Getting into Rowing

Hi, I am a long time runner. I have just recently started rowing (I have a concept2 rower) and am looking for some advice on how to make my workouts more effective. I can't seem to get my heart rate up on the rower or feel the same exertion as when I run. My average HR rowing is about 135 and on pushes I can get it to max 150. With running my average Hr is 140-145 and with pushes I can get it to 170. I would like to get good at rowing any tips are much appreciated.
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Replies

  • upgrayyed
    upgrayyed Posts: 3 Member
    First, make absolutely sure you have good form. Your legs should be doing somewhere around 3/4 of the work of the stroke. Check out Youtube for demonstrations of proper form. When I first started out I even videoed myself to look at my form. Second, a lot of beginners try to row at too high of a rating (strokes/min). You want to drop the rating down to mid 20s (or even low 20s if you can manage it) while maintaining a good 500m pace. Also, the recovery phase of the stroke should be roughly 1.5x-2x as long as the drive phase.

    All of that will force you to use a lot more power in the drive and will be physically more taxing. It's hard to know what a good 500m pace should be because it's so dependent on your form, fitness, height, etc. Just start (minding your technique), see where you're at, and aim for improvement.
  • 999tigger
    999tigger Posts: 5,235 Member
    I use the rower as my principal form of cardio. As said above form is essential so learn it from the start or you will injure yourself. Ive seen this question before and its boils down to the person not putting effort into the stroke.
    Look on the concept2site for the technique videos then its a case of learning that and getting used to pushing and pulling with more effor so you spon the wheel faster. If you cna as said above keep your rate in the low 20s, but when you pull and push do so hard.

    Id also agree the thing is improvement so take a note of your time and keep beating it. You will soon get to a level in a few weeks where its a real challenge.

    The other way to increase your heart rate is doing intervals and just rowing as hard as you can. A high heart rate isnt always meaningful unless you know what you are trying to achieve.
  • steph2strong
    steph2strong Posts: 426 Member
    Thanks for the responses.... in regards to form when I first started rowing it was in a gym with a coach who taught me and monitored my form. I've also been using the concept2 arc graph that shows you your power with each stroke (you want a nice smooth curve, power in the drive coming from the legs and carrying through with the arms), when I first started I had the "double hump" meaning i was powering with legs but then over pulling with the arms instead of carrying through the motion. My average speed is 26 strokes per minute with 28-29 for a push. My 500 split is 2:30, my watts are usually 10ish with 150-160 for pushes.

    I find that my legs burn with the pushes and I can't make myself go any harder but cardiovascualrly I'm not very breathless at all. I'm not sure if maybe I have the drag factor set to high? My average run is 7 miles varying between an 8minute mile and a 7 minute mile with lots of hills.
    My goal is to decrease the time it takes me to row a 1000 meters. My time isn't very good right now. I usually row for about 25 minutes and cover 5000ish meters. I add in sprints because I get bored otherwise. i will keep figuring it out because I really would like to make rowing a staple cardio form instead of only running.
  • 999tigger
    999tigger Posts: 5,235 Member
    This is interesting an useful.
    1. form fine then. I think 26 is fine as a lot depends on length of arms and legs, but feewer is better and put more power into each stroke.
    2. Do you do the 5k without stopping? I do 5ks soemtimes 10ks bu sometimes 2's and 3k, but add them up.
    3. It looks like technique is good and you are puing in effort with legs. I find relaxing and making sure I get a full stroke with shoulder and arms helps as well. You should get faster as you get more efficient and also as you get stronger. It might just be endurance you need in your legs and they settle down with the stress as they adapt.
    4. How long have you been erging. How many times a week and what distances? If you keep a record of times or check your log then just pace yourself and aim to beat your previous times. You will soon find your level.
    5. When you have a rythm then its quite smooth. Speed over 5k is also a lot abut pacing as well as checking you have a full clean stroke and you are putting the effort in.
    ps the details were very handy in getting an idea where you are.
    I think race distance is 2k but as u see on concpet foryms hey all keep scores on 500,1k2k,5k,10k.
  • DM01234
    DM01234 Posts: 317 Member
    Not much to add but to say keep at it and you'll eventually find your personal groove.

    I also run and row for cardio. Both uniquely different and uniquely satisfying.
  • steph2strong
    steph2strong Posts: 426 Member
    Ok thanks for the advice. I was just a bit frustrated/concerned because my husband gets such a better cardio workout rowing than running and I have read so many people's comments that they feel so much more drained and "worked out" from rowing than running and I feel like I am doing it wrong. I really think it might just be that most of my training community are big guys and I am 5'6, 115 lbs (pre-pregnancy, I'm now 123 lbs, 21 weeks pregnant, hence the cutting back a bit on running) and I don't think I have a lot of power. If I get stronger and am able to generate more powerI think the rowing will get better. Just gotta stick with it and progress (I always just expect to kill it from the beginning, forgetting this is a totally new exercise and I need to start from the beginning like everyone else).
  • 20yearsyounger
    20yearsyounger Posts: 1,643 Member
    I wouldn't worry about it too much. On average I burn 500 calories in a 10K row (~54 mins), 600 calories in a 10K run (~60 mins). So if I had to true it up that's probably 555 versus 600. At the end of the day, I am never worried about missing out on 45 calories. They are both still a good workout for me except that rowing has a lot less impact on my body.
  • 999tigger
    999tigger Posts: 5,235 Member
    fernt21 wrote: »
    Ok thanks for the advice. I was just a bit frustrated/concerned because my husband gets such a better cardio workout rowing than running and I have read so many people's comments that they feel so much more drained and "worked out" from rowing than running and I feel like I am doing it wrong. I really think it might just be that most of my training community are big guys and I am 5'6, 115 lbs (pre-pregnancy, I'm now 123 lbs, 21 weeks pregnant, hence the cutting back a bit on running) and I don't think I have a lot of power. If I get stronger and am able to generate more powerI think the rowing will get better. Just gotta stick with it and progress (I always just expect to kill it from the beginning, forgetting this is a totally new exercise and I need to start from the beginning like everyone else).

    One of the interesting things at the gym is you get to see many people use the rower and its hrad not to look at their meter. Its always interesting to see how the effort you see them put in translates into speed. Its going to be a mix of technque, endurance and power that will get you going faster. Keep an eye on your pace and keep trying to push it (notwithstanding pregnancy safety). You will adapt and improve as you chase the imes down. If you wnat you cna register onto the concept site and upload your stats so you cna compare them with other people an similar stats. On your credential i.e not tired cardio wise, but tired body wise, then how about lowering the resistance setting and maybe even increasing the strike rate so its less punishing on your body per stroke and it may bring yor extra lung capacity into play. Be patient it does come. Look in memory at the stats of your row and you cna monitor your speeds per 5mins.
  • soldiergrl_101
    soldiergrl_101 Posts: 2,206 Member
    fernt21 wrote: »
    Hi, I am a long time runner. I have just recently started rowing (I have a concept2 rower) and am looking for some advice on how to make my workouts more effective. I can't seem to get my heart rate up on the rower or feel the same exertion as when I run. My average HR rowing is about 135 and on pushes I can get it to max 150. With running my average Hr is 140-145 and with pushes I can get it to 170. I would like to get good at rowing any tips are much appreciated.

    I did rowing in high school and in the Air Force, two things to keep in mind are your meters and your split. We would do 4000 meter sessions, meanwhile you want to keep your split low while maintaining good form.
  • steph2strong
    steph2strong Posts: 426 Member
    Okay so today I focussed more on my power and ignored the strokes per minute, i felt the workout was more effective. I think I might try reducing the load a bit to see how that affects the rowing next workout. I would love, love, love to get my 2000 meter to 6:30, but right now it's very far away from that like 9 minutes. I rowed 4500 in 21 min today then did a 5 km run and some suspension training for upper body. I appreciate the input. I am going to look into signing up on the concept2 site.
  • AnnPT77
    AnnPT77 Posts: 31,326 Member
    If you said what you're using as a damper setting, I didn't see it. Women typically should be using something in the 3-4 range for normal workouts. (I occasionally get to work out with Div I collegiate women rowers; they usually set around 4, but I'm not them so I'm usually closer to 3 or 3.5).

    Have you looked at the technique videos Concept 2 has, to check that what your coach told you is consistent? Not knowing that person's background, and without intending to dis, a number of trainers don't coach the rower very well, unless they have specific rowing knowledge.

    However, what you say about the power curve sounds good in terms of overall shape, but I'd also say that you want the high point of the curve relatively closer to the start of the stroke (get it moving with the leg strength right off the catch). You want to be suspending most of your weight on the handle and your feet right off the catch as you do the leg press part of the stroke and beyond - not losing the seat, but you should feel a noticeable decompression between the seat & your butt during the entire drive.

    Before you take advice, you'd want credentials; this is all I've got: I'm an on-water rower, have competed in both on-water & Concept 2 indoor races, and (until I stopped doing my continuing ed, lazy soul that I am) had USRowing coaching certification. I'm also old (59 - and still lazy) so I steady state on longer rows at something around 2:25, my PR for a 2K race was a 2:10 split, and on a good day I can do a 500 under 2 minutes. This is not fast, for sure, but it's respectable for an old, fat woman ;) .
  • 999tigger
    999tigger Posts: 5,235 Member
    2000m@6:30 would be 1min 37.5 splits are you sure you mean that low? The actual rowers on concept2 site might manage that, but not many in a normal gym will sustain that. Be patient and keep at it. Give yourself some creit as for your condition and be patient.
  • AnnPT77
    AnnPT77 Posts: 31,326 Member
    The world record for 2K for women age 30-39 is 6:28.8. A 7:10 would've been enough to medal at this year's CRASH-B (*the* big indoor race internationally) in master's women 30-39 open weight. I'm all for stretch goals, but . . . .

    You're doing fine. Check the rankings page at Concept 2 for comparison: http://log.concept2.com/rankings.asp
  • steph2strong
    steph2strong Posts: 426 Member
    AnnPT77 wrote: »
    If you said what you're using as a damper setting, I didn't see it. Women typically should be using something in the 3-4 range for normal workouts. (I occasionally get to work out with Div I collegiate women rowers; they usually set around 4, but I'm not them so I'm usually closer to 3 or 3.5).

    Have you looked at the technique videos Concept 2 has, to check that what your coach told you is consistent? Not knowing that person's background, and without intending to dis, a number of trainers don't coach the rower very well, unless they have specific rowing knowledge.

    However, what you say about the power curve sounds good in terms of overall shape, but I'd also say that you want the high point of the curve relatively closer to the start of the stroke (get it moving with the leg strength right off the catch). You want to be suspending most of your weight on the handle and your feet right off the catch as you do the leg press part of the stroke and beyond - not losing the seat, but you should feel a noticeable decompression between the seat & your butt during the entire drive.

    Before you take advice, you'd want credentials; this is all I've got: I'm an on-water rower, have competed in both on-water & Concept 2 indoor races, and (until I stopped doing my continuing ed, lazy soul that I am) had USRowing coaching certification. I'm also old (59 - and still lazy) so I steady state on longer rows at something around 2:25, my PR for a 2K race was a 2:10 split, and on a good day I can do a 500 under 2 minutes. This is not fast, for sure, but it's respectable for an old, fat woman ;) .

    Thank you that was very helpful.
    My damper setting is at 5, so i guess I should lower that to 3 and see how that works. I do feel a notable decompression between the seat and my butt during the drive. I need to work on more power in the drive at the beginning because of what you said about the high pint of the curve. I know I'm not as explosive as I should be. I haven't just committed to doing a good rowing workout yet on it's own or after a rest day, because I like to kill it in a good running workout when I'm fresh. this is usually at least 7 miles of sprinting and steep hills, plus kettle bells and plyometric, so my legs are always a bit dead when i do rowing workouts. But if I'm serious about getting better at rowing I know I need to commit more to the rowing workouts and start backing off a bit with the other stuff (transition is hard, it's easy to stick with what you know... but I need a change).
  • steph2strong
    steph2strong Posts: 426 Member
    AnnPT77 wrote: »
    The world record for 2K for women age 30-39 is 6:28.8. A 7:10 would've been enough to medal at this year's CRASH-B (*the* big indoor race internationally) in master's women 30-39 open weight. I'm all for stretch goals, but . . . .

    You're doing fine. Check the rankings page at Concept 2 for comparison: http://log.concept2.com/rankings.asp

    LOL... okay I didn't realize how unrealistic my goals were. I should have probably looked that stuff up first. Okay, new goal 7:30 for 2000? i was a national level distance runner before my real career took over, but I still am a crazy insane exerciser so I gotta set the bar high ( I don't expect to reach this goal while pregnant at all, but I want to get the basics in place and progress and see what happens post-partum).
  • AnnPT77
    AnnPT77 Posts: 31,326 Member
    fernt21 wrote: »
    (snipped some)
    I know I'm not as explosive as I should be. I haven't just committed to doing a good rowing workout yet on it's own or after a rest day, because I like to kill it in a good running workout when I'm fresh. ... so my legs are always a bit dead when i do rowing workouts.

    Keep in mind that you can work on the *shape* of your power curve even at a sub-max pressure - there's a technique dimension to it. If your heels come off the stretchers a bit on the recovery to reach a shin-vertical catch, make sure you get those down *first*, for example. Be sure to hold your body angle until your legs are almost done, even at lower pressure.

    And one quasi-cheat to drop your split is to make sure you're getting hands away and body over quickly to your fully extended position, before the slow, relaxed slide - I usually think of this as sending the hands away/body over at the same speed the hands came in on the drive, and accelerating the wheel a bit with the arms during the drive is a good thing, too. (I think of it as a cheat because it drops the split by keeping the flywheel spinning well, but doesn't take noticeable extra work. But it's not what rowers think of as a erg cheat - those are things that would flip or slow you on the water - because this actually is still decent technique on the water, especially for scullers.)

    And/or, you can back off the rating a bit if you want to be easier on your well-used legs, and still work technique. (One of the times we *do* use higher damper, BTW, is in very low rating "suspend your weight' practice, for a few minutes at a time, i.e., it's a drill. But it's a drill that's leg intensive, so I digress!)
    fernt21 wrote: »

    LOL... okay I didn't realize how unrealistic my goals were. I should have probably looked that stuff up first. Okay, new goal 7:30 for 2000? i was a national level distance runner before my real career took over, but I still am a crazy insane exerciser so I gotta set the bar high ( I don't expect to reach this goal while pregnant at all, but I want to get the basics in place and progress and see what happens post-partum).

    Good for you!

    Here's another take on goals. If you're going for the 7:30, and since it looks like you're a lightweight (under 135), Concept 2 will possibly pay your airfare to CRASH-B if you hit a qualifying time at a satellite regatta. There's normally one in Toronto. The qualifying time for lightweights is 7:20.1. BTW, consider rowing in an indoor race post-baby when you're back in the swing of things, even if you're not at a qualifying time (yet) - in most regionals, people medal at times slower than qualifying. It's pretty fun (even if you don't medal). Intense, but fun!

    Info here:

    http://www.concept2.com/indoor-rowers/racing/world-irc/qualifying-times
    http://www.cdnindoorrowing.org/
  • dodept
    dodept Posts: 1 Member
    I'm a novice rower both on the water and off. I only started rowing properly last year before that I was using an erg in the gym off and on but my form and performance were pretty poor and it took quite a few sessions to fix my bad habits.

    On the concept2 I'd second fast hands away and making sure you get your heals down early in the power part of the stroke as critical to getting consistently good times. Keeping a good posture right through the stroke is also really important for time as well as avoiding injury. Avoiding dropping my head at the catch and then making sure I maintained a decent lean back angle once my legs were flat really helped get my split times down.

    Maintaining a long stroke rather than piling on the pressure and acceleration is something actually easier to learn on the water but it serves just as well on the erg, extending your stroke toward the finish can be helpful especially if you are a little constrained at the catch.

    On the concept2 I tend to work on either endurance or speed in different sessions as I've found it hard to manage both together effectively but that may be down to my level of fitness. The internet is a great resource but I'd recommend trying to get some time in a rowing club or at least a gym with some experience indoor rowers as I've learned a huge amount directly and also by watching.

    One more point on the C2 it's worth checking your drag factor rather than just checking the damper, I've found quite a lot of variability between machines even of the same age. There are good instructions on the website.
  • HelenWater
    HelenWater Posts: 232 Member
    Lots of good advice already, but I'll add my two cents worth as I love rowing.

    My workout (at a masters rowing club):
    Damper 4
    Stroke rate 20-24 with some sprints for variety
    6km
    2:30 or less split (which leads to just under 30 minutes) - this is where you can push harder to get your heart rate up
    Push with the legs, fast hands away, slow up the slide (1:2 or even 1:3)
    For me that keeps my heart rate in zone 4

    Ensuring good form is definitey the key to an enjoyable and injury-free session.
  • steph2strong
    steph2strong Posts: 426 Member
    HelenWater wrote: »
    Lots of good advice already, but I'll add my two cents worth as I love rowing.

    My workout (at a masters rowing club):
    Damper 4
    Stroke rate 20-24 with some sprints for variety
    6km
    2:30 or less split (which leads to just under 30 minutes) - this is where you can push harder to get your heart rate up
    Push with the legs, fast hands away, slow up the slide (1:2 or even 1:3)
    For me that keeps my heart rate in zone 4

    Ensuring good form is definitey the key to an enjoyable and injury-free session.

    Sounds great thanks. I'll give it a try tomorrow when I row again.
  • TnTWalter
    TnTWalter Posts: 345 Member
    i found this video to help with form. I'm still not into it but it's good to mix it up.
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2THSG6LoAHI