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
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:
To see the specifications of the monitors go here:
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:
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".
Press "more options", then "display drag factor" and proceed as above.
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.
begins with the handle all the way forward (the catch
) and ends when the handle returns to this position. It has two major phases:
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.
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:
(slow speed): breathe once per stroke: inhale on the drive and exhale on the recovery.
(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
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
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
Xeno Mueller's Plan
and, if you like high intensity lower volume,
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:
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.
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