Turts in the CrossFit Journal

3 Stroke Max from CrossFit East Sac on Vimeo.

Hi team,

Most of you realize that the magic of CrossFit extends past the walls of our amazing training centre but may not know that CrossFit HQ publishes a Journal of articles about everything to do with CrossFit training, nutrition, and lifestyle.  Articles are written by everyone from affiliate owners to weightlifting coaches, nutritionists, and exercise physiologists.  In February 2010 while on a trip to Sacramento, I was approached by the head CF videographer to do an interview with myself and the team I was training – the Rowing Canada men’s team.  The resulting footage was edited and compiled and I wrote a short article about training for Rowing specialists versus how we train in CrossFit.

The article is shown below and you can watch an abbreviated version of the video from the article HERE



Training for the Knowable: Rowing Canada’s Men’s Team
By Cam Birtwell

April 03, 2010
Cam Birtwell is a strength and conditioning coach at the Canadian Sports Centre Pacific (CSCP), as well as the owner of CrossFit Zone in Victoria, B.C. He works with specialists including Olympic gold medalists and generalists, and he talks about the strategies he uses for both groups.

In CrossFit, we often state that we are training for the unknown and unknowable. Most frequently, we accomplish this goal by utilizing an intensive stimulus that is varied in time and mode. What about when we encounter a group of athletes who are preparing for a known entity, such as a 2000-meter row at the international level? Instead of constant variance, we need planned and progressive training that is sequenced in such a way as to minimize interference with sport-specific training while building toward maximum performance at the right time of year.

Within the Rowing Canada team program, all the technique, anaerobic-lactic, aerobic-power, muscular-endurance and power-endurance work are taken care of by the head rowing coach. As a professional strength and  conditioning coach with CSCP, I don’t feel the need to develop those qualities in the weight room as they are best developed in the most specific manner possible: either on the water or on the rowing ergometer. Instead, the weight-room focus is on the development of maximal strength and alactic power.

As a CrossFit affiliate owner and planner of our member’s training, the need is different. I lay out both the training of varied work capacity and strength/power to create the most efficient and well-rounded stimulus.

Programming for the Canadian rowing team relies on consistency in exercise
parameters through four-to-six-week blocks. This allows the athletes to have maximum exposure to the exercise selection, intensity and volume of that phase of training. Too much variety in these parameters generally leads to an inaccurate training effect and variable levels of soreness and fatigue. These adversely affect our athletes’ ability to perform in and adapt to their on-water programming. This is in contrast to the non-specialist CrossFitter, for whom a certain variety in mode, volume and intensity may be the best path to becoming an athlete competent in several domains.

Even though I am an affiliate owner and CrossFit athlete myself, I recognize the need for differences in programming for elite athletic performance and for the unknown and unknowable of everyday life or work.  In this video interview shot at CrossFit East Sacramento, we discuss some of the details of the Rowing Canada team’s training during a recent training camp in Sacramento. The video highlights the nature of being a specialist athlete at the elite level in Canada and how these athletes train toward Olympic performance. We also touch on some of my own feelings about the benefits and power of CrossFit for individuals outside of such a narrow sporting domain.

Today’s Workout

Buy In – Be warm BEFORE class time with your version of the CrossFit Warm-up, practice clean and jerk if you are new to this lift!!

WOD – “Orange Coast Throwdown WOD 4″

This wod is from a crossfit competition that went down in early January this year put on by orange county crossfit.  Visit the link for more info: http://orangecoastcrossfit.com/2010-oc-throwdown-wods/.  The athletes had to perform 4 wods in one day, this one is the final wod.  I have modified it slightly to suit our equipment restrictions.  Top male score from that competition was 586, top women’s was 406.  Tops from our gym the first time we did this (Jan 18, 2010) were Turts with 509 and Kendall with 345.

For total “reps”

10 minutes to max clean and jerk (record total lb lifted)


5 minutes Cindy (5 pullups, 10 pushups, 15 squats) for reps, male Rx is chest to bar pullups

30 seconds rest

5 minutes row for max calories

*Add all three numbers together to get your total score*

Zone 2- Clean and Jerk technique, work up to a 5 rep deadlift instead of max clean and jerk, modified pullups and/or pushups

Zone 1 – Clean and Jerk technique, use a lift you are comfortable with instead of clean and jerk, modified pullups and/or pushups

Cash Out- 4×20 double crunch (scale as needed)


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