Why You Shouldn’t Set Your Rower Damper on 10!

rowerYou don’t go grab a barbell and load it up with your 1RM and start your workout there, do you? Of course not. So why do so many people set their erg to 10 and set off to row? Good question, huh? Read on and find out why setting your erg at 10 is almost never a good idea.
How the Rower Works
For starters, let’s discuss briefly how indoor rowers work, because I’m an engineer and this is my chance to be nerdy. When you think of rowing, you think of boats and rowing on the water, right? Guess how much water is used in the operation of these Concept 2 rowers? That’s right — none! (Well, unless you are sweaty like me, then things might get a little damp. But I digress.)
The flywheel — and thus the rower — is constantly wanting to stop itself, constantly wanting to hit the brakes. Overcoming this deceleration is how distance and other outputs are measured.Indoor rower doesn’t sound as cool as calling it an erg. Erg comes from the word ergometer, which simply means a device that measures the amount of work being performed.
You knew there was no water involved, but do you know what provides the resistance with each and every pull you make? Here’s a hint: you breathe it. Yup, air! Good ole air provides all the pulse quickening and pain inducing you could ever want, and yet always leaves you gasping for more air. Air is a tricky character sometimes.
Inside the round chamber on the rower is a device called a flywheel. A flywheel stores rotational energy. Also, the flywheel has a high moment of inertia, which is demonstrated by the difficulty/extra energy that must be spent at the beginning of your row to get the wheel spinning (i.e. you must give more torque!). The stored energy couples with this same high inertia to produce the momentum that keeps the wheel spinning after you stop pulling on the chain.
Got all that? Good.
The erg works for all people because of the flywheel. The flywheel — and thus the rower — is constantly wanting to stop itself, constantly wanting to hit the brakes. Overcoming this deceleration is how distance and other outputs are measured. To make things even more diabolical, the faster you spin the wheel, the more resistance is generated.
That leads us to the lever on the side of the flywheel house, the one numbered 1-10. This adjusts the damper on the side of the flywheel chamber. Changing the damper setting changes the amount of air flow into the flywheel. And as we discussed earlier, air is what is providing the resistance on our rows.
A higher damper setting brings more air into the housing, which means there is more resistance for the wheel to spin against. Also, more air will slow the wheel down quicker, meaning you have to do more work to accelerate the wheel on your next pull.
As you might expect, a lower setting allows less air, which makes spinning easier — in other words, the opposite of the above paragraph.
So… rowing with a damper setting at 10 gives a better workout than setting it at 6, right?
No.
No!
No!!!

You don’t go grab a barbell and load it up with your 1RM and start your workout there, do you? Of course not. So why do so many people set their erg to 10 and set off to row? Good question, huh? Read on and find out why setting your erg at 10 is almost never a good idea.
How the Rower Works
For starters, let’s discuss briefly how indoor rowers work, because I’m an engineer and this is my chance to be nerdy. When you think of rowing, you think of boats and rowing on the water, right? Guess how much water is used in the operation of these Concept 2 rowers? That’s right — none! (Well, unless you are sweaty like me, then things might get a little damp. But I digress.)
The flywheel — and thus the rower — is constantly wanting to stop itself, constantly wanting to hit the brakes. Overcoming this deceleration is how distance and other outputs are measured.Indoor rower doesn’t sound as cool as calling it an erg. Erg comes from the word ergometer, which simply means a device that measures the amount of work being performed.
You knew there was no water involved, but do you know what provides the resistance with each and every pull you make? Here’s a hint: you breathe it. Yup, air! Good ole air provides all the pulse quickening and pain inducing you could ever want, and yet always leaves you gasping for more air. Air is a tricky character sometimes.
Inside the round chamber on the rower is a device called a flywheel. A flywheel stores rotational energy. Also, the flywheel has a high moment of inertia, which is demonstrated by the difficulty/extra energy that must be spent at the beginning of your row to get the wheel spinning (i.e. you must give more torque!). The stored energy couples with this same high inertia to produce the momentum that keeps the wheel spinning after you stop pulling on the chain.
Got all that? Good.
The erg works for all people because of the flywheel. The flywheel — and thus the rower — is constantly wanting to stop itself, constantly wanting to hit the brakes. Overcoming this deceleration is how distance and other outputs are measured. To make things even more diabolical, the faster you spin the wheel, the more resistance is generated.
That leads us to the lever on the side of the flywheel house, the one numbered 1-10. This adjusts the damper on the side of the flywheel chamber. Changing the damper setting changes the amount of air flow into the flywheel. And as we discussed earlier, air is what is providing the resistance on our rows.
A higher damper setting brings more air into the housing, which means there is more resistance for the wheel to spin against. Also, more air will slow the wheel down quicker, meaning you have to do more work to accelerate the wheel on your next pull.
As you might expect, a lower setting allows less air, which makes spinning easier — in other words, the opposite of the above paragraph.
So… rowing with a damper setting at 10 gives a better workout than setting it at 6, right?
No.
No!
No!!!

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