How low can you go with strokes per minute (rating) ?

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Dancer Don
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How low can you go with strokes per minute (rating) ?

Post by Dancer Don » April 22nd, 2018, 4:48 am

Hi, I've been trying to build an aerobic base with long UT2/Maffetone rows. I've only been doing this a month so after reading lots of forum posts and watching many videos, I've been trying to go slow with good technique. I'm trying limiting my heartrate with a HR monitor and I've found that my rating drifts way below the recommended 18-24 spm range. At the end of a long row it can get down to 11-13, sometimes hitting 10. If trying to keep HR from going up, it seems easier to slow down the recovery, and keep the same amount of drive, than it is to try to reduce the strength of the drive. It also seems more efficient in conserving HR to give the heart more time to rest on the the recovery than to pull less on the drive.

Does anyone see any issues with this or am I doing the right thing?

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Re: How low can you go with strokes per minute (rating) ?

Post by Dangerscouse » April 22nd, 2018, 5:07 am

Hi Don, personally I naturally rate at circa 28spm but I have managed to get to grips with circa 22spm. I find 19-20spm quite hard and any less is out of the question for me.

I think you should keep the strokes at 18-24 and reduce the power and time per 500m. I'd have thought going at 10spm is detrimental to form and technique as it's a very long time to pause between strokes.

Time and pace isn't important to start with, it's just your ego controlling your thoughts. Fitness and time will happen but just stay patient. If I was you i'd forget about the HR monitor as it's not helping you at the moment, or if you do use it just accept the pace and time is what it is
45 HWT; 6' 4"; Liverpool 1k= 3:09; 2k= 6:36; 5k= 17:27; 6k= 21:23; 10k= 36:21 30mins= 8,356m 60mins= 16,317m HM= 1:18:40; FM= 2:49:39; 50k= 3:28:18; 100k= 7:52:44; 12hrs = 153km

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Re: How low can you go with strokes per minute (rating) ?

Post by JerekKruger » April 22nd, 2018, 5:21 am

Anything lower than 15 feels unnatural to me. I either have to pause (and the finish or at body rocked over) or I have to expend energy to slow my recovery down. Both these things are bad (well the former can be used as a training tool, but it's not good general technique) so as far as I'm concerned rate 15 is my floor.

You might be very different to me, but I suspect you're doing one of the two things I describe above i.e. pausing at some point in the stroke or artificially slowing your recovery. I don't think either of these are good habits to get into. The former makes rating up difficult and the latter is wasting energy that's not going into the machine.

I'd agree with Stu: if set a lower cap of 18 and, if need be, weaken your drive if you can't keep your heart rate in the appropriate zone.
Tom | 33 | 6'6" | 93kg

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Dancer Don
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Re: How low can you go with strokes per minute (rating) ?

Post by Dancer Don » April 22nd, 2018, 6:37 am

I did start out around 30spm, and only by watching technique videos figured out how to bring my spm down. So I definitely do not naturally go slow.

Accepting what HR limited UT2 gives you requires you to be egoless. I'm not that big (5' 7", 150lbs), and not that fit (yet), so staying in UT2 gives me only around 66 watts. I got to low spms by staring at the HR number on the monitor during the recovery and trying to go into a zen like state where I'm trying to relax as much of my body as possible to get that number down. I can pause at the end of the recovery, right at the catch, but generally only do so when I'm dropping my spms because I've exceeded my HR target. Right at the point I'm going from 14 to 12 spm for instance, I'll pause at the catch, but the next stroke I'll just slowmo my recovery even more so there are no pauses.

Anyway if the consensus is that I should try to keep it at least 18, I can try to do that. I will note that there seems to be some that measure stroke quality by watts/spm, and by that measure my watts/spm is best when I get the spm down.

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Re: How low can you go with strokes per minute (rating) ?

Post by JerekKruger » April 22nd, 2018, 7:03 am

How reliable is the max heart rate measurement you're using to determine your training zones? It can make a surprising amount of difference if you've not got an accurate measurement of your max heart rate.

With that said, unless you're doing a lot of volume, you probably don't need to do much UT2 anyway. You're going to get more bang for your buck doing mostly UT1 work in my opinion.

As for stroke power index (power/rate): it's only really a measure of quality if you can maintain it as you rate up. If your SPI is dropping significantly as you rate up then it's a sign that you're trying to use too powerful a drive. This might sound like a good thing, but if you can't maintain it at higher rates when doing something like a 2k it's not. There's a reason one definition of steady state is often given as 50-60% of 2k power and that's because people tend to row 2k at 30-36: 50% of 36 is 18, 60% of 30 is 18, so it's basically the power that, at rate 18, maintains your SPI for a 2k.
Tom | 33 | 6'6" | 93kg

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Dancer Don
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Re: How low can you go with strokes per minute (rating) ?

Post by Dancer Don » April 22nd, 2018, 7:32 am

The HR monitor seems reliable. The whole point of staying in UT2 is to be able to do volume every day. When I let my HR creep into UT1 I feel fatigued the next day. If I stay in UT2 I can do more rowing the next day. Over time I'm going to try to increase the amount I do every day.

I have not tried time trialing a 2k yet, but your post does give me something to shoot for. If 2k is usually around double UT2 then I can try for around a 132 watt pace.

Thanks for all the responses!

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Re: How low can you go with strokes per minute (rating) ?

Post by lindsayh » April 22nd, 2018, 8:15 am

I cant imagine going that slowly and cant imagine that it delivers a good training effect.
I would worry a bit about watts/stroke (SPI) - you could be training a very weak stroke. Aim say 8-10 watts per stroke no matter what your SR.
I agree too that you need to be clear about your HR training zones - how have you set them up? How have you determined your MHR? If your MHR is inaccurate the UT1/UT2 zones will not be right. IMO you should be able to do a good UT1 session without affecting the next day's session although that may have to come with fitness improvements.
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Re: How low can you go with strokes per minute (rating) ?

Post by JerekKruger » April 22nd, 2018, 9:10 am

Dancer Don wrote:The HR monitor seems reliable.
I wasn't questioning the accuracy of your heart rate monitor, I was wondering whether the max heart rate number you're using to set training zones is accurate. Max heart rate tests are unpleasant affairs and I'd guess most people don't push as hard as they need to to get an actual max heart rate. Even worse is using one of the various formulas for max heart rate (220-age or similar). Those can be wildly inaccurate.

If your max heart rate measurement isn't accurate then your training zones will also be wrong, so if you're going to use them you need an accurate measurement.
The whole point of staying in UT2 is to be able to do volume every day. When I let my HR creep into UT1 I feel fatigued the next day. If I stay in UT2 I can do more rowing the next day. Over time I'm going to try to increase the amount I do every day.
How long have you been rowing and what's your exercise background before that? If you're relatively new to the machine and aren't already aerobically pretty fit then I'd say you'd be much better off training fewer days a week at a higher intensity and slowly building up the volume (the Beginner Pete Plan does this very well).

At the beginner level I'd even go so far as to say using heart rate training zones isn't a good idea. One reason for this is what I mention above: getting a max heart rate measurement is hard and probably not a worthwhile investment for a beginner. The other reason is precisely your question: it's far too easy to get hung up on and can get in the way of progress.
Tom | 33 | 6'6" | 93kg

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Re: How low can you go with strokes per minute (rating) ?

Post by jackarabit » April 22nd, 2018, 9:42 am

Don, there’s buckin and kickin for mustangs, gaits for saddle bred, suspended animation for trick ponies. In the long view, the biggest problem I see with the disciplined nurture of heart rate suppression is that the trick has to be unlearned to reach an intensity of exertion not merely associated with athletic accomplishment but also with those moments in life which demand every bit of functional fitness. I don’t know your age, build, current fitness nor medical history but will wager blind that doing a maximal balls to the wall 2k erg will serve to convince you that the impact on cv resources of your current Maffetone training regimen never approaches the lower threshold of oxy utilization zone 2. Don’t want to have a heart attack changing a tire now, do we? Or carrying a bag of groceries up two flights of stairs?

Incidentally, I cannonball into the pool of quotidien solipsism at a fluid and maintainable rate 17 but have trouble doing 16 without pause either at finish or at hands out of rear leg of erg :lol:. Please don’t pause at the catch! We must not be seen to “check the boat” (quaint old survival from the Mother Sport and a clue to understanding the fine points of “applying” energy to a man/machine lashup that actually has to get up and go. Yeehaw!).
There are two types of people in this world: Those who can extrapolate from incomplete data

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Re: How low can you go with strokes per minute (rating) ?

Post by G-dub » April 22nd, 2018, 10:53 am

Maffetone method of determining HR does establish a potential very low ceiling. And the erg seems to associate with a higher HR than say biking does. You might test it a little - can you still breath comfortably at a higher rate/ pace? Can you still talk? Does it still feel about 6.5-7 out of 10 in terms of effort? Contrary to what Maffetone says, you can venture out of his range and still survive.

As to rate - I think the principle you are using if keeping drive solid is good. But as others have pointed out, you must also be reinforcing a good recovery sequence and have some flow too. I mentioned the other day finally feeling comfortable rowing at 16/17 in terms of keeping a decent flow going in the recovery and not having to stop anywhere. A couple of years ago 18/19 felt too slow. But we are all different and what one person can do others might not feel comfortable. At 5’7” what you are doing seems super slow! But if it’s well put together I don’t think there is a rule that says you can’t.
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Re: How low can you go with strokes per minute (rating) ?

Post by jamesg » April 23rd, 2018, 1:11 am

I've only been doing this a month so. I'm limiting my heartrate with a HR monitor
HR is important only as a warning sign: if it's high and still going up fast, stop before you're forced to stop.

You (Dancer..) probably have strong legs. If you already have technique too, your legs will quickly overload your waste removal systems, leading to high HRs. So take it easy for now. The waste systems will uprate themselves in their own good time, on a monthly timescale at least.

Taking it easy can be done in at least three ways: low ratings; short strokes; short medium-low intensity (max 2W/kg) intervals with say 1-2 minutes rest, any combination of these. The third option will not prohibit good technique, so should suit you. NB You don't need to wrench the machine apart every stroke.
78y, 188cm, 87kg, last seen MHR 163. 2k (24 May 19) 8.46.6@22

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Re: How low can you go with strokes per minute (rating) ?

Post by edinborogh » April 23rd, 2018, 7:16 am

when i started rowing i couldnt do low SPM, didnt feel "normal".
Today on longer rows i dont go above 18 SPM and i want to work it down to 16 with higher power drive.

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Re: How low can you go with strokes per minute (rating) ?

Post by bob01 » April 23rd, 2018, 7:55 am

Hi I have similarly worked my self to a lower stroke rate... it feels natural... I can use the data on ergdata and the force graph to iron out/ improve my stroke efficiency.

However, I am concerned that when it comes to a fast 2k my training won't be specific enough to hold the required rate.

Thoughts ??

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Re: How low can you go with strokes per minute (rating) ?

Post by lindsayh » April 23rd, 2018, 8:39 am

bob01 wrote:Hi I have similarly worked my self to a lower stroke rate... it feels natural... I can use the data on ergdata and the force graph to iron out/ improve my stroke efficiency. However, I am concerned that when it comes to a fast 2k my training won't be specific enough to hold the required rate.
Thoughts ??
If you are training for fast 2k then you will need to add specific training to get you to 30+sr if you want to do well. About 20% of your training will need to be well above UT1 and with some into AN (say >110% of 2k watts) as you need to be prepared to get to anerobic. Have a look at the plan threads here to get you some ideas = Pete Plan Wolverine and Interactive are all designed to get you to a fast 2k.
Lindsay
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Sydney Australia
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PBs (65y+) 1 min 349m, 500m 1:29.8, 1k 3:11.7 2k 6:47.4, 5km 18:07.9, 30' 7928m, 10k 37:57.2, 60' 15368m

Dangerscouse
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Re: How low can you go with strokes per minute (rating) ?

Post by Dangerscouse » April 23rd, 2018, 8:43 am

bob01 wrote:Hi I have similarly worked my self to a lower stroke rate... it feels natural... I can use the data on ergdata and the force graph to iron out/ improve my stroke efficiency.

However, I am concerned that when it comes to a fast 2k my training won't be specific enough to hold the required rate.

Thoughts ??
As Lindsay says you will need to mix up your training with fast and slow sessions. Both are important and totally different in how they make you feel.
45 HWT; 6' 4"; Liverpool 1k= 3:09; 2k= 6:36; 5k= 17:27; 6k= 21:23; 10k= 36:21 30mins= 8,356m 60mins= 16,317m HM= 1:18:40; FM= 2:49:39; 50k= 3:28:18; 100k= 7:52:44; 12hrs = 153km

"You reap what you Row"

Instagram: stuwenman

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