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IMG_3957When’s the last time you went for a row on the water or in the gym?  When’s the last time you warmed up for rowing?  When’s the last time you used Rowing as a warmup for something else?  For many of you rowing is either your main sport or a foundational training tool that you use to get in wicked good shape.  Regardless, anytime you pick up that handle you should be rowing with purpose and taking deliberate strokes.  So how do we develop purpose and deliberate practice?  A good place to start is the Reverse Pic Drill.

Every time I prescribe a rowing warmup I usually kick things off with the Reverse Pic Drill.  It’s a drill that includes 4 progressions:

Reverse Pic Drill:

1. Half Legs – Taking short strokes at the front end using the first 3 inches of the leg drive.

2. Full Legs – Slightly longer strokes pushing the legs all the way down.

3. Legs and Bodies – Longer strokes adding in the swing of the body.

4. Full Strokes – Full length strokes with the arms finishing the stroke.

When done well and with awareness this drill allows us to focus on three important skills with regards to rowing:

1. Posture – The Torso should be stacked and strong in a neutral and braced position at all points in time during the stroke.

2. Control – As the seat slides forward toward the catch it maintains a constant speed and does not accelerate into the catch.  With good control you should be able to stop at any point in time during the stroke and be in a strong position.

3. Connection – The hips and the hands move together into and out of the catch as if connected by a cable.  If the hips move, the hands should move the same distance, no more no less.  If you are connected you can also focus on your shoulders.  The hips, hands, and shoulders all move together in the first three inches of the drive.

I believe that if you can learn to do the Reverse Pic Drill correctly in your warm up, you can and will become a better rower.  The key is how you execute each progression and what you focus on.  Above is a video review of an elite rower I’m working with.  This is what the Reverse Pic Drill looks like in a single on the water. Check out what he’s doing well and what you can start to focus on every time you row.

If you’re interested in getting on the water, I will be organizing a sculling group to row out of Community Rowing Inc. in Brighton every Monday and Wednesday evening from 6:30pm – 8pm.  If you can fit that into your schedule I’d love to get you on the water.  We will be starting in May.  Shoot me an email ([email protected]) now and let me know if you’re interested.  I’ll keep you updated and get you setup to join us.

Let us know if you have any questions or thoughts in the comments!

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Today we’re taking a look at some of our athletes from the noon class at Our Crew Fitness.  This is a video review that I put together to help them and you develop your stroke and find new areas to improve upon.  I’ll be posting regular video reviews about once a week, usually on Thursdays.  If you’d like feedback on your stroke or would like to see me talk about a certain area of the stroke, please let me know in the comments.  If you’d like to be featured in the weekly Video Review please send me a 5 stroke video via email to

Today’s topic relates to how you sit on the erg and how your feet are connected to the erg.  Are you balanced on your sit bones or falling off them?  How does your point of contact with the seat affect your posture and positioning throughout the stroke?  Are your feet connected to the footboards at all times?  What part of your foot?  These are things to think about and an area where you can make a quick change to see big gains.  Let us know what you think and if you have any questions.

Also, if you’d like to join in the fun in person, Renegade Rowing Classes are held throughout the week. Checkout the schedule and pricing here.  When you’re ready to get after it and have some fun, sign up for a free consultation with Coach Pat here.

Wed. Night at CFBWhen’s the last time you performed a Deadlift?  When’s the last time you picked something up off the floor?  Yesterday we got a chance to do Deadlifts and Rowing.  I wanted to use my post today to highlight some of the similarities between the two and what I think about when performing both movements.

First things first, anytime you pick something up you should be deadlifting, because that’s what a deadlift is.  It’s the strongest, most efficient, most powerful way to pick something up off the floor.

I believe that if you can learn to hip hinge and deadlift correctly you can and will become a better rower.  The key is how you deadlift and what you focus on.

Take a look at my hip hinge and deadlift above.  What parts of the deadlift can we tie to the rowing stroke?  I always teach the skills of 1. Posture, 2. Control, and 3. Connection whether it’s rowing or weightlifting.

1. Posture – How am I doing at maintaining a solid brace through my torso?  Is there any movement within the vertebrae of the spine?

2. Control – Is the bar traveling in a straight line over the middle of my foot?  Am I in control of my body and the bar? Can I stop at any point in time and be in a strong position?

3. Connection – How am I connected to the bar?  How am I connected to the floor?  Are my hips, hands, and shoulders connected when the bar is below the knee?

After taking a look and answering some of these questions, think about your own rowing stroke.  In the front end of your stroke, from 1/2 slide up to the catch and back, how do your joints move in relation to one another and what does your body angle look like?  Does it stay the same?  When does your body start to swing open?  Do you feel or see any similarities when you deadlift and row back to back?  Can perfecting one movement help improve the other?

Please share your thoughts to comments and checkout for more content on rowing and lifting.

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How’s it going CFB?

I must say it’s been awesome seeing everyone attack these reverse benchmarks like “Narf” and “Reverse Elizabeth”.  Keep throwing down and finding that high intensity.  The results are showing!

Today I wanted to offer up some reading from the Huffington Post:

6 Rowing Machine Mistakes You Might Be Making (And How to Fix Them)

5000m row Baby!

5000m row Baby!

Take a look and think about how you’re rowing in your pre-class warmups.  Are you making any of these mistakes?

If you’d like help or you think there is room for improvement in your rowing, grab me next time you’re in the gym and we’ll get you fixed up.

Have a great day and fingers crossed for more warm weather!

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photo 1.PNGCongratulations to Ashley S. for taking first in the 18th Annual RPS Power Challenge: Boston last weekend!  Here is a video of her crushing her opening Deadlift at 330 lbs.  She went 6 for 9 on all of her lifts with a total of 775.  In the Back Squat she hit 275 and in the Bench she hit 170.  After this weekends competition she is now in the top ten lifters on the RPS Leader Board.  Well done committing to your training Ashley and keep up the awesome work!  If you guys see her in the gym give her a pound!

For more information and results on the meet checkout

Renegade Rowing Breakfast – Sunday @10:30am!

If you’re interested in joining the Renegade Rowing Club this year we will be starting in a couple of weeks.  Come by the gym this Sunday (10/19/14) at 10:30am to enjoy some coffee, bagels, and stories of years past.  We will be getting everyone fired up about the upcoming Renegade Rowing League and training for the best 2,000m race of your life at the CRASH-B Indoor Rowing World Championship in February!  Please send me an email – [email protected] – if you’re planning on stopping by or if you’d like to join us this year.  After breakfast and the info session we will all be heading over to the Charles River to cheer on the crews racing in the Head of the Charles Regatta!

Hope to see you all Sunday!


BC Men Spinning at the Canoe Kayak Dock - close to the finish line of the HOCR

Hey CFB!  Great work on those rowing intervals on Tuesday.  Everyone really got after it and the form is definitely coming along.  Keep it up!  Speaking of rowing…

Life get’s crazy, especially this time of year as we gear up for fall parties and the holidays – CFB Halloween Party Anyone?  In the Rowing World, the Head of the Charles is known to rowers as Rowing Christmas.  Every year on the third weekend of October, rowers past and present gather to remember the good old days and push themselves to the limit against the best in the world.  If you can get outside today, go for a walk along the Charles River.  You will more than likely see other random people both tall and small looking at the bridges and turns scouting their line for race day.  Keep an eye out for coaching launches filled with coxswains doing the same thing from the water.  The biggest regatta in the world is just over a week away.  Time to get excited!

Bob and Coach Pat at CRASH-B 2014If you’re interested in checking out the Head of the Charles next weekend, October 18-19, I’ll be cheering on our very own Bob E. around 9am on Saturday morning from the Western Ave. Bridge.  He’ll be racing in a single for the first time and I can’t wait to see him get after it.  On sunday you can also check out the Boston College Men’s Crew Team who I’ve been training with Renegade Rowing.  Either way it should be an amazing weekend with lots of fun activities, so get outside and drink it in!  Here’s a spectator’s guide if you’d like more info.

Never seen the Head of the Charles Regatta before?  Try the following today!  Take 15 minutes today to stop.  Breathe.  And go for a walk.  Watch some rowing.  How does the boat move in relation to the body?  What part of the stroke does the boat move the fastest?  How’s the form look compared to your erging on Tuesday?

Box Squats w/ BC Men's Rowing

Box Squats w/ BC Men’s Rowing

If you’re lucky enough to do this please share your thoughts, where you were, and what you saw!

Renegade Rowing Decal for Competitors at the Renegade Rowing League this Saturday at 11am!

Renegade Rowing Decal for Competitors at the Renegade Rowing League this Saturday at 11am!

Performing an appropriate warmup for the workout that is set out each day can make or break a performance.  Below is the warmup we use fairly consistently in classes at CrossFit Boston and at the Renegade Rowing Club.  It’s a good 10min warmup to focus on control, connection, and recovering to strength.  Checkout how slow the Renegade Rowing Club approaches the catch in the beginning.  Executing this drill with control will allow you to really focus on putting technique changes into effect and hitting that catch with good timing and connection.


Please share what you do for a warmup when rowing is involved in the workout.  What is your focus?


Renegade Rowing Club Warmup:

1min – 1/2 Legs Only

1min – Full Legs Only

1min – Legs and Body Only

1min – Full Stroke

1min – Pause @1/2 Slide Every Stroke

5min – 10 Strokes On/ 10 Strokes Off, 15 On/15 Off, 20 On/20 Off

Video Review

Renegade Rowing Club warming up on Monday night!  Want a chance to compete against them? Renegade Rowing League Dec. 21st!  Register Here!

Renegade Rowing Club warming up on Monday night! Want a chance to compete against them? Renegade Rowing League Dec. 21st! Register Here!


From time to time it can be beneficial to look at yourself on camera.  No we don’t care about the aesthetics or the fashion.  We’re looking to gain feedback and a mental picture.  We’re looking for just one or two cues that might give us a smoother, more powerful stroke.  What’s going right?  What’s going wrong?  What can we do better?


You should be asking yourself, “What do I look like now?  How do I move now? What could use some extra focus and improvement next time?”  Don’t dwell on to many things at a time, just find one or two things that might make your life on the erg or in the boat a little better.  Go work on them.  Then reassess in a couple of weeks.


The Renegade Rowing Club has agreed to help everyone by taking a look at their strokes. If you’d like feedback similar to this, post a 20 second clip of you rowing to YouTube and share it with us in the comments of this post.  I’ll do my best to give you a couple of things to work on!


For each of the following videos I’ll be ranking each rower on their posture, control, and connection.  I’ll use a five point scale where 1 = poor and 5 = perfect.  When dealing with posture we’re looking for the torso to be stacked and strong at all times.  When talking about control we are looking at the smoothness of the recovery and how the seat moves toward the catch.  Does it rush forward for the next stroke?  Is there control in the last few inches of the slide to change direction without pushing the boat backwards?  Last and most important, connection, are the seat and handle connected and moving together into and out of the catch as if connected by a belt.


Take a look and share what you might focus on next time you row!


Posture: 3, Control: 3, Connection: 2 – video


Feedback: Nice job getting the body over.  Don’t let the seat stop at the catch.  Be ready to push with the legs the second you hit the catch and keep the seat and hands connected.




Posture: 3, Control: 3, Connection: 4 – video


Feedback: Nice horizontal hands.  Don’t let the handle pause at the finish.  Focus on quicker hands away as if there were opposing magnets on the handle and your chest trying to push those hands away out of the finish.





Posture: 4, Control: 3, Connection: 3 – video


Feedback: Great posture and nice job getting the body over.  Try not to be so rigid and don’t break the elbows as you initiate the drive.  Relax a little on the recovery and make everything smooth.




Posture: 3, Control: 2, Connection: 3 – video


Feedback: Nice job getting the arms extended and ready for the catch.  Try to not be so robotic and rigid at the finish.  Focus on quick and smooth hands away.  The handle should always be moving.




Posture: 4, Control: 3, Connection: 2 – video


Feedback: Good posture and nice horizontal hands.  Don’t let the shoulders and torso reach for more at the catch.  Focus on staying connected as you approach the catch.  See if you can get the body over and find that reach earlier in the recovery, before you get to half slide.




Posture: 3, Control: 4, Connection: 2 – video


Feedback: Great work getting your body over on the recovery and getting prepared by half slide.  Don’t let your posture go as you approach the catch.  Focus on bringing the handle with you as you push the knees down.  The first inch or two of the drive you are shooting the slide, so keep a big chest and solid abs/back as you push.



Posture: 3, Control: 3, Connection: 2 – video


Nice power and push on the drive.  Try to keep your hands on one level plain and don’t let them drop coming into the catch.  Focus on pointing the toes as you finish and then getting the proper sequence of arms away first, bodies over, and then knees come up during the recovery.  Everything blends, but that’s the order of firing in terms of sequence.

RR Snatch Setup

Olympic Lifting and Rowing?

What do you think about using Olympic Lifting in training to be a Rower or using Rowing to be a better Olympic Lifter?  Both require speed and power and incorporate similar movement patterns.  However, in rowing you sit down and are in contact with three surfaces.  In Olympic Lifting you are only in contact with two.  In Olympic lifting the goal is to transfer forces vertically and in rowing the goal is to transfer forces horizontally.  Where do you see the most benefit in training with both?  Are there downfalls?


One skill, concept, and idea that I keep coming back to is Connection.  Coaching people in the gym and on the water allows me to see many different movement patterns and levels of ability.  

Athletes that grasp this idea of connection from one joint to another and one external object to another are able to learn faster, create more power, and transfer skills to other movements.  Learning to connect the hips to the hands as you initiate a movement or connect your feet to your hands at the catch, both in rowing and snatching, is invaluable.  Once this skill is perfected the possibilities are endless.


Yesterday morning I introduced the snatch to the BC Men’s Crew Team.  While we only worked with PVC pipes to begin with and 45# bars in the workout, the importance of generating speed through the middle of the drive and being turned on at the catch became apparent.  Those that had explosive hip extension from rowing and knew how to create speed on the oar through the middle of the drive in the boat had a lot more success transferring that skill to the barbell.


Using the Clean and the Snatch to generate speed on the drive through good connection is a lot of fun.  Rowers become athletes and are empowered to push harder by learning new movements and finding power they never knew they had.  It’s also a lot of fun seeing olympic lifters and other athletes learn to row because it helps them to find more connection and speed in their lifts.


Post your thoughts to comments!  Any experience transferring skills from one sport to another?

Horizontal Pulling. Hearing this, many of us think of ring rows and correlate this movement as a “bad” thing or a scale for pull-ups. First of all, it is DEFINITELY not a “bad” thing. It is a “tough” thing. It’s an appropriate scale for those of us who cannot hang from a bar for very long or get pull-ups with a band (which many of you know I can’t stand). But even if you are more than capable of hangin’ from a pull-up bar and bangin’ out 20 reps, you should still add in some horizontal pulling to your routine. If ring rows are easy for you to get, try doing strict ring rows with your feet elevated. Show me 20 good reps of that, and I would say you don’t need to add this into your training routine. My favorite way to add in horizontal pulling is by adding in barbell rows or Pendlay rows (both very similar, but still… a little different). If you don’t have pull-ups yet, this movement will definitely get you a more stable shoulder girdle and on your way to getting those elusive pull-ups in no time. 


The following is a link to a video explaining some technique for some horizontal pulling movements. Check it out. Add some in to your week. Get stronger! That’s why you came to us!

 ~ G2