CrossFit Open 2018

It’s that time of year again, the CrossFit Open is just around the corner! Just like last year, we’ll be doing the weekly Open WODs on Saturdays starting on February 24th and finishing on March 24th. We’ll change up a few things, but for the most part everything is going to stay nearly the same.

Registration for the Open ends February 26th, so head on over to the CrossFit Games site to register for the open. Once you’ve registered, make sure to join the CrossFit South affiliate and team!

Why Me?

Signing up for the CrossFit Open is completely optional, but you’ll need to be registered for it to participate in our Saturday Battle Royale.

You might think to yourself, I’m not going to win, I’m not going to Regionals, I’ve only been doing this for a year, I’m not ready yet! So why are we encouraging everyone to sign up for the Open?

By paying your $20 registration fee, you’re probably going to be more likely to show up for the workouts. We’ll be having a multi-team in-house competition, so your team needs you! It’s a great box bonding event and you’ll probably meet different members and make new friends! This fun little competition also will help you get over any nervous jitters so maybe one day soon you can sign up for a bigger competition.

It’s like signing up to run a 5K or a half marathon, or whatever. Why should I have to pay to run on the road, I could do this on my own, I’m not going to win, etc. No pessimism! People sign up for road races all the time with no intention of winning, but to them, it’s a personal goal and ultimately will rank as a personal achievement.

Life is about determining what constitutes your own success. To some, it’s about proving to that you can give your all in the face of odds which make most people want to quit.

Year to year, the workouts stay the same but also change. By registering, you get to submit your scores to the global leaderboard to see how you compare to your previous years, as well as how you compare to everyone else around the world. To us coaches, it’s a great moment to watch athletes do stuff they’ve never been able to do before and accomplish things they never thought possible.

Team Battle Royale

This year, we’re going to have multiple teams. Teams will be lead by a coach or two, and participants will be randomly assigned to teams to avoid any favoritism. Your team leader will help arrange strategies, both for the workouts as well as how to get the most points to win each themed week! The final number of  teams and their make up will be determined by February 21st, the day before the Open officially begins, so make sure you’re registered by then!

Each week will have different themes with many points up for grabs. And every WOD will culminate with a pot luck after the last heat. The first heat each week will begin Saturday at 11am. Registration for heats will open up after each workout is announced, and I’ll provide scaling options and tips on how to conquer the workouts.

Here are the weekly themes!

Wear your favorite sports team’s colors and uniforms! Dye your hair red and black! Wear full gear! Best chance at most spirited if your team all wear the same teams colors/logo etc.
Dress up as your favorite animal and come work out! If you don’t have time to get a costume, draw some whiskers on your face or maybe some cow spots.

Bonus points are possible if:
1) the team’s costumes are coordinated (e.g. “big cats”: tiger, lion, leopard…);
2) there’s an imaginary animal in the team;
3) you bring animal theme food (e.g. monkey bread, pig’s in a blanket, puppy chow…).

The soundtrack will be animal related too! Let your spirit animal guide you through the WOD and have fun!

America Theme! Dress Patriotic! Red,White,Blue,etc. Bonus points to the best outfit / most participating team.
Dress from your favorite decade! 50’s, 80’s, 90’s, etc. if your team dresses from the same decade, BONUS POINTS! Decade-themed music all night!
Everyone wears as much crossfit related swag as possible. Knee sleeves, elbow sleeves, Froning headbands, belts, wrist wraps, etc. Points for each member that wears their gear, with bonus points for the most swagalicious!

Point System

+1 point: Every member of a team that completes an Open workout and SUBMITS their score will earn one point. We encourage you to do the WOD at the Battle Royale on Saturdays, but if you’re out of town you can do it when you get back. Just find a judge! Maximum one point per athlete per workout.

+1: The top three male and female athletes for each workout will earn one point for their team.

+1: One point will be awarded to any team who has a member willing to do the Open workout in a head-to-head format with another participant on Thursday night following the workout announcement. Must plan and RSVP before the workout is announced.

+2: One athlete each week will be designated “Spirit of the Open” and will earn two points for his or her team. This athlete will not necessarily be the athlete with the best score but will be someone who persevered in a workout or is otherwise deserving of this honor.

+5: The team with the most noise, pride, and presence at each Battle Royale will receive five bonus points for their team. The best turn out or the most creative way of following the week’s theme will get you the best odds of winning these points!

Arbitrary points: If I like what I see I might give bonus points for creativity as outlined above in each theme. I’ll also take away points for being grumpy!


Cooking With Keras: Char Siu

This is one of my favorite dishes to cook, it’s so addicting! The balance of sweet and savory in the sauce and the fattiness of the pork shoulder makes it irresistible. I make it in small batches in the oven and by the time I cook my second batch I may have already eaten the entire first batch…oops! Char siu is at its simplest, Chinese barbecue pork. It literally means “fork burn/roast” (siu being burn/roast and char being fork, both noun and verb) after the traditional cooking method for the dish: long strips of seasoned boneless pork are skewered with long forks and placed in a covered oven or over a fire.

Char siu can be made with any type of pork cut: loin, tenderloin belly, butt/shoulder, or neck. The fattier cuts prevent it from drying out, so even if you shy away from fatty meat (why?!), you have to do it right and use a pork shoulder or pork belly to get the best flavor.

I buy the biggest pork shoulder I can find so I can eat char siu throughout the week. To prepare the meat, you’ll need to cut it into strips about 2-inches wide so they will cook evenly and quickly without drying out the pork.

Next, we make the sauce! You can buy a premade sauce at your local asian market, and although it tastes good and works in a pinch, since I make a couple pounds of char siu at a time, it’s just not enough to go around. I make my sauce slightly different every time because I’m too lazy to measure and I make adjustments based on taste. I use hoisin sauce, soy sauce, rice wine or plum wine or dry sherry or sake, honey, Chinese five spice powder, brown sugar, oyster sauce, some red food coloring, and sometimes some ketchup or my favorite bbq sauce!

If I don’t have everything on hand, the simplest recipe would just be hoisin, soy, honey, five spice, and wine/sherry. Everything else is optional, but I’ll have a measured recipe at the bottom. Mix up all the ingredients and let the pork soak in the sauce at least overnight, and longer if you have the time. Cover with plastic wrap and let sit in the fridge.

The following day, or whenever you’re ready to cook, remove the pork from the fridge and remove from the sauce. The leftover sauce needs to be boiled and reduced so we can brush it on the pork during the cooking process. If you don’t boil the sauce, well, you might get sick since the raw meat has been soaking in it for hours and hours.

Turn on the oven to broil and set the top rack about 6 inches below the broiler.

Set up strips of pork on a wired rack in a cooking pan. Either line the pan with tin foil or add some water to catch the drippings, otherwise the sauce will burn onto the hot pan and you’ll have a hard time cleaning up later. Go ahead and brush the pork with some of the reduced sauce.

Cook the pork under the broiler for about 6-7 minutes per side, flip, brush with sauce, and repeat until you’ve cooked both sides twice. Raise the top rack to its highest position and cook each side for about 3 minutes to get a nice char on the pork.

Let rest, slice, and serve. It’s best served over a starch, either steamed buns or some rice. Or by itself! So good!

Makes enough sauce for 1-2 pounds of meat:

Pork shoulder or loin

1/3 cup hoisin sauce
1/3 cup soy sauce
1/3 cup honey
1/4 cup rice/plum wine or dry sherry
2 tsp five spice powder

1/4 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup ketchup or bbq sauce
1 tbsp oyster sauce
2 tsp red food coloring or red fermented tofu for coloring

1. Mix together sauce ingredients in a large bowl or ziploc bag

2. Cut pork into uniform strips and add to sauce. Cover and refrigerate at least overnight.

3. Remove pork from sauce and boil and reduce for 5-10 minutes.

4. Turn on oven to broil and set top rack to about 6 inches away from the broiler.

5. Place strips of pork on a wired rack in a roasting pan lined with tin foil or enough water to catch any drippings from the pork.

6. Brush pork with extra sauce and place pan into preheated oven and cook for 6-7 minutes per side. Flip. Repeat. Cook each side twice.

7. Raise oven rack to highest position under broiler. Re-sauce the pork and cook for 3 minutes on both sides to get a nice char.

8. Let rest, slice, and serve!

Cooking With Keras: No-Knead Pizza

What is Gluten?

My past two pizza posts have both involved making your own pizza dough. However, most people are tepid about all the steps involved, which is totally understandable. If I didn’t have a stand mixer, I would hate having to knead the dough by hand. It’s hard work!

So why do we even need to knead the dough? Flour has proteins in it called glutenin and gliadin. By kneading the dough, we break down these proteins and reallign them to form gluten structures. Gluten is able to trap gases (CO2 produced by yeast), which causes the bread to rise.

But given enough time, the bread can basically knead itself! But how?! With the help of enzymes! Flour contains enzymes that break down long proteins into shorter ones in a process called autolysis (auto meaning “self” and lysis meaning “break down”). I mentioned the autolysis step in my previous recipes where I let the dough rest for about 20 minutes before I start the kneading process. So if we give the dough even more time to break down the proteins into even smaller fragments, it’s easier to knead and form gluten!

Huh? But I thought this was no-knead dough, not easier-to-knead dough? Don’t worry, the kneading isn’t done by you! It’s done by the yeast..

Given enough time, about 8-24 hours at room temperature (extra time needs to be added since the salt in the dough slightly inhibits autolysis), the yeast is allowed to produced quite a bit of carbon dioxide. As these bubbles slowly grow, their stretching causes those proteins to align with each other. Slowly but surely, the bubbles moving through the dough, effectively forming the same gluten that would be formed by manual labor.


Let’s Make the Dough!

Even though this recipe is for a no-knead pizza dough, I’ve used the same dough to make regular loaves of bread, too! The recipe that follows at the bottom is what I use to make one 10-inch pizza using a cast iron skillet. You can also use a cake pan, springform pan, whatever. You can easily double the recipe, or make it slightly bigger or smaller based on your pan size.

After mixing together the flour, water, salt, and yeast, cover the bowl tightly with clear wrap and allow to sit on your counter for at least 6-8 hours. You can also keep it in the fridge for an extra day or two if you wish to make the dough ahead of time. Once the dough has more than doubled in size, it’s ready!

Turn the dough out on to the counter, and split it into portions if you’re making a double recipe like I did today. Form each piece of dough into a round ball.

In a well oiled cast iron skillet (or whatever round cooking vessel you have on hand), turn the dough to completely cover it in the oil. Turn on the oven and let it preheat to as high as it can go. My oven goes up to 525F.

Now it’s time to make your pizza sauce! You can use the same recipe found HERE from my deep dish pizza, or use a premade sauce, too! Press down the dough and allow it spread out and fill the entire skillet. This will take about 30-60 minutes, longer if the dough is coming straight out of the refrigerator.

Add your sauce, cheese, and toppings. For this pan pizza it’s best to use the pre-shredded cheese, as fresh mozzarella is too wet and will not produce the best results.

Toss the pans into the oven and set the timer for about 12 minutes. It might need more time after this. Cook the pizza until the cheese on top starts to brown.

If the bottom of the pizza is still soft, turn on your stovetop and cook the pizza for about another minute. Make sure you keep moving the pizza around in the pan to prevent it from burning.

Let cool, cut, and enjoy!

A post shared by Keras Lesko (@keraslesko) on

Produces one 10-inch pizza

200g bread flour (~1 1/4 cup)
150g water (~1/2 cup)
1 tsp salt
1 tsp yeast

1. Combine flour, water, salt, and yeast in a bowl. Use a spoon or your hands and mix until all ingredients are incorporated.

2. Cover bowl with plastic wrap and allow to sit out at room temperature for at least 6-8 hours. More if possible. The dough should more than double in size.

3. Transfer the dough to a lightly floured counter and form into a ball.

4. Add 1-2 tbsp of oil to a cast iron skillet (or try garlic butter!), and roll the dough ball around to coat it evenly with oil. Press the dough down with your hands to flatten it. The dough will probably not reach the edges of the skillet yet. Cover again with plastic wrap and let sit for another hour at room temperature.

4. Turn oven on high, at least 500F. Make your sauce or use a premade one.

5. The dough should mostly fill the pan after the hour rest. Use your hands to press the dough around until it completely fills the pan.

6. Top with sauce, cheese, and toppings. Go crazy!

7. Toss the pan into the oven and cook until the cheese is slightly brown and bubbly, about 12 minutes. Using a fork or thin spatula, lift up the pizza to see if the bottom has browned. If it is not as crisp as you like, cook it on the stove top over medium-high heat. Make sure to move the pizza around in the pan to prevent the bottom from burning.

8. Let cool, cut, and enjoy!

Closed for Xmas

The gym will reopen on December 26th. Emails will be responded to after we return. Merry Xmas!

Holiday Schedule

For the weeks of Thanksgiving and Christmas, we will be running a limited schedule of two morning classes and two afternoon classes. We will be closed on the actual holidays. Make sure to check the schedule for the most up to date list of class times.

Devin C

Devin Craig is a veteran member and our newest mommy at the gym! She brings an amazing energy to every class she attends. Whether she finishes first or last, she’s cheering on other athletes the whole way through. If you don’t know her, you’ve probably never seen her, because she knows no strangers. The only thing better than seeing Devin in a class is seeing Devin when she’s brought baby Quinn along with her!

Name/Nickname: Devin Craig
Hometown: Chicago, Illinois
Ages: 35 (but that’s just a number!)
Occupation: Professional Role Model

When did you first start Crossfitting? 2011

When did you first start training at Crossfit South? 2015

Favorite WOD/movements? Kettle bell swings

Least favorite WOD/movements? Overhead squats

What sports/health background do you have if any? I played collegiate golf and then rugby for 11 years besides crossfit

How did you first get exposed to Crossfit? My wife’s best friend got us into it

Do you remember your first time doing CrossFit, how did it go? I remember not wanting to like crossfit…but then I ended up loving it! Lol

What changes have you seen since starting at Crossfit South? I’ve learned to workout in horrendous heat and humidity

Any advice for new people starting or contemplating Crossfit? Anything is worth trying, especially something as amazing as crossfit. The community is really what makes it so amazing. We moved here for work and we knew that joining Crossfit South would help us make friends and feel more at home.

Hobbies/Interests outside of a WOD? I still play golf, occasionally play rugby, and coach the Women’s Rugby team at UGA. Plus my main squeeze baby Quinn!

Favorite cheat meal? Pizza and donuts

What do you want to accomplish by this time next month? In 3 months? Before the end of the year? So my goal everyday is to try and get back into shape after having a baby!

What type of music do you like to WOD to? The rap music that sounds cool and only Natalie knows the words to.

What was is like crossfitting while pregnant? Crossfitting while pregnant was so hot and hard to breath buy my strength was great and going to the gym was good for my spirit and soul!

How was it coming back after having Quinn? Post baby was so hard for me I thought I was going to be back sooner then I was but honestly it was all worth it!

What advice would you give other crossfitting moms-to-be? If you are a regular at crossfit, then you’ll know your body’s limits. Honestly you can do anything you did before pregnancy, you are the best judge of when to slow down, modify, or stop. So keep on crossfitting til that baby comes!

Zach M

Zach Moates is a powerhouse of a human being! He is a beloved member of the 5:30 AM crowd. He doesn’t talk nearly as much as the ladies in the mornings, but when he does, he can always make you laugh. He can haul weight with the best of them, and he’s a mean rower.


Name: Zach Moates
Hometown: Braselton, Ga
Age: 28
Occupation: Logistics (truck driver)

When did you first start CrossFitting? July 2016

When did you start training at CrossFit South? July 2016

Favorite WOD or movements? Grace and anything with rowing

Least favorite WOD or movements? Anything with pull ups or double unders

What sports/health background do you have if any? Competitive powerlifting

How did you first get exposed to CrossFit? My brother

Do you remember your first time doing CrossFit, how did it go? Late 2015, not good

What changes have you seen since starting at CrossFit South? I’ve lost around 30 lbs and overall just feel better

Any advice for new people starting or contemplating CrossFit? Don’t sprint the first 400 meters of a workout

Favorite cheat meal? Champys

What do you want to accomplish by this time next month? In 3 months? Before the end of the year? String together double unders, to be able to do a muscle up and a 550+ back squat

What type of music do you like to WOD to? Edm

What’s it like training after working overnights? Any advice? Just like training at night for someone who gets off work around 4 or 5 pm I just happen to get off work around 4am. It’s a little harder maintaining a good diet and sleep pattern.

How does crossfit compare to powerlifting? Crossfit moves at a much faster pace. Powerlifting you do a set then sit down for a couple minutes then do it again.

Intergalactic Throwdown 2017

The Intergalactic Throwdown returns September 30th to CrossFit South! This will be a fundraiser competition open to all CFS members, as well as any athletes in the area. Our hopes with this competition is to start a friendly regular throwdown (perhaps quarterly) with our neighboring gyms. Emphasis is on friendly! We all know of each other, but we don’t really know each other, so let’s change that!

My idea is that the location rotates between the different gyms around Athens, and we each put on a low-stakes competition with the goal of raising money for a charity of our choosing. For the Intergalactic Throwdown, CrossFit South will be raising money for the Athens Humane Society.

To participate in the Intergalactic Throwdown, you’ll either need to donate directly to the animal shelter (you choose how much you want to donate), or purchase a t-shirt from us and we’ll make a donation on your behalf. More details about registration are below!

Since the goal of this and future competitions is to raise money for wonderful causes, we’re trying to make the cost of entry as low as possible. Some gyms charge up to $100 per participant and all you get is a lousy pair of socks or an ill-fitting tshirt! We want to make this a regular, affordable, and awesome experience. There will be tiny trinkets for the winners, but I’ve also secured a big trophy for the “most winning-est” gym. Whichever gym has the greatest turnout and highest finishes at each competition gets to keep the trophy until the next throwdown!

The Workouts

Last time we did the Intergalactic Throwdown , it was an individual competition with 3 scored events testing skill work, absolute strength, muscular endurance and conditioning. This time there will be 3 workouts, but this iteration will be a partner competition! Just like the 2008 CrossFit Games (as seen in Every Second Counts), the winner is the person team with the lowest total time over the course of all the events. Each workout will be capped at 15 minutes, and if a team does not finish a workout, they will receive a 1-second penalty for each incomplete rep. So winning a workout by just a couple seconds will not give you much breathing room!

·Team 1 finishes the day with 10:00 in each of the three events for a total time of 30:00
·Team 2 finishes the first wod with 9:30, the second wod with 10:45, and the final wod with 9:55. Their final time is 30:10
·Team 1 wins!

Teams will be all male or all female. There will be an RX, INTERMEDIATE, and SCALED division.


30 thrusters, 135/95
30 handstand push ups
20 snatches, 165/115
20 toes to bar
10 clean & jerks, 205/145
10 bar muscle ups

-one person works at a time
-split work as needed
-each partner must do at least 1 rep of every movement to complete the workout


8 rounds
20/15 calorie row
10 burpees over the erg

-partners will alternate rounds, resting while the other completes an entire round. 4 rounds total per person


400m run
30 box overs, 24″
30 wall balls, 20/14
400m run
21 kb swings, 70/53
12 c2b pull ups
50 double unders
50 sit ups
400m run
15 overhead squats, 135/95

-partners must complete each run together
-split remaining work as needed; you do NOT have to do at least 1 rep of every movement like WOD 1


30 thrusters, 95/65
30 handstand push ups, 1 abmat
20 snatches, 135/95
20 knees to elbows
10 clean & jerks, 165/115
10 chest to bar pull ups

-one person works at a time
-split work as needed
-each partner must do at least 1 rep of every movement to complete the workout


8 rounds
15/12 calorie row
10 burpees over the erg

-partners will alternate rounds, resting while the other completes an entire round. 4 rounds total per person


400m run
30 box overs, 20″
30 wall balls, 20/14
400m run
21 kb swings, 50/35
12 pull ups
50 double unders
50 sit ups
400m run
15 overhead squats, 95/65

-partners must complete each run together
-split remaining work as needed; you do NOT have to do at least 1 rep of every movement like WOD 1


30 thrusters, 65/45
30 hand release push ups
20 snatches, 95/65
20 abmat sit ups
10 clean & jerks, 135/95
10 pull ups*

*burpee jumping pull ups will be allowed for those that cannot do a regular pull up

-one person works at a time
-split work as needed
-each partner must do at least 1 rep of every movement to complete the workout


8 rounds
12/9 calorie row
10 burpees over the erg

-partners will alternate rounds, resting while the other completes an entire round. 4 rounds total per person


400m run
30 box overs, 20″
30 wall balls, 14/8
400m run
21 kb swings, 35/26
12 pull ups*
50 single unders
50 sit ups
400m run
15 overhead squats, 65/45

*burpee jumping pull ups will be allowed for those that cannot do a regular pull up

-partners must complete each run together
-split remaining work as needed; you do NOT have to do at least 1 rep of every movement like WOD 1

Standards videos are below. No crazy rules. Full range of motion, move from point A to point B, etc. Keeping it simple!


Registration will close September 23rd. Last day to order t-shirts will be September 20th. There will be NO extra shirts.

Please fill out the google docs form below. Only have ONE member for each team fill it out. Make sure you fill it out correctly so you will receive updates such as heat assignments.

After you have your team registered you need to either make a donation to the Athens Humane Society (and bring proof of donation to the competition), bring a cash donation to the competition, or purchase an Intergalactic Throwdown shirt from us and we’ll make the donation for you. If you do not purchase a shirt or have proof of a donation, you will need to make a cash donation when you arrive if you wish to participate in the throwdown.

Minimum donation is $10 per person (we are donating $10 per tshirt sold), but you can always give more!

T-shirts will be $25 each, and you can follow THIS LINK to purchase your style and size. You’ll need to create a free account with us, and you can also go ahead and sign our waiver to expedite check-in the day of the competition. See our tshirt proofs below. Click the image for a high-res view.

T-shirt color is listed as “Midnight Heather” and it appears to be a royal purple. T-shirts are 50% polyester, 25% cotton, and 25% rayon. If you came to our last Intergalactic Throwdown, these are the same style. Again, head to our website HERE to purchase a shirt.

Out of Town until August 7th

I will be out of town until next Monday, 8/7. Additionally, some of our part-time coaches will be gone this week. Make sure to check the schedule, as class times may change. The phone number will be unattended, so please read the website as all questions and details on our gym and its policies are covered. After you read the website, and you still have questions, please direct any inquiries via email and I will check it once a day even though I’m on vacation.

3 Weeks To A Faster 2K Row

I like to row. Okay, that’s a lie. Let’s try that again.

I’m kinda good at rowing so I like it when it shows up in WODs because I know I’ll do well!

When I took up CrossFit many years ago, I found that I was decent at rowing. I’m tall, I’m heavy, so therefore I’m good at rowing! It’s been about 5 years since we opened CrossFit South, and I was still in college my first year running the gym. One day on campus, I saw they were having a little demonstration for the UGA club crew team. Someone with the team asked if I wanted to try out their little test, and the winner gets a free gift card to Jimmy John’s! Sure, why not, I said. They asked if I need help, if I knew what I was doing. It was a short sprint, only 250m. I got the fastest time, and they invited me to tryouts in a few weeks. At the tryout, we had to row a 2000m time trial, and it ended up being the first time I got a sub-7:00 2K with a final time of 6:57!

That was the only time we tested our 2K that semester because crew teams do 5K races in the Fall, and 2K races in the Spring. The gym and school took precedent, so I was only able to make it to half the races, and only got out on the water once or twice a week.

I kept rowing, but I didn’t really try to improve my numbers. Once I got a sub-7:00 2K I was satisfied. Once I got a sub-1:30 500m I was fine. I could always repeat those results, but I didn’t care about going faster.


For the past year CrossFit South has been home to the UGA Crew team. They’re here four days a week putting in a crap ton of work. Everyone is in so much better shape than when I was on the team five years ago. It would’ve been nice to have some of this competition to push me back then. Watching the team retest their 2K time trials before summer break made me want to see if I could set a new personal best in a short amount of time.

Without training for it, I decided to do a 2K time trial to set a baseline. I pulled a 6:53, a one-second PR from the year before! Good, but not great. I wanted to get under a 6:40 in less than a month and under a 6:30 before the end of the year.


I’ve seen estimates that a 2000m time trial is 75% aerobic and 25% anaerobic. I’d say it’s 100% suck! A 2K time trial is in that horrible middle ground between a sprint and an endurance piece for a normal crossfitter. It’s a really long sprint. If you don’t want to give up 700m in, you’re obviously not going hard enough!

I wanted to see how much faster I could get, but a one person study doesn’t say much. So I asked some members if they were crazy enough to try it with me! I got about a dozen to join me for some fun rowing workouts outside of class!

I put together a short 3-week program with the specific goal of increasing our 2K times. For most people, spending any amount of time on an erg for 3 weeks is going to make them a better rower, but I needed something structured with purpose.

If this was a crew team, the program would be different. But we’re crossfitters, and most of our members are super busy with school, work, and a lot more. People do crossfit because it’s structured, short, and sweet. They don’t want to put in 50K meters on the erg each week. So I tried to keep each workout under 30 minutes…most of the workouts were shorter, some were longer.

Since we get plenty of strength work in our regular classes, we only needed to work on our endurance. To do that, we focused on intervals! Each week had 5 different rowing workouts, each focusing on different goals to train all the energy pathways.

1) Short intervals – under 1000m for each interval, and about 4-5K total for the workout. The goal pace was always sub-2K. What that means was you had to row the intervals at a pace faster than your 2K. If you have an 8 minute 2K, that is a 2:00/500m split. So a 2K split -5 is a 1:55/500m split.

2) Long intervals: the shortest intervals were 1500m, the longest were 3000m. Each long interval day was a total of 6000m. Our pacing goals were always supra-2K split times.

3) Long steady state for distance – 5K row, not for time, at a pace that allowed for conversation. A lot of times I see rowers go too hard on their steady state pieces. I see these workouts as a time to train our aerobic pathways. We shouldn’t slow down or get exhausted by the end. Since we didn’t focus on going fast, we would focus on stroke rate and technique. Having access to slides for the erg made this a lot easier.

4) Super short powerful pieces with long recovery – these workouts were 6:1 rest to work. We would focus on super short 10-second bursts before resting for a minute. I designed these for our people to practice their sprint starts.

5) Long steady state for time – 20 minutes. A second aerobic workout. Just like the other steady state wod, we weren’t concerned with going fast. Just sitting on the erg for 20 minutes to work on our aerobic capacity.

The first 3 workouts were “required” and the last 2 workouts were “optional but encouraged”. But as long as they got in 2 or 3 workouts each week I believed we would see results.


There are many different ways to attack a 2K Time Trial, but I’ll talk about what works for me. I’ll also make a video in the future about time trial and wod strategies where I’ll go more in depth on details.

PRE-RACE: carb up a few hours before! Clear your head. It’s a 2K race, it’s going to suck. But you know what? You’re going to survive, and you’re going to do great.

WARMING UP: I start off by doing a normal warm up. Short jog, little stretching and foam rolling, focusing on areas that feel tight. Then on to the erg! I then go through “The Sevens” warm up drill. I like this warm up a lot better because it puts focus on the hips and lower body vs the upper body pick drill.

I finish my warm up with a quick 10-stroke burst at my 2K pace goal to raise my heart rate before the wod. The last thing you want to have happen is for your HR to spike for the first time 15 seconds into an 8 minute sprint!

SETTING UP THE ERG: make sure the foot plate is set to a comfortable position. Make changes to the flywheel to adjust your drag factor. I’ll make another article shortly about drag factor, but most male crossfitters will be comfortable with about 135-140 and females at 120-125. I also like to set my monitor all the way up, as it forces me to sit more upright while I row.

THE START: for the beginning of the race, you’re on edge, you’re nervous. So let’s use some of that energy and put it into the start of the 2K. One of the energy pathways (creatine phosphate) powers the first 15 seconds of activity. It’s going to be used up regardless, so use it to its maximum potential to start the race with a bang. We don’t want to go all out, but we want to get the erg moving as fast as possible as quickly as possible. The way that the erg measures time to 2K is by your average pace. Instead of taking full strokes, use shorter strokes with your back and arms to get the flywheel moving before moving on to full strokes. It should take about 3 or 4 pulls before you settle into full stroke. For the next 10 pulls we’re maintaining that fast pace. It depends on the person. I wanted to finish with a 1:40 split, so for my sprint start I was hovering around 1:30. After my first 20 pulls I immediately slow down and settle into race pace.

RACE PACE: you need to have a goal in mind. My goal of a 6:40 finish gives a 1:40/500m split. So after my sprint start, I wanted to settle into a 1:40 pace or there about. Since I sprint the beginning, I was able to lower the average pace. At the end of my first 500m I was at an average 1:35/500m pace. So I could go slower than a 1:40/500m pace and still finish under 6:40. If I saw a 1:41 or 1:42, that’s ok! Just dial it back down eventually.

I made a crappy graph in excel and MS paint to illustrate what I’m talking about. The dotted line in the picture is our average goal pace, in this case a 1:45 split. We don’t have to hold a 1:45 the whole time to finish with a 1:45! Start strong, build up some extra headroom when you’re rowing faster than your race pace. That way you can slow down in the middle, sprint the very end, and still have a 1:45 average!

(note: chart not drawn to scale)

IT’S ALL MENTAL: from about 300m until 1300m you probably want to stop. The lactic acid is starting to build. You’re sweating. It sucks. But it’s ok. It’s not going to get any worse. Tell your brain to shut up and stop playing mind games. You got this shit! However, don’t be arrogant. If you’re feeling good, you still need to stick with your plan. This middle piece we’re going one or two splits above our goal. Don’t try to go faster than your race pace! Sit tall, focus on your stroke, focus on your breathing.

YOU’RE ALMOST THERE: with about 700m to go, it’s time to get serious. Don’t let your pace go slower. Dial it back in. Don’t deviate from race pace.

FINAL 500 METERS: Don’t sprint just yet. We still want to keep it at race pace. Focusing on long arms and long legs.

SPRINT FOR THE FINISH: For the final 300m we want to start going faster. Our stroke rate might increase by one or two. Try to get under your race pace by one split. With 200m to go, try to get under your race pace by two splits. At 150m, everything you’ve got!

YOU’RE DONE: don’t collapse on the floor just yet! Try to keep your composure. Stay on the erg and slide back and forth for a minute. Try to flush out some lactic acid.


YES! Everyone that participated in my experiment improved their 2K time. As predicted, those that did more of the plan improved their times the most. For the three mandatory workouts, we probably had close to a 70% compliance rate. Everyone did at least one rowing workout a week. Maybe 20% of participating athletes did one or more of the optional workouts each week. I think I did the power workout once and the steady state workout once.

At the end of 3 weeks, I improved my 2K time by 11 seconds. I went from a 6:53 to a time of 6:42. Not too shabby in such a short time! I missed my goal of a 1:40/500m pace by half a second! I wasn’t there mentally, and dropped the ball on the final 500m. Part of me blames it on the fact that I got distracted by someone screaming next to me as he was struggling through his time trial. When I looked back at my screen I had dipped down to a 1:58/500m pace, shit! Maybe I started off too hard. Maybe I didn’t eat enough that morning. Maybe I waited too late to speed up and sprint the finish. Who knows! Regardless, I think I could’ve gone faster, but I really didn’t want to redo it! I was so close though…two seconds from my goal…

So how did everyone else fare?

Keras: 6:53 to 6:42
Mike: 7:57 to 7:34
Zach: 6:59 to 6:56
Jonesy: 7:55 to 7:33
Scott: 7:33 to 7:29
Tom: 7:57 to 7:48
Deijon: 9:22 to 8:20
Jeff: 7:49 to 7:35
Justin: 7:30 to 7:23
Bianca:: 7:59 to 7:50
Maggie: 8:00 to 7:57
Jessie: 8:07 to 8:01
Krista: 8:29 to 8:14
Devin: 8:43 to 8:37
Natalie: 8:21 to 8:13

And that’s just for those that did the 3-week test/retest! Nearly everyone else PR’d from the last time we did a 2K late last year, too!!!


Each week involves a shorter workout at a sub-2K pace, a longer workout at a supra-2K pace, and a steady state aerobic workout. In addition to those three wods, there are two optional but encouraged workouts: one involves power output, and the other is a second steady state workout. Depending on your weaknesses, you should probably do one of these. Awesome at sprints but struggle with the longer workouts? Do the additional steady state row.

MONDAY, speed
  • 8x500m
  • Pace: 2K split -3
  • Rest: twice the time it took to row
TUESDAY, power (optional)
  • Set unit to watts: Pull hard for 10 seconds and take 90% of your average
  • Row 10 seconds, Rest 60 seconds
  • Continue for 20 sets
  • If unable to hit your 90% goal, rest for 120 seconds before continuing
WEDNESDAY, endurance
  • 4x1500m
  • Pace: 2K split +6
  • Rest: 5 minutes
THURSDAY, steady (optional)
  • 20 minutes @ <25spm
  • Pace: 2K +20
  • Focusing on breathing, focusing on technique, focusing on a steady pace
  • Use slides or a dynamic erg if possible, makes it easier to rate low and focus on the recovery
FRIDAY, distance
  • 5000m @ >25 spm
  • Pace: 2K +15
  • Just like Thursdays, we will do a steady state WOD to train the aerobic pathway. You should be able to hold a conversation, don’t go hard.
MONDAY, speed
  • 250m x 2 @ MAX
  • 500m x 2 @ 2K -3
  • 750m x 2 @ 2K – 2
  • 1000m x 2 @ 2K – 1
  • Rest = work x 2
TUESDAY, power (optional)
  • Set unit to watts: Pull hard for 10 seconds and take 90% of your average
  • Row 10 seconds, Rest 60 seconds
  • Continue for 20 sets
  • If unable to hit your 90% goal, rest for 120 seconds before continuing
WEDNESDAY, endurance
  • 3x2000m
  • Pace: 2K split +8
  • Rest = work
THURSDAY, steady (optional)
  • 20 minutes @ <25spm
  • Pace: 2K +20
  • Focusing on breathing, focusing on technique, focusing on a steady pace
  • Use slides or a dynamic erg if possible, makes it easier to rate low and focus on the recovery
FRIDAY, distance
  • 5000m @ >25 spm
  • Pace: 2K +15
  • Just like Thursdays, we will do a steady state WOD to train the aerobic pathway. You should be able to hold a conversation, don’t go hard.
MONDAY, speed
  • 4x1000m
  • Pace: 2K goal
  • Rest: 5 minutes
TUESDAY, power (optional)
  • Set unit to watts: Pull hard for 10 seconds and take 90% of your average
  • Row 10 seconds, Rest 60 seconds
  • Continue for 20 sets
  • If unable to hit your 90% goal, rest for 120 seconds before continuing
WEDNESDAY, endurance
  • 2x3000m
  • Pace: 2K split +8
  • Rest = work
THURSDAY, steady (optional)
  • 20 minutes @ <25spm
  • Pace: 2K +20
  • Focusing on breathing, focusing on technique, focusing on a steady pace
  • Use slides or a dynamic erg if possible, makes it easier to rate low and focus on the recovery
FRIDAY, distance
  • 5000m @ >25 spm
  • Pace: 2K +15
  • Just like Thursdays, we will do a steady state WOD to train the aerobic pathway. You should be able to hold a conversation, don’t go hard.