18.1 - “Row Your Boat Off”
20-min. AMRAP of:
10 dumbbell hang clean and jerks (50/35 lb.)
With the small rep schemes and relatively light load, this workout is designed to keep you motoring—continuously for 20 min. You should aim to find a deliberate pace right out of the gate; look for something just below that “threshold pace” (not necessarily comfortable, but certainly not redline). Do not get sucked into the numerous repetitive transitions and waste time; stay deliberate throughout. And, if rowing is a strong suit for you, I think you are going to enjoy this workout!
Going from toes-to-bar right into the cleans over and over again will test your grip. If you need a grip break before the row, toes-to-bar are the preferred place to do it. Dropping off the bar saves you a little work, whereas dropping the dumbbell adds work. If you do break here, do so intentionally and get back up on the bar as quickly as possible.
Clean and Jerk
The requirement is to complete all 5 reps on one arm before switching. Try hard to finish each set of 5 unbroken. Switch hands on the way down instead of dropping the dumbbell.
A little trick is to start with your dominant arm on the cleans. This is likely intuitive for most people, but it lets the non-dominant arm recover a bit more after the toes-to-bar.
This movement is almost an ‘anyway, anyhow’ type movement, but remember a few key things:
• The dumbbell has to touch the shoulder on the way up but not on the way down (I did not know this when I did the workout!).
• Remember, any time the dumbbell comes off the ground (or touches it), you have to deadlift the dumbbell completely before re-dipping into the clean.
• Full range of motion on this movement involves passing the dumbbell below the hip on each rep and reaching full extension at the top.
With the toes-to-bars and dumbbell clean and jerks, your upper body—grip and pull—will be taxed. It isn’t until the row that the hips and legs contribute exhaustive efforts. Although the row is still a pull, try to optimize your leg drive. Use solid mechanics (core to extremity!); maintain straight arms while driving aggressively through the legs and use the upper-body pull as a follow-through. Focus on relaxing your shoulders and your grip on the paddle. Use a moderate-to-fast pace to get the best bang for your buck in terms of calories.
Next, while the row is not meant to be a break or recovery by any stretch, it is the least costly place to “recover.” No matter how slowly you are moving, you are still accumulating calories, so try to move through the toes-to-bars and cleans without a significant break, and no matter how tired you might be, get yourself going right away on the rower.
Ultimately, the better you know yourself as an athlete, the better you can be at determining an appropriate strategy. In this vein, I recommend playing with the components of this workout before tackling it to help anticipate how your pacing will sort out.
I did a 5-min. test the day before doing the full workout. The idea was to go as hard as I could for 5 min. and see what happened. I got 3 rounds in 4:30 and was hurting by round 4, grip-wise and metabolically, so I knew 90-sec. rounds would lead to a pace that would put me in a deficit—meaning the workout would start to own me and dictate rests and breaks rather than me dictating them. Compare this pacing test to my actual workout, where I did 3 rounds in the first 5 min., averaging 1:40/round (which was still a touch “hot” considering I averaged 2-min. rounds over the course of the workout).
I also played with row times. For me, an aggressive 12-cal. row is about 40 sec. A slightly less aggressive, more sustainable row is around 45 sec. My cal./hr. pace can be upwards of 1,200 when I am fresh, but as I get deeper into a workout, it can be a challenge to maintain 1,000 cal./hr. Still, I used 1,000 cal./hr. as my goal. I like having this in my head going in so, no matter how tired I am, I only have to focus on hitting that number. I know this number will get me where I want to be and keep me from getting too comfortable (meaning slow!) on the row.
I also clocked performing the toes-to-bars and the cleans, and this took me about 45 sec. as well.
Using all of this info, I settled on a strategy that would put me at 10 rounds (2 min./round). As I went through, I’d check that I was where I needed to be every 5 min.
In the actual workout, I averaged 1:03 from stepping out of the rower through finishing the cleans (two transitions). From completion of the cleans to hitting 12 cal. on the row (one transition), I was generally at 55 sec. I ended up with 14 more reps over my 10 round goal.
What I Learned
Given my strengths and my weakness (rowing!), I think my pacing strategy worked well. That said, if I were to try to improve my score, hitting the row harder is not a good answer for me (it might be for you). Instead, I would try to compress the transition time between the row and the toes-to-bars and move faster through the cleans. A pace of 1:49/round is right at 11 rounds for 18.1. I’m not sure I could hang with this for the whole workout, but it would be a great target to try for. I would create milestones before going in—i.e., know where to be at 5, 10 and 15 minutes, and go for it.
A 20-min. workout is always a mental grind. Commit to working for the full 20 min. Expect there will be a point somewhere around the middle of the workout where you feel like you can’t believe there are still x minutes of this left. Then, tell yourself, “Whatever, I love this sh*t, and I can do this all day!” Muster up a little smile, keep taking big breaths and keep pushing.