Intro and noob (newb) question: weak push from legs?

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chicagoal
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Intro and noob (newb) question: weak push from legs?

Post by chicagoal » August 28th, 2020, 11:25 am

Hi all. What a great community here!

Here's me: I'm 5' 7" (and slipping), 170lbs, and 64 years old. I'm no athlete, never have been, but I'm active and seem to have been lucky in the gene lottery. Resting HR is in the 60s.

I'm kind of new to rowing, at least to doing it right. I actually used a C2 at my gym pretty regularly, for a few years, but only as part of a routine. Following about 10 miles on a stationary bike doing intervals, pretty hard, I would do a 2K on the rower. My only coaching was a general trainer who said my form was 'good.' Pre-covid I'd started doing intervals in the 2K, and got my time down from 10"+ to maybe 8:30 which seemed fast to me but I know wasn't. I think my stroke rate was low 30s and if I wanted more speed I simply pulled faster--also I ramped up the damper to 9 or so. At this point I wasn't using any of the display's advanced functions;I have no idea what my power curve or wattage was. I still felt I was getting a good workout from the rower and my core, back, and shoulders certainly showed it. My legs too but that was likely the bike.

It's now been six months since I was at the gym, and I found the thing I missed the most and couldn't do at home was row. So a few weeks ago I got my own Model D and I have started over from scratch. Obviously there's a LOT more to rowing and the rower and I want to use that...not to compete, but for general fitness and to keep the ol' machine going.

I've definitely lost a step and gained about 10 lbs since COVID but I'm not in bad shape. I have no problem rowing 5K. Damper has mostly been at a more sensible 3 or 4.

There is lots of advice here, lots of free videos on youtube, from Dark Horse or that Jim Carrey-looking dude, but it's a bit hard to put what they're doing into practice.

What I don't seem to be able to do is get much power out of my legs. Trying a 'legs only' push yields a pretty anemic force curve, like a foothill. At most, with a full stroke, the peak is at the third bar on the graph. I suspect that my form is not actually good...though not terrible either, as I have some endurance and am not hurting myself.

Last 5K, my fastest 1K was 2:21, stroke rate 30 (it had been high 20s), drag factor 103, watts low 100s (most was 123). Max HR according to my watch was 152, average 129. (I can hit 170 for a brief burst on the bike.) That row totaled about 25:30 though I had lost several seconds midway through to reset my podcast.

I imagine what I'm describing is not unusual, and I'll find my way through eventually, but any specific advice is welcome. I've actually thought of consulting a local coach just to observe and correct my form, but the two I emailed haven't responded.

ps: I haven't seen this noted, but at the catch there is a slight 'hitch' in the chain before it engages; is this just the clutch?

Allan Olesen
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Re: Intro and noob (newb) question: weak push from legs?

Post by Allan Olesen » August 28th, 2020, 12:56 pm

chicagoal wrote:
August 28th, 2020, 11:25 am
ps: I haven't seen this noted, but at the catch there is a slight 'hitch' in the chain before it engages; is this just the clutch?
No, it is you. You need to catch up with the velocity of the still spinning wheel, before the clutch can engage. It will take some fractions of a second to accelerate your body up to this velocity, and in that time you will not get any resistance.

Regarding the weak push:
When I read these threads, I am often unsure if the poster's problem is a lack of strength,so he can't create the push, or his problem is a lack of ability to "feel the correct movement", which will create the push.

If your problem is the latter, I believe strongly in listening to the fan in the flywheel. When you do it right, each stroke will create a powerful "whoosh" as the flywheel accelerates hard. I think this gives a more intuitive feedback than the force curve or any of the numbers in the display.

So try a short session where you don't focus on any pace, watts or stroke rate. Only focus on creating a good powerful whoosh, using mainly your legs, and go slowly back to the catch of the next stroke. Then create another good whoosh and so on. Using your ears, you should be able to know when your leg drive is working.

This should give some fundamental feel for the correct application of force at the start of the drive. When you have that covered, you can use the power curve as a helper to get a smooth transition from legs to hips to arms.

chicagoal
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Re: Intro and noob (newb) question: weak push from legs?

Post by chicagoal » August 28th, 2020, 3:45 pm

That's a great suggestion--thanks! Right now a bit frustrated as I don't have room in the basement for the rower yet so it's in my garage and I've been setting it up on the patio in the evenings. Weather has been ideal for that up to the last few days. Today it's over 100º farenheit, so not ideal for rowing or anything else.

jamesg
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Re: Intro and noob (newb) question: weak push from legs?

Post by jamesg » August 30th, 2020, 12:36 pm

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

The procedure is: develop a long stroke with the necessary sequences; use it at low rating; use it at higher ratings as endurance improves.

Engaging the legs at the catch accelerates the entire body mass asap to reach flywheel speed, and so reduce slack. This is an essential part of technique since it makes the legs do most of the work. They are easily strong enough to overload our CV system and so produce a training effect even at very low ratings.

At 5'7 (1.7m) using this style you can probably pull a stroke length 1.15m and average force 35 kg (seen in ergdata), so Power 130W at rating 20. In the force curve, the peak will appear just before halfway.
08-1940, 183cm, 87kg. Last seen MHR 162, in 2k (2020-05-16) 8.47.5@24

chicagoal
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Re: Intro and noob (newb) question: weak push from legs?

Post by chicagoal » August 31st, 2020, 12:28 pm

Thanks both Allan and James.

This weekend I worked on pick drills to get a better feel for the three parts of the drive. Dark Horse has a good beginner video for that.

Yesterday I did a 2K using Allan's advice to just listen to the flywheel, and sure enough that was a big help: bigger whoosh=better force curve.

Further, James was pretty damn accurate in his estimates: my drive length was 1.24 meters, avg force 71lbs (32kg), avg watts 122, rate 24. Drag factor 99. Last 500m was strongest so evidently I've got plenty more capacity, and I intend to push that a bit today.

I also found this bit of advice, from a guy who seems to know something about rowing. ;- )

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hiQ0Mqlk_Lo

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