Front Squat | WOD 11.14.15

Front Squat

PerformanceMedium Intensity, 75-80% x 5 x 4
Heavier than your last Medium Intensity exposure. 
Fitness: 3 x 5 Linear Progression 
Heavier than last week.

Exposure 5/8
Post loads to comments.

AMRAP 12 Minutes:
8 Dumbbell Power Snatch, alternating arms
12 Pull-Ups
24 Double-Unders

Choose the heaviest dumbbell that you can handle. You should be able to do the sets of 10 with not much more rest than the second that the dumbbell is on the floor for the switch. Sub bands or ring rows for pull-ups, 15 attempts + makes for doubles. 

Post rounds and Rx to comments.

Throwback to the Subway Series this summer, with lots and lots of pull-ups

  • Good luck to Bob S. and Pierre D., who are competing in the the WODFather 3 Masters Competition. Let us know how it goes!!
  • Want to try something other than group class today? Check out Yoga for Athletes at 10am, Active Recovery at 11am, or Open Gym from 2-4pm!

Travel Gym Recommendations

Have you traveled to another affiliate recently, or do you need recommendations for your upcoming holiday travels? Check out our Travel Gym Recommendations forum (found in the bottom left bar under Member Resources). Check out these two recent ones and add your own: 

Coach Noah wrote a great guide last year about how to be a good visitor at other CrossFit gyms, titled "On the Road, and Sweaty: Visiting Other CrossFit Affiliates." 

If you do hit up another affiliate, be sure to take a cool photo so we can give you some blog love! Send it to Managing Editor, Kate R., by emailing her at Katharine [at]

Is the Game of Thrones Workout the New CrossFit? New York 


Rest Day

Events Coordinator Danae M. warming up her front squat. Have an idea for an event at the gym or want to sponsor an upcoming event? Danae can be reached at Events [at] CrossFitSouthBrooklyn [dot] com!

Want to Work at the Front Desk?? 

CFSBK is looking for new talent to staff our beloved Front Desk! Responsibilities include handling inquires from walk-ins, managing basic membership issues, light cleaning/organization, and other miscellaneous duties. Ideally, we'd like to hire from within so that candidates are already familiar with CrossFit and CFSBK, but we are open to talking to new folks if they've got good people skills and are committed to joining the gym.

On top of an hourly wage, Front Desk staff will also receive a comped membership. We are looking for people who keep a consistent schedule and commit to six months of work with us (barring extenuating circumstances). Preference will be given to candidates with the flexibility to change shifts in the new year. 

We will be interviewing this month and hiring a new staff member for immediate training. The shifts we are looking to fill are below, so before applying, please make sure these openings fit with your schedule:

Mondays, 5:45am - 9:30am
Wednesdays, 5:45am - 9:30am

Open availability during the week of Dec. 28th - Jan. 1st. is a plus!

Email Janelle [at] to inquire and include Front Desk in the subject line.

Caged: What Drives Ronda Rousey to Wake Up and Fight Esquire 
UFC 193 -- Ronda Rousey vs. Holly Holm: By the Numbers CBS Sports


Clean and Jerk | WOD 11.12.15

Every Minute on the Minute for 10 Minutes (10 working sets):
Fitness and Performance: 1 Clean and Jerk

Start at 60% and add weight as appropriate. Work up to a heavy but not max effort load for the day, heavier than last week. 

Exposure 5/8
Post loads to comments

5 Rounds For Time:
5 Deadlifts 275/185
10 Burpees

The barbell weight should be on the heavy side of medium but unlbroken on the fast end. The burpees should be smooth and steady. 

Post time and Rx to comments.

What Happens in a CrossFit Preschool Class?

By David Osorio

Ever wonder how we adapt the CrossFit methodology for preschoolers? Often the Preschool activities are still on the board in 608 into the evening and I get asked things like, "What are Slug Sit-Ups?" or what are "Dinosaur Egg Sprints"? Today, we thought we'd share the programming that Coach Janelle and I ran one week for our kiddos so you can see exactly what they're up to.

Above all, CrossFit Preschool is about lots of movement and lots of fun. We want the kids running, throwing, crawling, climbing, and above all, laughing. At this age, the primary goal from a training perspective is to stimulate and support vestibular system development as well as good socialization skills with their peers and adults. As anyone who's worked with this age group knows (3-5), it can sometimes be a little like herding cats.

But over the past few months, we've developed a much better and ever improving sense of how to get the kids on the same page and create activities that get the kids moving for as much of the hour as we can. We've also learned to go with the flow and as mentioned, prioritize fun and movement above all else. (Parents seem very happy picking up sleepy kids.) So, to satisfy your curiosity, here is a "typical" CrossFit Preschool class:

Activity #1

Triple Three Relay Race
3 Burpees
3 Box Flips
3 Box Jumps
tag your partner 

In this activity, teams of two to three work relay style. This is their "CrossFit workout" like mommy and/or daddy (or mommy and mommy/daddy and daddy) do, which they often brag about. The kids start with three burpees (which they love), then flip a 12" foam box three times before they have to jump on it three times. They then run back and tag their partner. Each kid gets three turns. We try to keep the numbers for the preschool age between three to five as beyond that they sometimes have a hard time keeping track of. 

Activity #2

The Obstacle Course
- Climb through a giant tire
- Make it across the balance beam
- Make it across the thick balance beams (benches) without touching the electric trees (m80 Foam Rollers)
- Climb over the building (24" Foam Box)
- Jump over the lava onto the other building  (12" Foam Box)
- Crawl under the electric Fences (parallettes)
- Make it through the sewer (pop-out tunnel) 

The gym has no shortage of things we can turn into an obstacle course. We'll often let the kids help design the course or contribute to the theme. For example, we might be ninjas or superheroes sneaking through. After a few passes, we'll often try to make it harder or include more elements into the course to challenge them. Kids love telling us, "I DON’T NEED ANY HELP!" across the balance beam as they cling to our hand for dear life.

Activity #3

Agility Ladder Drills + Ball Kick or Wall Knock Down
For Preschool, the agility ladder drills are pretty straightforward. Two-foot hops in each gap, alternating legs per rung, or simply getting through it as fast as they can without touching the ladder. At the end we'll usually set up something like a wall (gymnastics wedge) to knock down or a ball to kick into a small soccer net. The hardest part of this is getting them not to run back down the ladder after they’re done while another kid is taking their turn. 

Activity #4

Dinosaur Egg Sprints
Kids start on one side of the gym at "home base" and two or three at a time need to run to the other side of the gym with their dinosaur egg (dodge ball) and place it in the nest (hoola hoop) without the T-Rex (Coach DO or Janelle) catching them and stealing their egg. This game is all about running and evading a moving obstacle—which is us. There is always lots of simultaneous screaming and laughing during this game and I'm usually covered in sweat by the end of it.

Check out our article on Inside the Affiliate, called "CrossFit Preschool: 5 Things I've Learned From Working with 5-Year-Olds" for more info!

Is This the Worst NYC Apartment Listing You've Ever Seen? Esquire 


Back Squat | WOD 11.11.15

Back Squat

Performance: Medium Intensity, 75-80% x 5 x 4 
Add a few pounds to the last medium intensity exposure. 
Fitness: 3 x 5 Linear Progression 
Heavier than last week.

Exposure 5/8
Post loads to comments.

AMRAP 15 Minutes:
40 Calorie Row
30 Dumbbell Thrusters

Choose a challenging weight on the Dumbbell Thruster than you maybe can't do unbroken. 

Post rounds and Rx to comments.

Jay Star crushing gymnastics! The GIF creator we used promised this was "magic" and would break the Internet, so you can look forward to that today.

CFSBK Art Show: Featuring a Live Mural Painting by Joshua Peters 

Do you have CFSBK's second Art Show on your calendar? Saturday, November 21, from 7:30-10:30pm. Free alcohol and lots of art from some of your favorite CFSBKers!

There will be a live mural painting from 8-10pm by a friend of Coach David’s, Joshua Peters. His artwork, according to his bio, "explores the social, political, and cultural response to the individual heroic aspiration. By focusing on both traditional and non-traditional role models, he attempts to deconstruct the influence of masculine stereotypes by examining the conventional social rules imposed on males and females. His work is a reaction to the failure of our heroes as well as our surprise when they defy expectation."

In additional to traditional oil paintings, Joshua also paints sneakers, which are pretty incredible. Check out more of his work on his website, at Strength to Spare. He just painted this insane mural at Freedom Barbell Academy in Long Island. Joshua is also a fellow CrossFitter and coach. 

Check out the event flier for more info on the CFSBKers whose art will be displayed!

Want to Work at the Front Desk?? 

CFSBK is looking for new talent to staff our beloved Front Desk! Responsibilities include handling inquires from walk-ins, managing basic membership issues, light cleaning/organization, and other miscellaneous duties. Ideally, we'd like to hire from within so that candidates are already familiar with CrossFit and CFSBK, but we are open to talking to new folks if they've got good people skills and are committed to joining the gym.

On top of an hourly wage, Front Desk staff will also receive a comped membership. We are looking for people who keep a consistent schedule and commit to six months of work with us (barring extenuating circumstances). Preference will be given to candidates with the flexibility to change shifts in the new year. 

We will be interviewing this month and hiring a new staff member for immediate training. The shifts we are looking to fill are below, so before applying, please make sure these openings fit with your schedule:

Mondays, 5:45am - 9:30am
Wednesdays, 5:45am - 9:30am

Open availability during the week of Dec. 28th - Jan. 1st. is a plus!

Email Janelle [at] to inquire and include Front Desk in the subject line.

What I'd Say to the Martians Jack Handey 

Happy Veterans Day to all those CFSBKers who have served or serve our country! We are thankful for you!


Rest Day

We nixed birthdays on the blog because there are too many of you, but for Captain Osorio, we'll make an exception. Happy birthday to our favorite weirdo—"the wheel and the grease," to quote Fox from last year, and the one without whom this whole CFSBK thing would never exist. If you want to give him the best birthday gift ever, find a way to help get CFSBK's Instagram account to 3,000 followers by midnight!

Coat + Canned Food + Book Drive

We're combining our coat and can drive with a book drive this year. To keep it simple our collection dates for coats and cans and books (children, to be specific) are going to run from November 15 - 25. Please bring all donations to the Front Desk.

New York Cares Coat Drive
Give the gift of warmth this holiday season. CFSBK is collecting new and gently used winter coats to help keep those in need warm during the winter season. New York Cares aims to collect 100,000 gently used winter coats each November and December and distributes them to thousands of men, women, and children who would otherwise go without them. They work hand-in-hand with a wide variety of Community Partners in New York City to make sure coats are distributed as quickly as possible. We are only collecting coats at this time.  

City Harvest Canned Food Drive
CFSBK is collecting canned foods to help stock NYC's food pantries and soup kitchens. City Harvest helps feed the more than 1.4 million New Yorkers facing hunger each year. They provide free deliveries of food to more than 500 emergency food programs throughout New York City. The most needed foods are canned fruit, canned vegetables, canned proteins (like fish and chicken), and peanut butter (plastic jars).

Reading Partners Children's Book Drive
Reading Partners is a national nonprofit organization that trains students from low-income schools to be confident readers and they need more books! Bring your your gently used children's books to CFSBK for the Reading Partners Book drive. These books benefit struggling readers from kindergarten to the 4th grade. We'll post a flyer on the bulletin board with author and title suggestions, please donate new or gently used books only.

Everything In Moderation? Maybe Not Forbes
World Anti-Doping Agency Wants Russia Banned From Athletics Competitions NPR 


Press | Deadlift | WOD 11.9.15


Performance: Medium Intensity, 75-80% x 5 x 4 
Fitness: 3 x 5 Linear Progression 
Add a few pounds to last week

Exposure 5/8


Work up to one heavy set of 3 reps
Go heavier than last week. 

Exposure 5/8
Post loads to comments.

5 Rounds Not For Time or 18 minutes:
5-10 Strict Dips
5-10 Strict Chins
5ea Side Turkish Get Up Sit Ups, as heavy as possible

Perform the dips on rings or a Matador. If you can not perform 5 strict bodyweight dips then work up to a heavy set of 5 on the Dumbbell Bench Press. Use bands or 5 negatives if you can not perform the strict chins. A TGUSU is simply the first step of the TGU. These are great for shoulder health and for training the obliques which don't see a lot of action in CrossFit. Start with a medium load and go up each set. Let your weaker side determine how heavy it gets.

Check out this how-to video about Kettlebell "Get Up" Sit Ups.

Post time/rounds and Rx to comments.

Ben A. practicing his pistols 

Not a True Novice Anymore: Failing, Resetting, and Transitioning

By Chris Fox

Getting strong is simply and entirely about maintaining stress and recovery. Unfortunately, what most magazine articles and Internet coaches tell you (sell you?) is either hogwash, like “30 DAYS TO RIPPED ARMS/WASHBOARD ABS/BEST BOOTY!” or too advanced, creating too much stress for a novice, like ”TRAIN LIKE THE CHAMP RICH FRONING!” A novice, as defined by Wikipedia, is “a person or creature who is new to a field or activity.” If you haven’t performed systematic barbell training before or if you’ve had a significant lapse in your training, then you’re considered a novice. Let’s discuss what a novice’s training looks like at CrossFit South Brooklyn (CFSBK), and when to consider moving on to an intermediate program. 

At CFSBK we use linear progression (LP) on the slow lifts (squat, press, deadlift, and bench press) as the barbell training program with all of our novice or detrained athletes. We like the 3 sets of 5 (3x5) protocol as recommended in Starting Strength by Mark Rippetoe. This is generally what Fitness strength programming looks like at CFSBK. The basic idea is to start light and slowly and incrementally add weight to the movement each lifting session, which for us would be one to two times each week depending on the lift and on the training cycle. Novice lifters require relatively little training stimulus (stress) to invoke an adaptation response (recovery), and as such can lift progressively heavier weights each and every training session for quite some time. If this were to continue indefinitely however, we’d all be able to squat 1,000 pounds eventually, if only we would consistently perform the lift week-in and week-out adding weight each time we did it. While that sounds like an amazing world to live in, it doesn’t work like that and this method eventually runs out, unfortunately.

Let’s look at an example lifter below...

On Jessica’s first back squat exposure with us, she squats 3 sets of 5 reps at 65 lbs (65x5x3). It feels very light for her but since she’s never back squatted before it will be enough of a stimulus to produce a training response. Jessica eats, sleeps, and recovers and the next time she squats, she’s able to do 70 lbs for 3 sets of 5 (70x5x3), then 75, then 80, and so it goes for quite some time. Eventually after 4 months or so she’s squatted 145 for 3 sets of 5 (145x5x3). The next week she fails the 4th rep on her last set. What is Jessica to do? At this point in her training she’s still a novice (4 months in) and thus would still benefit from a novice program like the LP she’s been following. We’d probably instruct Jessica to try 150 again next week and see if she can’t make all 15 of her reps. Maybe she was out late the night before and had a few cocktails that left her hungover, or maybe she just wasn’t feeling 100% since she was coming down with a cold. Either way the best case scenario is that next week she’d squat 150, make all 15 reps, and continue along the LP for a while longer, possibly making smaller increases each week of 2.5 lbs instead of the 5 lbs she’s been using. 

Eventually though, it starts feeling very heavy and two months later she fails her 5th rep on her first set at 175 lbs, then can only do 3 on her next set and struggles on an ugly 3rd squat on her third set. At this point (6-7 months lifting experience), Jessica would probably still benefit from a novice program, but she was feeling good that day and wound up failing early on in the sets. Jessica now should back off the weight a bit (which we call “resetting”), and build back up. We’d have her go back to somewhere between 5 and 10% lighter (so between 155 and 165), which we already know she can do. She would then get back to that 175 and probably passed it before failing again. 

Eventually, after a few resets, Jessica will simply no longer be able to make strength gains on an LP since she can’t recover from this type of approach, and thus will benefit from transitioning to an intermediate type of program, aka Performance programming. This will happen to us all assuming that training and recovery are consistent for anywhere from 6-12 months in.

AT CFSBK, we employ a few different types of rep/set schemes for our intermediate population. Intermediate trainees need more training stimulus (stress) and hence require more time to adapt (recover). The point of this article isn’t to outline the many (many, many, many…) viable options when it comes to intermediate strength training programs. It’s to say that if you’ve been running up against a wall and keep missing at or around the same weights on a few lifts in your strength training, then it’s probably time to move on to the Performance side of things for those lifts. You may not be able to do the ring muscle-ups and handstand push-ups in the WOD portion of class, but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t progress your slow lifts into new territory. It’s perfectly acceptable and expected for many of you to be doing Performance squats/presses/deadlifts and then jump into the fitness version of the WOD. Our programing and timestamps for every class make this possible.

If this is you and since many intermediate programs use percentages of a 1RM to prescribe load, then it would be prudent to test some maxes at the end of a cycle. We usually test between a 1RM and 3RM at the end of a cycle so you can use those numbers going forward. You can pretty reliably extrapolate a theoretical 1RM from a 3RM, anything much larger than that get less and less reliable. If it’s not programmed and you fit the bill of someone ending a novice LP then go ahead and tell a coach you’d like to test. 

I’d be remiss not to mention that failing lifts may be due to factors other than your training age. I’m fond of telling my Foundations groups that “fitness doesn’t happen in a vacuum.” If other stressors like work or relationship stress, lack of sleep, poor nutrition, disease, etc. are present, then you can expect to not recover as well from training as if you were eating well and sleeping 8 solid hours a night. If that’s your case then either work on being better in those lacking areas or be humble and make smaller increases in weight each week so as to ride out the novice gains a bit longer. You’d probably benefit from frequent and moderate resets as well, aiming to finish each cycle only a few pounds heavier than the previous one. 

As always, if you’re unsure of what tract you should be on then ask a coach and we’ll point you in the right direction! Three Cheers to Happy and Effective Lifting!

The Benefits of Leveled Programming Inside the Affiliate
Failing, Bailing, and Training Culture at CrossFit Affiliates Inside the Affiliate 

When and why did you first decide to follow programming other than a linear progression (if you have)?


Snatch | WOD 11.8.15

Every Minute on the Minute for 10 Minutes:
Fitness: 1 Snatch
Performance: 1 Snatch Pull + 1 Hang Snatch

For both Fitness and Performance, start at about 60% and work up to a max for the day. No arms on the snatch pull. Fully extend (hips, knees, ankles) and shrug, keeping the bar close to the body. 

Post loads to comments.
Exposure 4/8

For Time:
Row 2000m

Post time to comments.
Compare to 2.18.2013

Come watch "Froning: The Fittest Man in History" tonight during Open Gym at 6:30pm! Free beer!

Rowing a 2000m Race

By Nick Peterson

Here are some recommendations for the 2K on the erg—what rowers call an "erg test." Of course, there is no magic bullet. When I first started this I thought I could just write, "Go as hard as you can. That's it." And while that's actually true, I think there are some important things for people who are unfamiliar with this distance to keep in mind. The goal is to remain consistent and calm throughout your piece.


Why be consistent? This is a test of endurance. So going out like gangbusters at the beginning will not bring your score down. You wouldn't start a marathon with an all-out sprint for as long as you can go; if you did, you'd hit a wall, then look up and remember that you have another 25.8 miles to go. The same is true here, even though it's a much shorter distance.

This is not a piece that you can approach with a "just go out hard, and then hang on" mentality; to do so is called to "fly and die"—a term used in the rowing world and I'm sure in other endurance racing sports. Think of this as running as fast as you can for this distance, a mile and a quarter, while carrying a weight. Or, better yet, doing seven or eight minutes of deadlift high pulls, with 30 reps per minute—or 210-240 deadlift high pulls for time. No breaks. You can't do 30 reps in 45 seconds, then pause for 15 seconds, than go again for 45 seconds. Just a steady 30 reps throughout each minute. If you do this, you have to be consistent and relaxed, and settle into a good breathing pattern.

Splits & Rating

All rowing pieces are broken down into 250m and 500m increments; your goal is to look back at your "splits"—our time per 500m—and see very little variation among the different 500s. (You have the option to display splits on your erg, along with calories and watts; rowers use the 500m splits.) Your first and last 500s will naturally be a little faster than the middle two 500s, but otherwise there should be no glaring differences.

If you've pulled a 2K test in the past, a good thing to do on your next 2K is to shoot for the exact same score, but to do so with consistency. For example, if you pulled an 8:20 the last time you did it, that's 2:05 splits (2' 5" per 500m), on average. So the next time you pull a 2K just sit on 2:05 splits the whole time. If that feels too easy, then go for 2:04. But be conservative.

Also, your rating, or stroke rate, should be largely the same throughout. The rating is generally 28-34 per minute for the body of the piece. I always tended to be around 30-32.


I'd like to lay out the 2K sequentially, in order, starting with the warm-up. Keep in mind, though, that throughout the test you must focus on breathing, good posture, relaxation, and LENGTH. Do not ever shorten up your stroke. Ever. This is all especially true when you are really hurting.


Do a gentle warm-up, at least 10 minutes. I liked starting at 3:00 splits and knocking down the split by 10s every 300m until I got to 2:00 or 1:50. Very easy. Take a break to stretch or go to the bathroom. Then do a few harder pieces. I always liked doing a few 20s (in rowing speak, this means "20-stroke pieces"—so a 10 is a 10-stroke piece, a 30 is a 30-stroke piece; beyond that you start using meters or minutes for measuring pieces). After the 20s, I liked doing one or two minute-long pieces at race pace. If you do this, rein it in—don't get caught up in the excitement and go harder than your target pace. After this, do one or two 10s at your sprint pace—what you will do at the beginning and end of the piece. Again, don't go crazy.

"Paddle"—i.e., row lightly—for a few more minutes just to flush things out.

Throughout the warm-up stay long and relaxed.

You can take another break if you want. You are now ready to start.


For the erg, you can do your start in two or three strokes. At the start, sit at half or three-quarters slide—not at full slide (more rowing terminology, sorry—the "slide" references have to do with how far up the rail your seat is; so "half-slide" means your seat is about halfway, and "full slide" means your seat is all the way up). Keep your back a little more vertical than you normally do when rowing. Focus on being relaxed. Take a few deep breaths, then squeeze to the finish—go hard, but don't jump. Just lean back. Once you're done with that first stroke, don't waste any time getting back up to the catch for another short stroke (again, not full slide), which is much quicker—instead of a squeeze, you now want to kick it. For the third stroke, you can establish length.

Take 10 really hard strokes at a pretty high stroke rate—36-40. Then immediately settle into your rhythm. You'll feel great at this point, but once you get to about 400m your energy systems will switch over from anaerobic to aerobic, making for the first mental obstacle of the piece. So just relax and get into your groove. Establish your breathing pattern, and make sure you are long.

Again, do not go nuts at the beginning. This is a long piece, and you have to think of each stroke as a brick; you're building your piece, brick by brick, and you have to be patient. If you go too hard at the beginning, your time won't be better in the long run—you'll hit a wall and you'll have a hard time digging yourself out later. (Sorry about the mixed metaphors.)

400m or 500m In

Take a "power 10"—literally, 10 more powerful strokes that help you get over a hump—just to kick down the split a little, and use the 10 as a chance to focus on being quick and light. Focus in on your legs doing the work during the 10, and keep your arms and shoulders relaxed at the catch and during the recovery. The 10 takes you over the first hump. (In rowing, the way to deal with difficult moments is to go a little harder.) Your rating may go up a little on its own. After the 10, settle back into your rhythm, and make sure you're long.

The middle 600—between around 700m and 1300m in—is about the hardest part of the piece. My second 500 was always my slowest of the whole piece, when I realized, "okay, uh, this is happening"; part of my third 500 always had the worst splits, but the end of the third 500 was, for me, when I started to tighten the screws, so that segment always ended up being faster than the second 500.


This is where you kick its teeth in. Take a power 20—really aggressive, but again, not inconsistent with the rest of the piece. In other words, if you're at a 32 throughout the piece, don't go to a 40 here; at most, your rating will jump one or two beats. (I guess I shouldn't stress this too much, because the reality is that you won't be able to go crazy anyway.) The 20 at the 1000 helps you get through this. Kind of.

The third 500 is really hard for most, but some also actually like it because you're past the halfway mark and just taking it home. In a rowing race, this segment can really determine the result.

Once you're done with your power 20, just check in again on your length and breathing.

500m to Go

Take another power 10.

400m to Go

Squeeze your split down a bit more. This is the calm before the storm. Don't let the splits float up—keep it down.

250m to Go

Kitchen sink time. Just go for broke. You can put up with anything for 21-25 strokes. If you're a fast-twitch athlete, you'll love this. You should jack the rating as high as you need to—I always had a low rating in general, and I'd be at a 40 or higher at this point.


There are various games you can play in your head to help you get through the piece—you're used to this from all the other training you do. I found myself counting much more than necessary, just to help me through. For instance, from 750m to go until the end, I counted pretty much every stroke. I tricked myself into thinking that each stroke would be 10m, and always felt a little better knowing that each stroke was actually a little more than 10m. (Yeah, it can get that stupid.) I think this is a personal thing, and while I'm happy to share other thoughts on little mind games you can play, I think it's better for you to develop them on your own. But the best thing you can do throughout the piece is maintain length and make sure you're breathing sufficiently.

Some videos to check out...

Here's Xeno Muller ('96 gold/'00 silver in the single, the one-man event), and Rob Waddell rowing in a double. 
'00 gold in the single and apparently the best VO2 max of any athlete ever tested, according to Wikipedia.

Incidentally, Waddell is the world-record holder on the erg: 5:36.6 or something like that. That's INSANE. My best was 5:51.8, perfectly respectable internationally. But 5:36 is phenomenal. I raced against Xeno in college.

Here's Xeno, with Rob Waddell to his right, on ergs
They're using RowPerfect gizmos, which keep the entire erg on tracks so as to roughly simulate the feel of a boat.

Here's a guy that Xeno is coaching in the single
He looks really good—simple, direct drive. Don't know who he is.

Junk Food Isn't to Blame for America's Obesity Epidemic Fortune