What Was Your Work Out Today?

1459460462464465477

Replies

  • cwolfman13
    cwolfman13 Posts: 40,093 Member
    First FTP test for the training program I'm starting on Zwift. It looks like cycling events will be back this Spring, so I'm getting a jump start on Spring training since I've mostly just been riding around the last couple of years and not doing anything particularly serious or structured. Need to knock off about 20Lbs of COVID weight as well.
  • AnnPT77
    AnnPT77 Posts: 22,859 Member
    edited December 2021
    dralicephd wrote: »
    Elliptical for 30 minutes (1.7 miles - not sure how accurate the mileage is, but it at least gives me something to compare over time). The HR monitor (chest strap) is telling me that 17 minutes of that was in zone 4, and 10 minutes was zone 5 (I did some 1-2 minute bursts with 2 minutes of rest in between). Now, I don't feel like I was trying to kill myself at zone 5 and zone 4 felt pretty easy. So, either I'm too dumb to know when I'm working hard or my monitor isn't working right. lol... I'll rest tomorrow anyway so that I don't break myself. Again.

    Another possibility, which to be honest I think sounds like it may be the case: You may have a maximum heart rate (HRmax) that's higher than the age estimate built into most such devices. That's a fairly common thing, and it's more an effect of genetics than anything else. (IMU lifelong fitness practice may help people hold on to a higher rate for more years, but someone who's been less active or inactive can still genetically have a high rate compared to others their age.)

    If you don't feel like you're killing yourself, or at least feeling like you might consider wanting to, I suspect it's not really Z5. IME, sustained Z5 does not feel good, except in a weirdly exhilarating "hey, I did this and lived" endorphin-rush kind of way. Sustained Z5 is hard, and no one can sustain it for super long, because physiology limits the stress.

    Many of the devices use 220 minus age to extimate HRmax, though there are other age formulas. My HRmax would be estimated at 154 that way. I see that number fairly often in more intense workouts, and it's not super challenging or stressful, just kind of energetic. My tested max is more around 180, which makes 154 right around 80% HR reserve, or 85% of raw max. (I don't have a long life history of fitness, though I'm reasonably active now.)

    There are self-tests you can do, even submaximal tests, for HRmax, but I wouldn't recommend doing them to someone before they have good base CV fitness. (They tests are stressful, potentially risky if unfit, and more likely to give a misleading result if not as fit.)

    What you can do is look up references online that correlate HR ranges with RPE (rate of perceived exertion, which is subjective) and/or with the "talk test" (can you sing, carry on a conversation, say a few sentences, gasp out a single word, or just pant frantically, at a given level of exertion). That will give you a rough idea. If you're pretty new to fitness, that rough idea may still move around as you get fitter, but it's a help in understanding. Because it's an approximate correlation, I'd suggest looking at multiple such references, for a better feel on the consensus.

    Just for purposes of the thread, oversimplifying and being really, really approximate: One reference I have suggests that 85% HR reserve, which ought to be about Z4 upper bound (in a 5-zone scheme**), is where "stressed, panting, sweating freely" happens, with "very stressed, gasping, sweating heavily" being subjective sensations more at around 90% HR reserve. Another source says talk test would be at short conversations around 70%, short sentences at around 80%, few words at 85%. Very approximate, of course, but may give you a hint.

    ** Depends some on whose zone scheme is in use, of course. I'm using Garmin's, personally, in what I post here.

    I'm just a duffer, these days, not seriously training, but you'll see the actual current endurance athletes here spending a lot of workout time in lower zones, like Z2/3, below 70-80% raw max, or that sort of thing, depending on what HR benchmarks they use, how their training plan is structured, and where they are in the plan's periodicity. Z5 is more of an exercise side dish or condiment, with the lower zones making up the bulk of work time, during most of a periodized plan.

    If you see your age-estimated HRmax in a workout, and it looks like a good reading (not some weird device anomaly), and you don't feel super stressed when you see it, I'd suggest moving your HRmax above that level by at least 5-10bpm, if your device lets you set a max. You might see actual HRmax at very high maximum effort sometime(s), but I'd guarantee you'll feel like you're working pretty hard when it happens, couldn't work harder, at least not for more than seconds at a time.

    Some people just do an all-out effort, set the device HRmax at 5-10 above the highest number they see . . . I don't recommend that to anyone relatively early on their fitness path, for the same reason I wouldn't recommend max tests. When fit enough to do either, the tests will give a more research-based estimate, than the "go real hard and set max higher than what you see" approach.
  • dralicephd
    dralicephd Posts: 155 Member
    AnnPT77 wrote: »
    dralicephd wrote: »
    Elliptical for 30 minutes (1.7 miles - not sure how accurate the mileage is, but it at least gives me something to compare over time). The HR monitor (chest strap) is telling me that 17 minutes of that was in zone 4, and 10 minutes was zone 5 (I did some 1-2 minute bursts with 2 minutes of rest in between). Now, I don't feel like I was trying to kill myself at zone 5 and zone 4 felt pretty easy. So, either I'm too dumb to know when I'm working hard or my monitor isn't working right. lol... I'll rest tomorrow anyway so that I don't break myself. Again.

    Another possibility, which to be honest I think sounds like it may be the case: You may have a maximum heart rate (HRmax) that's higher than the age estimate built into most such devices. That's a fairly common thing, and it's more an effect of genetics than anything else. (IMU lifelong fitness practice may help people hold on to a higher rate for more years, but someone who's been less active or inactive can still genetically have a high rate compared to others their age.)

    If you don't feel like you're killing yourself, or at least feeling like you might consider wanting to, I suspect it's not really Z5. IME, sustained Z5 does not feel good, except in a weirdly exhilarating "hey, I did this and lived" endorphin-rush kind of way. Sustained Z5 is hard, and no one can sustain it for super long, because physiology limits the stress.

    Many of the devices use 220 minus age to extimate HRmax, though there are other age formulas. My HRmax would be estimated at 154 that way. I see that number fairly often in more intense workouts, and it's not super challenging or stressful, just kind of energetic. My tested max is more around 180, which makes 154 right around 80% HR reserve, or 85% of raw max. (I don't have a long life history of fitness, though I'm reasonably active now.)

    There are self-tests you can do, even submaximal tests, for HRmax, but I wouldn't recommend doing them to someone before they have good base CV fitness. (They tests are stressful, potentially risky if unfit, and more likely to give a misleading result if not as fit.)

    What you can do is look up references online that correlate HR ranges with RPE (rate of perceived exertion, which is subjective) and/or with the "talk test" (can you sing, carry on a conversation, say a few sentences, gasp out a single word, or just pant frantically, at a given level of exertion). That will give you a rough idea. If you're pretty new to fitness, that rough idea may still move around as you get fitter, but it's a help in understanding. Because it's an approximate correlation, I'd suggest looking at multiple such references, for a better feel on the consensus.

    Just for purposes of the thread, oversimplifying and being really, really approximate: One reference I have suggests that 85% HR reserve, which ought to be about Z4 upper bound (in a 5-zone scheme**), is where "stressed, panting, sweating freely" happens, with "very stressed, gasping, sweating heavily" being subjective sensations more at around 90% HR reserve. Another source says talk test would be at short conversations around 70%, short sentences at around 80%, few words at 85%. Very approximate, of course, but may give you a hint.

    ** Depends some on whose zone scheme is in use, of course. I'm using Garmin's, personally, in what I post here.

    I'm just a duffer, these days, not seriously training, but you'll see the actual current endurance athletes here spending a lot of workout time in lower zones, like Z2/3, below 70-80% raw max, or that sort of thing, depending on what HR benchmarks they use, how their training plan is structured, and where they are in the plan's periodicity. Z5 is more of an exercise side dish or condiment, with the lower zones making up the bulk of work time, during most of a periodized plan.

    Thank you for this. I'll pay more attention to how I'm feeling next time.

    I'm using a Polar chest strap and the cell phone Polar Beat app. I had an old Polar chest strap with a watch, but the watch long since died (it's like 20 years old now... time flies!). Anyway, I was trying to use perceived exertion before getting the new monitor, and I feel like I was training in the upper end of what Polar is telling me is Zone 4. HOWEVER, I also ended up really sore, kept going anyway without rest days, and then hurt myself. So, it is possible that the monitor is close to correct and I'm just pushing myself. The monitor's Zone 5 is pretty hard and not something I could keep up for more than a minute or two, so I suspect it is probably close. I think some of the issue is my Go/No Go personality when it comes to exercise and this is part of my journey. I need to chill out. hahaha... The only reason I did the intervals today was because I got "bored" at the Zone 4. That doesn't mean I wasn't sweating and breathing heavy. Seriously, I think I just need to check myself.

    I had a long-time dance teacher tell us repeatedly to "stretch with your body, not your ego". I think I need to keep that mantra in my head when I'm on the elliptical. "Girl, go easy, there are no bears chasing you!"

    Anyway, that was a long way to say thanks! The reminder to check my perceived exertion is definitely needed.
  • JDMac82
    JDMac82 Posts: 2,824 Member
    Thursday Plan Chest an Core focused

    5 mins elliptical
    30 Hand Release Push-ups
    50 Knee Tucks
    15 Pull-ups
    30 DBell Swing
    40 Chopper
    45 Incline Pushups

    10/8/6
    Chest Press
    Dbell Flys
    Iso Landmine Press
    Seated Land Mine Press
    50 Cable Crunches Each L/R/C
    Wide Grip Bench
    Incline Press
    Iso Dbell Chest Press
    Rev Grip Dbell Press
    15 Pull-ups wide grip
    Rev Grip Bench (10 reps only)

    Colt 45!

    Rower / Supine Bike/ Mtn Climbers/ Rev Crunches/ Crunches/ Obliques/ Twists/ Frog X/ Heel Taps

    927 Total Reps
  • AnnPT77
    AnnPT77 Posts: 22,859 Member
    The usual nonsense, rowing machine edition: 3 x (2k on, 2' off) + 1k on + 3' CD, aiming for around 2:37 pace and Z3. Didn't push meters/stroke this time, just rowed and intermittently worked on various technique things, ended up at 2:36.6 pace, mostly Z3 with nothing above (HR peak 139, around 67% reserve), 20spm, 8,266 total meters.
  • Lietchi
    Lietchi Posts: 3,301 Member
    A canceled train during my evening commute caused me to arrive home from work an hour late. So no workout before dinner.
    Not much energy for a workout after dinner either, so I made it a short one: 15 minutes of rowing - 3089 meters. Ten minutes in Z3, the rest Z2 and below.
    And then 10 minutes of walking on the treadmill after that but I didn't bother to log it as a workout.
  • AnnPT77
    AnnPT77 Posts: 22,859 Member
    edited December 2021
    If it's Thursday, this must be stationary bike: 16,431 pseudo meters while standing still, from a 15k + 4' CD workout. Pretty easy pace, about half the time in bottom half of Z3, the rest below; HR peaked at a 134bpm just below 65% HR reserve.

    ETA: Also a very few minutes of Sun Salutation before breakfast, dipping a toe in re-establishing a Winter stretching/yoga habit. I need it. I don't count exercise calories for yoga/stretching, though - so low.
    Lietchi wrote: »
    AnnPT77 wrote: »
    Lietchi wrote: »
    My heel is still a bit sore/stiff, so no running today. Didn't feel like strength training, so I did some indoor rowing:
    5736m in 30min. Entirely in Z2 or lower.

    @lietchi, that's a nice pace for half an hour while staying Z2 and below!

    Thanks! Not sure how accurate my max heart rate (and therefore Z2) is, but definitely happy with my progress fitness-wise the past months.
    Next step is to build up some more endurance in my back and shoulders, I have a hard time rowing for more than 30 minutes without discomfort.

    @Lietchi, I've been thinking about this, wondering where the discomfort is. It seems like an unusual region to be first-fatigued when machine rowing . . . though since you're a runner, probably you had relatively more lower body endurance going into rowing than many do. Off topic for this thread, wondering if I should FR/PM you - if you want to talk about it, that is.

    Note to others: This is not a "PM me so I can build up my commercial coaching business" or the like. I don't have a commercial anything. It's just a concern about how much rowing geekery/digression this thread can tolerate. 😆 I'm already pretty bad about that. 😐 Maybe I should start a rowing geek thread - the old rowing group died long since.
  • drmwc
    drmwc Posts: 724 Member
    @AnnPT77 - I'm interested in the discussion, so if you want to have it here, it is fine with me.

    I went climbing. It was a monstrous 2.5 hour session. I concentrated on overhangs, as I'm not very good at them and I want to improve. My little brother is the reason for the length. (I arranged to meet him at the gym, he managed to lose his house keys so turned up over an hour late after sorting it out.)

    It was an OK session, but not outstanding. For those interested in HR, Fitbit claims (I think - it is not especially clear at conveying the stats) that the max was 142, and the average was 120. I don't know what this means in terms of zones, but I suspect it was reasonably hard work.

    I also did a stack of walking, getting in 21,000 steps in the day.
  • J72FIT
    J72FIT Posts: 5,926 Member
    7-8 am:
    Warm-Up
    Elliptical - 1mile (8m)

    Mobility - (15m)

    Strength: Bicep/Tricep
    Chins: 12-10-7-5-4r (38r)
    Hammer Curl: 3x8r (24r)
    Dips - 12-8-7-5-4r (36r)
    French Press - 3x8r (24r)
  • dralicephd
    dralicephd Posts: 155 Member
    @AnnPT77 Ok, I followed your advice today and compared my perceived exertion with the Polar app. It's pretty close to accurate, I think. I think this tells us that I'm just accustomed to exercising hard. Whether or not that is too hard or not is something I'm going to have to think about and continue to assess.

    Anyway, here's my workout for today:
    35 min. on the elliptical (it says 1.8 miles); 18 minutes in Zone 4, with 11 minutes of intervals in zone 5. I found that most of the time was spent at the border of Zone 4 and 5.

  • JDMac82
    JDMac82 Posts: 2,824 Member
    5 min Elliptical or Treadmill ([email protected])
    15 Pull-ups
    30 DBell Swing
    45 Rower
    15 Dbell Snatch
    45 Push-ups

    10/8/6
    Rev Grip Lat Pulls
    Shrugs
    Iso Dbell Rows (lead w / elbow)
    45 Situps / Flutter Kicks / Obliques
    Meadow Rows
    V Bar Pulldowns
    Supported Dbell Row
    45 Rev Crunches/ Twists/ Hip Lifts
    Barbell Row
    Lat Pulls
    Supine Dbell PullOvers
    45 Jack Knifes/ Mtn Climbers / Choppers
    Landmine Row w/v Bar
    Straight Bar Sweeps & Chest Pull
    Iso Seated Row
    15 Pull-ups Wide Grip
    Banded Rows till it burns then 10 more

    927 Total Reps
  • dralicephd
    dralicephd Posts: 155 Member
    dralicephd wrote: »
    @AnnPT77 Ok, I followed your advice today and compared my perceived exertion with the Polar app. It's pretty close to accurate, I think. I think this tells us that I'm just accustomed to exercising hard. Whether or not that is too hard or not is something I'm going to have to think about and continue to assess.

    Anyway, here's my workout for today:
    35 min. on the elliptical (it says 1.8 miles); 18 minutes in Zone 4, with 11 minutes of intervals in zone 5. I found that most of the time was spent at the border of Zone 4 and 5.

    Found something interesting on the interwebs today. I'll share and then shut up about my heart rate confusion, I promise. :smiley:

    It's thought that the calculation of 220-your age for estimating max heart rate doesn't work well for people over 40 (since it was derived from research on younger people). Someone suggested that us older folks should try using this instead: 220 - (70% of your age). When I do this, the zones in my polar app look more like how I actually felt while exercising. Cool.

    Just thought that might interest others..... No workout to report today. It's a rest day.
  • drmwc
    drmwc Posts: 724 Member
    I went climbing. It was a very good session - I got 4 new routes. They were ones I tried the previous session, but didn't get then. One was a session flash.

    I concentrated on overhangs again, and didn't have stacks of time available. So it was 70 minutes. Fitbit reckoned 112 average HR; 140 max. So not a ridiculous work effort on my part, but it fekt like hard work at the time.
  • swimmom_1
    swimmom_1 Posts: 459 Member
    edited December 2021
    From @dralicephd

    Found something interesting on the interwebs today. I'll share and then shut up about my heart rate confusion, I promise. :smiley:

    It's thought that the calculation of 220-your age for estimating max heart rate doesn't work well for people over 40 (since it was derived from research on younger people). Someone suggested that us older folks should try using this instead: 220 - (70% of your age). When I do this, the zones in my polar app look more like how I actually felt while exercising. Cool.

    Just thought that might interest others..... No workout to report today. It's a rest day.



    This seems to be closer to what I register when doing my Elliptial. Thank you @dralicephd for sharing!
    I did 222 minutes on my Elliptical today for 16.3 miles.

  • AnnPT77
    AnnPT77 Posts: 22,859 Member
    Yesterday, 12/3: Rowing machine revisited, 3 x (2k on, 2' off) + 1k on + 3' CD, aiming for around 2:37 pace and Z3.

    This workout needed to be immediately after a big breakfast because of schedule logistics (I don't thrive in fasted workouts, but don't get digestive distress from working out after eating, especially if I keep the workout moderate.) It amuses me that just doing a "let it flow" kind of thing, trying for around 2:37 but not obsessing, the 4 pieces ended up (split and spm) at 2:35.6/22, 2:35.7/21, 2:35.6/21, 2:35.7/20 - pretty darned consistent without trying super hard.

    Time-wise 85% Z3, total 8,314 meters.

    Since this was intentionally a non-intense effort (that breakfast!), I decided to focus on technique. Reviewing basics is always good, and I tend to rotate through tech focuses over the Winter - things that apply to both boats and machines. For some reason (heh), it seemed interesting to focus on aspects of good technique that I've learned protect the back and shoulders. Usually, good technique (technique that makes us faster) is consonant with safe technique (things that avoid injury), fortunately.

    I'm about to geek out on good technique features that also protect back/shoulders, feeling like I have a little tiny permission, but I'll hide it in a spoiler to make it easy to ignore for people who don't care.
    IMO, there are two main areas of concern in shoulders/upper back, when it comes to rowing technique:

    1. Rotator cuff, and the associated connective tissues. Partly that risk comes from imbalance, since rowing is only upper body pull. (Smart people do some upper body push exercises to balance stresses.) Part of the risk comes from suboptimal technique.

    2. Spine, generally. Back troubles are easy to create.

    For me, protecting shoulders and back means focusing on: (A) Prep out of the finish, and (B) creating structure to transfer power during the drive, distinguishing which muscles create structure vs. generate power, in different parts of the stroke.

    All of the arm extension and forward body angle happen right after the finish. My arms have accelerated the last fraction of the drive, almost a snap. They immediately move away from my body at that same speed: Quick in, smooth turn, quick out. (If someone has a tendency to pause at the so-called finish, a quicker arms-away on the rowing machine will tend to drop split a second or two, almost for free. It lets the flywheel keep spinning fast.)

    Length is important for better splits, so it's tempting to extend the arms away from the armpits/shoulders to get more upper body length: Not a good idea. That stresses the small muscles/tendons, which can't contribute much to power. Instead, I want my shoulders packed – stabilized – pulled down and arms connected to the torso. One of my coaches talked about imagining squeezing a tennis ball between the shoulder blades, really full lat engagement.

    Forward body swing happens next, smoothly, after the arms-away - as if the arms (still packed at shoulder!) pull the torso forward. The body swing isn't bending the spine, it's coming from the big hip joints. (What I tell new rowers, and remind myself, is to think of those bird toys that sit on the edge of a water glass, dip their beak in the water, swing back up on an axle, then down again. The hips are where that axle is.) My torso should be a firm unit, core engaged 360 degrees to maintain the straight back: It’s the angle of back to legs that changes.

    What I want is upper body engagement: My shoulders not forward of the torso, but linked to it firmly with the lats. Upper shoulders down.

    Me, I loooove to over-use the upper body. IME, that seems somewhat more common in male new rowers than female ones as a fault, but I need to have all the faults, it seems like. Part of that is a temptation is to use the upper traps, because they're kind of big. Raising the shoulders makes it feel like the upper body is working more. It's not helpful, because it’s not useful (powerful) work.

    After the forward (recovery) arms-away and body swing, the slide’s tilt, plus relaxation, carry me up to the catch, shins vertical. Then all that body set-up, described above, starts to do work, during the drive phase.

    During the legs & swing part of the drive, my upper body’s job is to create/maintain structure. The structure’s job is to transfer power from the big leg muscles. I want to suspend my body weight between the handle and the foot-stretchers. In the first phase of the drive, I need to augment that raw weight with a strong push (almost like a jump, but smooth) from the legs. The arms are just cables, the shoulders and back structure help transfer power through the body. Upper body is not doing power generation, at this phase.

    My first coach would say “don’t be a taco!” Bending the back into a c-shape (taco) is hard on the back. The spine is weak, moved by small muscles, not powerful. The core (all the way around) is more important, and the glutes/hamstrings do a lot of the power work in the body swing part of the drive.

    Ideally, the glutes are not pinned, as one might assume, by pressure against the seat. I mentioned suspending weight between handles and foot-stretcher: I want that suspension to continue all the way from the catch to the finish. There won’t be airspace between butt and seat (or the seat will escape), but there can/should be a slight unweighting or decompression of butt on seat all the way through the drive. The drive is over when that can’t be sustained.

    So. TL;DR: The major points are that I want shoulders down, lats firm. Until the arms part at the end of the drive, my arms just transfer power. An engaged upper body makes that power transfer work, and protects the shoulders. I strive to suspend my body weight to allow glutes/hamstrings to do the body swing. The body swing is primarily a pivot-like movement in the hip joints. During the whole rowing stroke, the torso is a single core-engaged straight unit, protecting the spine.
  • AnnPT77
    AnnPT77 Posts: 22,859 Member
    Back on stationary bike again, 16,482 meters from a 15k + 4' CD workout. Easy pace, 49% of the time in Z3, the rest below; HR peaked at a 136bpm, about 65% HR reserve. Off day tomorrow.
  • Lietchi
    Lietchi Posts: 3,301 Member
    Friday's workout:
    3 sets barbell shoulder press
    2 sets front raises
    3 sets barbell bench press
    2 sets dumbell flys
    1 set cable triceps pushdown

    Yesterday we ended up getting invited by some friends for a walk and then dinner. We were pressed for time (we had to be back at their house when their kids would be back from their scouts meeting) so we walked quite a brisk 5.62km in 65 minutes.

    And today a long run on the treadmill: 13km in 1h33min23 - a new personal best (longest run). I'm wondering if my Garmin is malfunctioning, my cadence data is really messed up and I can't imagine my arm movements are that irregular. It's really messing with my distance, it told me I only ran 9km.
  • Lietchi
    Lietchi Posts: 3,301 Member
    edited December 2021
    AnnPT77 wrote: »

    Since this was intentionally a non-intense effort (that breakfast!), I decided to focus on technique. Reviewing basics is always good, and I tend to rotate through tech focuses over the Winter - things that apply to both boats and machines. For some reason (heh), it seemed interesting to focus on aspects of good technique that I've learned protect the back and shoulders. Usually, good technique (technique that makes us faster) is consonant with safe technique (things that avoid injury), fortunately.

    I'm about to geek out on good technique features that also protect back/shoulders, feeling like I have a little tiny permission, but I'll hide it in a spoiler to make it easy to ignore for people who don't care.
    IMO, there are two main areas of concern in shoulders/upper back, when it comes to rowing technique:

    1. Rotator cuff, and the associated connective tissues. Partly that risk comes from imbalance, since rowing is only upper body pull. (Smart people do some upper body push exercises to balance stresses.) Part of the risk comes from suboptimal technique.

    2. Spine, generally. Back troubles are easy to create.

    For me, protecting shoulders and back means focusing on: (A) Prep out of the finish, and (B) creating structure to transfer power during the drive, distinguishing which muscles create structure vs. generate power, in different parts of the stroke.

    All of the arm extension and forward body angle happen right after the finish. My arms have accelerated the last fraction of the drive, almost a snap. They immediately move away from my body at that same speed: Quick in, smooth turn, quick out. (If someone has a tendency to pause at the so-called finish, a quicker arms-away on the rowing machine will tend to drop split a second or two, almost for free. It lets the flywheel keep spinning fast.)

    Length is important for better splits, so it's tempting to extend the arms away from the armpits/shoulders to get more upper body length: Not a good idea. That stresses the small muscles/tendons, which can't contribute much to power. Instead, I want my shoulders packed – stabilized – pulled down and arms connected to the torso. One of my coaches talked about imagining squeezing a tennis ball between the shoulder blades, really full lat engagement.

    Forward body swing happens next, smoothly, after the arms-away - as if the arms (still packed at shoulder!) pull the torso forward. The body swing isn't bending the spine, it's coming from the big hip joints. (What I tell new rowers, and remind myself, is to think of those bird toys that sit on the edge of a water glass, dip their beak in the water, swing back up on an axle, then down again. The hips are where that axle is.) My torso should be a firm unit, core engaged 360 degrees to maintain the straight back: It’s the angle of back to legs that changes.

    What I want is upper body engagement: My shoulders not forward of the torso, but linked to it firmly with the lats. Upper shoulders down.

    Me, I loooove to over-use the upper body. IME, that seems somewhat more common in male new rowers than female ones as a fault, but I need to have all the faults, it seems like. Part of that is a temptation is to use the upper traps, because they're kind of big. Raising the shoulders makes it feel like the upper body is working more. It's not helpful, because it’s not useful (powerful) work.

    After the forward (recovery) arms-away and body swing, the slide’s tilt, plus relaxation, carry me up to the catch, shins vertical. Then all that body set-up, described above, starts to do work, during the drive phase.

    During the legs & swing part of the drive, my upper body’s job is to create/maintain structure. The structure’s job is to transfer power from the big leg muscles. I want to suspend my body weight between the handle and the foot-stretchers. In the first phase of the drive, I need to augment that raw weight with a strong push (almost like a jump, but smooth) from the legs. The arms are just cables, the shoulders and back structure help transfer power through the body. Upper body is not doing power generation, at this phase.

    My first coach would say “don’t be a taco!” Bending the back into a c-shape (taco) is hard on the back. The spine is weak, moved by small muscles, not powerful. The core (all the way around) is more important, and the glutes/hamstrings do a lot of the power work in the body swing part of the drive.

    Ideally, the glutes are not pinned, as one might assume, by pressure against the seat. I mentioned suspending weight between handles and foot-stretcher: I want that suspension to continue all the way from the catch to the finish. There won’t be airspace between butt and seat (or the seat will escape), but there can/should be a slight unweighting or decompression of butt on seat all the way through the drive. The drive is over when that can’t be sustained.

    So. TL;DR: The major points are that I want shoulders down, lats firm. Until the arms part at the end of the drive, my arms just transfer power. An engaged upper body makes that power transfer work, and protects the shoulders. I strive to suspend my body weight to allow glutes/hamstrings to do the body swing. The body swing is primarily a pivot-like movement in the hip joints. During the whole rowing stroke, the torso is a single core-engaged straight unit, protecting the spine.

    Interesting, thanks!
    I'm going to pay more attention next time I row. It's not a rotator cuff issue, I think. More spine/posture related, perhaps I'm holding my back too straight (if that's even possible) or perhaps my back muscle are simply a bit weak. But I'll hopefully have a better idea next time I row, based on your explanations.