Rowing sucks when you’re inefficient. Over the next couple of Fridays I’ll break down the basics, then discuss common faults and ways to fix them. Post questions to comments.
Part I: Body Position + Mechanics
These are your first priority, period. Rowing hard with crap form wastes energy (and contributes to the CrossFit population’s blind hatred of the erg). Fix the following for happier paddling.
Shins perpendicular to floor, straight arms, neutral neck, sitting tall with torso leaned forward at 1 o’clock (hips slightly behind you)
Common faults: rounded shoulders, shoulders above or behind hips
Hands and oar handle at sternum, laid back to 11 o’clock, straight legs, neutral neck, relaxed shoulders
Common faults: rounded shoulders, oar handle too high, body laid back too far/not far enough
There are two dynamic parts of the stroke: the drive (from catch to finish) and the recovery (from finish to catch).
Extend legs while maintaining straight arms and the 1 o’clock lean. Lay back to 11 o’clock, then gently bring the hands into the sternum.
This is cued as follows:
The order of operations is critical. Laying back and/or pulling the arms before full extension of the legs shorts your power output — similar to an early arm bend in the Clean or Snatch. Over dozens or hundreds of strokes these micro-ineffiencies add up, and make your coaches sad.
Proceed in the opposite order: from the finish, extend arms out, lean forward to 1 o’clock, then bend the legs and slide back to the catch position.
This is cued as such:
Screw up the order here and you’re in a bad position for the next stroke. The arms must be fully extended and the body must be leaned over the legs before the legs bend. I would get this tattooed on my forehead if I could.
–Have another athlete check out your body position at the catch and finish. Fix any errors.
–Practice mechanics by breaking down the stroke’s three distinct components, pausing between each: legs-back-arms, arms-back-legs. It will feel jerky and awkward. Do it anyway.
The good news: after about 10,000 strokes, mechanics become second nature. Until then, force yourself to think about the order with every single stroke. It’s the only way.
Onward, to rowing glory.
EMOTM 10 Minutes
2 Front Squats
5 Toes to Bar
40 Calorie Row
15 Push ups/Knee push ups
100 Single Unders