Transition Time–General CrossFit to Rowing-Specific Power

Winter is winding down, CRASH-Bs are over, and the docks are going in soon in the East.  While for many this means that the CrossFit Open is starting and they are looking forward to the CrossFit Games, for me it means that it’s time to become a cherry-picker.

Say what?

What I mean is that I have spent the winter doing whatever CrossFit threw at me, because it made me stronger and less prone to injury, and it made winter training interesting and motivating.

Now it’s time to focus on how CrossFit can make me stronger as a rower, specifically.  This means developing power and acceleration in addition to strength in the specific movements that make up the rowing stroke.  There are 3 principles I plan to implement:

1.  Maintain the “constant variation” theme, but try to bound it within a set of WODs and exercises that relate to developing specific rowing power:

  • Russian kettlebell swings – more closely models the speed and cadence of rowing.
  • Jump squats or burpees, with emphasis on jump height vs. max reps.
  • Pistols.
  • Box jumps, broad jumps, and other plyometric jumping variations.
  • Ring rows and pullups.
  • Back/core exercises: single-leg kettlebell deadlifts, hollow rocks, planks, toes-to-bar, L-sits, supermans.
  • Light thrusters or wallball shots, training for maximum acceleration instead of max reps.  I might even take the wallball outside and see how high I can shoot it vs. how many standard-height shots I can do.

2.  Use weekly training volume and periodic testing to add periodization to my plan.  While the CrossFit philosophy blows up traditional highly-planned progressive periodization cycles, the concept of varying volume and tapering can still be applied in terms of the number of workouts and how they are cadenced within a 1-week microcycle.

3.  Make sure that no week passes without doing at least 1 core strength WOD in the following areas:

  • Deadlifts
  • Back Squats
  • Some type of single-side injury prevention work such as single-leg kettlebell deadlifts, kettlebell lunges, kettlebell snatches, or Turkish get-ups.

Not to say I won’t still try to get better at things I can’t do well like double-unders or handstands, but these are not going to be as effective in generating a 3:40 1K time in the single scull, which is what I need to be at by the end of July.

The good news is that the first Open WOD, 7 minutes of burpees, is squarely in line with my transitional focus, so that will be an exciting start to the weekend.


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