / 10 sec rest) absolutely as hard and fast as you can pull. Perform these as racing starts, and make sure you time your first stroke accurately to get the full 20 seconds. You should be able to get a peak power rating on interval 2 or 3 if you set the display to watts. This workout looks ridiculous, but it is actually equivalent to the number of strokes in a 1000m masters sprint race, done at about double your normal base power output.

      Tosh: 3 rounds of (250m, 500m, 750m), resting the same amount of time it takes to row the interval (usually something like 0:45, 1:35, 2:15).

      250s: 10 x 250m intervals with 5x the rest time. I.e. if it takes you 0:45 to row 250m, rest 3:45 between intervals. This looks easy on paper, but wait until about round 6…. Try to hold consistent average watts per interval.

      2×5 min intervals w/2min recovery between intervals
      Next interval scheme starts after the 2min recovery
      5x1min Intervals w/30sec recovery between intervals
      Row for consistent maximal distance per interval, e.g. try to keep >300 meters on the 1 min intervals.

      24 minute pyramid: 4min on, 2min off, 5min on, 2min off, 6min on, 2min off, 5min on, 2min off, 4min on, Done!

      120:60 x 6: 2 min on 1 minute off x 6. Goal: Row for consistent maximal distance per interval.

      5-minute pieces: 4×5 min intervals w/3min recovery between rounds. Row for consistent maximal distance per interval.

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