Rowing is a full body exercise; it uses all our major muscles groups, as well as placing a large demand on all of the body’s energy systems. There is excessive demand on the anaerobic system at both the start and end of a race (or for sprint work), as well as a need for high aerobic steady state rowing (during longer intervals). Despite rowing being more of a power endurance sport, it does still require strength.
Rowing with correct technique will help you become quicker in your ergo sprints, as it makes every stroke more efficient, meaning we can go further and faster each stroke and hit those PB’s!
Rowing on an ergo is very different to actual rowing for obvious reasons. There is no oar technique to refine, wind or water to affect balance or other crew to work in synch with. However, there are still lots of similar cues we can use to help replicate a smooth stroke on the ergos, and the overall movement pattern is the same J
Firstly, it is important to recognize two positions in the stroke we need to focus on keeping good form in. These are the ‘catch’ position (the start of the stroke when we are at the front of the rower) and the ‘finish’ position (the end of the stroke when we are leaning back).
Sequence of the stroke: Each phase of the stroke should flow seamlessly, and the handle & chain of the ergo should essentially stay in a straight line from start to finish. It is also important to remain in control of the seat and handle during the stroke.
– The spine should remain straight, slight angle in torso, arms out straight
– Knees flexed and bum pulled in toward feet
– Press away with the feet, engage your lats, keep the arms straight, drive the legs (without shooting your bum back too quickly – the handle should move in time with your legs), and maintain the angle in your torso.
– After the leg drive, use your body to swing back (keep arms straight, still no bend in the elbow)
– Finish with quick hands pulled into the body (this is when our arms are used!)
– Slight angle leaning back with torso, legs locked out straight, elbows slightly tucked into body.
We get back to the catch position for the next stroke by doing these exact same steps, but in the opposite order.
– Elbows extend so arms are straight,
– Body rock over into slight torso angle (legs still straight)
– Bend the knees and slide up into the catch position to start again.
An easy way to simplify this order from the catch position is
Legs, body, arms – Arms, Body, Legs
Practice this sequence and your split times will drop in no time!!
Coach Kate ‘Row Boat’ Bethune
Rowing is always tough, but with the right technique it can be made easier. That’s one of the things we focus on at RBT, technique, when you do it right you do it right. For your free two week trial enter your details below.