The Importance of Technique on the Indoor Rower: How To Love The Erg!

It is winter and we rowers all know what that means. No more wind coursing through your hair as you row tirelessly down the river chasing the perfection of swing. Nope. It is time to shift gears. It is when we all go inside and begin rowing on the “dreaded erg”, row in the tanks, lift weights, run, cross country ski, etc…hoping to get stronger, and more fit for the Spring.

Many rowers get a little nervous during this phase. Namely because now they will be scrutinized incessantly on the erg about their splits, 2K scores and more. Understandably panic can set in. Well, let’s turn that frown upside down and look at this as an opportunity not only to get in good baseline shape for the race season, but to also correct those errors sharpen your technique and your coach and bullhorn. Let’s face it, good erg scores are important. Rowers who crank out serious wattage generally are given first glance and many cases make the boat move too, but improving technique can make that jump even greater.

A couple tips this season. When doing steady state workouts, don’t get obsessed with your splits. Row a little lighter and use the time to really make positive changes. Use these workouts as opportunities to better your connection and application of power starting with the legs, core, back and arms. Go back to the fundamentals and really look at yourself. Hopefully your coach is also taking this as an opportunity to get his technical messages across besides just trying to get his rowers fit. When rowers begin to row well, the fitness will develop naturally with proper activation.

Use low rates to work on keeping your connection solid from the get-go.

Technique cues to always think about while training this winter:
1. At catch, hold straight arms (think popsicle sticks on either side of your arms).
2. As you push Legs, engage abs and feel “suspension.” One should feel as though they are lifting 10-15lb of their body weight off the seat. A good drill: Have someone hold your handle and seat while you push your legs. Your butt should come off the seat. You should feel a hang from the back and lat muscles while “suspended”. That is the feeling one should always have every stroke.
3. As legs begin to straighten, pendulum swing the back to the finish position while finishing off the arms. Look to feel pressure against fingers and feet against foot boards all the way through the stroke.

So instead of dreading the boredom and panic of the indoor rower, embrace the opportunity and make real change this winter!

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