Crossfit Manchester at the English Indoor Rowing Championships

The results are out for the English Indoor Rowing Championships, which many of my friends from Crossfit Manchester attended. I was planning to enter myself, but it was the same weekend as the Northern Masters weightlifting, and despite Crossfit’s tremendous multi modal fitness, training for both a weightlifting and rowing competition on the same weekend, didn’t seem like a good idea.

I’m pleased to report a very impressive set of results from my Crossfit comrades. For some reason, not all of them were shown as being affiliated with Crossfit Manchester, I suspect because it would have shamed all the other dedicated rowing clubs, to be totally out numbered by a fitness club that happens to use rowing machines in general fitness. 😉

Either way, here are the results from the Crossfit members, bear in mind this is the whole of England indoor rowing championships. I’m sure you’ll agree, it’s a remarkable showing considering Crossfit’s non rowing specific training:

Men’s Open:
Pos – Name – Age – Club – Time
22 Daniel Green 23 Crossfit Manchester 6:54.3

Mens 30-39 Hwt (Heavy Weight)
18 Matt Foster 31 Crossfit Manchester 6:55.5

Mens 40-49 Hwt
18 Paul Kirk 44 Crossfit Manchester 7:08.8

Mens 30-39 Lwt (Kight Weight)
6 Sean Murray 33 Crossfit Manchester 7:33.9

Men’s Open:
Pos – Name – Age – Club – Time
4 Daniel Green 23 Crossfit Manchester 1:26.2
5 Paul Kirk 44 Crossfit Manchester 1:27.9

Mens 30+ Hwt
6 Matt Foster 31 Crossfit Manchester 1:25.3
9 Dominic Beardwell 32 Crossfit Manchester 1:30.0
10 Chris Worrall 33 Crossfit Manchester 1:33.5

Mens Open Lwt
1 Karl Steadman 28 Glossop 1:34.0
2 Craig Massey 28 West Disbury 1:37.3

Mens 30+ Lwt
1 Sean Murray 33 Crossfit Manchester 1:38.6

Womens Open
1 Fay Collinson 21 Fallowfield 1:40.2
10 Lucy Goddard 27 Crossfit Manchester 1:55.2

Womens 40+ Hwt
5 Jane Holgate 49 Stockport 1:57.5

Womens Open Lwt
4 Rachel Steadman 28 Glossop 1:52.1

{ 7 comments… add one }
  • Michael 1 June 2009, 11:36 pm

    Without wishing to come across as rude, the English indoor rowing championships has nothing like the prestige and profile of the British indoor rowing championships and the entry level reflects that. You talk of the “whole of England” but the only rowing clubs I see represented are Northern ones. At the British championships you would see all the major Thames based clubs with a significant presence, plus usually the Boat Race squads, and other top rowing university crews, and often national squad members, and a few foreign internationals.

    The fastest time by a Crossfit heavyweight given here is 6.54. That would be a poor time for a club standard lightweight. To give some measure of the relatively poor quality of the field here, I would have come ninth in the open category – and I don’t row. I’m under no illusion as to my ability. Decent club heavyweight rowers will all be under 6.30. Excellent club rowers will be under 6.20. High class university and club rowers will be 6.10 or lower. Beyond these standards like national and international class.

    Crossfit is brilliant for producing a brilliant all round athlete, and the very best Crossfitters will be better than some decent club rowers on the erg, and likely annihilate them in every other physical area. But a decent Crossfitter will not be better than a decent club rower and we shouldn’t pretend they will be. There is no need to make inflated claims for Crossfit.

    I’m sorry if I come across as rude or surly; I genuinely don’t mean to.

    I recognise that to make this argument is a waste of time – not because you will not understand or disagree, rather, it’s not really that worthwhile a point to spend any time making. But, I started and I didn’t get too bored while writing, so there we are.

    Anyway, how are you getting on with the Intermediate challenges? I don’t follow Crossfit – yet – but it definitely appeals to me. I’ve only just decided -in the last week – to knock off the Intermediates myself, and I certainly want to claim some of the Advanced goals eventually, and possibly – in the distant future – a few of the Elite, though others require a level of technical expertise that I may turn out to lack the motivation to acquire. Plus, of course, they may just be too hard. A measure of the insane difficulty of this level is that I’m fairly certain, even if I trained specifically and solely for just this one event, that I would never be able to row 6 km in under 20 minutes. That’s 1.40 pace. My pace for my 2000m best is 1.39.5. 1.40 pace for 6 km is a genuinely excellent time for a rower.

    As to the Intermediates, excluding the rope climb – don’t have a rope – the only things I have left are the 1) 15 hanging knees to elbows – how much momentum are you allowed to use on these fuckers? 2) Helen (the running, again) 3) 20 pullups, I can do 17 on a good day – can these be kipping? Is resting in a dead hang allowed during the set? If so to the last question, then I can nail these easy – and the 2 real bastards: 4) the muscle up, of which despite being really good at pullups and pretty good at dips, I’m apparently nowhere near getting and 5) the 45 thrusters @ half bodyweight which is so daunting I haven’t even tried. To be fair, I’ve never even done a thruster.

    How are you doing with them?

  • Colin McNulty 2 June 2009, 10:42 pm

    That’s a great post Michael. I don’t really disagree with what you said, I’m guilty of gushing a bit maybe, but I was very impressed with the my Crossfit colleagues.

    Considering that rowing comes up only once or twice a week, typically as part of the workout of the day (WOD), they did pretty well. Sure the times aren’t competitive amongst dedicated hardcore rowing clubs, but even if it was only the North of England that was represent, to beat people in the same age and weight category, who train specifically for an event, is an achievement worth mentioning.

    The intermediate challenges took a backseat to concentrating on the olympic weighlifting. To be honest the muscle up still alludes me too, though I don’t practice enough to be fair, and as you pointed out, 45 thrusters at 1/2 body weight are a shocker. I managed 23 I think on my first and currently only attempt. Your questions (I don’t have access to a rope either):

    1) 15 hanging knees to elbows – how much momentum are you allowed to use on these fuckers?

    – We get told off at Crossfit Manchester if we swing into the knees to elbows. I would say that you shouldn’t really swing, though often it’s hard not to. Bringing your body down a bit slower helps to stop the swing.

    2) Helen (the running, again)

    – I know what you mean, I hate the running too.

    3) 20 pullups, I can do 17 on a good day – can these be kipping? Is resting in a dead hang allowed during the set? If so to the last question, then I can nail these easy – and the 2 real bastards:

    – Absolutely the pull ups can be kipping. Also I take the view that whilst they should be done at a “reasonable” pace, with pull ups it’s often the grip that goes first anyway, so as long as you’re hold on, you’re still going.

    4) the muscle up, of which despite being really good at pullups and pretty good at dips, I’m apparently nowhere near getting and

    – I need to practice more dips, but the muscle up is a lot of technique too.

    5) the 45 thrusters @ half bodyweight which is so daunting I haven’t even tried. To be fair, I’ve never even done a thruster.

    Thrusters are easy. Do a front squat, then without pausing shove the bar over your head. Think of it like a push press with a really low dip. And that is going to be the first and only time you ever hear me say: “Thrusters are easy!” Start with a poly pipe or broom handle to get the movement right, then move to just an empty bar. The thing to watch for when you first start is not to crack your nose or chin as the bar passes, it hurts!

    Thanks again for the great comment Michael.

  • Michael 3 June 2009, 11:56 pm

    I kind of regret the strident tone I produced in my post, so I’m grateful for you conciliatory attitude.

    On reflection, I think your point that for people who don’t train very often on the erg, to beat some people who train specifically for rowing is impressive, has a lot of weight to it. Essentially, I blindly forgot one of the central aspects of Crossfit: it produces the ability to perform creditably in most given athletic or sporting challenges, without having trained specifically in it to the exclusion of all else. So, I think you are right to laud Crossfit, really. The level of gush is defensible.

    On the matter of the Intermediates, I thank you for your advice

    Hanging knees to elbows – you can’t swing?!? This is not going to happen!

    Regarding Helen, it’s not so much that I’m not good enough to do the running, more that with my chronic achilles tendonitis, I’m loathe to put myself through the pain barrier for something I know I’m fit enough to achieve. That said, I probably will do it at some point, just for the sake of completeness. At the moment though, I’m so far away on the muscle up, there’s no point. Any particular wisdom as to the manner of training for this?

    There was a thread on the Crossfit forum that suggested the Thrusters requirement might be too strenuous for the intermediate level. I will have to actually try it before I legitimately join the chorus of dismay.

    It seems to me that you are smart to nail down the strength, power and technique side of Crossfit by learning and practising the olympic lifts. They will provide the base to master all of Crossfit, rather than the dilettante dabbling I suspect I will be content to indulge in. How far do you want to go with Crossfit? How far do you think you can go in terms of achievement?

    Thanks for the response, Colin.

  • Colin McNulty 4 June 2009, 4:57 pm

    Hi Michael,

    No worries fella. I’ve gone “stridently” forth a few times myself and regretted my tone afterwards. I decided to believe you when you said you genuinely didn’t mean to be surly.

    It’s probably fair to say that there was some extra rowing training done in the few weeks run up to the competition, but that’s not going to get you fitter, just improve your technique a bit. One of the girls that went was even lifting in the Northern Masters Olympic Weightlifting comp the day before the rowing comp! Something I was tempted to do, but was strongly advised not to by my weightlifting coach, which is why I didn’t enter the rowing myself.

    I think the best quote I heard re Crossfit’s efficacy was along that lines of: A top 10% Crossfitter will never beat a top 10% athlete at their chosen sport. But take both athletes out of their normal domain, the Crossfitter will destroy them every time. E.g. take a world class Crossfitter and pit them against a world class cyclist / rower / sprinter etc and set them a gravel shovelling contest, say who can move a ton of gravel 10m in the fastest time. It would be no contest.

    Have you looked at Pose running? It worked for me. Worked in that it cured me of excessive calf pain when running just 400m. It always struck me as odd, that every single exercise is taught slowly and steadily from first principles, yet when it comes to running, you’re just expecting to naturally run in the most efficient and safest style, by instinct. If that’s so, why when you watch people run, do you see so many different ways of doing it?? Pose works, I like it.

    I too think that 45 thrusters at 1/2 body weight breaks level 2. Even if you take all the rest you want in between them (whilst still not putting the bar down) it’s shockingly hard. 1 armed Kettle bell snatches are silly too, simply because they are all skill, if you don’t break your arm learning it that is.

    Olympic weightlifting is fun, and a recognised sport, so it is an easy extension of Crossfit. One day, I’ll make British Masters champ, I was 2nd (of 2 lol) at this year’s British Masters, if you haven’t seen the video?

    It’s not a question of wanting to go far with Crossfit. Crossfit has opened up my life to so much more than I ever thought possible. At 36 I’m fitter than I was at 18. Check out my Crossfit testimonial. And bare in mind, that was written 15 months ago now, so is rather out of date.

    > But, I started and I didn’t get too bored while writing, so there we are.

    As you can see, I suffer from that too!

    Where are you from Michael?

  • Michael 5 June 2009, 8:28 pm

    I had a look at the video, and around your blog: I’m really impressed with your weightlifting ability – you’re way ahead of me – and achievement but curiously, more impressed with your commitment to running, when it is clear that you don’t exactly enjoy it.

    I’ve heard of Pose; I would give it a shot but it seems like one would need specific guidance from a Pose technique coach.

    I live in the South East. What is your wife’s attitude to fitness and training? Yours and hers?

  • Colin McNulty 7 June 2009, 5:10 am

    I only started weightlifting a couple of years ago, and had a good 6 months break in the middle due to golfers elbow, so it’s well within your grasp. I still hate running and any workout with a multiple running components in, is a slog. But I no longer fear having to walk sections anymore. One day I’ll get round to getting some better shoes, I keep thinking about the Vibram Five Fingers.

    You can buy a book and DVD from on the Pose, that’s what I did. A dedicated coach would be a good thing to do of course, but you can quite easily teach yourself I think.

    The wife is a member of Crossfit Manchester too, though I tend to go more than she does. She thought I was completely barking mad when I first started and I’d tell her what they had me doing. But 3 months in, she could see the difference it was making already, and that convinced her to give it a try.

    The thing is, Crossfit is not for everyone. I was talking to an older lady on the train the other day about it, her first question was: “Is that gentle exercise?” I tried to point out to her that any exercise that was “gentle” probably wasn’t going to be doing her much good. Take yesterday’s workout, 5 Rounds of:

    – 500m Row
    – 15 Heavy Push Presses (@ 10kg below 5 rep max)

    That had the (75!) push presses at 55kg for me. By the end, I was only able to do the PPs in sets of one! And worse, just didn’t have the strength left to bring the bar down afterwards and had do dump it on the floor, which meant by the last round, when I was most tired, I was actually doing clean and push presses! (I of course refused the offer of help to lift the bar back up to the rack.)

    The result was a marathon 31min workout and ripped, bleeding blisters (one very large) on each thumb. The wife was right, I am barking mad for doing this stuff!

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