It’s been a while since I updated this blog, but recently I did some testing at CrossFit Ignite on how to come up with equivalent WODs for those who want to or need to use the Assault Bike / Airdyne instead of the Concept2 rower. Here’s what I found, which corroborates the findings in this article. FYI: Set the Assault Bike to measure meters vs. miles for distance.
- Common level of effort can be reached by using the watts setting on either machine. E.g. if level of effort is supposed to be 75% – you can feel what 75% is like on the C2 using the watts setting, and then go onto the AB and pedal at a similar watts level. I tested at:
- 200 watts – which is about 1000 cal/hr or 2:00/500m pace on the C2 – this is the range where most people will be working for most WODs.
- 385 watts – which is about 2k pace for me on the C2.
- Max – which is >750 watts on either machine.
- Rule of thumb for anything longer than 250m/10cal all-out sprints:
- Multiply C2 distance by 2 for Ae. E.g. 500m on C2 equals 1000m on AB in the same amount of time.
- Multiply C2 calories by 0.5 for AB. E.g. 50 cals on C2 equals 25 cals on AB in the same amount of time.
- For anything up to 250m/10cal intervals at all-out sprint intensity (>750 watts):
- Distance rule of thumb is the same.
- Calories become 1:1 – so 10 cal intervals on the C2 are also 10 cal intervals on the AB – but this is only true if you are revving the AB to absolute max.
- I don’t know why the calories even out at high intensities. There is no way of knowing the differences in how each machine even calculates this. In general it’s possible to maintain a higher average wattage on a bike than on a rower because the cadence is much higher on the bike, although the absolute max attainable wattage is similar on both machines. My theory is that there is a limit to how fast a human can move arms and legs, and you reach this limit faster on the AB due to the higher cadence and shorter range of motion, so at a certain point you can pour more force into each stroke (calories) without being able to move the flywheel much faster (distance).
For CrossFitters and rowers in the NY/NJ/CT metro area, there is a great indoor rowing event on January 30 sponsored by Don Bosco Prep. The location is easy, it is well-run and on-time, and last year it was one of the top 5 indoor regattas in the US based on attendance. CrossFit boxes are especially encouraged to attend. The timing of the event is especially good for rowers looking looking for a mid-season check-in on their winter training before the end-of-February championships and CRASH-Bs.
It’s a straight 2K race, with connected ergs so you can go head-to-head against the competition.
They are also selling off the race machines at a discount if you are interested in getting a like-new C2.
The third annual Ironmen Erg Classic Indoor Regatta will be held on Saturday, January 30, 2016. Registration is currently open on Regatta Central https://www.regattacentral.com/user/registration/?job_id=4281&org_id=0
As a USRowing registered regatta, all participants will be required to sign a 2016 USRowing waiver (details to follow).
Competitors that are interested in buying an Erg for home can reserve one of the Race Ergs.
Regularly $900 + $45 shipping, Race Ergs are available for $825
Please contact email@example.com to reserve a race erg or if you have any questions.
I recently received a question on whether there is a translation formula to convert Calories, commonly prescribed in CrossFit WODs that involve rowing, into 500m split times or watts, more commonly used by rowers to gauge pace. CrossFit workouts use Calories on the Concept2 performance monitor to approximate “reps” when combining rowing with barbell movements or other rep-centric movements.
There is a complex formula behind the Calories measurement, and it does not translate directly into meters or watts because it is a measure of energy burned for a theoretical 175-lb. individual instead of mechanical work (i.e. distance the chain travels).
As a rower, however, I have a sense of the “pace” I need to maintain in Calories for certain WODs to generate desired results. For example, in Fight Gone Bad I know that I should target a 1500-Calorie pace for the 1-minute rowing intervals in order to finish at 25+ Calories for the interval.
I decided to experiment a little to see if I could generate approximate Calories-to-pace conversions for 500m pace times from 2:00 down to 1:25 in 5-second intervals. I did this by setting up 100-meter fixed distance intervals with 1 minute rest at drag factor 125, putting the display on average 500m pace, and trying to end each interval at exactly the target pace I desired. For example, for the 1:45 pace target interval, I rowed for 100m, varying my pressure to try to end at exactly 1:45.0 average pace. Then I could switch the display to Calories to see what that translated to. It is of course impossible to hit the target average splits exactly, but here’s what I came up with:
As you can see, Calories increases faster with pace than watts – it is not a linear relationship.
I hope this helps as a guideline for those integrating rowing with CrossFit!
My box, CrossFit Ignite, did the Jackie benchmark WOD yesterday:
50 thrusters @ 45lbs
20 pull ups
Honestly, I was coming off of a race on Sunday and hadn’t been doing much CrossFit for the past month, focusing on on-water rowing due to the late start after the long winter. I wasn’t sure what to expect. I haven’t done a thruster or pull up in a long time, and I haven’t sat on a static C2 in a while either.
The first thing I noticed was that I felt really strong, smooth, and connected on the C2. Single sculling does wonders for indoor rowing, if not the other way around. I felt I could easily nail the 1000m row, so here’s my strategy:
- 1000m row: go at 90%, hold the rating at about a 28, try to finish in the 3:20s but well within control. No sprint, don’t build up lactate. Don’t think strong. Think long, smooth, connected, consistent. I rowed this mostly eyes-closed, counting 100 strokes, visualizing the feel of boat run on smooth water.
- Thrusters: low, consistent cadence, pause briefly at the rack position after each rep to regroup, don’t put the bar down, ever.
- Pull ups: Get 5 unbroken and then see what happens.
This worked to land me an 8:07. The row came in at 3:26 at about 28 spm, but my HR was far from max and I was controlled enough that I was able to go right into the thrusters and maintain a mostly unbroken pace. The pullups were 6 unbroken and then sets of 2-3 with a couple seconds in between to finish it out. I fell like this strategy could yield a sub-7:30 time if I were more in practice on thrusters and pullups. The only limiting factor really was lactate buildup in my shoulders from the thrusters, which caused me to pause in the hang position several times. I did notice that other CrossFitters did not pace themselves on the row, and that resulted in a lot of pauses during the thrusters. Read the Pace Makes Race article in the CrossFit Journal (I am not a fan of Emily Beers after her ridiculous Winter Olympics article, but the rowing advice from Harvard is sound)! Jackie is not a 1000m row, it is an 8+ minute race!
Today I published an article to the Tabata Times Contributor Network on how to prepare for a 2K indoor rowing race from a CrossFitter’s perspective. Comment here for feedback! Thanks to James Bailey of Q-Power, Mike Stanitski of Ever Green Boat Club, Olympian and Coach Xeno Muller, and Steve Macioci of CrossFit Ignite for contributing, and good luck to all the athletes competing at CRASH-Bs this weekend!
As we get into the heart of indoor rowing season, I wanted to highlight three easy ways to check your own technique on the C2.
1. Pump up the volume! You can’t groove in good technique by doing 500m or 1000m as part of your warmup routine. You need to commit to a couple of days in which your goal is to row 10-15K at a decent pressure that makes you breathe as hard as you would in a long chipper like Murph or the Tough Mudder. You have to get tired enough to learn to relax, and you have to row for long enough for your body to find a natural “groove” and work out some of the inefficiencies in your stroke. I guarantee that if you do this a couple of times, it will benefit your sprint performance significantly through technical improvements alone.
2. Row feet out! Undo the straps, put your feet on top of them, and spend some time rowing that way at about half pressure. If you lose your musculoskeletal connection during the stroke, your feet will pop up. This is the #1 way to work out the major faults in your technique. Feedback is immediate, and you might even end up on the ground! You can do feet-out as a drill during your warmup to check yourself before getting into the meat of the WOD.
3. Buy a cheap full-length mirror! You know – the $5 “expendable” kind that you can stick to your kids’ closet door. Lean it against a wall slightly off center in front of the C2 so you can see your entire stroke. I know CrossFit boxes are anti-mirror, but this is not for posing and flexing – it lets you self-coach your technique as if you had a live video feed, and it is the single best coaching tool there is for indoor rowing. Watch the online videos of the world’s best, then watch yourself in the mirror and make corrections.
Good luck to all CrossFitters, indoor rowers, and on-water rowers who are competing in indoor races this month!
<< Feet Out! >>
While I was traveling recently, I tried the Invictus Rowing Club WOD. This is Shane Farmer’s creation – the same driving force behind CrossFit Rowing. This was a late night WOD done around 10 PM after a brutal day, so my splits were not what I would normally expect, but at least I got it done. This is a good one that I would like to re-try when I’m more rested. You can program this using the “Intervals –> Variable” function on the Concept2.