Introduction To Indoor Rowing

Look here first for answers to common questions

Introduction To Indoor Rowing

Postby Godfried » March 17th, 2006, 3:08 pm

From the old forum , by H_2O

I have written up some information in the hope that it will get new rowers to a smooth start. I hope that more experienced and accomplished rowers on this board will correct my errors and contribute their own thoughts. Note that this info is not endorsed by Concept2 in any way. This document is updated continually according to the suggestions of board members.

Welcome to the concept2 rowing ergometer (the rowing machine, the erg). Here are some quick pointers to training and the technique of erging:


0. Message boards

Now that you have found this message board be advised that the UK has a similar message board with much invaluable information


1. The machine

You are most likely using a concept2 model C (monitor labelled PM2 or PM2+, straight wooden handle) or the newer model D (monitor labelled PM3 or PM4, curved polymer handle) or model E (monitor labelled PM4, seat 6 inches higher). Identify which it is since the PM2 and PM3 monitors are quite different.


2. Monitor display

Both monitors can display a variety of statistics such as:

time for 500m (the pace or split)
power output in Watts
power output in calories per hour

The pace is the statistic most discussed on this board. For pace and Watts you can simultaneously display both the current value as well as the average value for the row up to the present.

To learn the complete use of the monitors go here:
PM2,
PM2+,
PM3,
PM4

To see the specifications of the monitors go here:
PM3,
PM4


3. Resistance level -- Drag factor

The resistance you experience comes from the acceleration of air by means of the fan in the circular housing at the front end of the erg. The leaver on the side of the fan opens or closes the fan (resistance level setting). The more air you let in the more air you have to accelerate and the more resistance you will experience. How much air gets accelerated depends on how far the fan intake is opened (resistance level setting) but also on the condition of the machine (dust in the fan intake and on the fan blades).

Consequently the same level setting on different machines can lead to different actual resistance levels. To account for these differences we have the so called drag factor, a normalized measure of the actual resistance. Equal drag factor on different machines means equal resistance. The erg can measure and display the drag factor. To display the drag factor at any given resistance level setting proceed as follows:

PM2/PM2+ monitor: Clear the monitor (press Off/On twice). Now hold down both the "rest" and "OK" button. The word "drag" appears in the lower right corner of the monitor.
Row for a while at 2:15 splits. The drag factor will be displayed in field labelled "drag".
PM3 monitor: Press "more options", then "display drag factor" and proceed as above.
PM4 monitor: Press "more options", then "display drag factor" and proceed as above.

Now move the resistance lever up and down (while rowing) and observe how the drag factor changes.

Which drag factor should you be using: 100 - 130 is a good setting for most but opinions on this differ. There is much discussion of the drag factor on this message board. My own preference is for the lower end of the range. Note that these settings correspond to low resistance settings on the erg. It is a common mistake for beginners to be on level 10.


4. Technique

The stroke begins with the handle all the way forward (the catch) and ends when the handle returns to this position. It has two major phases:

The drive: pulling the handle back, this is where all the power is generated.

The drive begins at the catch and ends at the finish. The legs engage first with arms fully stretched. Most of the power is generated by the legs. In this phase think push the machine away with your legs, knees down and hang from the handle. When the knees are down nearly all the way the back engages (arms still fully stretched and we are still hanging from the handle). The arms engage last and pull the handle into the sternum (the finish). If you pull the handle to the navel or below you are pulling too low. Hold the handle gently with your finger tips at both ends (as far apart as possible) don't clasp it.

The recovery: moving foward to the catch again.

After the finish get the hands forward quickly ("quick hands"). Do not pause at the finish. The transition from moving backward to moving forward must be smooth. The correct sequence is:
hands forward, torso swings forward into upright position, knees upward in this order. The hands clear the knees before these move up. The handle moves in a straight line at all times with the chain as stable as possible. If you have to lift the handle over the knees (up and down motion) your hands are too late. Move forward until your shins are vertical (but not further).

A more precise description and complete discussion of common mistakes can be found in the training guide below. Here you can see the stroke of Xeno Mueller (olympic gold and silver medalist, single scull):


5. Breathing rhythm

The breathing has to be coordinated with the other movements. There are two possibilities:

Low stress (slow speed): breathe once per stroke: inhale on the drive and exhale on the recovery.
Higher stress (faster speed): breathe twice per stroke: exhale at the catch and finish and inhale on the drive and recovery.


6. Stroke rate, stroke power

The stroke rate is the number of strokes per minute (spm), displayed in the upper right corner of the monitor. It is an important statistic. As a new rower it is important to develop the skill of generating power at low stroke rates. Your first task will be to build an aerobic base and the associated rowing is steady state at low stroke rates (18 - 22). The stroke power index (SPI) is the quotient

SPI = Watts/spm

This is a measure of the power put into each stroke. To build an aerobic base you must row slowly. When we row more slowly but do not decrease the stroke rate the SPI decreases (Watts go down but spm remains constant). This means that the power put into each stroke has decreased.

If this decrease is too great this rowing bears no similarity to rowing under race conditions. In other words we want to keep the stroke power in a somewhat narrow band (such as SPI 10-12, depends on sex, size). The way to do this is to slow down mainly by decreasing the stroke rate and to speed up mainly by increasing the stroke rate. We do not slow down mainly by decreasing the stroke power or speed up mainly by increasing the stroke power.

Consequently it is important to develop the skill to control both your stroke rate and the associated power output (Watts or splits). All training plans below prescribe some rowing pieces at restricted stroke rates and rowers report their pieces with the stroke rates used such as

30r20: 1:55

meaning a row of 30 minutes at stroke rate 20 averaging 1:55 per 500m. Note that 20 is not the most efficient stroke rate for a maximal effort over 30 minutes. You can row faster by rating 26-29 but nonetheless 30r20 is a classic training piece for strength (endurance) development.


7. Training Guide

Please browse the UK training guide and download it. This has descriptions and illustrations of the correct technique, training programs for various goals, material on exercise physiology, stretching etc. Training plans aimed specifically at 2K race preparation are the

Wolverine Plan,

Xeno Mueller's Plan

and, if you like high intensity lower volume,

Pete Plan


8. What do do first?

Develop an aerobic base by rowing steadily and slowly (see UT2 in the UK training guide). Practice control of pace (should not jump around from stroke to stroke, at most one second variation) and rating slowly (stroke rates 18-22).


9. Training log, racing, online rankings.

Once you have registered as a member of this site you can record all your rows in your training log (distance rowed and time taken). The official race distance is 2000 meters and there are many races all over the world. In addition Concept2 maintains a database of world wide times for other distances annually. You row a piece and submit your time to your training log and then "rank" it. You can only rank the following standard pieces:

500m
1000m (1K)
2000m (2K)
5K
6K
10K
100K (team)
Half marathon
Full marathon
4 minutes (how far)
30 minutes (how far)
60 minutes (how far)

Times are not ordinarly verified and then are designated "IND" in the rankings. There are ways of verifying your times and obtaining the designation "IND_V". The details of this are discussed elsewhere.


Have fun!

==============
edited Dec 23, 2006
==============
Added link to PM4
Updated link to Wolverine Plan
Updated link to Xeno Mueller
==========================

==============
edited Oct 31, 2008
==============
Added link to model E
Updated links to the monitors
Updated drag factor display method
==========================
Last edited by Godfried on October 31st, 2008, 4:05 pm, edited 2 times in total.
Godfried
1k Poster
 
Posts: 105
Joined: March 16th, 2006, 2:10 pm

Postby Jef » March 20th, 2006, 7:19 pm

what an excellent post, nice one Godfried.
Image


Image
User avatar
Jef
1k Poster
 
Posts: 136
Joined: March 16th, 2006, 3:19 pm
Location: C2 UK forums

Postby Ben Rea » March 20th, 2006, 9:23 pm

yes, the drag factor part explains a lot, thanks.
Ben Rea
2k Poster
 
Posts: 390
Joined: March 16th, 2006, 9:22 pm

Postby Godfried » March 21st, 2006, 3:04 pm

All credits go to H_2O, not to me. :oops:
Godfried
1k Poster
 
Posts: 105
Joined: March 16th, 2006, 2:10 pm

Postby leviathan » April 11th, 2006, 10:34 am

At last i understand drag factor
User avatar
leviathan
Paddler
 
Posts: 8
Joined: April 11th, 2006, 10:28 am
Location: Baghdad

Postby Tyn » June 16th, 2006, 8:59 am

Hi all, hallo Godfried

I saw this link above, but ir's offline, but I can't find another link anywhere.

Xeno Mueller's Plan

I'm curious.

Can someone post the link??

Thanks i.a.
Tyn

M42H

"We keep you alive to serve this ship. So row well and live."




"Nobody move! I've dropped me brain!"
User avatar
Tyn
10k Poster
 
Posts: 1058
Joined: March 17th, 2006, 3:01 am
Location: Gouda, the Netherlands

Postby Alissa » June 16th, 2006, 11:18 am

Tyn wrote:I saw this link above, but ir's offline, but I can't find another link anywhere.

Xeno Mueller's Plan

I'm curious.

Can someone post the link??


Sure. It was on the old forum (which was still up, but dangerous, when this thread started). Here's a link on this board to Xeno's thread "Training Program for Long Beach Sprints And Crashb," as imported from the old board.

Alissa
Alissa
2k Poster
 
Posts: 431
Joined: March 16th, 2006, 12:02 pm
Location: So. California

Postby Tyn » June 16th, 2006, 4:46 pm

Many Thanx Alissa!
Tyn

M42H

"We keep you alive to serve this ship. So row well and live."




"Nobody move! I've dropped me brain!"
User avatar
Tyn
10k Poster
 
Posts: 1058
Joined: March 17th, 2006, 3:01 am
Location: Gouda, the Netherlands

Postby johnnybike » June 17th, 2006, 2:01 am

There is an online SPI calculator available at http://www.machars.net/spi.php
Read my diary
2K 7:06:1 | 5K 18:35.2 | 10K 37.47.9 | 30mins 7899 | 60mins 15577 | HM 82:33.3 FM 2:50:48
johnnybike
1k Poster
 
Posts: 102
Joined: March 16th, 2006, 12:49 pm

Postby Dawn » June 17th, 2006, 2:13 pm

Hi, I'm new to rowing. I've had my rower for about 2 weeks and have been constantly questioning if I'm doing things right. I read your introduction and it helped me allot.

I focused on my technique and tried hooking my fingers...worked great. I actually felt different muscles engage than I felt before. And your suggestions on the recovery actually decreased my s/m from 25-28 to 17-19 while increaseing my cals/hr (I count cals not meters, sorry).

The only thing I'm not sure I agree with is the breathing. I've always been told to exhale on the exertion, in this case wouldn't that be the drive?
I feel my abs tighten more in that case. I tried exhaling during the recovery but inhaling on the drive feels like I'm pushing my abs out. Does the breathing really matter?

Thanks again!
Dawn
Paddler
 
Posts: 5
Joined: June 16th, 2006, 7:37 pm

Postby H2O » June 22nd, 2006, 1:02 pm

Some people say; "don"t worry about the breathing".
Personally I think breathing helps the rhythm.
When lifting weights I religously exhale during exertion and I notice that the drive
makes inhaling harder and breathing shallower.
But I simply need two breaths per stroke cycle.

I have no experience with the one breath per stroke cycle pattern.
Today I"ll experiment and will report back what feels more natural ---
inhaling on the drive or inhaling on the recovery.
H2O
1k Poster
 
Posts: 105
Joined: March 18th, 2006, 9:51 am
Location: Frankfurt, GER

Postby H2O » June 23rd, 2006, 7:20 am

The breathing experiment yielded the following result:

I absolutely have to exhale into the catch.
Therefore in a one breath per stroke pattern it will be very hard to inhale on the recovery.
Exhaling into the catch practically forces inhaling on the drive.

It seems to have to do with compression at the catch: you can't be maximally inflated
and compressed at the same time.

I agree that the strain on the drive makes for shallower breathing.
So it seems that the particulars of rowing suggest a pattern of two shallower breaths per stroke cylce raher than one deep breath.
H2O
1k Poster
 
Posts: 105
Joined: March 18th, 2006, 9:51 am
Location: Frankfurt, GER

Postby Sean Seamus » June 23rd, 2006, 1:29 pm

there are better writers on this than I, but here is my offering

there are several options
1 - breathe any old way you happen to, and for non-competition general fitness this will suffice for many

2 - 1 breath per stroke, which leads to 2 possibilities

a - exhale on recovery, inhale on drive
b - inhale on recovery, exhale on drive

3 - 2 breaths per stroke
-----
Now, when I began erging, being a systematic "how does it work" kinda guy, I read an essay on the UK site, that advances the position that <2b> is The Right Way. So, I did that. For about a year.

Then I read some of Xeno's ideas, and tried <2a>. I am sticking with this - at least for now. I adopted the practice after my annual 2k race last February, 2006, and it took several weeks to regroove.

The UK site's essay presentation is - to me - good as far as the 1-breath-per-stroke part of the equation goes. However I am unable to find in the essay, or in my own experience, any reason to support the inhalation-on-recovery - especially given the inherent compression of the abdomen at the Catch.

As for the Weight-Lifting maxim of "Releasing the breath on the effort", I don't think it is applicable, as the effort in the rowing stroke is not so close to maximal, and if it were close to maximal could not be done 20 or 30 times per minute for an hour or more. Even a world class 2k effort has to involve about 200 strokes - try squatting or benching 200 times in 6 minutes ! Yikes !

Xeno is also very emphatic on the desirability of sitting tall, and breathing into the chest. I have considerable experience with breathing from my yoga practise, and find it very "right" to sit tall and forcibly exhale using the abdominal muscles while gliding slowly forward in the recovery. I don't think much about the inhalation, although I do lift my chest a touch to keep my sense of height and upper body leverage top-of-mind - being quite short I strive for every millimeter available ! - confident that as long as I am exhaling a whack of air every stroke, it must be getting into me on the inhalation.

Finally, #3 - 2 breaths per stroke
This is just too busy for me. But I can imagine that for really serious competitors it might be advantageous.
<I do sorta wonder about the shallowness of the breathing though - air in the windpipe is not available to the lungs - but I am certainly not qualified to pronounce upon this.>
I am kind of old, and not very competitive, and the lovely deep swing and rythym of rowing is, for me, one of its chief charms. The 1 breath per stroke fits into this well for me.

Hope this is helpful to you.
Train Don't Strain ~ Think or Sink
Sean Seamus
1k Poster
 
Posts: 108
Joined: May 4th, 2006, 2:59 pm
Location: Mississauga, Ontario, Canada

Postby Bob S. » June 23rd, 2006, 2:06 pm

H2O wrote:Some people say; "don"t worry about the breathing".
Personally I think breathing helps the rhythm.
When lifting weights I religously exhale during exertion and I notice that the drive
makes inhaling harder and breathing shallower.
But I simply need two breaths per stroke cycle.

I have no experience with the one breath per stroke cycle pattern.
Today I"ll experiment and will report back what feels more natural ---
inhaling on the drive or inhaling on the recovery.


A few years ago there was some mention in the rowing news letter about serious problems with exhaling during the drive, especially for women. It was fairly complicated and I don't remember the details any more other than that there were several female rowers that had permanent damage as a result of this problem.

I have tried inhaling on the drive a Xeno has recommended, but after a lifetime of doing it the other way, I find it very difficult to break the old habits. It certainly makes sense to me that one should inhale while pulling back with the arms. Just sitting here at my desk and pulling my elbows back naturally expands my chest. However, the arm pull is just a very short last part of the drive - probably too short for a full breath. A quick "hands away" would suggest a very quick exhalation would be in order. Neither of these seem intuitive and I would find it hard to put it into practice.

At race pace (i.e. short races) I find myself taking two or even three breaths per stroke, so I am considering the following (based on two breaths per stroke): 1. exhalation from the catch to the end of the leg drive. 2. inhalation during the back and arm pull. 3. exhalation during gettin the hands away and swinging the back. 4. inhalation as the knees are drawn up on the recovery. Number 4 is lousy, since the chest is getting compressed just before the catch. However, at lower rates, that is the best time to get in a good, long inhalation.

Just a few idle, conflicting thoughts.

Bob S.
Bob S.
Marathon Poster
 
Posts: 5142
Joined: March 16th, 2006, 12:00 pm

Postby Alissa » March 4th, 2009, 8:01 pm

Just bumping this useful-to-newbies thread. I think it used to be "sticky" at the top of this board.

HTH (someone),

Alissa
Alissa
2k Poster
 
Posts: 431
Joined: March 16th, 2006, 12:02 pm
Location: So. California

Next

Return to FAQ

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 1 guest