Rowing Technique: Dial in Your Damper Setting

Concept2 damper settingHow many times have you walked over to the rowing machine at the gym and found the damper set at 10?  Experienced rowers, and certified indoor rowing instructors, know this is the way to create a rowing workout that’s a slog, and one that most likely will be the absolute opposite of fun or energizing.  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 World Indoor Rowing Championships and you’ll find many machines set much lower, anywhere between 2 and 5.  Generating power on the rowing machine is all about connecting the parts of the stroke, NOT about creating more resistance just because you can.

There are a couple of exceptions to that:

1) Very heavy people (weight-loss or muscle-bound rowers, for example) may need a higher damper setting in order to be able 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 is the ticket to a great sweat.

2) Rowing at a higher damper setting – for short periods and ONLY at a low stroke rating – is also a useful way to teach any rower to develop power through correct engagement and to help them dial in their rowing technique.

Want a rowing workout that will help you play with damper setting and connect these dots?  Try this:

Chad Row

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.

For more reading: Concept2 damper setting page
                                      Find a certified indoor rowing instructor
Get certified to teach indoor rowing

What questions do you have about damper setting?  Post them to the comments and we’ll answer!

Your Rowing Technique Mantra: Legs, Back, Arms – Arms, Back, Legs

Slave ship daily schedules cartoon

Indoor rowing gets a bad rap, and so does rowing technique.  Too often people make 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.

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 in terms of your fitness, and then take you as far as you want to go.

 

Sometimes all you need to meet your goals is the right workout.  Our Meter Monster and Flywheel Frenzy workout programs are designed to help you meet your fitness targets, be they burning fat, building strength, gaining cardio base, or getting faster on the rowing machine.  While you’ve always been able to randomly grab one of our workouts, this is the first time the workouts have been put together as a fitness solution.

 

the relentless pursuit of perfect rowing technique

 

You may be concerned that your stroke 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.  You will hear rowers all the way from novices up to Olympians discussing the stroke’s finer points any time they get together.

But the basic rowing motion is pretty simple, especially when you learn it from someone who’s been trained to teach you.

Our Certified Indoor Rowing Instructors preach a mantra of “legs, back, arms – arms, back, 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.  There are some great drills that will let you practice this yourself, or with your rowing class, and we’ve got a video of rowing technique drills already set up for you:

Legs, back, arms — arms, back, legs.  If you can just stick with that you’ll 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.  Both plans are available for immediate download now, but only until Sunday, Nov. 12 at midnight EST.  After that they go away until next year.

 

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.

 

Finish, please!

Today’s post comes courtesy of Certified Rowing Instructor Leeny Hoffman.  You can find her at CrossFit St. Louis, teaching rowing class M, W, F at 8:30 a.m., and blogging regularly about nutrition and rowing on the CrossFit St. Louis blog.  For more technique tips be sure to follow the UCanRow2 video channel and our Trainer Tips page. 

 

 

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.

To fix excessive layback at the finish, practice rowing unstrapped.  Check out this article from
ergrowing.com:   http://www.ergrowing.com/strapless-erging-will-fix-excessive-layback/.

Below are some proper finish positions from people in the CrossFit St. Louis rowing class.

 

 

"rowing technique"

Jim finishes strong

 

"good rowing technique" "good rowing finish" "Leeny Hoffman"

Leeny Hoffman showing how it's done

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

What’s your biggest technique pet peeve?  Post it to the comments!

Chain Drive the UCanRow2 Newsletter is Here!

 

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 info@ucanrow2.com.

Of course, you can’t get the newsletter if you don’t sign up, so please subscribe to our newsletter.

TRAINER TIP: Close Your Eyes for the Cooldown

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.

Generating Power on the Rowing Machine

Updated Feb 3, 2018

Rowing Technique – Generating Power from UCanRow2 on Vimeo.

How’s your rowing workout been lately?  Would you like to get more of the benefits of rowing machine workouts?

 

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 the video above, UCanRow2’s Terry Smythe shows you how to use your performance monitor to gauge your power output and a drill that will help you get faster and stronger on the machine.

 

Key Benefits of Rowing Machine Workouts

  • One-stop shopping workout: Rowing is a total-body workout
  • Non-impact: It works virtually every muscle on every stroke, with no impact
  • It meets you where you are – if you can hold a handle and pull, the rowing machine can probably be modified to fit your needs
  • It takes you as far as you want to go – From easy, relaxing rows to some of the toughest competition in sport, the rowing machine is there for you.
  • You’re never too old to row: No matter your age, there’s a rowing record in your category, and since the machine is gentle on the joints, there really is no limit to when you can start rowing
  • Cross training: Rowing is great cross-training, and a great break, for athletes who do other sports.  Running, triathlon, skiing, cycling and more.
  • Weight loss: Because the rowing machine is non-impact, and offers such a great variety of workout options, it’s perfect for people who want to lose weight, a little or a lot.

 

What questions do you have about building more power in your stroke and workouts?  Post them in the comments below and we’ll answer!

 

Want workouts that put this all together for you, in a downloadable package that’s ready to take to the gym or your home rowing machine?  Check out our Meter Monster and Flywheel Frenzy rowing workout programs.

 

How to generate power on the rowing machine - a drill to help you row faster from https://ucanrow2.com

 

 

Introducing Personalized Indoor Rowing Technique Reviews

UCanRow2/Concept2 master instructor Terry Smythe gives personal rowing technique reviewDo 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 info@ucanrow2.com.

The Ultimate Erging Playlist

Indoor rowing classMusic 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
World’s Greatest.”

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!

Shape Magazine Joins the Indoor Rowing Revolution

We love, love, LOVE that Shape Magazine is so taken with the rowing machine (and a Concept2, even better!).  Their latest tweet on the subject: “OBSESSED with the rowing machine! Works your whole body & cardio? Why weren’t we doing this sooner?”

Better late than never we say, and glad to have you!!

Shape included in their January issue a kick-butt rowing workout from none other than Olympic medalist Anna Cummins, who’s now a master instructor for Concept2 CrossFit Rowing.  The 20-minute workout gives you target splits, stroke ratings and times that will put you through your paces for sure (check out the rowing playlist that Shape put together, too).

One thing to bear in mind about that workout though: If your 20s are in the rearview mirror or you’re not super fit or experienced at rowing you may have a hard time hitting the targets in Anna’s workout.

So don’t worry if you don’t hit  numbers right off the bat (or ever).  Try to stick to her recommended stroke ratings (note: you may find that rowing slower is a lot harder than rowing faster) but don’t be afraid to back off on the split targets and stroke rating if you need to.  If your heart is pumping and your rowing technique is good you’re still getting an awesome total-body low impact workout that will tone your body, torch calories and improve your fitness, regardless of your current fitness level.

As we like to say around here, Rowing is for Every Body!

Want help to row better?  Attend a Concept2 Indoor Rowing Foundations indoor rowing certification or find an Approved Concept2 Indoor Rowing Instructor in your area.

What’s your favorite rowing workout?

Head Games: Tips and Tricks to Beat the Long or Hard Indoor Rowing Workout

Let’s face it, we all have days where we have to drag ourselves through a workout.  Training for rowers is no different than training for runners or cyclists or any other sport.  Sometimes you just need to find ways to make the meters tick off faster.

Concept2 has a blog post with rowing tips to help you keep the flywheel spinning.  It’s been going around on Twitter too, so if you’re following us there you’ll see the latest.  Some of our favorites:

– Count strokes to get through the tough periods of the workout (from @thepeteplan on Twitter)

– On a long row, do every third 500 meters faster to break things up (from @jasonhewitt2 on Twitter)

– If the thought of rowing 10k in one shot overwhelms you, break it into smaller pieces and add in off-erg work in between.  Our Workouts page has lots of ways to do that.

– Take your mind off the monitor and focus on your indoor rowing technique – back straight, swinging from 11:00-1:00, chest up coming into the catch, one count on the drive, two on the recovery, etc.  Need a refresher on rowing technique tips?  Try this video from Concept2 UK.

– Up the intensity – Working harder makes the meters tick by faster and can stop you from focusing on them so much

– Have a split range you’re going to keep through the workout and do whatever it takes to hold it (increase or decrease your intensity, stroke rating etc.)

– Use the pace boat on the Performance Monitor to help you hold your split. Set it on the pace you don’t want to go under. Beat that little guy!

– Play a numbers game – work towards “fun” meter numbers like 4444, 5678, 12345, etc.

Ok maybe we’re a little crazy, but it works for us!  How do you get yourself through a tough workout?