CrossFit | Rowing


ByCrossFitMarch 23, 2019

What makes rowing popular with elite athletes and CrossFitters is exactly what many in the general fitness population dislike about it: your weaknesses cannot be hidden on the rowing machine. It is a human polygraph of physical and mental performance. Stroke for stroke, you are provided with feedback that both reveals any weak spots and very visibly demonstrates the relationship between performance and proper technique.
—Angela Hart, “Rowing Technique,CFJ

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Jonathan Burns
March 27th, 2019 at 8:52 pm
Commented on: Rowing

Replying to Mr. Locatelli-

Rowing technique, like olympic lifting, swimming, and other human movement, is constantly debated- as it should be. You’ll find different schools of thought with varying degrees of competitive success all over the place; in my opinion the best coaches adapt a few key elements consistently across all body types.

You are correct in thinking that the legs are primary in the rowing stroke; it is a hip-driven push, not a pull. The body opens and the arm bend as a result of the hip drive- a core to extremity movement- like the olympic lifts.

In my opinion, the model in this video shows this fluidity perfectly. Her hips initiate the drive, her body opens concurrently with the legs driving down, and her handle quickly and lightly flows to her sternum- and then she mirrors that drive in a relaxed recovery to the catch. Compared to “actual rowers”, the only discrepancy I can see is that she is capable of a perfectly extended spine at full compression, which most folks who only row don’t do (she’s pretty good at overhead squats, too).

In regards to “catching a crab”, you know as well as the next rower that bladework is the key element there- though I agree that being super grippy into the finish is a good way to have rough bladework. Regardless, she’s not demoing bladework, she is demoing erg technique.

Like you, I am a rower, avid CrossFitter, and I want to see “good rowing” in CrossFit. To that end, I teach the CrossFit Rowing Erg trainer course, and do my best to spread the good word to those who’ll listen. This video is great in that it hits all the major points of performance that I cover in regards to basic technique.


Jonathan Burns

CrossFit Coeur d’Alene

CrossFit Rowing Erg SME

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Lynne Pitts
March 27th, 2019 at 7:01 pm
Commented on: Rowing

It's a shame that, regardless of language, people are not capable of providing critique without criticism. It's great to discuss the pros, cons, and flaws of a video, but it's not great to have to be insulting about it. Steve walks the line, and Matteo crosses it.

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matteo locatelli
March 27th, 2019 at 2:37 pm
Commented on: Rowing

La tecnica della remata non í¨ corretta. Durante la passata la schiena si apre senza la tenuta dell'addominale e non c'í¨ la fluidití  nel gesto soprattutto nella fase di ripresa e Scommettiamo che il damper í¨ sopra 8 ?? Non pubblicate video improvvisati.

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Lynne Pitts
March 27th, 2019 at 6:57 pm

Google translates, "The technique of paddling is not correct. During the past the back opens without holding the abdomen and there is no fluidity in the gesture especially in the recovery phase and We bet that the damper is above 8 ?? Do not publish improvised videos."

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Eric Love
March 24th, 2019 at 12:30 am
Commented on: Rowing

"It is a human polygraph of physical and mental performance."

Perfect summation!

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Steve Lewis
March 27th, 2019 at 3:26 am

As a former rower who also is an avid cross fitter it pains me to see an official video on the crossfit site of someone doing the erg 100% wrong. The erg is a leg exercise not a chest exercise and pulling a oar into your chest gets you literally thrown out of the boat due to “catching a crab.” Please take a video of a trained rower using the erg it will save a lot of folks injuries.

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David Smith
February 7th, 2021 at 2:16 am

The Olympic silver medalist in the video above is pulling to her chest when on the C2 rower.

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