Last week I did a post about the correlation between an increase in my CrossFit Total and increased rowing peak power on the Concept2. Today I tested for peak power, and achieved a new PR of 815 watts (1:15.45 / 500m pace), representing a 5% improvement. I did the test with 10 progressive attempts beginning at drag factor 120 and ending at drag factor 205. The updated chart looks like this:
A big “Thank You!” to Crossfit Amped in Bellevue, Washington for hosting me at their box this week. Great box, great coaches, friendly people. The funny thing is that I woke up at 5:15 AM, still on east coast time, crawled out of bed on very little sleep, and decided that I would drag myself to the box even though I felt dazed and confused. The WOD consisted of snatch work (20 minutes on the minute) followed by rowing sprints. On the first 500m piece I sat down, didn’t even check the drag factor, and just blasted off without thinking. I ended up setting a surprise PR of 1:29.2 and got to ring the “PR Bell” at the box. This is the second time recently that I’ve set a PR when I felt absolutely horrible – go figure, sometimes it happens when you least expect it. I’ll tuck those away for the days when it goes much worse than planned!
If you are in the Seattle area check them out!
We all know that it gets tough to find time during the holiday season to maintain a regular training rhythm. This is one of the best things I’ve learned from Crossfit – how to use short, intense workouts that fit into a lunch break or half-hour slot to keep the training effects coming even on limited, fragmented schedules. This is an area in which I believe that the constant variation approach is superior to the rigidly-periodized traditional training cycles, which are really tough to maintain during the holiday period. I’d rather do 2 time-efficient, intense WODs than one long one, because the work quality will be higher.
5 min warmup
4 rounds of:
- 500m row
- 50 air squats (rowers translate this as “jumpies”) – make sure you achieve full depth!
Goal is to finish in under 15 minutes.
I would set the C2 for distance intervals, 500m work, 2 minutes rest. This will give you 2 minutes to do your air squats and set up for the next piece. The faster you complete the squats, the more rest you get.
If you are a firebreather/erg monster and find this too easy, replace the air squats with squat jumps and see if you can still finish in under 15 minutes!
This workout is literally 20 minutes end to end, meaning you can be showered and done before your heart rate even comes down!
I chose to implement the workout as sets of 6, 4, and 2. In reality, the intervals take less than 30 seconds, so I really should have done 7, 5, and 3. Lesson learned.
This workout sounds easy – 15 strokes then rest, right? But the lactic acid catches up to you pretty quickly and done at a quick drag factor of 110 (damper 4) on the Concept2, it turns into more like 20 strokes per interval. The few minutes of rest between sets is not enough to fully recover. I like it – similar to the old “Tosh” workouts that they used to publish.
Again the key to getting the most out of this workout is precision – keeping the intervals within 2-3%. It’s also incredibly important to time the starting sequence of each intervals precisely since you have only a few strokes to work with. I found that doing a “starting sequence” of half-half-3/4-3/4-full worked the best.
Here are the results (seconds per interval):
Set 1: 22.6, 22.5, 22.6, 22.8, 22.9, 23.0 (within 2.2% – hit max)
Set 2: 22.3, 22.5, 23.3, 23.1 (within 4.3% – FAIL)
Set 3: 23.0, 22.9 (within 1% – hit max)
I messed up on the middle set – not sure why exactly, but the scores were all over the place – first two pieces were great, last two were terrible. In an ideal world I should fail that one and repeat it, I guess.
I’m starting to post baseline numbers for some of the Crossfit Endurance workouts on the Concept2 ergometer. One thing I’ve noticed about the CFE WODs is that they offer simple guidance about keeping a consistent split time across intervals, but don’t offer guidance about what those splits should be if you are rowing with proper intensity. This is obviously highly dependent on gender, size, and strength. However, I have found that it pays to figure out “the numbers” and push myself to meet or exceed them on each successive interval, so I am posting some guidance here based on my own experience as a master heavyweight male rower.
This is for the 30/20 workout posted on April 18, which was 30 seconds on, 20 seconds off, 10 intervals, max intensity. I did the workout fairly tired, and found that I fell between 150-156 meters per interval. I believe a good baseline would be 155 assuming fresh legs for a heavyweight man. These are short intervals, and you can gain or lose 5 meters easily depending on how quickly you can get the wheel spinning at the start of the interval. If you time it right, the first split displayed will be in the low 1:40s, and you will be “on pace” for the interval. Counter to conventional wisdom, I did better on intervals where I averaged 34 strokes per minute, pulling long and powerfully, than when I drove the stroke rating higher.
This was done at a damper setting of 6, approximate drag factor of 140.
I always get asked this, even by rowers. I think for many the Concept2 damper setting is a mystery, and they feel like the heavier the better, just like throwing an extra 45# bumper on the bar or doing the Rx weight instead of scaling. My response is usually “it doesn’t matter – just set it where you feel comfortable, it won’t be easier or harder necessarily, it will just feel different.” Same advice as for learning to lift: Focus on technique first, then fitness/mobility, THEN add the weight. And I’ve only met a handful of people, even long-time rowers, who could tell you how to figure out the drag factor and calibrate between different machines.
At the risk of dating myself, I remember in college when there was no damper per se, but you had to physically change the gears with your hands. Then there was the Model B with-ring and without-ring (I still have one in my basement and still think it feels more accurate than the C/D/E and has a far more comfortable seat). I remember when we standardized on a drag factor of 180 (small-gear, closed vents) for heavyweight men, which is much heavier than you can ever get on a Model D or E today.
So I stumbled upon this post by Erin Cafaro on the Crossfit Endurance site while looking for an archived post by Brian MacKenzie. I think it’s the clearest explanation I’ve ever heard, and relating it to bike gearing is brilliant, something that most people can understand, and ironically is rooted in the earliest C2 which was a bike wheel and speedometer with wind vanes that used to fly off when you really got it cooking.
My only question is, does this mean that East Coast rowers have more cred because they do their testing in heavy, dirty, dense, humid air at sea level 🙂