How to Cheat the Concept2 Rower

Disclaimer: Just because you can do this, don’t. This cheat violates the uncommon movement clause per the CrossFit Games rulebook.

Is this the start of “Rower-gate”? Two weeks ago Xebex had an issue when CrossFit called out the calorie count of Xebex rowers. This week Concept2 rowers have been found to count calories at an exorbitant rate using a “hack”.

So what is the hack? Set the damper setting on a Concept2 to “1”. From there, complete one stroke on the rower every 7 seconds. After the first pull (or push), the calories will start skyrocketing each stroke.

Peter Dreissigacker of Concept2 responded to this cheat/hack:

“There is a time limit, programmed into the monitor, of 6 seconds from the finish of a drive to the start of the next drive. A delay of more than 6 seconds signals the monitor that you have stopped rowing. (Among other things this allows a user to pause to take a drink or pull off a sweatshirt during a long row, and then continue the row). The monitor’s self-calibrating function uses the completed stroke cycle (drive, recovery, drive) to determine the drag factor to use in calculating the correct data you see on the monitor. Unfortunately, by pausing for 7 seconds before you start your next drive, the monitor assumes you have stopped rowing… and the monitor never “sees” a complete stroke (it determined you had stopped rowing before it could sense the end of your recovery). If the monitor never “sees” a complete stroke, the drag factor will not be correctly determined and the data displayed will not be correct. In terms of getting a valid score, what are you are doing here is like painting “45” on your 25-pound weight plates…” 

In the video above, using this hack will not result in a much faster calorie count compared to rowing normally. However, the effort saved over the course of a workout like 18.1 would be massive. In just 5 or 6 strokes, all 14 calories would be completed in around 35 seconds! Without breathing hard or destroying your grip.

At this time it is not known if anyone used this hack to their advantage during 18.1. But with the controversy surrounding the Xebex rowers there is a high likelihood that CrossFit asks to see video from 18.1 during their video review. Could that be a problem for some athletes?