W-T-F WODS. A really good rowing video. Some words about SME’s (special movement experts).

June 12, 2013

OK- So we’ve had some debate over ideal rowing technique.  Within the CrossFit Community at large there exists a group who has taken the “slow your stroke rate but up your power per pull” to an absurd extreme.  In what I think is a misguided effort to open the hip all the way, these athletes lean WAY beyond ideal angle and pull the bar to their chin/forehead.    We dont have athletes approaching these ridiculous extremes, but every once in a while I do hear conversation about the extremely long pull and if it’s advantageous.   Anyway, short answer is no,  and despite never wanting to admit I take advice from some accented European,  this is the best video I’ve seen on c2 rowing technique.

On a related note, beware of this dynamic:  Some people will, for a variety of reasons, be good to very good at a given activity, in spite of technique that’s profoundly flawed.  Adelynn and Jade are two very fit athletes (and are also thick skinned enough that I can single them out in this instance and not worry about their tender sensibilities) who manage to do very well at a given action despite technique errors:  Jade is pretty good at double unders, but she will never be great at them until she gets rid of the tendency to pike at the waist.  Adelynn leans back too far and pulls too high on the row stroke, but she’s strong, long and has great lungs so her rowing numbers remain very good.  A frustrating dynamic of being “good” with flawed technique is that as you make the changes necessary for technical improvement you will often see your performance drop in the short term. As your body departs from bad habits and learns better ones, your nervous system adjusts. Trust that this drop is only temporary, and that as your improved technique becomes habitual your future numbers will exceed your prior best efforts. 

While the CrossFit athlete doesnt expect to lift more than an elite level lifter, or row faster than an olympian, we DO want to mimic their movements when we’re in these domains.  While there may be some *small* variation from textbook movement standards to accommodate different body types, limb lengths and injuries, beware of saying something like “This way feels more natural for me” or ” I have short (long, big little, tight, loose, etc etc) arms (shoulders, legs, waist, spine etc etc) so I do this instead of that.  “This” being your altered technique and “that” being the movement pattern of an example athlete who is world class. 

CrossFitter’s dont have to be the smartest people in the world (Or clearly I would NOT be in this field) we’re not inventing new techniques, we just need to be smart enough to steal from those who HAVE invented new techniques and from those who have perfected them.


Wednesday- Strength 4×5 Back Squat.  Work- Against an 8 minute clock.  Row 1k, AMRAP   in time remaining of Hang Clean (Power or full) 115/80.

Thursday- Strength 4×8 Supine Rows.  Work-Amrap in 8- 8 Pullups, 8 Hang Power Snatches, 8 Overhead Squats 95/65.

Friday- Strength 3×5 Sumo Deadlift for load.  Work Amrap in 8- 8 Deadlifts 225/155, 8 Bar facing Burpees.



  1. ouch brock…I’ll be crying myself to sleep tonight on my huge pillow. PS if can name the awesome movie that line came from you are back to being cool in my book.

    PS I’ll watch the video.

    • One of the Austin Powers movies right? The Mean Scottish dad. ” HEEEAD” I think the actual quote is “Giant Pillow” as opposed to huge, but not 100% sure.

  2. But the pike makes my bootie pop!!

    • That’s hilarious Jade

      • But ohhhhh so true!

      • Booty pop, booty pop, boo boo booty pop!

  3. Good video. I didn’t watch it until after doing the WOD but, I feel like I have a pretty solid rowing technique. The one thing I picked up is that their optimal row is about 3-4 strokes per minute slower than my 25-26. I am going to see about slowing down slightly and keeping the power push.

    The big thing I think that helps is to change the display type until you see the watts output. That basically shows you the power you create per pull. Use your standard rowing technique and then switch to a slower more powerful pull and you will see a huge gain in power. The gain in power and slower speed is what puts down better row times. I think I finished the 1000 today in about 3:40-3:345 and wasn’t gassed when coming off to do the hang cleans.

  4. BS: 135 x 5, 155 x 5, 165 x 5 x 2 = 3100
    hang clean @ 75 lbs = 14

    played tennis this morning & my shoulder was hurting just holding the bar on my back for squats – forget about hang cleans – crappy

  5. Wednesday: BS @ 145lbs (4×5) = 2,900; still nursing a injured back so everything is light and slow for me.

    Work = 18 hang cleans @ 70lbs. The row took me 4:53. I only got to watch part of the video before going to the gym so will watch the rest of it later tonight.

    Super impressed with Andrea who went RX’d on this one. Nice job with 95lb hang cleans!!!

    • Thx, Kathleen. You are always so supportive and I appreciate it!
      ~ Andrea

  6. It was nice to back squat again.
    Total load=4750 225, 235, 245, 245

    Row/hang cleans=26rx 135lbs

  7. BS= 275, 275, 285, 295 ( 5650)

    42 hang cleans @ 135

  8. Thursday
    supine rows-check
    snatch shrugs-check @135
    Work-94 reps RX

  9. Ran/jog/walked 3.5 Miles with full RUCK (30lbs bricks, 3 liters of water)

  10. Supine Rows
    104 Rxd

  11. Just the Metcon. 5 rds + 1 Pullup = 121reps. 2 rds in 2 minutes, 3 rounds in the next 6 minutes aka “fly and die”.

    • My sense of victory was so short lived

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