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 - Frequently Asked Questions on Technique<< TechniqueTechnique Illustrated >>
Answered by Terry O'Neill
Why is it that pictures taken at the World Indoor Rowing Championship reveal rowing forms (i.e. technique) that my Concept 2 manuals and video would illustrate as being incorrect. Am I misinterpreting your guidelines?
The technique advocated by Concept 2 in our manuals and video is based on sound biomechanical principles. For the majority of rowers following this method will produce the best results. However, there will be variation for a number of reasons. There is one well-known rower who has won virtually every race he's been in but, if you look at his technique, there are many faults. He rows with bent arms and doesn't sit square on the seat. This was a result of an accident several years ago which resulted in a permanent bent arm which he physically cannot straighten. He has one leg shorter than the other and so he has adapted his technique to suit his body.
Scullers are used to rowing the oars in an arc and so when they get onto the Indoor Rower their elbows tend to go out at the finish. You would not teach this on the machine because there is no angular element to the stroke, however, if the user of the machine's main aim is to perform on the water you would not want to change this characteristic.
Finally, the pulling of the `oar,' or handle, to the chin. This stems from the belief that the extra length will give better results and although this extra long pull may initially result in the split time coming down, there will be an extra energy cost to the rower making the stroke less efficient overall. It also puts more stress on the back increasing the likelihood of injury.
I've been sliding forward until my calves kiss the backs of my thighs and I've been bending forward far enough for the handle to finish up just about under the monitor. I thought I was achieving correct posture. I'm now told that I have been sliding too far forward, thus depriving myself of the power in my legs, and that I have been swinging forward too far. What is the disadvantage to sliding too far?
If you overcompress the legs at the catch you put yourself at a mechanical disadvantage. You should compress the legs until the shins are vertical and the angle of the body should be around 30° (this will be when the body touches the thighs). Don't let your knees splay out too far as it is more efficient to pass the load through the centre of the joint, so keep your legs as parallel as possible. This is an `ideal' technique but there will always be variation caused by different body builds and flexibility. For example, if someone has a very strong upper body and relatively weak legs that person may be better off using a long body swing and short leg drive to compensate. I know that my legs are more powerful than my arms and form an important component of the drive, but I don't think that I'm getting all of the power and efficiency from my leg drive that I should. What can I do to improve this?
There are a couple of exercises you can try. As you come forward think about the weight shifting on the foot towards the toes and also the compression of the legs, like squeezing down a coil spring. When you come up onto your toes release the spring. This is to make sure you take the beginning of the stroke with the legs. The other exercise is, from the beginning of the stroke, keep the arms straight and just push off of the footplate moving back a couple of inches but making sure that the handle moves the same distance as the seat. Gradually increase the leg drive keeping the arms straight all the time, using them as a connection to the handle only. Do not pull the handle into the body.
When using the Indoor Rower I take the catch with bent arms. This is due to my knees being in the way and having to reach around them. I have lowered my feet to the bottom setting but still have the problem. I am 6'4", which is not tall for a rower. I also have the habit of rowing slumped but, when I sit up I find I am not drawing the handle in a straight line as he height of the chain is below my finish point (just below the chest). How can I put this right?
Although you are right to say that 6'4" is not exceptionally tall for a rower, the key is the ratio of leg to trunk length, regardless of height. If your legs are really long then at the beginning of the stroke they will be right up under your chin, even at the bottom setting of the footplate. If you slump, this will further aggravate the situation. If your elbows are bent out rather than down, your knees can come up between your arms. Try this; as you come off the finish sit tall and think about lifting your chest and reaching over your knees. To achieve this straighten the arms, lean slightly forward and allow the knees to come up into the space between your arms until your chest touches your thighs, keeping the arms straight. Then push the legs down out of the space and use the upper body in the second half of the stroke. I find that I am not tiring my legs at all during a row unless rowing above 90% maximum heart rate. Even at 60% however, I am getting some back problems, I assume because my pull uses too much back. What am I doing wrong?
At the Finish the contact is mainly on the heels and you will feel the foot straps on the upper side of the feet. As you swing your weight forward, the contact changes from the heels to the balls of the feet where you should feel the pressure building as you break your forward momentum, to the point where you drive your body back. During this period the back, arms and shoulders are used solely to connect the handle to the footplate where the force is being developed. They are held firm and still so that, as you change the emphasis from slowing the forward movement down to driving back, the seat and the handle move exactly the same distance. As the hands pass the feet the back becomes dynamic and starts to swing back. As the handle passes the knees the legs should be almost flat and then the arms draw the handle into the body. An exercise you can try is to sit at the beginning and just push the legs back one to two inches, holding the body and arms still so that the handle and seat are moving the same distance. By doing this you are isolating the legs at the beginning of the stroke and you will feel the loading on the legs.
I'm experiencing a slight aching in the wrists. Is this to do with technique, or fatigue?
The wrists are involved in feathering the oar when rowing on water but on the Indoor Rower they should remain flat. If it is the rowing that is causing the ache it can only be because the wrists are being stressed. Check your technique and if this does not help then there are some exercises you can do that will strengthen the wrists, giving them greater support. You will need a round piece of wood, like a broom handle. Tie a piece of string, about one metre long, to the middle. On the other end of the string tie a weight of about five kilogrammes. Turn the handle so that the string winds itself around, raising the weight off the floor, and then lower the handle with your palms facing downwards. Another exercise is with a tennis ball held in the hands, palms facing each other. Turn the ball clockwise with the left hand and anticlockwise with the right as if you were opening a jar. Then change direction as if you were closing the jar. These are simple exercises that can be done at any time and, along with rowing, will strengthen your wrists which should solve the problem. If it persists, consult your doctor.