For newbie rowers who are just starting to channel their inner Steve Redgrave, that first time stepping onto an erg can be kind of (okay, really) intimidating.
One thing that can help, however, is having a few tips under your belt before you don the Oakleys, squeeze into the onesie and prepare for all out war in your first timed 2km time trial.
For starters, rowing both on the water and indoor erging, is no longer a case of row until you can no longer row anymore — you need to optimize strength, conditioning, endurance, technique, and even yoga. It’s why, as we often say here at Dark Horse, anyone can benefit from the sport, you just need to see it for what it is and ensure its part of a well rounded routine for lifelong health and well being.
To help you out, here are the Dark Horse top tips for mastering rowing and the knockout technique tips you’ll want to master in each of the 4 main positions.
A correct foot position will allow you to transfer energy from the foot plates, up your legs, through your core, and out to full extension in the finish position. The key elements of foot position are balance, strap position and mobility.
Knockout technique: Position with your feet so the straps are across the widest part of your feet. You’re looking to ensure the feet are balanced, so when you are looking to push pack the weight is evenly spread and you can do this with your heels down. When you are returning to the catch position your aim is to ensure your heels stay in contact with the foot stretchers. A key to helping this is work on your ankle mobility, try things like Kelly Starretts ankle mobility Youtube series or some regular yoga classes to help not only your ankles but your body as a whole.
The secret to a great catch
The catch can be one of those positions that either makes or breaks your technique and if we assume you’re goal is to spend as much time on the erg as possible then you’re going to be in this position many, many times!!
Knockout technique: Power comes from bracing through the core. Firstly let’s get the basics in so we know what we are looking for that catch position to be in the best postural position you can achieve. As already talked about try and keep those heels planted, shins should be as close to vertical as possible and hips should be behind your shoulders. Chest should be nice and tall with those shoulders protracted but also relaxed. The ability to hold this position is crucial, so have a go at holding this position for 2mins, no breaks just sit and hold.
Perfecting your drive.
The drive is the most important part of the rowing stroke, the more length and power you can generate consistently here the more you will see the monitor respond to your energy expenditure. It starts in the legs, as energy is transferred from the mid foot, through the core, and up to the big muscles of the upper/mid back.
Knockout technique: Assume your catch position. Extend those legs before opening the hips and then utilise those arms. Key to a successful drive is remembering 60% of the power comes from the legs, 30% from the torso, and only 10% from the arms. Be STRICT and keep that core nice and tight so you don’t end up dumping all that energy on the back end of your stroke and trying to pull with the arms to make up for it.
How to recover.
The recovery is the phase of the rowing motion where its isn’t about thinking about the numbers on the monitor in front of you however it is about setting yourself up for the next stroke and ensuring you are thinking about bracing through the midline and also keeping those hands up to keep the handle aimed at the middle of the uprights.
Knockout technique: Focus on pushing the handles away before you think about closing your hips. Your hands then need to track towards the mid point of the uprights so as they pass the knees think about keeping those hands up and not drop down towards your shins.
Rowers are some of the best-conditioned athletes in the world. Bold statement I know, but in all seriousness whether or not you actually want to row on the water or not, the amazing thing with this sport is you can train like a professional would and get in amazing shape with an indoor erg.
As a beginner spend 80% of your time should be spent working on technique and only 20% on trying to row meterage. The earlier you master the stroke, the faster you can progress to hitting those longer row sessions.
Want to know more about getting it right from the beginning? Why not jump on our Beginners 101 Program (which you get as part of the Dark Horse Crew membership, plus 9 other rowing courses and our daily Drill WOD!).
Yours in training, education and beginning your journey as a rower.
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