Top 5 Rowing Tips
What does a world class paddler and rower have to say about her favorite top 5 tips and tricks to improve the efficiency and mechanics of rowing? Plenty, so I had her boil it down to five.
#1. Breathe. Exhale as you pull when possible*
*Note the “when possible”.
Here is a perspective on how much work is required of a rower. I am reading The Boys in the Boat, and a quote from page 40 of the book says, “Pound for pound, Olympic oarsmen may take in and process as much oxygen as a thoroughbred racehorse. This extraordinary rate of oxygen intake is of only so much value, it should be noted. While 75-80 percent of the energy a rower produces in a two-thousand-meter race is aerobic fueled by oxygen, races always begin, and usually end, with hard sprints. These sprints require levels of energy production that far exceed the body’s capacity to produce aerobic energy, regardless of oxygen intake. Instead the body must immediately produce anaerobic energy. This, in turn, produces large quantities of lactic acid, and that acid rapidly builds up in the tissue of the muscles. The consequence is that the muscles often begin to scream in agony almost from the outset of a race and continue screaming until the very end.”
Scream in agony. How about that! Better brush up on your aerobic and anaerobic conditioning.
#2 Hinge at your hips ( bend forward from your hips,
not from your back ) and use your whole body in a sequence
Pull phase: legs-torso-arms
Reach phase: (to load the muscles for action) arms-torso-legs
Here are some photos of what that should look like, from a “good” and “bad” perspective. “Good” meaning most efficient and powerful, “Bad” meaning inefficient and overly taxing.
#3 Focus. Feel what muscles you are using
For instance: Is your neck getting tight? You are pulling too high as seen in the “bad” photo above.
#4 Keep eyes forward and up to prevent rounding of the back
We don’t want any letter “c” hunchback rowers out there!
#5 Use a proper warmup to prepare for movement that includes hip hinging and setting your shoulder blades.
There is that “hip hinging” mentioned again. Must be pretty important. Do you know how to “set” your shoulder blades? Here’s a hint: re-read the foam roller love blog.
I additionally asked her about the setting on the side of the ergometer that ranges from 1-10. I had heard UW rows at setting ten and Harvard rows at setting one, so both have their merits…or maybe it is the reverse. Her comment is setting ten is harder because of the resistance that is generated. However, if you like tests of strength, like Lori does, this is your favorite setting. When you drop the setting to one, it is easier in theory, because the resistance is less. Keep in mind with low resistance comes a greater rate of work, so setting one becomes hard in it’s own way.
Are you feeling more prepared to hit the water? Let me know in the comments below!