Sprint Your Way to Victory – Part Two
Written by Shane Farmer
Glad to see you all back here for Part Two of our strategery session aimed at increasing your sprint rowing efficiency. “Why do I need this?” you ask. Because in CrossFit, rare is the day when you will pull a piece past 1,000 meters on an erg and by golly you better know how to get through all those shorter pieces lightning fast.
To review the critical parts of a sprint start, refer to “Sprint Your Way to Victory – Part One” and we’ll be on our merry way.
As I mentioned before, we use a combination of the Full, 3/4, and Half Slide Catches to piece together a sprint start all while utilizing Cut Layback Strokes (dun dun duuuuuuh!)
This start will take only five strokes to accomplish so the good part is you don’t have to memorize too much but you will need to really pay attention to the combination to pull it off.
We begin with a 3/4 slide stroke. This means we will start each piece up at the 3/4 slide catch, not the release position. The reason we do this is because the instant you pull on the handle, your monitor will start recording so we need to optimize every stroke.
From the 3/4 slide catch we will drive our legs and pull with our arms in a cut layback stroke making sure to keep the torso perpendicular to the ground at the release. The 3/4 stroke will be followed by a Half slide stroke. So once you finish the 3/4 slide, push you hands away nice and quick and slide towards the catch until your hands are over your shoelaces at which point we’ll initiate stroke two of the sequence.
From the Half slide catch, repeat the process of a cut layback stroke. Make sure to always keep quick hands as they will keep the whole thing moving smoothly.
Stroke three will be another 3/4 slide stroke. Stroke four will be a full slide stroke and stroke five will be a full slide as well. So here’s your sequence in full: 3/4, Half, 3/4, Full, Full. Say it with me now “3/4, Half, 3/4, Full Full!” great, I like your energy. All of these strokes will be taken as cut layback strokes, legs and arms only. Keep that core tight people!
Now that we have it memorized, let’s talk about some drills to lock the whole sequence into muscle memory. It’s the Farmer Patented 10-Step process to finding your inner rower.
FIRST: Take 20 full slide cut layback strokes. Have a friend or coach watch or record you to make sure you’re not opening your back at the release position. These don’t need to be taken with power just yet, try to move through them with a little speed to get comfortable at a higher pace.
SECOND: Take 20 more, full slide strokes with cut layback just for good measure.
THIRD: Take 20, 3/4 slide strokes with cut layback. Hands should reach about one inch in front of the toes each time in order to get comfortable at the 3/4 slide position. Again, have someone watch you and make sure you’re not reaching too far at the catch.
FOURTH: Take 20, Half slide strokes with cut layback. Hands will make it to the shoelaces each time, no further. When you take these strokes, it should feel like something is missing. Your knees will bend very little making these strokes feel awkward. This is ok, let it happen. Rome wasn’t built in day.
FIFTH: Now let’s practice putting them together. Begin with a two stroke sequence. In succession take a 3/4 then a half slide stroke with cut layback and STOP. Have whoever was watching make sure you hit the proper catch points. Repeat this process 5 – 6 times. Stopping briefly after each one to analyze how you did.
SIXTH: Add one more stroke. The sequence will now be 3/4, Half, 3/4, STOP. Repeat 5 – 6 times, ensuring that you maintain cut layback with all strokes.
SEVENTH: Add the fourth stroke. Now it’s 3/4, Half, 3/4, Full, STOP. Repeat 5 – 6 times.
EIGHTH: Add stroke five of the sequence. 3/4, Half, 3/4, Full, Full, STOP. Repeat 5 – 6 times.
NINTH: Now that you’ve practiced the sequence all the way through it’s time to work on the speed. Practice the whole sequence three times at 50% speed, three times at 75% speed, and three times at 90%
TENTH: You’re ready to take this puppy for a test drive. Bring your body to the 3/4 slide catch, and practice the whole sequence at 100% speed and 100% pressure one time through. Welcome to rowing nirvana.
This is the five stroke starting sequence that you should start adding to your rowing workouts every time. The only time you need not worry about using it would be if you were to pull a piece over 2,000 meters but I think the odds of this happening in a CrossFit workout are slim to none.
This whole thing can be a bit confusing without a watchful coaching eye, so please work with someone else on this process as you will be able to correct each other’s mistakes and learn by watching.
Enjoy the improved times and calories this will bring to your workouts, and remember: “In rowing, as in life, there are competitors and there are racers. The competitor works hard and rows to his limit. The racer does not think of limits, only the race.” – Jim Dietz