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Fixing Common Rowing Errors by Shane Farmer - CrossFit Journal

Fixing Common Rowing Errors

By Shane Farmer

In Coaching, Reference, Rowing, Videos

May 09, 2012

Video Article

When it comes to rowing in CrossFit, there are three common errors: early back opening, early arm break and extreme layback.

When the back opens early in the stroke, much of the hip drive is missing, says Shane Farmer of CrossFit Rowing. The legs and hips should work in harmony, he explains.

“As the legs get close to finishing, then we’re going to kick our hips in to continue momentum and help us finish the stroke,” Farmer says.

He adds that keeping a nice posture is key.

In the early arm break, Farmer gives a shout-out to Olympic weightlifting coach Mike Burgener.

“When the arm bends, the power ends,” Farmer says.

The arms fatigue quickly, he notes, but they don’t need to.

In the extreme layback—think handle pulled all the way to the face—power is lost, Farmer explains.

“We see this at almost every single competition, and I’m here to tell you that is not how you get length in the stroke,” he says.

Get long in the front, he says, while keeping the knees just under the arms, the hamstrings loaded and the back tight.

Video by Again Faster.

6min 8sec

Additional reading: Smoother Rowing for More Power by Tom Bohrer, published April 1, 2008.

Free Download


8 Comments on “Fixing Common Rowing Errors”


Jan van Delden wrote …

In order to reach full length of the stroke, it is better to go forward on the seat, instead of reaching this far from the hips (Dave's back is collapsing in the middle. This is not a strong position.) As a rowing coach I would call this 1/2 slide rowing, with to much reaching from the back and the hips. The shoulder should be slightly in front of the hips. Sit more upright and use mor slide.
The shins should reach the vertical position, and to get there, Dave should lower his footstretcher, because he is a tall guy.

See video Atlanta gold medalists 1996


wrote …

The compression (or lack there of) and 'catch' section of his stroke is terrible! Don't post videos telling people how it's done if you don't know how it's done. It will cause more harm than good as people really pay attention to these videos.

It would be much more responsible to post a link to a more informed video, or to research what you are teaching before posting. I would seriously consider removing this video for the sake of peoples techniques and backs.


wrote …

I thought "Quick Fixes to Improve Rowing" was far better.

There also seem to be some inconsistencies between the two videos.


wrote …

I agree that the previous CF vids on rowing technique where the C2 coaches (e.g. Angela Hart) are doing the teaching are far superior to this vid. Do a search for them in the CF Journal archives.

No offence meant to the guys in this vid but the technique demonstrated is not what it could/should be if you are going to be teaching best practice.


wrote …

Thank you all for pointing out what we can see in Dave's rowing as inflexibility in the back, ankles, hamstrings etc. It is important to note that Dave has lots of poorly ingrained rowing habits none of which we were looking to address in this particular video. In creating this video our intent is to show 3 common errors of rowing within the sport of CrossFit that are grossly overlooked. There are plenty more video's we have filmed that address the issues you all brought up. It's great that you guys are out there and able to help the community with rowing as well. I'd invite you all to post your own video's on the CF Rowing Facebook page to show us what you'd like coached. Or if you haven't had a chance to join us at a Trainer Course, please join us so we can all get on the same page. It would be great for rowing coaches in the CF community to work together.


wrote …

I had the privilege of attending a CrossFit Rowing cert that Shane led and it was great!!! I was so beat tired when I got home I passed the hell out, but that is besides the point :D I learned so much and my rowing skills and coaching skills have greatly improved. He knows what he is talking about and everyone could learn a lot from him.


wrote …

I am impressed with Shane's tips and I feel that the topics he covered are spot on. However, it would have been much better to not have had Dave as his demo guy. Dave demonstrated the main problems that were covered quite well, but he also demonstrated half slide rowing, leaving people who watched the video to believe that is the best way to row.


wrote …

The best way to learn to row is to do so is on the water. The inconsistencies in form are a killer in the water. I love to row on my Concept 2 but it is really different in the water and some of the Crossfit "techniques" are truly geared to getting the most from the rower. Dave is a monster but he is probably not the best example to highlight rowing technique.

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