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Thread: Rowing

  1. #1
    Long Distance Cyclist Machka's Avatar
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    Rowing

    In an effort to get into shape and build up some upper body strength for an upcoming tour, I have begun going to the University gym (in addition to Monday spinning classes, weekend trainer rides, and lots and lots of brisk walking)

    At the gym I ride the stat bikes because I am bicycle-less during the week and I figure it's better than nothing. I have also started doing some light weights (I've also got weights at both places I live). And I discovered that this gym has a whole section of rowing machines. I love rowing machines!! A cardio and upper body workout (and legs too, to some extent) all in one!

    So yesterday I rowed 18 minutes (3 kms) ... and felt great the whole time.

    I thought I'd feel it this morning, but when I got up, I felt great!

    Well, today ... as the day has progressed ... I have become sorer and sorer and sorer. Now I can hardly move! This morning I thought I was going to get away with rowing 18 minutes ... this evening I know better. I'll row again next week when I recover, and will hopefully build up these muscles that currently ache.

    Now ... for those of you that row ... do you feel it in your upper back (shoulders), or in your lower back?

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    Your next step could be getting a rowing bike Link1 Link2. The back-to-back tandem model would particularly "interesting" to ride Link3.

    But for a really harrowing adventure, doing an Ocean Rowing Society event would be difficult to top.

  3. #3
    Long Distance Cyclist Machka's Avatar
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    If the ocean were only 3 kms across ... I'd be set!!

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    Not sure for rowing but when I do weight workouts, I always rest a day in between workouts to allow my muscles to recover.

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    I rowed singles competitively and have a Concept 2 here at home. First, rowing is tough so going 18 minutes is great. Once you adapt the soreness will go away. But the answer to your question is neither. If you are using the right form than the drive is with your legs, the finish with back and arms. Also most people in the gym set the resistance too high. It should be at somewhere between 4 and 6 - replicating a single scull. that will feel too light initially, but you can push more wattage once you get the technique down.

    Everything you need to know about rowing ergs and technique can be found at www.concept2.com . There are some good videos and guides on technique, suggested workouts, etc....

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    Also most people in the gym set the resistance too high. It should be at somewhere between 4 and 6 - replicating a single scull. that will feel too light initially, but you can push more wattage once you get the technique down.
    Well you should rather set resistance according to drag factor - not levels. But that is for later

    Your main muscle group that you should be using is your legs - the other muscles groups just basically play a role of extending the power you gain through pushing your legs.

    For pain in the back - that'll go away eventually I think - like I used to get sore after doing about an hour of rowing on the ergo (rowing machine) and now I get slightly stiff but not as much anymore. Rowing is very very good for cardio exercise.

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    gkb
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    catch->legs->back->arms->finish->arms->back->legs->repeat

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    Sensible shoes. CastIron's Avatar
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    If I've been ignoring my rower for a while, my upper back/shoulders have that feeling of having been worked and my lower is just plain sore. Seems to me the lower back muscles have to remain pretty taut for the whole session and that's not what the average cyclist is used to. Then again, I'm not an actual row a boat rower, so perhaps my form is crap.
    Mike
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    Senior Member late's Avatar
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    I just got a rower and know what you mean. I started out easier than you did, but still was a bit stiff and sore the next day. I did about 3/4 of an hour mostly in Zone 2 today.

    I really like it. Cross training with the rower seems to have a strong synergy with cycling.

    I bought my rower used. You might want to look into getting one at some point.
    Old Man Maine

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    Long Distance Cyclist Machka's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by CastIron View Post
    If I've been ignoring my rower for a while, my upper back/shoulders have that feeling of having been worked and my lower is just plain sore. Seems to me the lower back muscles have to remain pretty taut for the whole session and that's not what the average cyclist is used to. Then again, I'm not an actual row a boat rower, so perhaps my form is crap.
    Oh good ... so what I'm feeling might be normal!

    My legs are fine ... but then I think they're relatively strong from all the cycling and walking I do. My shoulders are a little bit sore, but then I also walk with a heavy backpack 5 days a week, so they might have some strength from that. But my lower back is in PAIN.

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    I like the rowing machines as well. I use them mainly for warming up the upper body before weight lifting.

    I don't feel much of a difference between the lowest and highest resistance setting on them. If I were to assign them to an absolute scale, 1 would correspond to 17 and 10 would be 20. That's how close they feel.

    The machines they have at my gym have a feature where they display the force curve through the "stroke". Typically, it first goes up sharply (legs), flattens out (legs+lower back) and then drops off down (arms+upper back). Pretty cool, and good for improving your form.

    A typical warm-up for me would be 15-20 minutes at level 10/27-29 strokes/min for a ~150 W average.

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    The machines they have at my gym have a feature where they display the force curve through the "stroke". Typically, it first goes up sharply (legs), flattens out (legs+lower back) and then drops off down (arms+upper back). Pretty cool, and good for improving your form.
    That sounds right And resistance - you may not be feeling such a big difference because it is possible that there is dust where the fan is or something which lessens resistance overall

  13. #13
    Senior Member late's Avatar
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    You need to have really good form or you'll hurt your back. Reduce the intensity and perhaps the time for a bit, and work on getting the stroke down. You use your core muscles actively to hold everything in place.
    Old Man Maine

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    That's it. I'm getting on the rowing machine at the gym today.
    << no sig at this time >>

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    Quote Originally Posted by H2Row View Post
    And resistance - you may not be feeling such a big difference because it is possible that there is dust where the fan is or something which lessens resistance overall
    No, I don't think that's it. Next time I'm there, I'll do a few minutes at the lowest resistance setting, and another couple at the highest, while making sure I'll keep the same pace throughout. The power indicator should tell me the true difference between the settings.

  16. #16
    Long Distance Cyclist Machka's Avatar
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    My back feels much, much better today.

    The muscles that seemed to be most affected were my Latissimus Dorsi (especially the lower part of that muscle), my Gluteus Medius, and my Obliques. Evidently I don't use those muscles much in everyday life.

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    Senior Member rodrigaj's Avatar
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    I like this Kettler apparatus for back strenth exercising:

    http://www.ifitnessdirect.com/produc...roducts_id=741

    I bought it as a Christmas present for my wife and find that a few minutes a day have really made a difference in overall back strength. It was recommended by a PT.

  18. #18
    wheelin in the years ebr898's Avatar
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    I can hardly stand to be in a gym with a concept 2. It is like fingers on the chalk board to watch someone row wrong. Ya just want to try to explain the correct way and all the reasons, but hey they are just gittng in a work out and not training for a regatta.

    Sorry I am off topic - please review the infomation on www.concept2.com. If you are doing it wrong you will program your self to continue doing it wrong. Bad habits are tough to break.

    That said if you like it, get with a local rowing club. Very few things are as fun as rowing. I know that I decided to focus on bicycling because I do not have the time to take my recreational single ( open water now called a sea ranger) out, because it takes time to load it , drive to the water etc.

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    I enjoy my Concept 2-C for cross-training. I usually have the resistance on five and row steadily for 20 minutes at about 27 strokes per minute. This burns about 10 calories per minute for me.
    Regards, MillCreek
    Snohomish County, Washington USA

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    Quote Originally Posted by ebr898 View Post
    I can hardly stand to be in a gym with a concept 2. It is like fingers on the chalk board to watch someone row wrong. Ya just want to try to explain the correct way and all the reasons, but hey they are just gittng in a work out and not training for a regatta.

    Sorry I am off topic - please review the infomation on www.concept2.com. If you are doing it wrong you will program your self to continue doing it wrong. Bad habits are tough to break.
    That's exactly the kind of rowing machine they have at my gym.

  21. #21
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    So for you proper rowing types, can you describe--in lay terms--good rowing form? Sequentially what should I be doing through the stroke process? Now is your chance.
    Mike
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  22. #22
    Long Distance Cyclist Machka's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by CastIron View Post
    So for you proper rowing types, can you describe--in lay terms--good rowing form? Sequentially what should I be doing through the stroke process? Now is your chance.

    +1

    Let's hear it!!

  23. #23
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    No 1: Don't pull into your stomach; pull up towards your chest. As you reach the end of your stroke, curve the oar downward and away from you in a sweep. You can emulate feathering of the oar (turning the blade horizontal to reduce air resistance and possibility of catching a crab -- or getting it caught in the water) by cocking your hands backwards as you start the forward sweep away from you.

    No 2: When you are at the end of the stroke, and No 1 starts to happen, you should be leaning slightly backwards, which helps facilitate the sweep back down across your legs for the next stroke, and ensures your stroke is long and worthwhile.

    No 3: As mentioned previously, use your legs for the power. Your arms are basically there as links to bring the oars back until you get towards the end of the stroke where they get a bit more ooomph, and then No 1 comes in.

    No 4: As with any exercise involving weight bearing (either real or notional) keep a straight back. You really should have a spotter to make sure you form is right. But then, few people know what to look for on gym bikes, and I suspect even fewer know about form on rowing machines.

    Mind you, I am delving way back in the memory's filing cabinets of when I was a competitive rower to recall this. But I do know that that upward stroke to the chest then the sweep downward and away was drummed into us. Usually, as rowers get tired, their stroke deteriorates so the end of the oar ends up in the stomach and correspondingly, their backs start to curve forward.

    And, if you want a really good stretching workout, paddle with your legs straight. It was another exercise we used to increase flexibility and increase the length of our stroke by being able to lean further forward. In a real scull/shell, your hammies would be screaming after about five minutes of stroking... and I don't mean of the gentle kind.
    Last edited by Rowan; 01-29-08 at 12:59 AM.
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    Rowan, your advice is fine for actual rowing, but the reason for pulling to the chest is to allow the oars to reach down into the water. On a rowing machine, there is no need for that. Unless you can offer a reason for why it's inherently better (physiologically) to pull towards the chest, I'll keep pulling to my stomach.

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    You're quite free to do what you want. Someone asked about good rowing style. I gave an answer. It's like stationary bikes in a gym -- if you set them up the same as you do the bike you ride on the road, you are less likely to cause yourself injury. And read the bit about the straight back.
    Dream. Dare. Do.

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