Big stomach and rowing: how to?

Rowing for weight loss or weight control? Start here.
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Ante
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Big stomach and rowing: how to?

Post by Ante » July 15th, 2014, 9:34 am

Dear fellow big rowers,
how to get around your midsection during rowing? Here's a few tips I got at my rowingclub some time ago. I'm still using them after 10 years.

In general:
- Get a logpage on this site, so you can see your numbers improving all the time. It's a great motivator!
- Before you start out, watch the instructions on Rowing Stroke for correct posture and technique.
- Place a mirror left or right next to you, so you can check your movements for feedback.
- While rowing, the gap between torso and upper legs must close, while the gap under the knees must not.
- Concentrate on keeping the chain as controlled and horizontal as possible: let it disappear smoothly into the machine.
- Rowing is very technical, whatever your weight may be; lean rowers therefore have no advantage in this respect.

When starting:
- Put the footrests at their lowest position: this creates more space to lean forward.
- Don't treat the straps like those on sandals. Using the straps can encourage bad technique, as they allow you to lean backwards too much. Try to row without straps for greater effect on your abs and push your feet actively down on the footrests all the time.
- The position of the torso at the catch: lean forward until at 'one o'clock', then slide the seat towards your feet. When stomach and thighs meet, you're there. This distance will get longer as you get leaner.
- The position of the legs with the shins vertical: if you're not sure about this, stick 30 cm of painters masking tape on your leg from midshin to over the knee, while in the right position. When rowing, you'll feel immediately when you've gone too far.
- At the end of the drive, keep the chain horizontal and your shoulders low. Do not pull the handle towards your chin.
- If you row with the proper technique from the start, you'll never have to unlearn bad habits.

Let me know if this was any help. Some rowers on this forum respond to inquiries of newbies with lots of numbers and jargon. I imagine this can be confusing, hence the practical tips I benefitted from when starting.

Do buy yourself a good detergent for all the sweaty rowing gear and keep that flywheel going!

RoeiTante

heroesfitness
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Re: Big stomach and rowing: how to?

Post by heroesfitness » June 16th, 2015, 7:52 am

Some nutrition tips would be helpful too, as a big stomach normally means a poor diet, any tips ??
Hi I am Spencer. I have a black belt in kung fu and a qualified sports nutritionist, I enjoy core fitness training, golf, cricket and snooker.http://www.heroesfitness.co.uk/

DavidMW
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Re: Big stomach and rowing: how to?

Post by DavidMW » July 17th, 2015, 3:06 am

When I first started back in again, after many years away from the sport, I found that rowing with the feet firmly planted on the floor, either side of the stretcher helped ease my hips sartorius muscles, and back into the rowing rhythm again, and enabled me to lengthen out my stroke after just a few sessions, despite having a somewhat larger than normal belly!

Rowing_DJ
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Re: Big stomach and rowing: how to?

Post by Rowing_DJ » July 20th, 2015, 8:19 pm

Thanks for the really useful post... Very much a noob here, so I'm grateful for any advice that comes my way. I tried lowering the foot position to accommodate the gut, but found that my back was hurting a lot after rowing like this, so adjusted back up slightly, which helped. I do definitely struggle to keep my knees together on the recovery, but this seems to be due to muscle fatigue more than anything - towards the end of a longer row (for me, at least!), my legs and knees just want to spread outwards... Is this common?

Planning on videoing myself soon to analyse the stroke properly - I feel as though I'm doing the right things, but replays may prove otherwise :)

Ante
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Re: Big stomach and rowing: how to?

Post by Ante » July 24th, 2015, 6:31 am

Hi everyone,

Nice to know my post was read and appreciated :D .

@Spencer: it seems to me nutrition is your own area. Got any useful tips for a healthy rowers diet?

@David: I tried feet on the floor too, but I'm not tall enough to leave a stroke worth mentioning...

@DJ:
Rowing_DJ wrote:I tried lowering the foot position to accommodate the gut, but found that my back was hurting a lot after rowing like this, so adjusted back up slightly, which helped. I do definitely struggle to keep my knees together on the recovery, but this seems to be due to muscle fatigue more than anything - towards the end of a longer row (for me, at least!), my legs and knees just want to spread outwards...
A low footrest usually leaves more space for the stomach... At least for me it does. :wink:

Basically, it pays off to not change the proper technique to your current bodyshape, but only adjust it.
- when gut meets upper legs => stop the seat. Close gap between torso and legs, but not gap under knees.
- when knees want to part => stop the seat. Knees must stay between outstretched arms. Keep legs in line with feet to properly push away from the footrest.
- when seat meets feet => stop moving earlier. Don't try to close gap under legs by coiling up (bad for the knees).
- when trying to elongate stroke by reaching out toward flywheel => concentrate instead on keeping a straight spine, pulled-in gut and low, relaxed shoulders. Movement of the torso comes from hip joint. This prevents later back injuries.

Do not worry about your stroke being a little short now. It will get longer if you keep rowing and change shape!

Enough of the teacher-mode :wink:
Was this any use? Let us know how you're doing and good luck!

Dingbat
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Re: Big stomach and rowing: how to?

Post by Dingbat » January 19th, 2016, 3:06 pm

Rowing_DJ wrote:Thanks for the really useful post... Very much a noob here, so I'm grateful for any advice that comes my way. I tried lowering the foot position to accommodate the gut, but found that my back was hurting a lot after rowing like this, so adjusted back up slightly, which helped. I do definitely struggle to keep my knees together on the recovery, but this seems to be due to muscle fatigue more than anything - towards the end of a longer row (for me, at least!), my legs and knees just want to spread outwards... Is this common?

Planning on videoing myself soon to analyse the stroke properly - I feel as though I'm doing the right things, but replays may prove otherwise :)
Have the same problem with the knees - I find it hinders my breathing for tummy to meet the knees and started the bad habit of splaying my legs on the recovery.

Bob S.
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Re: Big stomach and rowing: how to?

Post by Bob S. » January 19th, 2016, 4:27 pm

Dingbat wrote:
Have the same problem with the knees - I find it hinders my breathing for tummy to meet the knees and started the bad habit of splaying my legs on the recovery.
One thing that can help is inhaling on the drive and exhaling on the recovery. That has a double advantage. Your lungs are naturally compressed at the catch and allow a longer reach without spreading your knees - also it is natural to inhale as you pull your arms back on the drive. This is strongly recommended by at a least one coach, Olympic gold medal sculler Xeno Mueller. He, in turn, was taught that by his coach. It is not easy to do if you have a strongly ingrained habit of exhaling during exertion, as is typical for lifting weights.

Dingbat
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Re: Big stomach and rowing: how to?

Post by Dingbat » January 19th, 2016, 4:38 pm

Bob S. wrote:
Dingbat wrote:
Have the same problem with the knees - I find it hinders my breathing for tummy to meet the knees and started the bad habit of splaying my legs on the recovery.
One thing that can help is inhaling on the drive and exhaling on the recovery. That has a double advantage. Your lungs are naturally compressed at the catch and allow a longer reach without spreading your knees - also it is natural to inhale as you pull your arms back on the drive. This is strongly recommended by at a least one coach, Olympic gold medal sculler Xeno Mueller. He, in turn, was taught that by his coach. It is not easy to do if you have a strongly ingrained habit of exhaling during exertion, as is typical for lifting weights.
That's a good point - the received wisdom is to exhale during exertion and that's what I've been doing . Saw the bit about Xeno a couple of days back and tried it but it felt so odd that I quickly dropped it again. Think I'll give it another go though.

Bob S.
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Re: Big stomach and rowing: how to?

Post by Bob S. » January 19th, 2016, 5:00 pm

Dingbat wrote:
That's a good point - the received wisdom is to exhale during exertion and that's what I've been doing . Saw the bit about Xeno a couple of days back and tried it but it felt so odd that I quickly dropped it again. Think I'll give it another go though.
In general it makes sense to exhale if the movement involves a chest contraction, as in a bench press, but somehow it spilled over into being considered proper for any lift, even those which require a chest expansion.

drachma
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Re: Big stomach and rowing: how to?

Post by drachma » February 9th, 2016, 1:28 pm

Bob S. wrote:
Dingbat wrote:
That's a good point - the received wisdom is to exhale during exertion and that's what I've been doing . Saw the bit about Xeno a couple of days back and tried it but it felt so odd that I quickly dropped it again. Think I'll give it another go though.
In general it makes sense to exhale if the movement involves a chest contraction, as in a bench press, but somehow it spilled over into being considered proper for any lift, even those which require a chest expansion.
It is not about whether your chest is expanding or contracting. the purpose of exhalation during exertion is because having a belly full of air allows you to create greater intra-abdominal stability, or core tension. Imagine trying to squat with a basketball in your lap. you would get to the bottom and the basketball prevents your chest from folding over your knees. in lifting, this is a good thing. most lifters will actually HOLD their breath through the most compressive part of the motion to get the most out of it (this is called a valsalva maneuver). the purpose of a weightlifting belt is actually to allow you to "inflate" that basketball to a much higher pressure.

rowing is a special case because of the extremely compressed position at the catch and the greater demand for oxygen as opposed to maximal strength and stability. i think it would be ideal if rowers were able to exhale on the drive but due to the specific nature of this sport it works out the other way.

I will say that inhale on the drive seems to come naturally to me when rowing, since it is so difficult to get a big breath at the catch. I thought I was doing it wrong and have been trying to "fix" it! Maybe I'll just roll with it. I am able to create enough core tension to row safely without a full diaphragm at the catch.

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