Mat Fraser tells you how to perfect your rowing technique

Attacking weaknesses and turning them into strengths has become an integral part of Mat Fraser. After a meteoric entry into the Sport of Fitness, CrossFit’s most dominant male athlete quickly discovered that there were some holes in his game. After his first regional competition – the final qualifying phase for the CrossFit Games – no hole was more glaring than his cardiovascular endurance.

To fix the problem, he began rowing 5000m intervals on a Concept2 rowing machine every day. For a year. It was the dropping of the exhausted rowing machine in the basement of his parents’ house that prompted him to talk about how hard work pays, long before the mantra became his HWPO trademark, was emblazoned on Nike t-shirts, his post Retirement training and now his first book.

In this excerpt from this book, the GOAT tells the story of how to exercise your form or the rowing machine for optimal efficiency and the secret of how to get your first few calories faster than anyone else.

From the hard work of Mat Fraser that pays off: Transform your body and mind with CrossFit’s five times fittest man on earth. Now available in hardcover, audio and e-book.

Not every box has a fleet of Assault Bikes or SkiErgs, but they usually have a wall of Concept2s, so that’s how I started my endurance journey. After the Regionals 2013, I decided to row 5,000 meters every day for a year to build my engine and learn the right technique, which actually has a lot in common with tearing.

You start by pushing your legs, and when they’re straight and stretched out, you open up your hips. Once your hips are open, pull through and pull with your arms. Just like with Olympic lifting, you need to finish one phase of the movement before you can move on to the next. But even though I was familiar with this concept, I still had to break the sentence down into its parts and practice.

During the year that I rowed every day, I lived in the basement of my parents’ house, which was a tiny one-bedroom with low ceilings and no windows. At first it was difficult to do row intervals in my living room. But gradually I learned to flip the switch from hanging out at workout time, and this small, dark room became the place I looked forward to suffering, even in June when it was easily 100 degrees and I was just a boxing fan had that barely moved the air.

Fortunately for you, I suggest that you row 2,000 meters every day for two weeks only, and I encourage you to do what I did and divide it up differently each day: 4 sets of 500 meters each in one day, Sprint intervals of 100 meters the next. Also experiment with the settings on the damper (the lever on the side of the circular flywheel on the front of the rower). The higher the damper number, the more difficult each shot is and the further you can get with each pull.

Since everyone (and every workout) is different, there isn’t one right answer as to where to set your workout, but I’ve practiced at the highest and lowest levels and everything in between to know how they all feel.

There is also a hack to getting an extra calorie intake on the first pull when using a Concept2 rowing machine. It’s probably not the one you’ve heard of, starting with a quarter move, a half move, and a three-quarter move ASAP. The more effective way is to remove the handle from the holder and get right in front of the rowing machine. Then, on the biggest and longest pull you can, explode backwards, up to your chin if possible. After that, without moving your torso, straighten your arms and do another quick, small pull. To sum it up: the strongest, most exaggerated punch you have and then another one about a foot long.

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