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Performance Question

Posted: February 12th, 2020, 7:52 am
by Gamespy10
Hello Everyone

I am not a new rower but i am new to these forums i have rowed on and off since i was 16 but have never been taught. I have just come back to it after a 4 month break where i have done very little fitness and my diet has been very bad.

I have been reading about Ideal Stroke rate and dampener settings on these forums and wanted to see what other more experienced rowers opinions are on how i am doing. Just reading around I'm concerned maybe my stroke rate is too high and my damper setting is too high, i used drag factor to calculate it but wanted some second opinions.

I'm Male 26, 172cm and about 85kg

My current setting i use for rowing is 8 which gives me these times:

SPM 28-30
Time 19:57

SPM 27-29
Time: 7:52

I'm currently rowing about 4 times a week doing a mix of intervals and longer set pieces. What id like to know is am i doing okay for getting back into rowing? should i change my settings at all or does this look okay for someone who is a bit out of shape getting back into the sport.

Any advice would be appreciated.

Re: Performance Question

Posted: February 12th, 2020, 3:44 pm
by MPx
We need to talk about Drag Fractor (which is common to all machines) rather than damper setting (which is likely to be different on different machines). So first thing tell us what drag factor you used to "calculate" the 8 is on your machine. If the machine is in good nick and clean my guess would be a DF of about 160? That is certainly higher than nearly everyone here would use for a 2k and/or 5k piece. But if the machine fan cage is a bit dusty the DF may only be 130 (or any other number). 130 is similar to most others.

You also mention rating. Given your height I don't think you are rating too high if these pieces are being rowed at around your best pace. Its unusual to rate higher on the 5k than the 2k - most will be the other way around. Indeed for a 2k test, I'd expect to see at least 30spm, many of us would rate higher. For the 5k your rating is fine. However, if these are just steady state training pieces then the rate is higher than most would expect to see.

You're already under 2:00 pace for both pieces which is good. Given your youth you will have much potential to improve further so you should spend some time increasing the power of your stroke. To do that, slow the rate a bit, drive harder and quicker, spend longer on the recovery. Good luck with it...

Re: Performance Question

Posted: February 12th, 2020, 5:28 pm
by Dangerscouse
Following on from what Mike said, the fact that your stroke rate is naturally high is arguably a good thing: higher rates are more based on aerobic fitness and building strength is easier to do...note easier, not easy!

For your longer distances try and lower the stroke rate slowly, going too fast will feel weird and you will probably struggle with breathing sequence. I lowered my natural stroke rate of r28 to r20 over a number of weeks, lowering it by two spm about every two weeks or when it felt comfortable.

Apart from that, stay patient, keep chipping away and enjoy the process

Re: Performance Question

Posted: February 13th, 2020, 2:13 am
by jamesg
rowed on and off since i was 16 but have never been taught.
You're doing a lot of work, but perhaps making it harder for yourself than necessary. High ratings in training usually suggest a short stroke, due to the wrong recovery sequence that leaves us in a weak catch posture. The power you're now delivering should be possible at no more than 22.

See: ... que-videos

This is what C2 says about how to get to a strong posture at the catch:
The Recovery
Extend your arms until they straighten before leaning from the hips towards the flywheel.
Once your hands have cleared your knees, allow your knees to bend and gradually slide the seat forward on the monorail.
For your next stroke, return to the catch position with shoulders relaxed and shins vertical.

The intent here is to make it possible to use the legs hard, fast and first, at the catch.

High feet and high drag will also cause problems with posture and speed of action. If you lift your hands over knees when coming forward, you certainly need to change the recovery sequence.

Re: Performance Question

Posted: February 13th, 2020, 6:31 am
by Gamespy10
Hi Everyone

Thanks for your advice and support, i am happy to see that i'm not doing too badly in your estimation. I will try to answer everything posed in your three posts above.

Dangerscouse & MPx

For the 2K i got the SPM wrong i had a look when i got home from work and I average higher than on a 5K (29-32) the higher number is in the last 500m. These are my best times that i am posting not steady state, i very rarely if ever row steady state i always go for beating my last time against a pace boat or intervals.

After reading a lot about this yesterday i tried rowing a 3k at a damper setting 5, I could keep my pace at just under 2min/500m with an SPM of about 25-27 but i found that this taxed me a lot more and was a lot harder than rowing at my usual pace and higher damper setting. The machine i am using is quite new so i doubt the flywheel will be performing below normal but i will check my drag factor tonight.


In terms of technique there may be some things i do wrong i will try and video tonight and post so you can have a look but just going through what you mentioned. I believe i do most of this correctly my major form fault that i can recognize is having bent wrists at full extension of the stroke. My hands move in a straight line too and from the fly wheel so my knees do not get in the way.

I don't know weather this could be causing the high SPM but i have short legs for my height makes buying trousers a nightmare so it does mean that my strokes aren't maybe as long as some.

Will try and post a video as i'm sure there's things i can correct in my technique but there's some contradiction in the answers above as MPx said that the SPM was fine and Dangerscouse said arguably it was a good thing.

I will definitely try to do some training at lower SPM rates to develop some more power in my legs because that potentially is holding me back. Just my experiment yesterday at 3K showed that i find putting more strength in the stroke a lot harder, I can do it but it felt much worse than how i normally row.

Thanks again and i look forward to seeing your responses.

Re: Performance Question

Posted: February 13th, 2020, 4:37 pm
by jamesg
High drag with high ratings is not a good recipe for learning to row.

Start low rating and low drag, so that you can see what you are doing in terms of sequence and posture to ensure a full length stroke.

Rowing is not running where we are forced to take the next step pretty soon; boats and flywheels don't stop, we can take all the time we want. Or should I say need: a good stroke has a lot of work in it.

If you use ergdata you can see what you are doing. A stroke of length 100 cm, force 50 kg, at rating 20 is 160 Watts, with each stroke worth 8 Watt-minutes; more than enough to get you fit.

Re: Performance Question

Posted: February 13th, 2020, 4:54 pm
by Dangerscouse
I suspect you need to build strength in your legs and to just get used to it, as rowing at lower rates is a different type of effort as you will need to adapt to a different breathing sequence.

Re: Performance Question

Posted: February 14th, 2020, 5:10 am
by Gamespy10
I Agree i need to build strength in my legs and will now work this into training.

James, i'm not starting to learn to row i started 10 years ago, i didn't immediately jump to high settings i started at the lower end and then about 3/4 years ago learnt about drag factor and set myself up on a higher setting based on what i was getting on the monitor. I had no one to coach me is what i meant in my first post.

Because of the advice above i will do some training at lower settings focusing on more powerful strokes, i believe this is where i need to develop more than the aerobic fitness based on what you have been saying.

I Didn't have time last night but i will try to post a video showing my form for critique. I will also post my drag factors for settings 5 through 8, My understanding is that for a male of 75kg+ a DF of 125-140 is optimal.