Another Drag Factor Question

General discussion on Training. How to get better on your erg, how to use your erg to get better at another sport, or anything else about improving your abilities.
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Charlie Reeves
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Another Drag Factor Question

Post by Charlie Reeves » July 29th, 2020, 6:10 am

Hello all. I am a Lock Down returnee to the Concept 2. I'm purely doing this for health reasons, to keep fit and lose a bit of timber.

My stats: 43 years. 6ft 5. 120kg (19st). Yes, a big fat oaf.

I used to be fit and slim(ish) and the usual, kids/commute/injury slowly saw me get out of shape. Lock down has been a blessing and I'm loving being back on the erg. I did a bit about 20 yrs ago. 5k, 18.01 mins was my best ever. Good but not amazing and, yes, I'm gutted I never got sub 18. Maybe one day!

I never knew about drag factor until I started doing some research recently and it's opened up a can of worms for me! I'm the guy who typically sticks the damper on 10 because I think it gives me a harder workout.

So, I've started doing a few 10kms. My best results so far are as follows:

Distance: 10k.
Time: 42 mins 45 secs
Ave Pace: 2.08
Ave Watts: 166
Stroke Rate: 24
Drag factor: 191

I've already dropped 4 mins. My initial aim is to get time down to 40 mins. That will be my base level which I should get in the next few weeks if I keep doing as I currently am. However, the ranking board is great and I'll want to keep rising up it!

Based on my reading on this forum and elsewhere my drag factor is crazily high at 190. I gather it should be between 120-130. I've tried it at that but I just can't maintain the same splits for very long. So, despite all the advise it just doesn't make sense to me to drop the drag factor down.

Is the idea of reducing DF to increase my stroke rate whilst reducing resistance? In my current physical form I'm finding it easier to have the low stroke rate and higher resistance to hit my split targets. I feel that I'm probably using my strength/weight rather focusing on speed or technique. Is that wrong per se?

I don't doubt that people are correct in the DF advice, but is there any other (ex) large, oafish blokes who have tackled this issue? I fear that reducing my DF to 130 will impact my next 10k and I wont get anywhere near my target time.

Many thanks!

Charlie Reeves

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Citroen
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Re: Another Drag Factor Question

Post by Citroen » July 29th, 2020, 6:54 am

Charlie Reeves wrote:
July 29th, 2020, 6:10 am

Based on my reading on this forum and elsewhere my drag factor is crazily high at 190. I gather it should be between 120-130. I've tried it at that but I just can't maintain the same splits for very long. So, despite all the advise it just doesn't make sense to me to drop the drag factor down.

Is the idea of reducing DF to increase my stroke rate whilst reducing resistance? In my current physical form I'm finding it easier to have the low stroke rate and higher resistance to hit my split targets. I feel that I'm probably using my strength/weight rather focusing on speed or technique. Is that wrong per se?

I don't doubt that people are correct in the DF advice, but is there any other (ex) large, oafish blokes who have tackled this issue? I fear that reducing my DF to 130 will impact my next 10k and I wont get anywhere near my target time.
Well done on finding drag factor rather than damper lever position. That's the first step complete.

If you're happy on 190 right now, then 120-130 (and for your size the higher end of the scale is a good target - you can drop it later) will feel like you're tugging and nothing is happening. You're not engaging the flywheel on the catch.

So this week drop it to 170. Next week drop it to 150 and so on (or do it in steps of 10). In less than five weeks you'll be on 120-130 and wondering why you were concerned about it.

Also make sure you're using your legs properly, Rowing is 70% legs, 10% body, 20% arms - not 100% hauling anchor in a storm with a woman's hands*. The sequence is catch, drive, hands away, recover, catch ... rinse and repeat . One thing you should try is rowing without tying your feet to the ergo (strapless), you won't fall off the back and you have to concentrate on getting the sequence right. It also reduces the chances of you bum shoving and rushing the recovery.

The reduced drag is all about leaving the flywheel spinning faster, but that makes getting the catch timed correctly more difficult. Ultimately your 10K time will be identical or better on the lower drag. Some of the improvement will come through better technique and better fitness. To row a 10K in 40 minutes at 190 drag needs 202.5 watts. To row 10K in 40 minutes at 90 drag also needs 202.5 watts.

The very brave folks get a side-on video of their rowing on YouTube and post the link on here for the critics to tear into.

* with apologies to Captain Redbeard and Edmund Blackadder.

lindsayh
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Re: Another Drag Factor Question

Post by lindsayh » July 29th, 2020, 8:09 am

your next 10k may be slower and maybe the one after that but in the long term you will almost certainly be faster at 125/130 that at 190. You will have a better technique and be less likely to injure yourself too. It gives you an opportunity to slow down your stroke and make it more powerful and more efficient. Dropping it in a stepwise way as Citroen suggests is a really good thing to do
Lindsay
69yo 93kg
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

Tony Cook
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Re: Another Drag Factor Question

Post by Tony Cook » July 29th, 2020, 8:54 am

Hi Charlie,
I was a 6’5 115kg oaf - but not fat - at 30yrs old. Fit from rugby and would leap on the erg and muscle out reasonably quick times up to 2k. I struggled to break 20 mins for the 5k though. Always at highest damper setting because that felt heavy and lifting heavy makes you strong so is good, right? (Wrong).
I never believed those people who said they could go as fast with the damper at 4 as at 10.
Roll forward 30 years, 10kg (+) lighter and with a bit more knowledge and practice of technique I now train at 110-120 DF. Only up it for 2k race pace 130 (but may keep that at 120 next time) and 1’ or 100m sprints 150.
I can now do 5k in under 18’.
I spent 3 or 4 weeks rowing along with Dark Horse Rowing learning technique and warm up drills, there one session where he gets you to change SPM and DF that really opened my eyes.
Lots of slow rate 18-23, for me, working on 500+ strong strokes with HR cap. I’ve only been doing it for 4/5 months and while I can’t get as quick as did as a young man on the really short stuff I am creaming my younger me on the longer pieces.
Lots of good advice from very experienced people on here so enjoy and discipline yourself to lower that drag.
Born 1963 6' 5" 105Kg
PBs only from 2020 - 100m 15.7s - 1min 355m - 500m 1:30.0 - 2k 6:47.6 - 5k 17:59.4 - 6k 22:06.7 - 30min @ 20SPM 8,132m - 10k 39:47.3 - 1 hour 15,691m - HM 1:24:37.0

Allan Olesen
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Re: Another Drag Factor Question

Post by Allan Olesen » July 29th, 2020, 3:12 pm

Charlie Reeves wrote:
July 29th, 2020, 6:10 am
Is the idea of reducing DF to increase my stroke rate whilst reducing resistance?
In most cases: No, you should not reduce resistance.

It is not the drag factor, which creates the resistance. You create the resistance. The harder you pull, the more resistance you will feel.

With the lower drag factor, you will just need a bit more speed in your drive to keep up with the flywheel, so you can create that resistance. But you can do that without increasing your stroke rate.

Charlie Reeves
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Re: Another Drag Factor Question

Post by Charlie Reeves » August 24th, 2020, 9:23 am

Thank you all for your very helpful advice. Apologies for the delayed reply, I went on holiday for 3 weeks :).

Really trying to focus on my stroke a bit more. Have been looking at my force curve and realise that I haven't really been accelerating properly with my legs. Most effort seems to be in my trunk and arms. Am slowly reducing my drag factor (at 150ish) and finding it a bit easier now that I'm maximising my legs.

jamesg
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Re: Another Drag Factor Question

Post by jamesg » August 25th, 2020, 1:56 am

1 Is the idea of reducing DF to increase my stroke rate whilst reducing resistance?
2 In my current physical form I'm finding it easier to have the low stroke rate and higher resistance to hit my split targets.
3 I feel that I'm probably using my strength/weight rather focusing on speed or technique. Is that wrong per se?
1 No. Low drag increases the speed of the pull, so lets us pull a long stroke even at low ratings. How we do this is a question of technique, involving machine settings, action sequences and posture.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=N0dzPz0tD5I

2 High drag makes the pull slow and destroys technique, as clearly seen in your numbers: 166W at 24. Evidently you are not using your legs. As a target, 250W at 20 would be a reasonable result, using standard technique.

3 Yes.
08-1940, 183cm, 87kg. Last seen MHR 162, in 2k (2020-05-16) 8.47.5@24

ArmandoChavezUNC
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Re: Another Drag Factor Question

Post by ArmandoChavezUNC » August 26th, 2020, 2:29 pm

You should absolutely not be erging at 190 df. Unless you are very well trained and have a specific reason to erg on such high df (e.g. max power workout) you should not be anywhere near that.

I'd keep it somewhere between 110-130. Even from 120 to 130 you'll feel a world of a difference. A big part of feeling engaged at the catch is good technique, which you may need to work on so you don't lose the feel of the catch going from 190 down to a more manageable number.
PBs: 2k 6:09.0 (2020), 6k 19:38.9 (2020), 10k 33:55.5 (2019), 60' 17,014m (2018), HM 1:13:27.5 (2019)

Old PBs: LP 1:09.9 (~2010), 100m 16.1 (~2010), 500m 1:26.7 (~2010), 1k 3:07.0 (~2010)

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stephparm
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Re: Another Drag Factor Question

Post by stephparm » August 26th, 2020, 8:26 pm

Citroen wrote:
July 29th, 2020, 6:54 am

The very brave folks get a side-on video of their rowing on YouTube and post the link on here for the critics to tear into.
I tell you, uploading a side-on video was one of the best things I could have done. No shame and no regrets; seriously, I got all kinds of great tips and encouragement from sharing it and asking for advice. Not only that, but it's a neat thing to look back on later to see the progression.
Did you know that if you hold a crab up to your ear, you can hear what it's like to be attacked by a crab up close?

New York State, USA
65", 124 lbs, 29 years old

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