How Rowing Helped My CrossFit

Wait…it’s supposed to be the other way around in this blog, right?  I haven’t been posting much because I’ve been spending a lot of time on the water and not much time doing traditional CrossFit.  In the process of breaking down and rebuilding my rowing stroke, I have also spent more time than in past years doing long technical rows, laying the skill foundation before trying to pound out intervals.  Now that I’m “back at the box” I’ve noticed a few interesting effects:

1.  I haven’t lost much strength even though I haven’t done much barbell work over the past 90 days.  Maybe 5% down, much less than I would have expected.  I attribute this to 3 things:

  • Extremely stiff new oars – Croker S4 Stiff Full Carbon – no cushion!
  • Resistance training in the boat using bungees for drag.
  • Focus on skeletal hang – really stressing and building the connective tissue.

2.  My performance in metcon WODs in the 7-20 minute range has jumped dramatically, primarily due to increased endurance.  Chipper WODs involving bodyweight, burpees, running, kettlebells, and wallballs are especially strong because I am able to execute the movements at a consistently high pace, and to do long stretches unbroken.  This gives me an advantage over stronger, younger athletes who have to pause for rest.  On WODs where I have the skills to Rx the movements (still lacking in many areas!) I probably have the best performance I’ve ever had since I started CrossFit 3 years ago.

I have focused most of my posts on how CrossFit has made me a faster rower, but the reality is that CrossFit is still primarily a barbell and sprint focused sport, and traditional endurance training tends not be emphasized.  In watching the CrossFit Games, I was underwhelmed by the endurance components of the WODs – the times in the pool and the run components of Naughty Nancy and the Burden Run did not come anywhere close to even top club athletes, let alone elites.  If I were fortunate enough to qualify for the Games as a masters athlete, I believe there are literally minutes of time to be had by training the endurance and skill components of swimming, running, and rowing.  I would also like to see some more athletes from endurance backgrounds in the competition – I think they would bring some unique strengths and weaknesses to the sport.

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2 thoughts on “How Rowing Helped My CrossFit

    1. Thanks Glenn! Yes I have a hardcopy…I was just thinking that I need to re read it going into the fall season. I imagine BMack will have a spike in business after some people got smoked in those Games WODs!

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