Indoor Sport Services Training Guide
Our Indoor Rowing Training Guide is the ultimate training resource for the Indoor Rower. Written by top education and coaching specialists, it includes information on technique and training, with programmes on cross-training, 2,000m and marathon race training, weight management and keep fit. There are guest chapters written by top names such as Jurgen Grobler and Chris Shambrook as well as dedicated sections on psychology, nutrition and weight training.
Technique on the Indoor Rower - Technique<< Stretching ExercisesFrequently Asked Questions on Technique >>
The definition of technique is "The skill required for the mastery of a task". Identifying the task is simple with indoor rowing because the task is to cover a given distance in the shortest time.
This doesn't mean that the people who produce the best times on the rowing machine have the best technique. Good technique has to account for efficiency measured by the performance when compared to the potential capacity of the athlete.
So good technique on the Indoor Rower is the ability to convert potential into performance. Developing good technique is carried out in three phases. The first phase is to develop the motor skills to master the sequence of movements, this is the cognitive phase of learning. Muscles respond to electrical impulses from the brain carried via the nervous system. Repeating a movement establishes a strong neurological pathway, which carries these tiny impulses. Breaking the rowing stroke down into its component parts and carrying out each segment slowly until it is mastered is the best method of establishing this pathway. This is followed by joining the segments together, gradually building up to the full stroke cycle. During the development of motor skills there is no consideration to load; this comes next and is known as the functional stage. Here the muscles become familiar with the load, range and speed that they are required to work at and how it relates to other working muscles.
The final phase is the autonomous phase and here the muscles know their role with respect to the outcome task and movements become automatic.
Often, when people arrive at this stage, they think that this is all the work they need to do on technique. To some extent this is true in that, like riding a bike, once learned you never forget it. However, knowing how to ride a bike and winning the Tour de France are not the quite the same thing. Technique and not just fitness must be continually developed in order to realise your full potential.
You now have to go back to the beginning where we said that technique was converting potential into performance. As you continue to train your capacity increases and so now the emphasis of technique is to carry this increase in physical capacity over into faster times. The focus has now changed from the body position to the output display on the monitor. If it is not what you think it should be then you may need to go back and look at the movement to find where power is being lost.
Technical development is one of three crucial and interdependent aspects of training that require equal attention, with the other two being physical and mental development. Failure to exploit any one of these areas will result in underperformance. The interdependence is that first you have to make the decision and commitment to train to improve your physical condition. This is the mental area and mental strength is needed when things get tough and it is easier to quit.
Physical development will require hours of training, sweat and pain. Through technique you produce a result bringing all three areas together and reward for the effort and commitment. It is easy to get hung up on the aesthetics of technique. Unlike ice skating, indoor rowing has no prizes for artistic content. On the other hand, poor technique won't win any prizes either. If you're looking at technique, keep focussed on the important areas. At the beginning of the stroke the legs come on early and are driving the handle back. Make sure that the handle moves back at the same time as the seat so the legs are not just driving the rower back.
Check that the trunk is held firm so that the power developed on the footplate is transferred directly to the handle right through the Drive phase. Often rowers transfer stability from the trunk to the legs and use the trunk to supply power. This can go almost unnoticed at low intensity work but is very inefficient. Although the upper body is responsible for over 50% of the stroke length the legs are responsible for 70% of the total power. This is because the load is at its greatest at the beginning of the stroke and decays to the finish. Good technique matches up the most powerful muscle groups in the legs to the greatest load and the faster muscles in the arms to the lighter but faster Finish.
Because you cannot realise potential without sound technique you can use pace as a technique tool. In all the training bands set yourself a target pace and try to stick to the recommended stroke rate, which can only be achieved with good technique. If you can coincide pace, stroke rate and heart rate then you will be developing all three areas simultaneously: mental, physical and technical.