Incorrect form - Need advise please!!!

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Incorrect form - Need advise please!!!

Post by MaverickThomas » May 23rd, 2020, 2:22 am

I'm fat. 5'9", 245lbs.

When I'm in the catch, my belly and my knees want to occupy the same space. This leads me to making one of a few choices:

1- Keep knees in front of me but vastly shorten my stroke (by about 6 inches).
2- Let knees "butterfly" - they go outside my arms and get out of the way of my belly
3- Lean back to give more room for both to co-exist (still a little shorter stroke and after about 15 minutes my back hurts a bit)

Eventually the problem will sort itself out as my gut disappears but until then I want to make sure that I'm not setting myself up for an injury or cheating myself of the best workout I can get.
Are there any suggestions for which approach I should prefer (or another option entirely)?

It was reading the FAQ and going through the beginners material that made me realize that this was a problem with my form but I was not able to find anything that specifically addressed what a big ol' fatty should do.

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Re: Incorrect form - Need advise please!!!

Post by Slothful1 » May 23rd, 2020, 4:18 am

From personal experience I prefer 2. I suspect it gives the closest compromise to the ideal stroke, i.e. being able to take the catch with a strong back leaning slightly forward, and adding some power to the stroke as you move into the lean back.

Option 1 would probably be the next best option, but you may lose more of the benefit by trading the slightly stronger pushback with the legs for a much shorter stroke. I think option 3 might lead to back problems, because you're not bracing yourself strongly enough when pushing back from the catch.

With 2, as long as you know what the ideal is, and you're working towards it, you can gradually reduce the butterflied legs, with the rest of the stroke staying pretty consistent over time.

I started in 2003, and haven't lost the gut enough to get to the perfect stroke, but so far I'm happy enough with it. Other parts of my fitness are the limiting factors on performance, along with having to waste watts on shifting the additional bulk up and down. If the weight comes down, the power will start contributing to what the PM5 can measure. My profile picture taken at the 2018 BRIC shows a bit of what my kids called "the bullfrog" pose :). [Edit - profile pictures seem to have disappeared?]

Good luck with the journey ahead, you've made the right start. If you feel like joining a team, we're always interested over at the Forum Flyers.


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Re: Incorrect form - Need advise please!!!

Post by Dangerscouse » May 23rd, 2020, 4:21 am

I would shorten your stroke as this is the most 'correctable' solution. Anything that hurts your back is a bad idea and I'm not sure but spreading your knees will possibly hurt your hips, and probably back due to a weaker leg drive.

Are you maximising your arm length too? Straight arms and leaning into the catch as far as possible with a hip hinge?
46 HWT; 6' 4"; 1k= 3:09; 2k= 6:36; 5k= 17:27; 6k= 21:09; 10k= 36:21 30mins= 8,428m 60mins= 16,331m HM= 1:18:40; FM= 2:45:49; 50k= 3:21:14; 100k= 7:52:44; 12hrs = 153km

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Re: Incorrect form - Need advise please!!!

Post by jamesg » May 23rd, 2020, 4:57 am

Keep your catch posture as close to ideal as possible, with the knee angle at no less than 45 degrees and shins not beyond vertical. This is the angle that lets us put most work into the stroke, using the legs, so is essential.

The recovery sequence is: hands away, then swing, then slide; this will let you get close to the posture needed, even if you can't go all the way.

All the rest of our bits and pieces may go where they like or can, in any case they don't contribute much to the Work to be done. But the legs are strong, so we use them as much as possible.

When you find yourself forced to pull at low ratings, well done, it means you are rowing.
08-1940, 183cm, 87kg. Last seen MHR 162, in 2k (2020-05-16) 8.47.5@24

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Re: Incorrect form - Need advise please!!!

Post by lsufan1972 » May 26th, 2020, 10:37 am

I definitely understand your frustrations here.

Personally, I went for a combination of things.
When I was rowing shorter (harder) rows to attempt to set PRs, I tried to stay as close to perfect form as possible.
On the longer and/or slower rows I tried to stay close, but went with comfort over form.

I didn't personally feel any pain after my rows by sacrificing form a little, but would be very careful to take care of any aches that could worsen with time.

I'm now down 40 pounds, but with a long way to go still.
I'm able to "butterfly", but while keeping my knees just inside or outside of my arms depending on the day and how I feel.
Over time it can definitely be easier to perfect your form.

Bottom line (for me at least) was that I wanted to be able to row often, so I needed to enjoy what I was doing.
Comfort for me while on the rower allowed me to row more often and longer, which has been instrumental in my weight loss.

Best of luck to you with whichever method you choose.

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