Rowing, The Open & Concept 2
Rowing has been a staple in the Sport of Fitness since the beginning. The Concept 2 Rower was the first erg to be used in the CrossFit Open and to this day retains its exclusivity in the category. The machine made its debut in the 2014 Open, and has been in that global competition every year since.
This is for two reasons. One, rowing is a great way to elicit a powerful dose of fitness, and two, the Concept 2 Rower has an onboard computer that allows it to be consistent in measuring outputs across all its machines.
Because Concept 2 has a great product, CrossFit Inc. exclusively uses rowers from Concept 2 for events, like the Open and the Games. Essentially, if you want to row in CrossFit, especially if you want to use it for a competition (and count!) you better get a Concept 2 Rower.
Other ergs don’t have this monopoly or consistency. For example, both Rogue and Assault Fitness (and others) offer AirBikes, but none of them own the market and not all are consistent between or within brands. This is the reason we see Rowing every year in the Open, but not an AirBike.
Related Read: Assault Rower vs. Concept 2 [Which is Better?]
Related Read: Battle of the Brands: Assault Bike vs. Rogue Echo Bike
Mobility – Strength – Skill
To maximize your potential, capacity and efficiency for rowing you must master the movement’s specific mobility, strength and skill demands: the three-headed monster every athlete must conquer. Let’s take on the monster one “head” at a time.
There is no strength requirement to row.
Yet, strength plays a huge factor in power development, which is supremely important when rowing. Rowing requires a unique combination of strength, speed and relaxation.
The ability to relax and turn off unneeded musculature, even during intense, full-body, powerful movement is one sure sign of athleticism.
And to be a great rower, you must master this balance of aggression and relaxation. This is where strength, mobility and skill converge.
One of the wonderful aspects of rowing is that -relative to other functional movements- it has an extremely low barrier to entry: the requirements for mobility and strength are pretty minimal. With a base level of skill (read, “technique”) a person can maintain their safety and greatly improve overall rowing effectiveness.
For mobility, there are two positions that cause people problems on the rower…
1) Hip Hinge: The ability to be able to fold at the hip while keeping good spinal posture is very challenging while rowing. It’s common to see athletes reaching forward at the front of the stroke by rounding their back. However, it’s just as common for people to stay perfectly upright and never create a forward torso lean. The only way to effectively and safely row is leaning forward (closing the hip), but maintaining your posture.
Often this position improves when you bring what is optimal into the athlete’s awareness. Thinking “sit tall” is often enough to correct most movement faults. If that cue isn’t enough to fix the position, it may be time to mobilize.
Here are some stretches I recommend, both active & passive variants…
2) Ankle Dorsiflexion: The other area athletes run into problems is with the lower leg. Most athletes can’t complete a full seat slide and without all the pressure going completely into the toes. With an upright torso at the catch (wrong) they slide their seat to their heels (wrong), which results in them several inches of space under their heels (wrong).
The reason I say this is, if you have an issue with your heels coming way up, first check your torso ankle at the catch and how far you are sliding the seat. If your torso is upright and the seat is close to your heels, it’s probably not a problem with your ankles.
However, it’s also a mistake to have your feet flat on the pad (heels in contact in the catch). The goal should be to have a small gap between your heels and the pad, and as you initiate the stroke push your heels down, which allow access to both the quads and the glutes (anterior and posterior).
If you suffer tight ankles, here are some mobilizations to help…
More on Mobility & Rowing
One reason why the rower is an effective tool is there is virtually no eccentric contractions involved. An eccentric contraction is when the muscle is lengthening as it contracts. Think about the lowering phase of a squat, pull-up or press: that’s an eccentric contraction. Unaccustomed eccentric contractions (catching/lowering movements you aren’t used to) are the biggest cause of muscle damage and DOMS (Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness). However, the rower virtually eliminates eccentric contractions, so you don’t get sore from it. In fact, you are much more likely to have a de-trained person puke from some tough rowing intervals than get sore.
The lack of eccentric contractions is another reason why the mobility requirements are low and why tissues really don’t need prepped to be able to start moving on the rower at conservative paces. This is why the rower makes a great tool for warm-ups, cooldowns and quick, effective sessions for those with little time to train and/or warm-up.
Furthermore, it is every bit as important to prep the aerobic system (including the heart & lungs) for rowing workouts as it is the joints or local tissues.
Since rowing uses the upper and lower body (i.e. Leg Drive & Pull), maximal heart rates on the rower will be greater than many other modalities, where muscular limiters can blunt a systemic response. Full-body, high-power, low-skill movements allow heart rate, respiration and general fatigue to climb quicker than local (muscular) fatigue when compared to other exercises.
Most athletes can hop on a rower and immediately express their capacity because no particular joint is taken to an end range. In other words, where movements like overhead squats require great strength in end ranges that many athletes aren’t able to express, the rower allows for great power production with average mobility.
I personally love using the rower to test athletes because 1) it doesn’t require great mobility, 2) it will be consistent from machine-to-machine and 3) it reveals a rudimentary level of skill (a triple extension of sorts).
Listen to Improve Your Rowing Capacity on The Fitness Movement.
There are several important skill components that are involved in rower, which is that “rudimentary level of skill” I was looking for in my athletes.
These components include the (1) sequencing of the pull and the recovery (2) torso orientation (3) length of the pull (seat slide, ankle & shin orientation) (4) posture & breathing, and (5) breath ratios.
This guide will also cover (6) the differences between sprint & sustainable efforts on the rower, as well as (7) Starting a Sprint on the Rower.
It is also important to note the role that (8) stroke rate and (9) damper setting play in this process.
(1) Sequencing the Pull & Recovery
Sequencing the pull plays an important role in an athlete’s ability express power on the rower. Break the sequencing and you will bleed power (inefficient).
Here is a simple visual to help you learn to organize your joint angles the right way when rowing, as well as timing the systems of the legs, hips and arms.
First, the legs drive.
It’s helpful to think about driving the foot pad away from you, rather than pushing yourself away.
Often beginners, especially CrossFit athletes, make the row stroke a very quad dominant movement, which fails to the musculature in the posterior chain to power the pull. To counter this, once the knee joint reaches 90 degree, think about pressing into the foot pads with a “full foot,” meaning they can feel both your heels and toes on the pad. A common cue in the rowing community is “heels snap down,” which results in 1) additional flywheel acceleration through the middle of the stroke, 2) quads extending the knees (downward) and 3) access to the posterior chain for the latter part of the stroke.
The cues “full foot” or “heels snap down” help prevent excessive quad use and over-sliding, and promotes positions that provide access to both the posterior (glutes & hamstrings) and the anterior (namely the quads), no different than a squat.
Second, the hips open.
This happens dynamically and increases the speed of the chain and continues to build the momentum of the flywheel.
It’s important to progressively build the momentum of the flywheel, avoiding “dumping” all your power at the beginning of the stroke. The best way to know if you are committing this fault is listening to the flywheel. You will be able to hear it accelerate and coast back down. These changes should be significant, but not abrupt. Another helpful cue to turning your rower monitor to view the force curve.
The force curve should look just like that… a curve. Curves don’t have points or abrupt changes. Seeing a pyramid (peak) or a dip (drop off) means you are bleeding efficiency. If you see a spike in force in the first portion of the pull, you are driving too hard with your legs. Same is true for the middle section of your hips or the latter section for your arms.
Simply put: make the force curve “pretty.” If it’s not pretty, it’s inefficient.
Third, the arms pull.
Think of this phase as a follow through. Yes, it continues to build on the speed generated by the legs and hips, but you should not try to pull super hard with the upper body. There is already tension through the back, lats and biceps during the first two phases of the pull so pulling harder only results in your pull tiring quickly.
The sequence of the row pull is often compared to the power clean. Like the clean, the pull on the rower can be broken up into three phases, and allowing yourself to think of the pull in three parts can be helpful, especially for those people who don’t initially sequence the pull in the correct order.
However, this sequencing becomes a default pattern the stages will begin to blend. The pull should not look segmented or choppy when completed full speed. It should look fluid and relaxed, yet powerful and snappy.
Common Errors in Sequencing
Here is a video on the most common errors in sequencing.
What are common mistakes in rowing technique?
#1 – Failing to Finish: Legs Rebend Early
#2 – Leaning Back Early: No Hamstring Tension
#3 – No Lean Back: Torso Stays Upright
#4 – Hands & Legs Recover Together
#5 – Heels Down: Minimal Seat Slide
#6 – Heels Way Up: Too Much Seat Slide
Common Errors in Sequencing: Varied Handle Height
One of the ways to quickly identify an error in the sequencing of the pull is if the handle goes up and down through space. This usually means the athlete is rebending the knees before they recovered the arms to length or closed the hips.
Essentially, the handle has to go up and around the knees to avoid hitting them. Proper sequencing of the legs, hips and arms allows for a flat chain and steady handle height.
Here is my favorite drill for a pull with varying handle heights…
(2) Torso Orientation
Cleaning up errors in sequencing will fix the majority of issues the row stroke, but the next category (torso orientation) is a great cross reference point to help teach and identify proper use of the legs and hips.
The simplest way to think about the correct torso orientation at different parts of the stroke is to compare it to the hands of a clock. At the catch (front of the stroke) you want your torso to be at approximately 11 O’Clock if it was the hour hand of an analog clock. At the finish (back of the stroke) you want to be at 1 O’Clock.
Common Errors in Torso Orientation
Leaning Back Too Far: The most frequent movement mistake I see with torso orientation while rowing is leaning back too far in the pull. People try to lengthen the pull by laying back to more like 2 O’Clock. This doesn’t add much power yet greatly increases the demands of the musculature required to close the hip, namely the hip flexors and abs. Plus, since you have to sit-up each stroke, excessive leaning tends to reduce stroke rate significantly, resulting in a slower pace.
Rounding in the Catch: This issue usually arises when poor mobility meets fatigue. Proper posture, crisp movement and efficient breathing patterns fade as the spine rounds and rib cage drops. Efficient rowing will have a small, natural, safe curve in the back combined with protracted scapulae. Inefficient rowing is where that small, controlled deviation turns into a sloppy, uncontrolled rounding. Watch some solo rowing in the Rio Olympics to see what I mean. These professionals certainly do not maintain a flat back, yet I would recommend beginner intentionally rounding either. Truthfully, it’s a fine line.
(3) Length of the Pull
When looking to optimize the length of the pull, we will look at important factors including: Seat Slide Length, Ankle Position and Shin Orientation.
The goal with the rowing stroke is to generate as much power possible while it generating the least amount of fatigue. To a certain threshold, increasing the length of each stroke is an efficient way to do this. And as I just stated in the common errors in torso orientation, you don’t want to actively elongate the layback in the stroke. So that only leaves the front of the stroke. This is where you want to make up some ground, barring excessive rounding.
The amount of seat slide is one way to measure stroke length, but really what matters is the handle because it is what manipulates the chain (and ultimately the flywheel). In other words, the amount of seat slide only matters because it is highly correlated with the length of each pull.
However, it’s important to cross reference seat slide length with ankle position. The ankle should be past 90 degrees (foot relative to the shin) with the heels hoovering slightly yet being actively pushed down. Allowing the seat to slide too far almost inevitably means the heels pop way up and the quads take over…again the same thing that happens commonly in the squat.[Don’t get me wrong, rowing & squatting are very different patterns, but I find this mental model helps athletes mentally connect the dots.]
Yet another cross reference is looking at shin angle.
If the shin angle never makes it to vertical, you aren’t sliding the seat far enough.
If the shin is very close to vertical, you are likely sliding correctly.
If the shin is past vertical, you are sliding too far.
As you can see the ideal position at the catch is a mixture of sliding the seat as far as possible while not allowing too much daylight under those heels. This ensures you maintain access to your posterior chain while simultaneously sliding the seat as far as possible.
Another sneaky way to get a hair more length on your pull is protracting your shoulders. Think about reaching long and allowing your scapulae to move apart. This allows the pulling system to get as long as possible without losing respiratory efficiency or putting you in a compromised position.
Common Errors in the Length of the Pull
(aka. Errors in Seat Slide Length, Ankle Position & Shin Orientation)
Sliding the Seat too Far: Typically this is an athlete who is really trying to extend the stroke (in the wrong way), and/or a very mobile and laxly jointed athlete who defaults to a low tension position (for them) while fatigued.
Often, the athlete will slide the seat all the way until it hits the end of the rail. Because the knee joint essentially folds in half to accomplish this, the main driver of the movement becomes the knee extensors (quads). This is simply because most of the movement is occurring at the knee so the stroke becomes very quad dominant.
A great drill to fix sliding the seat too far is attaching an elastic band around the rail of the rower right at the point right after the heels come up and the shin is vertical. The band provides a pseudo-endpoint to the slide, providing a cue for the athlete to know where to stop sliding.
Common Errors: Shortening the Pull
Often athletes who have been taught to row with heels completely down fail to slide far enough. If you were to watch this athlete, the seat would barely move and most of the action would occur at the hip and arms. This rather straight-legged row is inefficient mainly because the athlete never pushes. There needs to be that initial push prior to the hip drive and arm pull. With the knee joint almost taken out of the movement, there is a dampened ability to apply power optimally. It’s no different than the hips starting or rising too early in the Olympic lifts: optimal acceleration will never be achieved.
Common Errors: Trying to Lengthen in the Back Half
I mentioned previously that another common movement mistake (that often comes from a pseudo-understanding of the pull) is trying to lengthen the stroke in the back half. You will see this athlete lay way back when finishing the pull. Then they practically have to do a sit-up to get back up to neutral and begin the recovery.
The simplest solution to know if you are finishing the stroke in the right place is rowing a few minutes or several hundred meters with your feet out of the straps. It’s pretty simple, if you over pull, you’ll fall off the rower and/or your feet will come off the pad.
Check out this video to view the feet out drill…
Common Errors: Heels Coming Way Up due to Poor Ankle Mobility
Lastly, the heels coming up while rowing is necessary to optimize slide length, but it becomes a problem when it’s too significant and combined with oversliding. If you have a small heel lift, while actively working to reclaim that connection with your posterior chain through the stroke, then you’re fine!
Again, thinking about driving your heels back down to meet the pad through the drive (push) phase ensures you will have access to the hamstrings and glutes during your pull.
Finally, if you are confident you are sliding the correct amount and your shin is in the correct place, but you still can’t get those heels close to the pads, it may be due to poor ankle mobility.
Go back to the mobility section to see those stretches.
Common Errors: Handle Finish Height
Often athletes try to lengthen their pull by finishing high with the handle, angling up towards the shoulders and neck. And occasionally athletes get lazy and finish too low, by the belly button, cutting the pull short.
The ideal handle finish spot is above the belly button and below the chest. I recommend finishing at the bottom of the sternum. Ladies, the handle should hit the strap of your sports bra.
(4) Posture & Breathing
Next in our rowing technique checklist is posture & breathing. The bottom line is if you want performance you need to pay attention to these two factors. Optimizing posture and breathing doesn’t start on the rower: it starts in your lifestyle.
If you can’t sit at a desk for 20 minutes with good posture, you can’t expect to sit on a rower for a 5k and expect to fix it.”Ben Wise | ZOAR Fitness Owner
There are three reasons to address posture in your movement practice:
1) From a health and longevity viewpoint, you don’t compromise joint health, hormone profile and metabolic pathways. In other words, you will feel less beat up, mechanical pain, you will recover quicker and be able to train more often while feeling better outside of the Sport of Fitness.
2) Your body will more fully allow you to express your true power output. If posture is off (including factors like joint centration) then your body will put a ‘governor’ on power output to protect you from damage. This is especially true as it relates to the spine. When the back rounds in movements like squats, deadlifts or rowing, the power of the legs and hips is muted to prevent critical damage to the bundle of nerves that runs through the spinal cord.
Core strength and it’s relationship with posture becomes of paramount importance for the expression of factors like strength, power and mobility.
This is my main argument in my article: Why Your Mobility Isn’t Improving
3) The final reason is you can breathe more efficiently. There is A LOT that goes into breathing efficiency, one factor being the mechanics of how you actually draw air into your body. It’s no different than the air squat being an element of the squat clean. To get air into the body you must create a negative pressure by expanding the thoracic cavity, which causes air to rush into your lungs.
It’s just like those balloon models of lungs you made in high school. That balloon on the bottom of the bottle the hand is pulling on…that’s your diaphragm: the most important muscle for efficient and effective respiration.
Rowing with poor posture, namely tucking your pelvis under (due to tight hips / hamstrings or motor control issues) and rounding through your spine, means you lose access to your diaphragm.
Most of the air exchange is generated from the intercostals and upper neck musculature, which means you become inefficient and sympathetic. This is a recipe for redlining early in a workout.
The solution to all these problems is singular: sit up tall while rowing. The plethora of lead up to that ‘simple solution’ was to help you understand its importance and not to brush past it to the next point.
A helpful mental cue is thinking about your head being grabbed by a claw machine at the arcade. It pulls you up out of the seat, improving your posture and helping you feel light. Continue to reach long with your spine and give yourself a “posture check” every 200m while you row.
(5) Breath Ratios
There are two Breath Ratios that are appropriate while rowing, based on factors like pace, stroke rate and level of fatigue: 1:1 and 2:1. They are read as Breath-to-Rep -or in this case- Breath-to-Stroke.
In other words…
1:1 = 1 Breath Cycle (inhale + exhale) per pull.
Exhale on the pull, inhale on the recovery.
2:1 = 2 Breath Cycles (inhales + exhale) per pull.
One breath cycle on the pull, One breath cycle on the recovery.
The 1:1 Breath Ratio is by far the more efficient of the two. A lower respiration rate allows for a larger breath (tidal volume) and more efficient exchange of gas because a lower percentage of air is lost in dead space (tissue unable to exchange gas…aka. your mouth and throat).
This is a concept I explain thoroughly in my eBook Breath Work for the Sport of Fitness. If you frequently feel limited by your breathing in workouts or just want to understand your physiology better to optimize your performance, I highly recommend it.
This is the reason why dramatically increasing your rate of breathing doesn’t mean dramatically better performance. In fact, often the opposite is true. However, there is a time and place where breathing quickly may be necessary and beneficial. This is when you will want to employ a 1:2 Breath Ratio.
It’s important to realize there is no middle ground here. To have any hope of efficiency you must sync breathing to your movement, so your options are either 1:1 or 2:1 because the middle is a no man’s land of inefficiency.
For example, as your systemic fatigue and breathing gets progressively ‘jacked up’ in the latter parts of workouts, you will be forced to switch to a 1:2 Breath-to-Rep Ratio, otherwise your stroke rate will climb too high.
There are two scenarios where you want to use a 1:2 Breath Ratio:
1) In sprint finishes of workouts where systemic fatigue (need for respiration) is greater than local fatigue (muscular).
2) In the middle of a workout where you just got back on the rower after an unavoidable heart rate spike. Here your stroke rate and overall pace will be lower and breathing will be faster for a few seconds until you can recover your respiration rate and get back to 1:1.
This is a complicated phenomenon that occurs frequently in mixed modal (CrossFit-like) settings. It’s most easily explained via a scenario.
A likely scenario for this would be in the following example workout…
-12 Dumbbell Box Step-Overs 24/20” | 50/35lbs per Hand
This workout will reward the athlete who can go fast & unbroken during the Step-Overs and then recovery on the rower. However, the Step-Overs will spike systemic fatigue, heart rate and respiration. With rowing for meters allowing for distance to tick by even at slow paces, the athlete is rewarded for getting back on the rower and moving, even if it is slower. In such a scenario, the athlete will use a 1:2 Breath Ratio the first 50-100m of rowing on rounds 2 & 3 (before switching back to 1:1 once CO2 has been off-loaded) to allow her to keep transition time low and ultimately get a better score in the workout.
(6) Sprint vs. Sustain
As you develop your rowing technique, it’s important to understand that subtle differences will occur at the ends of the pace spectrum: sprint and sustain.
These are roughly defined terms with grey area between them, but intuitively it’s simple. For example, a Max Effort 250m row is clearly a sprint and a 5000m Max Effort row is clearly a sustainable effort.
Sprinting is about raw power output, the sustainability of the movement doesn’t really matter.
Most of the information in this guide is about sustainable efforts, where efficiency and power need to be blended. So here I’ll focus on sprinting.
Let’s go back to that 250m Max Effort row, where the only thing that matters is generating as much power as possible in the 40-50 seconds it will take an average athlete to complete the row. Therefore, the technique will have some small changes to allow for maximal power output.
The first thing that changes is stroke rate. Stroke rate will be as high as possible, barring losing power in each individual pull. Rather than having a fast pull and a slow recovery that is regarded as good technique for sustainable efforts, the pull and recovery will both be fast. This video of World’s Strongest Man Brian Shaw pulling the 100m World Record is a great example of this. Professional rowers would argue his technique is horrible (minimal seat slide and rounding through his back), but I would argue Brian is one among the best in the world for power output and he intuitively knows how to produce the most power (and has!)
Now, what you will notice if you watch all the top times in short events on the Concept 2 is stroke rate has an inverse relationship with slide length.
In other words, in sprinting efforts where the stroke rate is very high, the seat does not move as far. It’s simply easier to move faster when only one joint (the hip) is in play. The same thing happens with cycling deadlifts in workouts. At heavier loads where the load moves slowly, the knees bend more so the athlete can access the quads, but with light loads the knees push back out of the way and most of the action takes place at the hip because it is faster.
A great example of this was the Regional workout “Randy” with light power snatches. Watch this video to see how technique changes to only use a single joint: the hip.
For this reason, when you are sprinting you want to keep the heels down and slide slightly less. This allows stroke rate to climb without losing the power of the individual pull.
Lastly, when sprinting with a high stroke rate, the lay back of each stroke is minimized. The torso stays largely vertical removing that mini “sit-up” and allowing for a speedy recovery.
The next question you should ask yourself should be…
Does sprint technique carry over to sustainable efforts?
My answer is not well. In my experience working with athletes there is minimal utility in practicing rowing sprints regularly in training. For one, if you are a person competing in the Sport of Fitness sprinting efforts are rarely tested. Usually rowing is paired with a different movement and the rowing often takes a back seat as rowing pace can easily be adjusted where most gymnastics and weightlifting movements are not easily altered. For Games athletes, mixed modal rowing pace is more of a separator, but for non-elites this is certainly the case.
So although sprinting on the rower is rarely tested in the Sport of Fitness, I believe it is a skill worth developing.
However, in general you want your faster paced intervals and threshold rows to carry over to your longer, slower, more sustainable efforts and workouts.
So I recommend to mimic your rowing technique in more sustainable efforts while training at faster paces. This goes for seat slide (longer), stroke rate (lower), damper setting (consistent) and breath ratio (1:1).
(7) Starting a Sprint
The goal when starting a sprint on the rower is getting up to pace (or slightly quicker) as fast as possible.
I will typically take upwards of 5 strokes to get up to full speed.
Building speed happens through a combination of a higher stroke rate and harder pulls initially before settling into whatever pace is required or desired.
So, let’s apply the principles of sprinting on the rower (Section 6) to the sprint start. We know when stroke rate is higher seat slide will be less. As a result, the movement becomes more hip dominant. Lastly, there is very little lay back to allow for stroke rate to climb.
This is all true for starting a sprint on the rower. Build from short, powerful strokes with minimal seat slide or lay back, to longer, fuller strokes with traditional technique.
(8) Stroke Rate
Stroke rate shows up in the upper right corner of the Concept 2 screen as a number of Strokes Per Minute (S/M or SPM).
The first realization people have when they get on the rower for the first time is stroke rate is not tied with power or pace. It totally possible (and common) for a more advanced rower to achieve more power at lower stroke rates when sitting right next to a beginner appearing to “move fast” while producing little power, having a poor connection to the flywheel and wearing themselves out quickly.
The best stroke rate is one where you can produce sustainable power and move controlled but not slowly. This is often best achieved from a hard (quicker) pull followed by a more relaxed (slower) recovery. This play of power and relaxation is what allows for sustainability. At faster speeds and shorter durations, power is prioritized over sustainability, where in longer, slower efforts the prioritization is reversed.
Here are some general recommendations for stroke rates (for the Concept 2) based on duration and power output, assuming each is a max effort time trial…
0-400m = 40-60+ SPM
400-750m = 34-42 SPM
750-2000m = 32-38 SPM
2000-5000m = 24-34 SPM
5000-10000 = 22-30 SPM
10000+ = 18-26 SPM
For athletes who are training to compete in the Sport of Fitness, I recommend following an 80/20 Rule. That is, complete approximately 80% of your training time between stroke rates of 24 and 32. The remaining 20% can be outside that range, whether lower or higher. This would include harder, faster, shorter intervals where stroke rate climbs above that range, as well as relaxed warm-ups, cooldown flushes and easy aerobic work that falls below that range.
Lastly, I encourage you to be disciplined with your stroke rate. In other words, there will be times where you will want to move out of the recommended range based on how you are feeling in a given workout on a given day, but likely this will slow your development. Don’t begin to play with your stroke rate or trust how your feel (intuition) until you’ve reinforced the correct base.
It’s the idea of snowflake training…yes you are unique, but let’s be honest, all humans have more in common than they are unique. Follow the principles and put in the time and work before putting your own “flavor” on the movement.
(9) Damper Setting
Want to know where your Damper Setting setting should be?
(10) Rowing in MetCons
Rowing is almost always paired with other movements in the Sport of Fitness. Understanding what how to pace a row based on the units, movements it is paired with, workout duration and other factors is an essential skill for athletes who compete in the Sport of Fitness.
For this reason I highly recommend you read the article: Rowing for Calories versus Meters
The last piece of rowing that I would recommend investing practice and attention to is mounting and dismounting the rower in Mixed Modal settings. Often CrossFit-style workouts have multiple rounds, where getting on and off the machine is a piece of your overall time.
In a test like Open Workout 18.1, top athletes did 15 Rounds. That’s 15 times getting into and out of the rower. To put that in perspective, if Rich Froning cut cut 1s off the Mount and 1s off the Dismount, he would have gone from placing 183rd in that workout to placing inside the top 50.
My best piece of advice for Mixed Modal (for rowing and otherwise) is move slow, rest fast. Transitions are rest.
TLDR | Here’s the Summary
• No real requirements, but maximal pace and maximal power are highly correlated. The same is true for sustainable pace and sustainable power.
• Hamstrings, Ankles & overall “Wiggle Room” in the Posterior Chain
- Sequencing the Pull & Recovery – Pull = legs, hips, arms. Recovery = arms, hips, legs.
- Torso Orientation – 11 O’Clock to 1 O’Clock, any additional lean is inefficient
- Length of the Pull (Seat Slide, Ankle Position & Shin Orientation) – Increase the Length in the front of the stroke, definitely not in the lay back. Work to keep down as long as possible, stopping your from oversliding
- Posture & Breathing – Maintain a “Neutral Spine” …sitting tall at all times.
- Breath Ratios – 1:1 Breath-to-Rep Ratio is best, Exhaling on the Pull, Inhaling on the Recovery.
- Sprint vs. Sustainable Efforts – When sprinting, exaggerate the hip action and lessen seat slide.
- Starting a Sprint on the Rower – 5 Pulls: 1/5 length → Full Length, Slowly Decreasing Stroke Rate & Pace
- Stroke Rate – Longer, slower efforts will coincide with lower stroke rates. There is a “sweet spot.”
- Damper Setting – Like gears of a bike. Too high or too low will put a “damper” on your power.
- Rowing in MetCons – Rowing is almost always paired with other movements in the Sport of Fitness
If you want to reach your potential in the Sport of Fitness, you must have elite fitness. In other words… conditioning.
That’s why this program focuses on the “3 Kings” of Cyclical Movement: Rowing, AirBike & Running.
Cyclical Supremacy is all about building your engine so you can express higher levels of performance in all types of workouts.
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