Strongman Rob Kearney Tries Mat Fraser’s 500-Meter Row Challenge

One of the strongest men in the world tests his cardio in a challenge issued by the CrossFit GOAT.

In his first week of training since competing at the World’s Ultimate Strongman “Strength Island” contest, Rob Kearney returned to the gym to continue regaining his pressing strength after recovering from his ruptured triceps injury. He documented the session and posted it on his YouTube channel on March 24, 2021.

The main movements in the pressing session included the JM Press with a safety squat bar, close-grip incline dumbbell presses, and single-arm incline dumbbell presses. The highlight of this video came after his pressing session. Kearney carries a Concept 2 rowing machine onto the floor and explains that he was issued a challenge by the now-retired five-time CrossFit Games champion Mat Fraser.

“So I was talking to my friend Mat Fraser,” Kearney says in the video. “He wanted to see how quickly I could do a 500-meter row. I told him I would try it out. Now I feel like that was a dumb decision.” You can watch Kearney take on the challenge in the video below at the 10:12 mark:

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Long-time fans may remember that Kearney started his strength sports career in CrossFit but made the switch to strongman after discovering his love for lifting heavy weights. As for this mission, the goal is simple: The display was set at 500 meters, and the 2019 Arnold Strongman Australia champion was to wind that number down to zero as quickly as possible. 

CrossFit and strongman aren’t as foreign as they seem. Both sports have athletes test their mettle in a series of events that require conditioning and strength. However, endurance for a CrossFit athlete is a bit different compared to a strongman competitor like Kearney. In a competition, Kearney needs a decent gas tank to, say, carry a yoke, perform a farmer’s carry, and then load a stone in as little time as possible. By comparison, the final event of the 2020 CrossFit Games, Atalanta, had athletes run a mile, perform 100 handstand push-ups, 200 alternating pistol squats, 300 pull-ups, and then another mile run. The entire affair lasted just under an hour, whereas a strongman medley may last about a minute. It’s a different type of endurance. 


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You will see that the video is called “500m Row FAIL,” so, spoiler alert, Kearney wasn’t able to finish. He stopped after completing a little over 400 of the 500 meters. You can hear Kearney say that he has “93 left,” which indicates that he rowed 407 meters. Kearney never posted an official time, but he rowed for 61 seconds according to the time bar in his YouTube video. For reference, 2013 CrossFit Games champ Sam Briggs has rowed 500 meters in 1:33.4, so Kearney was holding a pretty good pace. And while it’s not really comparable, four-time World’s Strongest Man winner Brian Shaw came close to breaking the world record for the 100-meter row with a time of 12.8 seconds. 

After he finished, the American record holder for the Log Press admitted that he had work to do.

Obviously I need to work on my conditioning.

As of this writing, there has been no comment from Fraser regarding Kearney’s performance.

Featured image: World’s Strongest Gay – Rob Kearney on YouTube