The 3 Easiest and Simplest Hacks for Rowing in CrossFit

Spoiler Alert:  Your 18.1 score is gonna come down to rowing.  At almost any level, each round’s time is going to be comprised of ~50% rowing.  If it’s much more than 50% you’re in trouble and you need to work on your rowing.

Now, here’s the problem.  You need to resist the beginner’s urge to REVOLUTIONIZE your technique!  You don’t need to blow everything up and start over.  It’s too late for that.  Any tip you read/watch that forces you to overhaul your technique isn’t worth it.  

What you need are a few little hacks that can lead to MASSIVE efficiency gains in rowing.  Rowing at the end of the day is about being efficient.  So try just a few minor things and watch them pile up over the multitude of strokes you take for this 20 minute grueling workout.


1. Keep your hands up to keep your calories up.

Rowing is about length and leverage.  That’s why elite rowers are tall as hell.  The length you can maintain is crucial.  The shorter you get the less efficient and less leverage you have.  When people get tired they tend to drop their hands.  Dropping your hands causes you to lose length and leverage and become weaker over time.  Just keep your hands up and watch your calories up.


2. Loosen your grip. It’s not heavy.  

I see way too many people death grip the rowing handle.  It doesn’t take a lot of grip to hold on to the thing.  It’s not heavy.  A nice light fingertip grip is all you need.  The more you focus on hanging and the less on pulling the more efficient you’ll be.  The limiting factor of 18.1 is gonna be your grip.  There’s no sense taxing it on the lightest part of the whole workout.  Bonus: you’ll get easy length if you keep the handle out in your fingers instead of deathgripped in your palms.


3. Keep the monitor high.  

I said it before but a big piece of rowing is about length and leverage.  The other part is breathing.  Sitting up tall helps with both. Keeping your torso upright makes your trunk longer (better leverage) and doesn’t compress your lungs (better breathing).  Telling you to, “Sit up” can be one of those constant reminders that is counterproductive.  Here’s a simple hack, keep the monitor as tall as it’ll go.  You’ll instinctively sit up taller to see it and get all the benefits without the work.  


In short, now’s not the time to blow anything up and start over.  Don’t eat anything new.  Don’t feel the need to make massive technique changes over anything.  Dance with the girl who brung ya.  Hopefully these easy little hacks for rowing can eek out 10-20 more reps for zero investment and no downside.

Good luck on 18.1!  

Andrew Killion