The aftermath of a half-marathon on the Concept 2 skierg.
Have you ever referred to the drag factor on your Concept2 indoor rower or SkiErg? It’s the number that tell you how much resistance is on the flywheel and gives you an indication of how hard you have to pull (or push-pull in the case of the rowing machine). Traveling ergers and competitive indoor rowing racers love this tool: Once you know the drag factor you like you can adjust the damper setting on any C2 machine to hit your factor (Concept2 has a great rundown on how to do it.). Voila, it’s almost like you never left home!
Enter the SkiErg. We got a question on our Facebook page about how rowing-machine drag factor compares to the SkiErg. The machines are apples and oranges in that respect, unfortunately. Although they are both total-body machines, they are mirror images of each other in terms of the forces used by the body parts: The rower is primarily leg-driven while the Ski Erg is primarily torso-driven.
Therefore, as Concept2’s Greg Hammond puts it: “There is really no way to compare the two, each person is going to vary based on their strengths. On the rower if you are very quad-dominant then you would be able to hold a higher drag load over time. If that same person had an underdeveloped upper body then they would not be able to hold the same drag on the SkiErg.”
Here’s how to see the drag factor on your machine:
a) From the Main Menu select More Options
b) Select Display Drag Factor
c) Row or ski, the monitor will show your drag factor after a few seconds
So, play around with it and see what works for you. Then hit up the comments and tell us what you’ve found – post your drag factor for both machines and let’s see if a trend develops.
Want to learn more about the SkiErg? Come to one of our trainings that includes SkiErg instruction! We offer them around the country on a regular basis. Check our training calendar to find one near you.
So you want to do a half-marathon row on the rowing machine… “They’ve done it at The CrossFit Games,” you say to yourself. Or maybe Concept2’s Global Marathon Challenge or the Solstice rows have hit your radar screen.
It’s definitely a doable goal, but you’ll need to train for it and have a strategy in place for when the big day comes. You’re looking at spending a couple of hours on the rowing machine (or SkiErg or BikeErg) so preparation is key.
If you’ve never done one before, the aim is plain and simple: Your goal is to finish. Period. If it helps you to have a race plan (see #4 below), then go for it, but the idea on the first time out is simply to get a baseline for how long it takes you to do this distance and how you feel throughout.
The Concept2 Rankings for your age group can give you a sense for what your time might be but if it’s your first half it’s a personal best no matter what, so don’t worry about breaking world records right now.
[Tweet “Doing your first half marathon on the @concept2? Your goal is to finish, first and foremost. Here’s a race plan: https://ucanrow2.com/half-marathon-row-strategy/” #rowing #skierg #concept2]
additional tips to help you make the most of the half-marathon row:
1. Work Up to It – In a perfect world you would work up over weeks or months to those long rows (You wouldn’t jump out and run 13.1 miles with no training, would you?). Rowed or run, 21,097 meters is a long way and it’s nothing to mess around with. Build up to the half-marathon row distance, and don’t try it until you can row at least 10k comfortably at a challenging pace.
3. Hydrate, Hydrate, Hydrate – In more than an hour of rowing you will almost certainly need water, and maybe even some food. Do it, as early and often as needed! It’s also perfectly fine to put the handle down and even get off the machine and stretch if you need to. You will have at least a minute before the monitor goes off.
4. Pace Yourself – Don’t Fly and Die – Resist the temptation to go out hard and fast and use up all your energy at the beginning of the piece. A row of this distance will take you more than an hour, it’s critical to take that into consideration when you put together your race plan (See #5).
5. Have a Plan, Stick to the Plan – On-water rowers always have a plan for how they’re going to row the race. The same is true for indoor rowing, be it a 500-meter row, a 2k, or a half-marathon. If you can, test your approach in advance of the real race. What works for one rower doesn’t always work for another.
here’s a half-marathon row race strategy:
Divide the row into five segments, four of about 5k each and a final sprint to the finish. Plan to row almost the whole distance at 24-26 strokes per minute. Use power-10 or -20 strokes every 1k or so to beat boredom and help you stay on pace.
First 5k: Warm into the row and find a challenging pace that you can also sustain. Use this time to settle into the row and decide what you think you can do for splits today (Then see if you can surprise yourself!). Middle 10k: Keep chipping away at the distance, aiming to drop 5 seconds off your split. Fourth 5k: Try to drop another few seconds off your split if you can, and decide your goal split for the final sprint. Last 500-1000 meters: HAMMER DOWN! Here’s where you let it loose and empty the tank. The finish line is in sight, give it all you’ve got!
When you’re done be sure to paddle down, drink water, and let your heart rate return to normal, then get off the machine, drink water, and do some good stretching. Lastly, drink water and record your time in your Concept2 logbook. It will rank your time automatically and give you a link to a printable certificate of completion and souvenir goodies available from the C2 online store.
How many times have you walked over to the rowing machine at the gym and found the damper set at 10, or put it there yourself? If rowing seems like a whole lot of pain and very little gain, that may just be why.
Who needs that, especially when it’s not the least bit necessary??
Take a walk around the rows of ergs at the C.R.A.S.H-B rowing championships and you’ll find many machines set much lower, anywhere between 2 and 5. You see, generating power on the rowing machine is all about connecting the parts of the stroke. It’s NOT about creating more resistance just because you can.
Damper setting video
UCanRow2 Master Instructor Cassi Niemann explains it beautifully in this video:
when a high damper setting makes sense
There are a couple of exceptions to the low-damper rule:
1) Larger or heavier athletes (weight-loss clients or muscle-bound rowers with big thighs, for example) may need a higher damper setting in order to feel some resistance from the machine. This is because at a lower setting their own bodyweight does most of the work so they don’t have to put in any extra effort to move the flywheel. In these cases, a higher setting that adds more load can be the ticket to a great sweat.
2) To teach power application: Rowing at a higher damper setting – for short periods and ONLY at a low stroke rating (below 20 strokes per minute) – is also a useful way to teach any rower to develop power through correct engagement and to help them dial in their rowing technique.
When you row at a high damper setting, you’re essentially picking up a dead flywheel every stroke. Doing this without risking injury requires you to have impeccable technique: You need to make sure that you’re using your legs and not your back to initiate the drive.
Want a rowing workout that will help you play with damper setting and connect these dots? Try this:
Warm up then do 2-3 rounds of the following:
Damper Time SPM
10 6 mins 18
8.5 5 mins 20
7 4 mins 22
5 3 mins 24
3 2 mins 26
1 1 min 28
3-minute paddle rest between rounds. Remember to focus intently on your technique and posture – let the drive come from your legs and core engagement.
The rowing machine is finally getting its due. Hallelujah! Where once it was the Rodney Dangerfield of the fitness world, sitting sad and lonely in a corner of the gym, the machine that on-water rowers have used for decades has become the IT home and gym fitness machine.
Today, with the arrival of indoor rowing in studios, gyms, CrossFit boxes and homes around the world, people are starting to pay a whole lot more attention to this wonder of a total-body fitness machine. That growth is a great thing, but it also means that there’s a lot of bad rowing technique out there.
At UCanRow2 we’re on a mission to stop bad rowing, in part by helping to demistify it. Yes, you can absolutely become a complete rowing nerd and analyze every little bit of your stroke. Rowers and coaches alike at facilities like the Craftsbury Outdoor Center love to do that. Indeed, it’s a great part of the sport: the relentless pursuit of the perfect stroke.
how to simplify the rowing stroke
Too often, people make indoor rowing sound much harder than it has to be, both in terms of the effort required to get good results and the technique needed to get there. Sure, there are plenty of finer points to rowing technique that can make it challenging. Golf is the same way. But both are fun, even if you don’t have everything mastered.
Yes, you can use the erg as your personal torture device (ask anyone who’s ever rowed 2000 meters for time) but the rowing machine is good for so much more than that. Whether you want to row hard or just take it easy, the rowing machine is there for you. It will meet you where you are, and then take you as far as you want to go.
Your 6-word rowing technique mantra: Legs-Body-Arms, Arms-Body-Legs
Our Certified Indoor Rowing Instructors preach a mantra of “legs, body, arms – arms, body, legs” as a quick way to remember the flow of the rowing stroke and which body parts move when.
More specifically, from the catch you drive back with the legs, then begin to swing your back towards the rear of the machine, until your torso is roughly at an 11:00 position on a clock. Then and only then (once you feel resistance on the chain) do you start to pull back with the arms.
On the recovery, you first release your arms out, then swing forward to 1:00 with your back, and begin to move your legs, only after the handle is past your knees. We call that “boxing out,” or creating a frame for your knees to pop up into.
the relentless pursuit of perfect rowing technique
You may be concerned that your rowing technique isn’t “perfect.” Congratulations, you’re a rower! The pursuit of the perfect rowing stroke is as elusive and constant as that of the perfect golf swing.
Remember how we said that you will hear rowers all the way from novices up to Olympians discussing the stroke’s finer points and what they’re working on? That’s your cue to stop worrying about having perfect technique. Work on one technique element at a time and have oodles and oodles of patience.
INSTRUCTORS: The same applies to your indoor rowing students. Give them just one technique thing to work on at a time. Otherwise you risk overwhelming them, and then they won’t come back. First and foremost, rowing class has to be FUN.
Most of us grew up walking, running and biking but NOT rowing. So it makes all the sense in the world that getting the technique down would take practice. No worries! We’re working on ours right along with you.
For a visual breakdown of the stroke and the technique mantra, watch UCanRow2 Master Instructor Cassie Niemann, and don’t forget to subscribe to our YouTube channel:
Legs, body, arms — arms, body, legs. Stick with that and you will be well on your way to erging like the pros — and having the physique to prove it.
NEED A rowing workout Plan?
It’s one thing to sit down on the machine and start pulling on the handle. It’s another to have a plan that’s been put together by the experts. The Meter Monster and Flywheel Frenzy workout programs are designed to help you stay consistent with your workouts and give you a plan to follow, whether you row solo at home or the gym, or you teach rowing class.
Got questions about your rowing technique? We have a bunch of training tips you can check out, or post your question below and we’ll get a master instructor to answer it. Want to find a certified rowing instructor in your area, check our list. Want to become one yourself? Hop on over to our instructors page and find out how.
I was checking out different Crossfit blogs the other day and came across this picture of a rower (not from our gym) getting after it. I have no doubt that this chick was giving it her all and I’m sure she was killing this row. But her finish was killing me so I thought I would address it here. One of my goals as a rowing instructor is to teach proper technique so people are safe and efficient on the erg. Unfortunately, no one told this gal that she didn’t need to pull the covers up so high. Her excessive layback at the finish did not increase her stroke power and only added extra, unnecessary movement. And we all know that rowing is tiring enough without adding more work that doesn’t pay off in meters.
At the finish of the stroke, position your back angle at about 20 degrees, or in the 11:00 position on a clock. Handle comes to your sternum in a straight line from where it came out of the flywheel. For you ladies, that is about the bottom of your sports bra. Guys, we’re talking just at or below your pecs. Arms are comfortably down at your sides and slightly out, but not chicken winged. Toes should be pressed firmly into the footplate at the finish, not straining against the footstraps.
Can’t get enough UCanRow2? Never fear, Chain Drive, the UCanRow2 newsletter is here! All things indoor rowing, delivered right to your email inbox. Workouts, playlists, technique tips, upcoming trainings, marketing advice, basically the best of the best of what we can find to help you get the most out of your erg or ergs, and be the best rower or rowing instructor you can be.
We’ll start off on a quarterly schedule, and will move to a more frequent schedule if or when that seems like a good idea (We hate clogged inboxes as much as you do.). Got ideas of what we should include in Chain Drive, or a particular workout or playlist you love? We want that too! Leave a comment here or email email@example.com.
Here’s a tip to help your rowing students get better flow in their rowing stroke: The cooldown of a workout is a great time to focus in on the zen of rowing. Use that time to close your eyes and feel the motion.
Remind your students to FEEL the connection of the stroke, from the drive to the finish to the recovery. Hands away, body over, slowing the slide. Allow your body to feel the fatigue but also the discipline of good technique, even when you’re tired.
How’s your rowing workout been lately? Would you like to get more of the benefits of rowing machine workouts? We hear all the time from people who say they’re not performing as well as they’d like. They want to get their times down and their meters up but they’re not sure how to do that.
The difference between a good workout and a great one is in how you apply power on every stroke. That’s true whether your goals are getting a PR on your next 2K, losing 20 lbs. or simply making the most of the time you have on the machine.
In this video, UCanRow2 founder Terry Smythe shows you how to use your monitor to gauge your power output. She also gives you a drill that will help you get faster and stronger on the machine.
Do you have a Concept2 indoor rower at home, or use one at your gym? Are you a competitive indoor rower who’s interested in improving your performance on the machine? Maybe you’ve been rowing for a while and would like to brush up on your indoor rowing technique or get new rowing workout ideas.
A new offering from UCanRow2 may be just the ticket: Personalized rowing technique reviews from anywhere in the world with a UCanRow2/Concept2 master instructor via Skype, video or in person.
“Often just a few simple tweaks to a person’s rowing machine technique can make a major difference in the results they get – whether their goals are weight loss, fitness or a personal best in a 2k race,” said UCanRow2’s Terry Smythe, a UCanRow2/Concept2 master instructor. “Not everyone is able to attend one of our full-day Concept2 Indoor Rowing Basic Course trainings,” she added, “and not everyone wants to learn to teach indoor rowing. We’re excited to be able to offer this affordable, convenient alternative to people who want to row better and are not looking to teach classes.”
Technique reviews will be led by a UCanRow2/Concept2 master instructor. In addition to teaching the Indoor Rowing Basic Course trainings, the master instructors all have years of experience teaching people at all skill levels to row on the water and on the rowing machine. Reviews can be done either via live video (Skype, OoVoo, etc.), by submitting a video clip of your rowing technique or at an in-person session where the master instructors are located (Currently Washington, D.C. area, Chicago, Seattle, Oakland, CA, and Houghton, MI, and coming soon to several other major US cities).
One-hour technique reviews are available for $65 and can be arranged by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.
Music for rowing classes or a great rowing playlist is always a big topic of discussion around the UCanRow2 office and Concept2 instructor trainings. We usually tell people to aim for workout music with little to no lyrics and relatively slow beats per minute, usually in the 120 bpm range or slower. Indoor cycling music is often ideal for workout playlists, as long as it allows you or your students time to really focus on their rowing technique and not get so lost in the tunes that proper rowing form goes out the window.
All of that being said, sometimes you have a really long steady state workout in front of you, or you need a musical pick-me-up to shake off the day, or you just want to get your groove on. For all of that, enter Rowing Journal, which has published a list of 90 minutes of erging tunes they love. Beyond just giving you the list of songs, their Ultimate Erging Playlist goes into some detail explaining which songs you might put at which point in a workout, be it a 2k test or a steady state 10k.
Rowing workout playlists are, of course, a very personal thing but we love the thinking behind this piece … plus it made us laugh! For example:
“First and Foremost: If it reminds anyone of the dance routines young Spice Girl wannabes made up at primary school then it is not
acceptable erg music. Ever.
“High ratings must always be accompanied by up tempo, heavy rhythm music, ideally Classic/ Hard Rock or Wagnerian Opera. There is
a feeling of invincibility as you complete your 2K PB to the inspiring sounds of Ride of the Valkyries!
“Rap has all the musicality of a ringing telephone and is easily dismissed from this discussion. In fact, the only R&B allowed is R Kelly’s
Check out the whole article, it’s great reading! For those of you who can’t wait to reorganize your iPods though, here’s the Rowing Journal list (Personally, we’d rather stick hot needles in our eyes than row to Livin’ on a Prayer yet again, but there’s something here for pretty much everybody):
Thunderstruck – AC/DC
Come Follow Me – The Answer
Party Hard – Andrew WK
Livin’ On A Prayer – Bon Jovi
Layla – Derek and the Dominoes (Good Rhythm setter)
Sultans of Swing – Dire Straits
Fans – Kings of Leon
Jailhouse Rock – Elvis Presley
Smooth – Santana
Under Pressure – Queen
Baba O’Riley – The Who
Where The Street Have No Name – U2
Sunshine On Your Love – Cream
Peaceful, Easy Feeling – The Eagles
All Right Now – Free
Man’s World – James Brown
Grace – Jeff Buckley
Mars – Holst Planet Suite
Jupiter – Holst Planet Suite
Ride of the Valkyries – Wagner
What’s on your playlist for this weekend? Tell us in the comments and we’ll try it in class next week!