Rowing Technique: Perfecting the Stroke

What rowing technique question do we get most often?  Right up there at least, it’s gotta be: “Can you just show me what a good rowing stroke looks like?”  You asked for it, we’re happy to provide.  Regardless of your effort level, your stroke should always look smooth.  Legs first, then body, then arms on the drive; Arms, body, legs on the recovery.  That’s your rowing mantra, stroke after stroke after stroke.

Watch Master Instructor Terry Smythe, one of the best in the business, as she rows below.  She’s had her butt on an erg or in a boat since the 1970s, so she’s pretty much got this down.  Spend 30 seconds watching the rowers at your local gym and you’re likely to see anything but this.  Just because people are doing it doesn’t make it right!

 

via GIPHY

 

keys to perfecting your rowing technique

Some things to notice in Terry’s rowing stroke:

  • The torso swings from an 11-o’clock angle at the finish to 1 o’clock at the catch – no more, no less
  • Knees stay down on the recovery until the handle has passed them
  • The hands never stop moving, BUT (see below)
  • There is a slight pause of her torso at the finish while her hands start moving away from her body, back towards the flywheel
  • The handle moves pretty much straight back and forth, in just a slight ellipsis (think of your fingertips running across the top of the table on the drive, and your knuckles scraping the bottom of the table on the recovery)
  • The shins come to vertical at the catch – no more, no less
  • There is a 1 X 2 ratio between the drive and recovery (Say “Woof!” on the drive, “Meow!” on the recovery)
  • Toes maintain contact with the foot stretcher throughout the stroke
  • The damper is set at 3 (Not 10!)

HOW TO get better at indoor rowing

If your rowing technique doesn’t look like this don’t worry!  Rowing is a lot like golf, the relentless pursuit of the perfect stroke.  Everybody’s always working to improve some element of it or another.  And we do mean EVERYBODY.  It’s just part of the deal.  Walk into the dining hall at Craftsbury Sculling Center (our favorite place to learn sculling).  You’ll hear everyone from newbie rowers on up to Olympic medalists chatting about the finer points of their strokes and how they’d like to improve them (“I’m not getting my hands away fast enough,” “I’m not pivoting enough at the hips.”)

So, if you’re stroke’s not where you want it, you’re in good company.  Start where you are, and keep working at it.  Get some help from a certified rowing instructor if you have one in your area.  If not, contact us, we can help you over email or Skype.

Don’t fall into the trap of comparing your stroke to Terry’s or anybody else’s.  We don’t start off knowing how to row, nor do we usually learn how to row at a young age the way we learn to ride a bike.  Good rowing technique comes in time though, and the results are well worth the effort!

Got a question about this?  Or just want to rant about the crazy technique you’re seeing at the gym (Handle pulled up over the head anybody?)?  We hear ya!  Rant away below in the comments.

10 Indoor Rowing Workouts to Kill 10K

Last updated Nov. 25, 2016

10 indoor rowing workouts that will make short work of a 10,000-meter piece. 3, 2, 1 go! http://ucanrow2.com

 

When your indoor rowing workouts call for a larger number of meters, or you’re trying to hit a big number in the Concept2 online challenges, how do you keep it interesting?  By breaking the workout up into smaller chunks and changing it up.  Longer indoor rowing workouts don’t have to be boring.  You just need to have a plan that brings variety into the mix.

Below we’ve given you 10 ways to kill 10k in your indoor rowing workouts, plus one bonus workout.  You’ve got options that will take you from an easy row all the way through, to a calorie-torching blast.  It’s up to you, pick the plan that works for you based on how you feel that day.  Do one round or put several of them together for a monster meter rowing workout.

As always, if you’re new to indoor rowing get your doctor’s OK before taking on a rowing workout like these.  Listen to your body and decide if it’s a good day for higher volume.  If you’d rather do something shorter, check our indoor rowing workouts pages for more choices.

10 Ways to Kill 10k (+1)

  1. Set the monitor and go: Find your happy place — that point where you’re sweating but you know you could keep up this pace for a long time, and row. Put on some good tunes and lean in to the Zen of the flywheel. Use this workout to find your steady-state target pace. You should be able to talk but prefer not to, and feel that you could stay at that pace for a long time. To easily set up the workout, from the main menu hit New Workout>Standard List>10000 meters.
  2. SteadyState With Power Bursts: Row 10,000 meters at the pace you found in the workout above. Drop in 10 or 20 hard strokes every 500 or 1000 meters. Aim to drop 10 seconds or more off your split every time you do the power strokes, but always return to your base, steady-state pace.
  3. Rolling 1000s: Warm up through the first 2-3000m, then row 100 meters hard, 100 meters easy for 1000m. Paddle for 1-2 minutes and repeat for 3-5k. This is also a great way to get used to harder effort on the rowing machine.
  4. Power Intervals: Like the rolling 1000s but longer intervals. For example 250 hard meters every 750 or 1000 meters.
  5. Negative Splits: Start out at a fairly easy pace and aim to drop your split per 500 meters every time over the course of the piece. Using the split window on your monitor, aim to drop it progressively over the course of the rowing workout. For example take 5 seconds off your warmup split every 2000 meters. Use the last 500-1000m as your cooldown.Rowing a long piece doesn't have to be boring! Here are 10 ways that you can make the most of a 10,000-meter row, and keep it interesting. Let us know how you like them! www.ucanrow2.com
  6. Stroke Play: Vary your strokes per minute (SPM): 2 minutes at 22-24-26-28 SPM, with the same amount of paddle rest, 2 minutes. Do this until you have completed the 10k. Bonus points if you can do rounds 18 and 20 spm (Hint: sloooow your recovery).
  7. Rolling Intervals: Row repeating cycles of 3 minutes at 22 strokes per minute, 2 mins at 25, 1 min at 28. Paddle in between if you need a break, or challenge yourself and keep on row-ling.
  8. Watch the Watch: Row rounds of 1:00 on with effort/1:00 off, 2:00 on/2:00 off and so on up to 5:00 on/5:00 off, then work your way back down. Increase your intensity as you come down the pyramid. Continue until you have completed the 10k.
  9. Vary the Intensity: Use this one to practice adding more intensity to your workouts. Row intervals of 4:00 on, 2:00 off, keeping your stroke rating the same (we suggest 24-26 spm) but varying your intensity through the 4-minute intervals, from sustainable to highly intense.
  10. Salad Bowl: Mix it up and choose up to 5 of the options above. Do something different every 2000 meters.
    Example:  First 1k: Warm up
    1k-2k: Steady-state, half pressure
    3k-5k: Rolling 100s
    5k-6k: Steady state
    6k-7k: Hard 1000m
    7k-8k: Recover
    8k-9k: :30 on / :30 off. 26 spm on the work, 22 spm on the rest
    9-10k: Cool down
  11. BONUS Row-Ski for those with access to a SkiErg.  Use the undefined rest feature on your monitor to keep both machines going without having to reset.  If you’re a complete badass (and in our book you are if you do this), switch the row and ski numbers so you ski more than you row.

Row                          Ski

1000m                     1000m

1200m                      800m

1400m                      600m

1600m                      400m

1800m                      200m

 

Which one did you try?  Let us know what you thought in the comments, or if you have a question about endurance rowing in general let us know!

Celebrate the Big Day With a Big Workout

 

Cosmos workout

We love birthdays and other big life events around here!  They’re a great way to celebrate those special moments and build your fitness community, which is an important part of any successful fitness business.  People never get tired of them, and in fact they look forward to that shared sinking feeling you get when you know there’s a challenging workout coming up.  Plus, they’re a great way to add variety to your workout routine.

Yes, lots of gyms like to do birthday burpees and the like, but we’d like to encourage you to take that a step farther and really get creative.  We’ll give you some examples, but we’d also love to hear how you mark those big days.

Life Events

Weddings, anniversaries, birth of babies – or grandbabies.  They all provide opportunities to do something out of the norm.  For example, when one of our members had her first grandbaby (Born 3/12/15, weighing 9.5 lbs., 22 inches long), we celebrated with this workout:

Welcome Cosmos Workout

Warm up then do 3-5 rounds of:

1215m row or ski
9 snatch jacks or jumping jacks
22-sec. plank
9 “Charlie’s Angel’s” squats with a twist (From sumo squat position, extend arms in front of body and interlace fingers as if pointing gun. Rotate ribs slowly R and L, hips facing forward)
22 split lunges or med-ball cleans or ball slams
9 hollow rocks or sit-ups

Birthday Workouts

Landmark or other birthdays are another fun one to do this way.

In our UCanRow2 Bodyshop small-group personal training studio we’ll set up a workout where our athletes row or ski meters equaling the person’s birth year, for example, then add reps revolving around their age.  Or make it harder and make the birth year a meter interval.  Usually we try to include the birthday girl or boy’s favorite moves or machines.  And yes, we always make our birthday workouts challenging.  There’s nothing like a good shared sweat to commemorate another year of life!

Here are a couple of examples we’ve done:

Happy 51st Birthday Sarah 

5 Rounds

Ski 510 m

10 DB snatch (LR=1 or 5 each side)

25 sit ups

510m run or row

10 KB swings

10 Lunges

Finisher: 51 jumping jacks or double unders or burpees.

Lou's 79th birthday workout

Happy 79th Birthday lou

Row 2000m
7 push-ups, 9 box steps (or box jumps)

Row 2000m
7 DB snatches, 9 bicep curls

Row 2000m
7 jumping jacks, 9 single-leg lateral jumps

Ski 790m
7 bench sits, 9 sit-ups

Row 790m
7 push-ups, 9 sit-ups

Ski or Row 790m

DONE!

 Holiday Workouts

Holidays work for this approach too of course.  Fourth of July, Valentine’s Day, St. Patrick’s Day, they all work.  Here’s one example:

Firecracker Fourth (7-4-2011)

Warm up for 10 min – stretch
Set erg or SkiErg monitor for 7411m
And GO!
Or…..
Set monitor after warm up for Intervals: Distance, 500m row/ski with unlimited rest

Then do:
7 – burpees
4- pull ups
11- pushups
4-7 rounds for time

Done, let the grilling begin!

Got a favorite celebratory workout you like to do? Share it with the world in the comments!

 

Body Shop Rowing Workout 3-18-15

This is a great rowing workout to break up a big meter target, like the kind you might have during a rowing challenge. Keep in mind that heavy cardio, even on a rowing machine, will eat into your strength over time unless you balance it with off-erg work. 

Do this series again if you need more meters, and scale down the off-erg reps as needed.  Sub the rowing machine for the SkiErg on the last interval if you don’t have access to a SkiErg. 

  

Upcoming Indoor Rowing Certification

Updated March 20, 2017

Get your sweat on and get certified!  Give us a day at our indoor rowing certification and we’ll give you all the fundamentals of teaching indoor rowing on the Concept2 rowing machine.  Certified indoor rowing instructors are more credible and are in high demand.  Why?  Because they have what it takes to help their students get their best results.

As one of our recent rowing training attendees puts it, “Certifications aren’t just for knowledge, they’re for networking, brainstorming and experience sharing in our overwhelming world of fitness.  We don’t have time to work out and experiment on our own to learn the best about new workouts.  So why not rely on our peer professionals?”

Here’s the list of upcoming indoor rowing certification trainings.  Don’t see the location you want?  Let us know in the comments or by email to info@ucanrow2.com.  We’re always up for adding more dates and locations.  There’s a lot of bad rowing to be fixed out there!

Need more information on indoor rowing certification? Visit our Instructors page.

UPCOMING INDOOR ROWING CERTIFICATION DATES

MARCH

Sunday, March 26 – Lorton, VA (The Workhouse Arts Center)
9am – 5pm
Instructor: Angela Hart
SOLD OUT
WAITLIST

APRIL

Saturday, April 8 – Chicago
10am – 5pm
Instructor: Nell Shuttleworth 
REGISTER

 

Sunday, April 23 – Seattle (6M Fitness)
10am – 6pm
Instructor: Heather Alschuler
REGISTER

COMING SOON
(Stay tuned to this space or follow us on Facebook for more info)


Nyack, NY
Southern California

Rowing Through the World Cup: The Soccer Fan’s Workout

The World Cup is here!  So many hours of game time, SO many hours waiting for something to happen.  Why not set up your rowing machine in front of the TV  so you can cheer your team on while still getting in a great workout?

Sure, you could row steady-state through the whole thing, but a typical game runs around 100 minutes with stoppage time, and no commercials to break it up! Give the game a little variety by following these rules for the UCanRow2 Soccer Fan’s Workout:

Set up your rowing machine with a straight view of the TV so you don’t have to crank your neck upwards or to the side.  After the national anthem, start off with easy rowing for 6-10 minutes at 20-24 SPM.  Once you’re in your zone, hold a steady pace at 22-24 SPM or lower, but make sure you keep it controlled and don’t get too sidetracked by the TV in front of you.  Remember, hold good technique!

Up Your Game: Once the action begins, a yellow card, goal, injury, etc., add in the following for a little variety.

Yellow Card – Bad boy! 20-stroke sprint at race pace.

Corner Kick – Drop your stroke rating to 20 strokes per minute or lower for the duration of the play. Remember to s-l-o-w your slide on the recovery to help you row low.

Substitution – Water break!

Injury – Wish them luck to get back in the game with 10 hard strokes, 20 if the player is taken off the field on a stretcher.

Goal – Celebrate really loud with a big “GOOOOOAAAAALLLLLL!” and then put the handle in the hook and do 10 jumping jacks or burpees.  Get back on the erg and grab a sip of water.

Penalty Kicks – Place handle in the hook and do 5 bodyweight squats during each kick.  In between kicks, get back on the erg but don’t strap in (This is a good opportunity to practice rowing with your feet out of the straps).

Half time – If you need a break, put the handle in the hook and record your meters.  That’s the number you want to try to beat in the second half of the game.  Bathroom break if you need it, or grab a healthy snack like a banana or an energy bar.  Make sure to stretch and get back on the erg for the start of the second half.  If you don’t need a break, just keep rowing! Do 6 x 1 minute of effort, 1 minute paddle then easy paddle. Remember to get fluids before the start of the second half.

Game Over – At the end of the game, record your meters in your online logbook and try to meet or exceed your meters for the next game.

Great job, soccer fan! Hopefully your team took the WIN!  Got suggestions for other ways to spice up the World Cup row?  Pop down to the comments and share!

Rowing Workouts to Celebrate Mom


Cheryl-mom
What does mom want on Mother’s Day? Marketers would have you think it’s flowers, candy, jewelry or breakfast in bed (Ok we agree on that one.).  Our favorite way to celebrate mom is with an awesome indoor rowing workout.  The rowing machine will give you a great workout, regardless of your age, fitness level, or ability.  We’ve put three rowing workouts together for you here, but if you need more just head over to our workouts page.  As a bonus we’ve added some SkiErg options, but if you don’t have access to one (Tragedy!) you can just row, no problem.

Indoor rowing meets you where you are 

Indoor rowing classes are one of the best ways to work out – with your mom or anyone else!  Unlike many other fitness activities (we’re talking to you, running…), rowing lets people of all fitness levels get their sweat on together, with nobody feeling left behind.  Two people can be rowing right together at exactly the same strokes per minute.  One of you may be covering more distance in that time but nobody needs to know.  Ahhh, synchronicity.  It’s a beautiful thing.

Use scaling to help you make one size rowing workout fit all 

As we said, the cool thing about rowing is that pretty much anybody can do the same workout.  That doesn’t mean, though, that everyone in rowing class can do the same workout the same way.  Enter scaling.  It’s what allows athletes of differing fitness levels to work out together, with everyone making progress and avoiding injury.

We always stress in our rowing trainings that Rule Number 1 of being a fitness professional is Do No Harm. You want to set people up to succeed and feel good about what they’ve done – especially on Mother’s Day! So if your mom (or you) can’t do a regular pushup, no problem! Do them on your knees, or standing, against a wall. Is a full squat too much? Just go down as far as you can, or use a TRX strap or a chair for support.  The main thing is to break a sweat, have fun, and then enjoy those recovery pancakes, waffles or a piece of chocolate!

Indoor Rowing Workouts

Consider rowing for time not distance

We’ve given you a bunch of options here.  One thing to keep in mind though: If there’s a great variation in fitness in your indoor rowing class it’s better to do workouts for time vs. distance.  Remember that mile run in school?  Nobody wanted to come in last on that, and nobody wants to come in last on the rowing workout, either.

One way to keep things running more or less evenly is by having people row for time instead of distance.  We’ve had some fun with the date on this one and suggested 510-meter distances on a couple of the workouts (May 10th – 5-10.  Get it? Haha.).  You can just as easily make that a 2-minute row, though.  People will get about the same number of meters.

Try the workouts!

On all of these workouts, you should warm up well with at least 15 minutes of cardio.  That could be rowing, running, walking, cycling, etc.  Whatever you do, you want to have a good sweat going before you get into the heavier effort of the workout. For each of them you should use the undefined rest feature in your monitor if you have it.

Mother’s Day Madness 1

5 Rounds

Row 510 meters (or 2 minutes)
5 medball squat cleans
10 hollow rocks (or the sit-up of your choice)

Mother’s Day Madness 2

3-5 Rounds

Row 510 meters (or 2 minutes)
5 push-ups
10 sit-ups of your choice
5 squats
10 jumping jacks

Balls to the Walls (and Floors)

5 Rounds

2-minute Row/Ski/Run/Walk
10 KB swings
10 cleans (either with a bar or KB.  Do 5 on a side if you use a kettlebell)
10 ball slams
10 wall balls

Row a Minute!

Warm up well, with 10-20 minutes of easy rowing or other cardio.

Set your monitor for 1 minute of work and 1 minute of rest.

Row rounds of 1 minute on, rotating with 1 minute of these exercises in any order you like: jump rope, push ups, power jacks, burpees, mountain climbers, sit ups, lunges, 20′ shuttle run, box jumps.

No rest, just keep moving!

 

Try them and tell us which one you did and how you liked it in the comments.  Happy Mother’s Day!

 

HuffPo: “Watch Out, Stationary Bike,” Here Comes Indoor Rowing

Rowers sit ready for rowing class at UCanRow2's Body ShopThere’s been a veritable media frenzy of coverage lately of indoor rowing, which once again is enjoying a well-deserved and long-overdue day in the sun.

The latest to jump on the bandwagon is the Huffington Post, which launched a shot over the bow of indoor cycling: “Watch out, stationary bike. Across the country, boatloads of people are dipping their toes into the water (sorry), resulting in a surge of indoor-rowing classes.”

As it should be!  Spinning is great, but it can’t hold a candle to the total-body benefits of an indoor rowing workout, which as the HuffPo points out can burn over 800 calories in a one-hour workout.   Non-impact, total-body for people of virtually every age and ability.  What’s not to love?

If you’re ready to try indoor rowing we’ve got a list of certified instructors throughout the United States (including Puerto Rico), Canada and soon to be Australia where you can find the instructors and personal trainers who will put you through your rowing paces in a workout that will be safe, fun, efficient (the 2-hour workout is SO 2005) and effective.

Got a favorite instructor?  Give ’em a shout-out here!

 

 

 

Beat Boredom With a Playground Rowing Warm Up

Warm up your workout with hopscotch and skipping

Does the sound of yet another 3k rowing warm up make you want to stick needles in your eyes?  Or has your usual warmup turned into a chatfest because your students are getting a little too comfortable with the steady-state routine?

Boredom is the enemy of progress, even in the warmup.  Mix it up! Try getting outside and back on the “playground” for your next rowing workout warm up.

Off-erg warmups in general are a super smart – and super fun – way to get your athletes prepped and sweaty for a good SkiErg or rowing workout.  A fast-paced round of moves like jumping jacks, skipping and hopscotch will get your students’ blood pumping and warm up the key muscles used in rowing.  These moves also offer some important work on balance, agility and coordination, which are critical as we age.   practice.  That one is especially important if you’re doing senior fitness, but really everyone can use it.

 

 

Try a Playground Warmup

Option 1:

We are fortunate at the UCanRow2 Bodyshop to have a 450-meter loop around our gym.  To do this warmup, walk or jog the first loop.  On the second time around break it up about every 25 meters with moves including air squats, jumping jacks, backwards walking or running, lunges or hopscotch.

If you want to ramp it up, use dumbbells and do a lap with farmer’s carries, waiter walks, etc.  It helps that the Bodyshop loop ends with a deceptively challenging hill, but even on a flat track you could make this a great warmup.

Option 2:

First do a few minutes of jogging or walking to get loose. Then set up a 25-30-yard course.  Do the following moves, in order:

2 lengths heel-to-toe steps (rolling up on the toes, practicing balance)
2 lengths high knees touching opposite elbow to knee
2 lengths side shuffle, tagging the ground at the end of each length
2 lengths karaoke, touching the ground at the end of each length
4 lengths run backwards, sprint forwards
2 lengths frog jumps

On with the workout!

What’s your favorite warmup, playground or otherwise? Tell us in the comments and we’ll share!

 

Candlelit Rowing, Hurricane Sandy Style

waves in motion Guest post by Shoshana Pritzker, RD, CDN of ShoDelicious, Superstorm Sandy survivor and a new Concept2 indoor rower

You know what really stinks about storms like Superstorm/Hurricane Sandy? Being stuck in your house without power, light, or cable entertainment. Back in my Florida days we’d have hurricane parties to pass the time. Friends would bring over any and all alcohol they could find and we’d just get drunk. Things are much different now that I’m a grown-up and past my college drinking days. I no longer look forward to missing class due to a storm. Instead I worry about how I’m going to get in a workout in the dark.

Home workout equipment comes in handy when the lights go out. However, if you’ve got a treadmill you’re pretty much out of luck as most have to be plugged in to the wall. Not so for rowing machines, though, they don’t have to be plugged in to anything. Score – I’ve got a rower!

This year I got the chance to take advantage of being stuck at home to get on my Concept2 Rower. And think of the positive, if we had been flooded out, my strength and skills I’ve gained from my rower would have allowed me to row to safety (if I had a canoe or kayak) in the event of an emergency.

So with winds howling, trees blowing and rain coming down – I got on my rower for a quick but intense, weight-loss-in-mind cardio workout. Here’s how my candlelit workout went:

5 minutes of rowing
Hop off rower and stretch for a few minutes, grab a drink of water
5 minutes of Power 10s (every minute pull as hard as you can for 10 pulls, then row easy for the rest of the minute)
Hop off rower and stretch for a few minutes, grab a drink of water
5 minutes of rowing

Note: Keep in mind that I’m a new rower. I’ve owned my C2 for about a week and have been using the rower at my gym for about a year and a half. My goal is weight loss and improved cardio endurance. The workout I did here is a tough one (for me) and can be easily added to for a longer workout.

Another option that’s great for those without power (whether by design or circumstance) is the Deck of Cards workout.  It’s great for getting a great workout that’s always varied. I’ve added rowing workout options to mine.

Row on!

Want more no-electricity-needed rowing workouts?  We’ve got lots on our workouts page. Ever rowed by candlelight, either with or without electricity? Tell us your story in the comments!