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The Rowing Sprint Start by Shane Farmer - CrossFit Journal

The Rowing Sprint Start

By Shane Farmer

In Coaching, HD Videos, Rowing

August 28, 2012

Video Article

A critical workout strategy, the rowing sprint start gets the flywheel spinning quickly so there is no fight to bring down the split time.

“You need to know how to come out of the gates nice and strong to get yourself set up for the remainder of the piece,” says CrossFit Rowing’s Shane Farmer, who is also a coach at CrossFit Invictus.

The sprint start is a five-stroke sequence, he explains:

  • The three-quarter-slide stroke.
  • The half-slide stroke.
  • Another three-quarter-slide stroke.
  • Two full strokes.

“Notice he’s not laying back,” Farmer says as fellow Invictus coach Dave Lipson demonstrates on the erg. “He’s using his legs and his arms and that’s it, every stroke. Now the reason we do that is to speed the stroke up. That back takes up a lot of time.”

The sprint start is for speed, not power, he emphasizes.

“And you guys can hear how quickly that flywheel spins up,” Farmer adds, “which is exactly what we’re looking for.”

Video by Again Faster.

6min 49sec

HD file size: 188 MB
SD wmv file size: 82 MB
SD mov file size: 41 MB

Please note: These files are larger than normal Journal videos. For smoother viewing, please download the entire file to your hard drive before watching it (right-click and choose Save Link As...).

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

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9 Comments on “The Rowing Sprint Start”


wrote …

Try 3/4, 3/4, 3/4, 1/2, 3/4, 1/2, 1/2, full. I believe this is the most efficient and fastest way.


replied to comment from Daniel Brönsink

Sorry, it should be 3/4, 3/4, 3/4, 1/2, 3/4, 1/2, 1/2, full, full.


wrote …

thanks shane for commenting on the rising off the seat. there were too videos a week or two after each other. one said not to rise off the seat the other said you are suspending yourself on the handle, seemingly contradictory. but you brought it all together.


wrote …

The idea of a less than full length stroke with greater mechanical advantage to get the fly wheel turning makes perfect sense to me. However, I agree with Daniel, this sequence looks haphazard and he never gives a reason why to do those specific strokes.


wrote …

Great stuff. Actually makes me look forward to my next 500m test.


wrote …

maybe we're over-thinking this?....just maybe


wrote …

The only way to find out what really works for a rower is to run some tests and compare readings on the monitor. Do a couple of 50m sprints with full-stroke starts and record the times; then row a few 50m sprints with some form of sprint start (eg. as described in this vid); compare the times.


wrote …

3/4, 1/2, 1/2, 3/4, Full. That's all you need to know for the perfect race start.


wrote …

hi all

need you help on one aspect that im not really understanding on drag factor.

how do i know what my drag factor is ? im reading many articles but not quiet getting it


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