Fat Noob needs starting advice

Rowing for weight loss or weight control? Start here.
Post Reply
fatRower
Paddler
Posts: 8
Joined: January 7th, 2013, 11:38 am

Fat Noob needs starting advice

Post by fatRower » January 7th, 2013, 11:57 am

Hi, I didn't see a beginners forum here so this seemed to be the forum that would best fit my question.

I am a 44 year old fat guy. I have been away from an active life for many years due to significant health problems. I have recently been cleared for exercise, and want to get the fat off.

I am currently 5'10" and 300#. Significant belly fat. Poor flexibility.

I want to row. Rowing appeals to me on many levels. I like big compound exercises, and I hate aerobic machines like ellipticals and bikes. I would consider learning to run, but again, I like the strength building opportunities of rowing. I have never done it before now though. I have a WaterRower (sorry, no concept2 here) but my questions are not equipment specific.

When I used to weight lift back in the day, my squats were done with a wide stance, and my deadlifts were done sumo style. This wide stance seemed far more natural to me, and I was able to get very strong and move a lot of weight. Now that I want to row, I am faced with the need for a narrow stance. This is problematic in a couple ways:
1. my belly gets on the way
2. my testicles feel very cramped between my thighs

Additionally, I seem to have no stamina. This is not surprising, as i have been unable to exercise for so long, but some of the small support muscles in my upper leg/hip area really are weak. I think it is my hip adductors. I recognize the need for good form, and am trying to focus just on form right now, and train some muscle memory, buy my first session, yesterday, was <90 seconds before my hip adductors were done keeping my legs together, and I had to quit. Today I barely made 2 minutes. I'll try to get to 3 minutes this evening.

I think if I could do a wide stance row, like doing sumo deadlifts, I could be more productive faster, but there seems to be no evidence that other people ever do this.

So, my questions to you out there:
What's a fat guy to do, especially one who really prefers wide stance variants on exercises like squating and deadlifting? Do I just keep at it, and try to build up my hip adductors and learn to row, accepting some limited range of motion in the short term?

Thanks for any help getting started. I just am not finding good info for getting started except videos and issues for nice skinny women without bellies or testicles.

jamesg
Half Marathon Poster
Posts: 2448
Joined: March 18th, 2006, 3:44 am
Location: Trentino Italy

Re: Fat Noob needs starting advice

Post by jamesg » January 7th, 2013, 3:03 pm

Feet are close in boats because the boats themselves, especially singles, are very narrow. You could probably adapt your erg somehow, with a wider stretcher, so that your feet are at the same width as your hips, or even wider, without this causing any anatomy problems. Then it's a question of keeping going; even just a minute more every time means you'll reach 20 minutes a day in less than a month.

I think you'll probably get there soonest by applying relatively low forces but with as much extension as possible, without rushing the stroke.
78y, 188cm, 87kg, last seen MHR 163. 2k (24 May 19) 8.46.6@22

User avatar
gregsmith01748
10k Poster
Posts: 1342
Joined: January 8th, 2010, 2:17 pm
Location: Hopkinton, MA

Re: Fat Noob needs starting advice

Post by gregsmith01748 » January 7th, 2013, 6:10 pm

Hi,

Good for you for getting started. I started in late 2009 at above 230 and dropped 50 lbs. (I've since put back on about 15 :oops: ), but I can identify with the some of the range of motion limitations you are talking about.

While it might be possible to adapt a rower to have a wider stance, I think that the problem "belly clearance" issue will get better with time. One thing that I found was that my knees would spread a bit to give by belly a bit more room. As my belly shrunk, now they stay nice and together.

As for the problem down below, I found that underwear selection and the quality of the arrangement of the particulars to be very important. I found that compression underwear (Nike Combat gear, or the underarmor equivalent) will keep things where I arrange them and avoid having "the boyz" squeezed uncomfortably.

As long as you can work hard enough on the rower that you end up tired, I think it's OK, and from what you said about stamina, it seems like you can do that. There are a whole set of muscles that are worked pretty hard on a rowing machine, and they will toughen up quickly. For now, I recommend that you try doing very short intervals, like 1 minute and then get off the machine, do a couple of stretches and get back on.

One thing you could try, but I wouldn't necessarily recommend is rowing so that your knees come up on the outside of your arms. This would require a narrow grip and might mess up how much power you can put into the drive, but as a way to get started and alternated with the "right" technique it might make rowing less frustrating.

Good luck with rowing. It has been the most positive change in my life in the past couple of decades, i hope it works out for you.
Greg
Age: 55 H: 182cm W: 90Kg
Image

User avatar
Citroen
SpamTeam
Posts: 5786
Joined: March 16th, 2006, 3:28 pm
Location: Basingstoke, UK

Re: Fat Noob needs starting advice

Post by Citroen » January 7th, 2013, 6:32 pm

fatRower wrote:
So, my questions to you out there:
What's a fat guy to do, especially one who really prefers wide stance variants on exercises like squating and deadlifting? Do I just keep at it, and try to build up my hip adductors and learn to row, accepting some limited range of motion in the short term?

Row with your knees apart - it may seem inelegant but as long as you're using your legs to drive the stroke then style can come later. As you loose weight and the belly diminishes you'll be able to bring your knees closer and closer together (until your legs are straight). You can set that as a goal and shout about your success when you achieve it.

fatRower
Paddler
Posts: 8
Joined: January 7th, 2013, 11:38 am

Re: Fat Noob needs starting advice

Post by fatRower » January 8th, 2013, 12:24 pm

Well, last night I ended up working late and didn't get in a second session. This morning before work, I got in 2 short sessions with a small break between them.

In the first session, I did 4 minutes with my knees closed. I eagerly await my Nike undergarments, but today was better than yesterday in that regard. I got up and walked away, a little wobbly. There are some small stabilizer muscles that I never use that are getting brought to bear in this endeavor for sure. After about a 10-15 minute break, I managed 2 more minutes with the knees apart, which requires my feet to be angled. This is uncomfortable on the foot pad, so I think I will just keep working at getting the proper form going, and accept the limited range of motion. The alternative is to fashion an alternative foot deck for a wider stance, angled foot rowing. I may do this. It would be a lot more like doing squats and deadlifts the way I used to in the good old days. I loved squatting. I have a very strong lower body, and I think the more i can work it while rowing, the better my results will be. In the short term, I will certainly continue to use proper technique until I can get some time to build the alternate foot deck.

It is clear the little muscles that are limiting me are getting on board, and I am already feeling winded and like my muscles are being used in even 4 minutes. I am sure i will be rowing for some good results sooner than later.

Perhaps I should start a log to track my progress...

User avatar
Citroen
SpamTeam
Posts: 5786
Joined: March 16th, 2006, 3:28 pm
Location: Basingstoke, UK

Re: Fat Noob needs starting advice

Post by Citroen » January 8th, 2013, 1:39 pm

fatRower wrote: Perhaps I should start a log to track my progress...
http://log.concept2.com is a good place to do that.

fatRower
Paddler
Posts: 8
Joined: January 7th, 2013, 11:38 am

Re: Fat Noob needs starting advice

Post by fatRower » January 10th, 2013, 9:24 am

OK, so I've been at this 5 days, and I'd like some more advice.

I am rowing knees apart as it is more comfortable, and I may actually make a foot platform to better facilitate this stance. My issue is one of endurance.

Back in my weightlifting days, it was easy to get started and make rapid gains as a beginner. That doesn't seem to be the case here. My limiting factor seems to be my hip adducters. These give out first, as you can well imagine, as they are small muscles that see little use by most people.

I am rowing pretty gently. I am doing about 100m per minute, focusing on form, and trying to build some endurance of these support muscles. I am rowing every day, and have rowed twice on a couple of days. I am surprised that I am not seeing better gains.

date and duration
1/6: 1 min
1/7: 2 min
1/8: 4 min, 15 minute break, 2 min, 12 hour break, 6 min
1/9: 2 min
1/10: 4 min

is it normal to ramp up so slowly. The first 3 days seemed promising, but then the big setback for day 4. Should I stop rowing to failure? The setback happened after rowing twice in a day. 12 minutes of gentle rowing divided did not seem like it should be a lot. I guess I'm wrong. Should a row twice per day, but only do it every other day? I want to keep going, aqnd get to the point where I am working my cardio, and building some strength in the big muscles, and start losing some weight, and I am patient, I am just looking for some advice at making the most of my limited time on the machine.

User avatar
Citroen
SpamTeam
Posts: 5786
Joined: March 16th, 2006, 3:28 pm
Location: Basingstoke, UK

Re: Fat Noob needs starting advice

Post by Citroen » January 10th, 2013, 10:27 am

100m / minute is is a 5:00 split. That's 13 watts and, frankly, isn't worth wasting a minute doing it.
You're going to have to up your game and get a better split by working harder, the power in rowing comes from the leg drive.
I think you need to generate a plan. So that each rowing session has a positive target and you do more than a worthlessly short session (like you're doing now).

Try this: http://concept2.co.uk/weightloss/intera ... ulate=true

It's going to start you with some 4 times 9 minute to 4 times 15 minute interval sessions (4 repetitions using HR for the rest period).
Oh my you'll be doing an HOUR in the gym on the rower.

The rest works on getting your HR down to twice your resting HR value before starting a new repetition.

User avatar
hjs
Marathon Poster
Posts: 8520
Joined: March 16th, 2006, 3:18 pm
Location: Amstelveen the netherlands
Contact:

Re: Fat Noob needs starting advice

Post by hjs » January 10th, 2013, 1:24 pm

Can you walk properly?

Doing so little at such a easy pace will hardly do you any good. Not to be pedant but If I pull with one hand hand only, not my legs and trunk I pull faster easily, I don't believe you are that out of shape.
If this does not work now, I think you should start walking and build that up first.

Rowing 100m per 1min is really not helping.
For my training see twitter @Hjsrowing

fatRower
Paddler
Posts: 8
Joined: January 7th, 2013, 11:38 am

Re: Fat Noob needs starting advice

Post by fatRower » January 10th, 2013, 3:20 pm

The problem is my hip adductors. I can pull much harder with my legs, but I give out even quicker. I can squat 200 pounds easily (with a wide stance), but walk with a fairly pronated gait. I take 3 flights of stairs several times per day at work, and do it without being winded. I'm fat and out of shape, but I function as a human.

My legs are strong, my hip adductors are the weak link. My form breaks down quickly, and the adductors eventually just give out. I walk away wobbly. I do not have the right leverages for pulling with my legs with the narrow foot placement.

I appreciate you taking the time to tell me I am getting no where, but that is not helpful. I really can't go farther than that. My hip adductors really do fail in that time period. At 20 strokes per minute, I am failing in 40 reps. By weight lifting standards, that is a large work set. I just have to build up these little muscles first, so I can row with real power. Building a foot platform is part of my plan, I just have no time.

The other thing is that I may be wrong about the distance. I will look more closely at the rowing computer when I get home. I do have bad vision, and the display is hard to read for me.

My point is, my failing is at these smaller support muscles, how do I build them up? And what time frame should it take to get there? And don't just pile om telling me I'm wasting my time, tell me what I need to do to get these little muscles in good enough shape to start doing some real work.

fatRower
Paddler
Posts: 8
Joined: January 7th, 2013, 11:38 am

Re: Fat Noob needs starting advice

Post by fatRower » January 10th, 2013, 3:25 pm

Citroen wrote: I think you need to generate a plan. So that each rowing session has a positive target and you do more than a worthlessly short session (like you're doing now).
This is what I am looking for, but I am struggling with making my body correctly work on the machine. It is not like free weights where you control the path. The narrow stance and weak adducters are driving the early failure for me. Doing an hour on this machine is not going to happen yet. I'm glad you are all much healthier than I am, but seriously, if my muscles are failing in 2-6 minutes, what makes you think I can go for an hour?

I guess this is the wrong forum to find the help I'm looking for. Thanks anyway.

Bob S.
Marathon Poster
Posts: 5142
Joined: March 16th, 2006, 12:00 pm

Re: Fat Noob needs starting advice

Post by Bob S. » January 10th, 2013, 4:10 pm

fatRower wrote:The problem is my hip adductors. I can pull much harder with my legs, but I give out even quicker. I can squat 200 pounds easily (with a wide stance), but walk with a fairly pronated gait. I take 3 flights of stairs several times per day at work, and do it without being winded. I'm fat and out of shape, but I function as a human.

My legs are strong, my hip adductors are the weak link. My form breaks down quickly, and the adductors eventually just give out. I walk away wobbly. I do not have the right leverages for pulling with my legs with the narrow foot placement.
If the narrow with of the foot boards is the main problem, it is not necessary to build anything fancy to allow a wider stanch. The strap are not necessary, certainly not for rates less than 24 spm. All that is needed is a board long enough to provide the distance you need for your stance and wide enough to allow for a notch to accommodate the rail. It would probably also be necessary to add a brace to the narrow section above the notch to give it more strength.

Rowing is a lot like squats, at least the leg action of rowing, so it should not be a problem. The big difference is that squats are done with a lot of extra weight and for short sets only with rests in between the sets. How well could you do a set of 200 squats, with no weight other than your body, and with the repetitions every 2-3 seconds? That would mimic the leg action of rowing, but without the narrow stance limitation.

I don't know enough about anatomy to understand what is involves in pronation and it is my impression that the hip abductors are quite a complex set of both large and small muscles. But, in any case, if they need strengthening, it seems to me that your best bet would be to consult a physical therapist. Their job is to provide specific exercises and stretches to strengthen any particular muscles that need it.

Note that there is a setting on the monitor (at least the most recent ones, PM3 and PM4) for large print that might make that problem easier. The best way to use the monitor is to have it set on watts so that you get continuous feedback on how hard you are working - not just the numbers at the end of a piece. Pace or time/500m is also useful, and is more commonly used by forum members even though it is not as meaningful as watts. That is to say, it is not linear.

Bob S.

User avatar
hjs
Marathon Poster
Posts: 8520
Joined: March 16th, 2006, 3:18 pm
Location: Amstelveen the netherlands
Contact:

Re: Fat Noob needs starting advice

Post by hjs » January 11th, 2013, 5:09 am

Those are not small muscle, if this is your problem you simply have to train them, if you squatted in a wide stance, they are build now to work in that stance.
That said, if you are very untrained in something, improvement does come quickly. Stretch them a lot, and row on feel not on time. I still can,t get my head around that pace you mentioned, that must be an error, I still say if you really go at that pace stop bothering.
Your build is proberly a problem too at the moment, not easy to change in the short run.

You keep talking about pulling with your legs, there is not much pulling, you push and gi back easily, not pull yourself back, to train this row with the straps not on your feet. This way you can not pull.
fatRower wrote:The problem is my hip adductors. I can pull much harder with my legs, but I give out even quicker. I can squat 200 pounds easily (with a wide stance), but walk with a fairly pronated gait. I take 3 flights of stairs several times per day at work, and do it without being winded. I'm fat and out of shape, but I function as a human.

My legs are strong, my hip adductors are the weak link. My form breaks down quickly, and the adductors eventually just give out. I walk away wobbly. I do not have the right leverages for pulling with my legs with the narrow foot placement.

I appreciate you taking the time to tell me I am getting no where, but that is not helpful. I really can't go farther than that. My hip adductors really do fail in that time period. At 20 strokes per minute, I am failing in 40 reps. By weight lifting standards, that is a large work set. I just have to build up these little muscles first, so I can row with real power. Building a foot platform is part of my plan, I just have no time.

The other thing is that I may be wrong about the distance. I will look more closely at the rowing computer when I get home. I do have bad vision, and the display is hard to read for me.

My point is, my failing is at these smaller support muscles, how do I build them up? And what time frame should it take to get there? And don't just pile om telling me I'm wasting my time, tell me what I need to do to get these little muscles in good enough shape to start doing some real work.
For my training see twitter @Hjsrowing

kennyhassman
Paddler
Posts: 13
Joined: December 25th, 2012, 8:40 pm

Re: Fat Noob needs starting advice

Post by kennyhassman » January 11th, 2013, 9:40 am

hjs wrote:Can you walk properly?

Doing so little at such a easy pace will hardly do you any good. Not to be pedant but If I pull with one hand hand only, not my legs and trunk I pull faster easily, I don't believe you are that out of shape.
If this does not work now, I think you should start walking and build that up first.

Rowing 100m per 1min is really not helping.
*********************************************************************************8
I am going to disagree with the statement that "Rowing 100m per 1 min is not helping" - anything that a significantly overweight person-like the poster and also like myself can do to get themselves started is better than not doing anything. I've read hundreds of stories of seriously morbidly obese people who say they could barely make it from the bedroom to the living room, state that when they started on their road to significant weight-loss they couldn't make it more than half a block but they did it every day. And over time they were able to increase the distance and over time they became runners, or cyclers, or rowers, etc. START WHERE YOU ARE AND WITH WHAT YOU CAN DO AND ADD A LITTLE BIT AS YOU CAN EACH TIME YOU ROW.

When I got my Model E about a month ago, I was 269.5 pounds, I thought I was going to die after doing one 3 minute row. Yesterday morning, I rowed for one hour, with two 2-3 miinute breaks and a distance of 9100 meters. I'm down about 6 pounds. I have the same problem with my belly that you do and find that I just spread my knees a bit to accommodate. Be proud of yourself for getting started and keep at it.

Ken

User avatar
hjs
Marathon Poster
Posts: 8520
Joined: March 16th, 2006, 3:18 pm
Location: Amstelveen the netherlands
Contact:

Re: Fat Noob needs starting advice

Post by hjs » January 11th, 2013, 12:44 pm

For someone Who can squst easily 200 pounds it is not. Pulling 100m per minute is just above sitting is a wheelchair. The 100 m simply can,t be right, I have trained some very unfit, overweight older people, but have never seen such a pace.
kennyhassman wrote:
hjs wrote:Can you walk properly?

Doing so little at such a easy pace will hardly do you any good. Not to be pedant but If I pull with one hand hand only, not my legs and trunk I pull faster easily, I don't believe you are that out of shape.
If this does not work now, I think you should start walking and build that up first.

Rowing 100m per 1min is really not helping.
*********************************************************************************8
I am going to disagree with the statement that "Rowing 100m per 1 min is not helping" - anything that a significantly overweight person-like the poster and also like myself can do to get themselves started is better than not doing anything. I've read hundreds of stories of seriously morbidly obese people who say they could barely make it from the bedroom to the living room, state that when they started on their road to significant weight-loss they couldn't make it more than half a block but they did it every day. And over time they were able to increase the distance and over time they became runners, or cyclers, or rowers, etc. START WHERE YOU ARE AND WITH WHAT YOU CAN DO AND ADD A LITTLE BIT AS YOU CAN EACH TIME YOU ROW.

When I got my Model E about a month ago, I was 269.5 pounds, I thought I was going to die after doing one 3 minute row. Yesterday morning, I rowed for one hour, with two 2-3 miinute breaks and a distance of 9100 meters. I'm down about 6 pounds. I have the same problem with my belly that you do and find that I just spread my knees a bit to accommodate. Be proud of yourself for getting started and keep at it.

Ken
For my training see twitter @Hjsrowing

Post Reply