Archive | April 2013

Basics of Rowing for CrossFitters


Image above is from

Below is my viewee twoee guide to rowing for CrossFit:


I want maximum carry over to the other movements of the program so:

“Chest up and heels down” is my usual catch cry on position.

If your athletes row in a similar position to that which you want them to dead lift then you are getting valuable practice in.


This is a great opportunity to practice the unchanging element that is core to extremity.

From the front, Legs, Hips, Arms, Arms, Hips, Legs”

The start position should be similar to a dead lift set position and then the row stroke occurs by straightening the knees and driving through the heels while keeping the back angle.

When the knees are straight then the hips open to bring the shoulders behind the hips and finally the arms pull the handle in to the sternum.

Almost instantly the handle should be pressed away until the arms are straight and then the hips can close before the knees re bend.


The drive is faster than the recovery – Explode, reload”. Don’t allow or encourage athletes that are new to the rower to “row it like they stole it”. A lower stroke rate will be more sustainable for the longer distances. A fast stroke rate may have a 1:2 explode, reload ratio while a slower stroke rate may have 1:3 or 1:4.

The explode, drive or fast bit should include legs, hips, arms and arms of the above sequence (that is right as soon as the arms have pulled straighten them back out so they can rest). The reload, recovery or slower bit should include hips and legs of the above sequence.

So there you have it this method may differ from what actual rowers teach but a) we are unlikely to take our skills to a real boat and b) teach people to row in positions that are as similar as possible to dead lift, power clean etc.



A rose by any other name…

Dead lift as the name of a task is clear. Pick up something from a dead state – 0% potential energy 100% inertia.Image

As a training tool the exercise is inspired by the task but there are lots of variations, prompting discussion of “the correct technique or the best technique” With so many variants available there cannot be a best way or a correct way to execute the movement.
There is a correct way to perform pieces of the intended lift such as the hip hinge. When a hip hinge is prescribed only hip movement (flexion and extension about the acetabulum and greater trochanter), not trunk or intervertebral movement, is expected and change in shoulder altitude should be due to the amount the hip is open or closed rather than how much the knee is.  
A dead lift may have greater or lesser amounts of hip hinge depending on the style – stiff legged has the most and perhaps sumo has the least. 

A Kettle bell swing as a task is simply the utilisation of a pendulum action about the shoulder to take a Kettle bell from a predetermined start point through an arbitrary range of motion to a predetermined finish position. 

As an exercise this too has many different expressions inspired by the task so when coaching the exercise ask yourself if the desired goal is to just do work or is it to create a specific capacity in a certain positions, those required by the hip hinge for example.

There are many interpretations of named exercises so rather than being concerned whether your gym’s or training system’s Kettlebell swing or dead lift technique is more “correct” than that taught at another ensure it does what you want it to do and don’t accept variations in your gym that dodge the intended stimulus.