How can I improve on pushing watts?

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Binskins
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How can I improve on pushing watts?

Post by Binskins » February 16th, 2021, 1:10 pm

Ok, here's a newbie question for everyone. I'll try to explain it as best I can and hope it makes sense.

I am 64 years old, 5'6", weigh about 142 lbs, and am of a slim build. I've also very fit aerobically, with a resting HR of 52.

I'd like to improve my times, which on my last 2K test were 2:12/2:27/2:27/2:19 for a total of 9:39 min. I ended up with an average stroke rate of 28 with splits rates of 27, 28, 29, and 30 respectively. I had to increase the stroke rates to get the same watts as my legs tired.

The trouble is, my average watts were only at 115. Watts on the splits were 128/109/110/113. I found I had to increase my stroke rate to keep the watts even somewhat consistent. Also, I did this test without any warm-up. According to my fitness tracker and my own impression, even with an average SR of 28, I never reached an anaerobic state during this test.

All this suggests to me that I have significant room for improvement but I'm not sure how to get there. I just seem to have no ability to increase my watts or to get to an anaerobic state except at very high stroke rates of 30 and above. This conflicts with what I've been told - to train at and aim for an average stroke rate of 28 SPR at the most. I know my skinny, narrow feet with high arches don't help any, but I can't change that :(

Any ideas as to how I can train to maximize my 2K watts and performance would be most welcome!

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hjs
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Re: How can I improve on pushing watts?

Post by hjs » February 16th, 2021, 1:52 pm

If you are going anaerobic you simply are holding back, to go faster, put more effort in.

Re 28 spm, why do you feel the need to limit your speed of motion? Given you 2k time, 28 is plenty, but in itself rating higher is fine.

Don’t know how big you are, keep in mind that the machine does not know how big the person is that does pull the chain, if you are 50kg, it will be hard to be good. If you are not big, say around 75kg, you should be able to do a good bit better.

Re training, if you haven’t rowed much you simply should put in the meters, beginners often lack specific conditioning, this will pick up fast in the early stayes. Rowing is very much about putting in the work.
Number 1 goal should be to build a good strong stroke, no beginner no matter how fit, will have a good stroke, everybody has weaknesses to train.

Binskins
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Re: How can I improve on pushing watts?

Post by Binskins » February 16th, 2021, 2:21 pm

Thanks for the feedback! I weigh around 140 lbs. Also have very narrow feet with high arches, which I think makes it a little more difficult to up the watts since only about half of my foot makes contact with the machine. My coach has said that my stroke is fine, and I also have a mirror next to the erg so I can check my form while I row.

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hjs
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Re: How can I improve on pushing watts?

Post by hjs » February 16th, 2021, 3:19 pm

Binskins wrote:
February 16th, 2021, 2:21 pm
Thanks for the feedback! I weigh around 140 lbs. Also have very narrow feet with high arches, which I think makes it a little more difficult to up the watts since only about half of my foot makes contact with the machine. My coach has said that my stroke is fine, and I also have a mirror next to the erg so I can check my form while I row.
Sorry ofcourse you posted your stats already.

Don’t think your feet matter much, your feet should not be of feetrest most of the time, we start on the ball only and finish on the whole foot.
I myself have a high arch also, but wider. High arches mostly mean having very inflexible feet. And maybe also ankles, but it does not bother rowing much.

Re technique, you can find plenty of newbies showing a clip of their rowing asking for tips. Often there things to change, trainers without a rowing background often are not the best to give advice. But again, rowing is very much about putting in the work, there is not one single best technique. But rough rules do apply. May look around at those others and see what comments they got.

Binskins
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Re: How can I improve on pushing watts?

Post by Binskins » February 16th, 2021, 3:24 pm

Thanks again. I'm going to do a couple of tests aiming for 30 average watts and see how that feels. Trial and error may be the best guide!

jamesg
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Re: How can I improve on pushing watts?

Post by jamesg » February 17th, 2021, 2:24 am

64 years, 5'6", 142 lbs, RHR of 52; F.
RowErg power is the product of: net length of stroke; average handle force; rating.

At your height and weight I'd estimate a stroke worth about 4 Watt minutes**, so 80 to 100 W in training at 20-25, 140W in a sprint at 35. Your 115W/28 indicates a good stroke and also endurance. A good warm up and flat pacing will help a little.

So well done. If you want to do any "better" you can do any mix of three things: pull harder, pull longer, increase the rating. Using ergdata you can see it all. But I wouldn't bother, you're doing perfectly well as is. The only thing you need to do is make sure you are using standard rowing technique, which uses mostly the legs. If not you're putting too much load on the wrong muscle groups and will pay for it. Any aches and pains could be indicators of this.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zQ82RYIFLN8

The only machine adjustments available are foot height and drag. I keep both as low as possible because I want to stay comfortable.

** stroke work content is FL/6, with F in kg, length m. Example: 25kg x 1 meter x 9.81/60 = 4.1 Watt minutes; at rate 20, 4.1x20=82 W.
I took 60% of your height (1.68 x 0.6 = 1) as length and 40% of weight (= 64x0.4 = 25) as average handle force. These can be seen in ergdata.
08-1940, 183cm, 84kg. Last seen MHR 155, in 2k (2020-12-03) 8.47.6@23

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jackarabit
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Re: How can I improve on pushing watts?

Post by jackarabit » February 17th, 2021, 9:33 am

With specific reference to the 2k, please warm up. 2-3k of very modest effort @ 2:40+ pace punctuated by a series of (4-5) bursts of harder efforts of 30-45” each approaching closer to your proven average race pace (or average race watts) should get the whole mechanism top oiling like an idling engine.

The next bit is harder: don’t go off like a sky rocket at start but don’t leave a gallon of gas in the tank at the end either. Get on target pace early and hold it steady. This will always be and should be a physical and psychological challenge every time but steady pace is energy-conserving. Think of the 2k as a window on opportunity not desperation. You have lots of time to do it right and way too much to afford to do it bassackwards so don’t front load unsustainable pace.

So no worrying that it will take you as long as it takes you to complete but get to target pace quickly and then visualize that pace arrow holding steady until at least 1400m. Don’t try the Hail Mary at that point but give your attention to attempting a very gradual increase of rate and pace until 100-150m to go. At or about, you just need grunt to make the bus so jettison the strategy and use all you got left (higher rate, back, shoulders, elbows and jaws) to sprint the final 50-100m and clamp down on elapsed time. This will hurt. You will be pleased with the red, blue, and silver, streamlined bullet that is you when you apply yourself to a bit of ballistic stylin’. B)
There are two types of people in this world: Those who can extrapolate from incomplete data

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Binskins
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Re: How can I improve on pushing watts?

Post by Binskins » February 17th, 2021, 11:37 am

This is awesome, jackarabit! Great advice. When that adrenaline shot hits at the start, it's hard to rein in the horse. My coach thinks a target pace avg 0f 28-29 would be sustainable and use up some of that extra energy along the way before that last sprint.

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jackarabit
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Re: How can I improve on pushing watts?

Post by jackarabit » February 17th, 2021, 5:15 pm

Rate (strokes/‘) is the multiplier; power (watt’/stroke) the multiplicand. If you don’t easily go anaerobic at your current average 2k pace, rating up will produce increased pace assuming that current average powercan be sustained at higher rates. So current packet of power delivered at greater frequency. 30-35 spm may be a free lunch for you!

Increasing explosive power is going to be a serious challenge. Good news is your 2k time is good for 36th of 93 verified 2k times in FHWT, age 61-69 category of Concept 2 2021 rankings.
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mitchel674
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Re: How can I improve on pushing watts?

Post by mitchel674 » February 23rd, 2021, 9:16 am

Look at your splits. A classic "fly and die". You came out so quick in the first 500m that you spent the next 1500m trying to recover. A better 2k race plan will serve you well. Pick your target pace and aim to be close to it at your first 500m. Try to negative split the rest of the way in.

As far as your power, consider doing some more low rate work and focusing on each stroke. Rowing at 20-22spm while watching the force curve will have you concentrating on your form and maximizing power with each stroke. Once you become comfortable at this rate, you can then try to utilize your more powerful stroke at higher ratings. The goal shouldn't be to compensate for your weak stroke by rating higher.

I think your comments about your feet are irrelevant. Regardless of your arch, you are able to transfer the force of your drive. You can walk, jump, etc... Your feet are not limiting your rowing power.
55yo male, 6ft, 154lbs

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