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Starting with rowing exercise

ironhajeeironhajee Posts: 379Member Member Posts: 379Member Member
Good tidings MFP!

I had a vision of Zen and often close my eyes and go to my Zen spot. Let me tell you about it...

It's a dock that walks out to a misty lake and at the end of the dock is a simple wooden row boat as it cradles and rocks with the waters slow tide

Since then I've taken up rowing in the gym to be fit for a possible row on the North Saskatchewan River this sprinf/summer season.


What are some tips for rowing you may have? 😎

Workouts insights and stories of your own rowing accomplishments are welcome.



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Replies

  • MikePfirrmanMikePfirrman Posts: 1,038Member Member Posts: 1,038Member Member
    You live in a great area for it. It's the best overall exercise there is. Every time they've tested world class rowers against other athletes, what they found is that they are the best athletes there are.

    I LOVE this video. Though, ironically, it also tells me every reason I shouldn't like or be any good at rowing. I'm short, bad knee on one side and I'm not particularly strong.

    edited November 3
  • peanutflowerpeanutflower Posts: 4Member Member Posts: 4Member Member
    Rowing is the best full body exercise you can do. It's sadly overlooked in gyms and usually done incorrectly. I built myself a tiny house in Victoria BC and had to move way out to the boonies to find a place to put it, and now I'm further from the gym than I would like, but I just bought myself a water rower. That's the brand. It's a water tank rower. I like it better than the concept 2 erg. It's a wonderful machine and quite beautiful too, being made largely of wood. I work at home and spend WAY more time than I should sitting in front of computer working (let's just say working even peripherally in the legal system is a recession-proof industry), and now that I'm 60 I find myself sadly overweight by 40 pounds, not in particularly good shape. I just got my water rower and I'm going to start my program tomorrow. if anyone has good suggestions for workout on erg I'd be happy to hear.
  • AnnPT77AnnPT77 Posts: 12,486Member Member Posts: 12,486Member Member
    Rowing is a more demanding sport than many people realize, and across multiple dimensions of performance. (Maybe partly because it looks so deceptively smooth, controlled, even graceful?)

    But in the video, no comparison to elite XC skiers? :lol: They're going to exceed, at least in CV performance. And no slouches in other dimensons, as well.
  • AnnPT77AnnPT77 Posts: 12,486Member Member Posts: 12,486Member Member
    Rowing is the best full body exercise you can do. It's sadly overlooked in gyms and usually done incorrectly. I built myself a tiny house in Victoria BC and had to move way out to the boonies to find a place to put it, and now I'm further from the gym than I would like, but I just bought myself a water rower. That's the brand. It's a water tank rower. I like it better than the concept 2 erg. It's a wonderful machine and quite beautiful too, being made largely of wood. I work at home and spend WAY more time than I should sitting in front of computer working (let's just say working even peripherally in the legal system is a recession-proof industry), and now that I'm 60 I find myself sadly overweight by 40 pounds, not in particularly good shape. I just got my water rower and I'm going to start my program tomorrow. if anyone has good suggestions for workout on erg I'd be happy to hear.

    Heretical though it may sound, the Concept 2 basic rowing stroke and workout information (link in my first post above) is suitable for Water Rower users. The very technical details about using the monitor and damper settings, that sort of thing, will be different, but the stroke mechanics and such will be the same.

    The Water Rower is a more "furniture looking" machine than the C2, which is a bit of an industrial-looking beast. I'd say it's also a little quieter, which may be relevant to people in multi-unit housing or with touchy housemates. It's a very reasonable choice for home users who want a good workout, especially if appearance and noise are important.

    For people who want to compete at indoor rowing, C2 would be a better choice. And C2 is by far the choice of on-water rowers for non-water training.
  • aokoyeaokoye Posts: 3,126Member Member Posts: 3,126Member Member
    I LOVE this video. Though, ironically, it also tells me every reason I shouldn't like or be any good at rowing. I'm short, bad knee on one side and I'm not particularly strong.
    Mind you, I also know 73 year old woman who is maybe 5 feet tall (probably under) and has won multiple gold medals at the Head of the Charles, including one this year.
  • peanutflowerpeanutflower Posts: 4Member Member Posts: 4Member Member
    Well, I have no intention of competing at indoor rowing. I've used Concept 2s for years, and I have to say that the "feel" of the water rower is a lot smoother. I don't really think there is much difference at all, really, beyond market dominance by flywheel ergs. The monitor is actually better than any Concept 2 one I've used, the stroke is smoother, the resistance is stronger on the catch. Plus it looks a whole lot better, it makes a pretty sweet noise, and it stands up on end in my little bitty house.
  • aokoyeaokoye Posts: 3,126Member Member Posts: 3,126Member Member
    ironhajee wrote: »
    Good tidings MFP!

    I had a vision of Zen and often close my eyes and go to my Zen spot. Let me tell you about it...

    It's a dock that walks out to a misty lake and at the end of the dock is a simple wooden row boat as it cradles and rocks with the waters slow tide

    Since then I've taken up rowing in the gym to be fit for a possible row on the North Saskatchewan River this sprinf/summer season.


    What are some tips for rowing you may have? 😎

    Workouts insights and stories of your own rowing accomplishments are welcome.
    I'm going to apologize in advance because this post is going to be a bit all over the place topic wise.

    This sounds like a very romanticized idea of what rowing is like. I mean I love rowing, but even on the calmest of days (today being an example) what you're talking about other than maybe the water conditions is not my reality. Rowing is a lot harder than it looks and a lot less peaceful in the zen sort of way. A more realistic view would be something along the lines of, "oh wow this boat is very narrow and rather low to the water...oh god I'm tipping from side to side a lot, wait how many things do I need to work on? Everything? Okay then."

    It sounds like you're talking about one of these:
    Classic-Whitehall-Spirit-14-Traditional-Rowboat-with-Fixed-Seatst-1170x878.jpg

    vs one of these:
    NaomiBaker_WRC1_Friday_-100.jpg

    Ann and I have very different goals, though Ann is a much better rower than I (I feel like that's a safe assumption). I just finished the end of my first novice year (right now in the US, masters athletes are a novice for their first two years of rowing) and have been rowing for about 16 months. This season I competed in multiple boat classes both sculling and sweep, and am currently down to rowing on the water on Saturday and Sunday. That's down from 4-5 days a week when the river was less littered with debris (that combined with pre-dawn rowing doesn't mix). Like Ann said, the boats are far from simple, including the wooden ones. There are a few people who I row with who do have beautiful wooden singles though.

    Like I said, it's also not really a Zen sort of thing. Because you're on the water, it's very dynamic - you're always thinking. Note too that you're not facing the direction that you're rowing in, so you can't get so lost in yourself that you lose track of where you're going, at least not if you're doing any sort of steering (which you won't necessarily be doing depending on the type of boat you're in). There are also so many things to learn and keep learning. This is not an, "ok I've mastered these 10 things, I'm good to go" sort of sport. You're always learning, which is something to love about it really.

    Story wise - I'll give you a brief (long) summary of this morning's row, which was a coached row. Note, I had a very good row this morning. I'm very very happy with it. I was in a double (so two people two oars, like the picture Ann posted) on a beautiful morning with absurdly flat water (though not that pretty steam coming up from the water that you were talking about) in maybe 45 degree sunny weather. Not especially warm but warm enough that I shed both my wool hat and my shell part way through the hour and a half of rowing. I was the person in stroke seat (so furthest away from bow) which meant that I was in charge of setting and maintaining the rate. After we got off the dock and met up with the other 4 boats, we warmed up for 5k ish which was basically a lot of steady state with some pause work thrown in. Part of that was so we could work on timing and part of it was to keep everyone together - the faster boats were asked to do more pause work. There was also some quarter feather awfulness thrown in. Things that I was consciously and mostly necessarily thinking about included: soft hands (grip) during the recovery, making sure my wrists were flat during the drive, making sure I was holding the wedge (forward angle of my body) longer, thinking about our set and how I wish it was better (again, this was on flat water - it's just the nature of the game), thinking about where other boats were in relation to us and our point (where our bow was pointed at), and being happy that the water was so nice and that there were somehow no motor boats (other than our coach's launch) on the water). After we turned around we did 2 and a half pieces of 5x 1 min on/30 sec off with a rate pyramid. It was very fun, but again, rowing is a very technical sport. We were one of the two fastest boats. The boat that was just as fast as us and sometimes a little slower? Two people in their 60s maybe 70s. What made them so fast (other than that they were in an Empacher ;) )? Their technique. Things that I had to think about during the pieces included the rate (we didn't have a stroke coach so I had to just guess and to an extent go off of what other boats were doing as they had stroke coaches - think of them like cycling computers), react to steering/help with steering, make sure that I was really pushing hard at the right time, making sure my ratio of drive to recovery was good, making sure those hands stayed soft during the recovery, etc. Other things that went through my mind, and sometimes out of my mouth, included, "FFS please don't run into us" (yes I did yell to get the other boat's attention), realizing that we really needed try to be faster than the rest of the boats so we didn't have to deal with as many steering issues (that worked), being grumpy that the seat was shaped the way it was because at one point I got my butt off the seat during the drive for a brief moment (a good thing) but I couldn't easily shimmy myself into a comfortable position. Again, it was a great day. I had a lot of fun and am really happy with how things went, but it was not zen like in any sense of the word.

    In terms of suggestions outside of what's already been given, it looks like the Edmonton Rowing Club rows on the North Saskatchewan River. I would highly suggest taking a learn to row class. It's fun, a lot of masters rowers have learned as adults, and I think it makes a heck of a lot more sense to learn how to row from someone than to try to have a go of it on your own.
  • aokoyeaokoye Posts: 3,126Member Member Posts: 3,126Member Member
    Well, I have no intention of competing at indoor rowing. I've used Concept 2s for years, and I have to say that the "feel" of the water rower is a lot smoother. I don't really think there is much difference at all, really, beyond market dominance by flywheel ergs. The monitor is actually better than any Concept 2 one I've used, the stroke is smoother, the resistance is stronger on the catch. Plus it looks a whole lot better, it makes a pretty sweet noise, and it stands up on end in my little bitty house.

    For what it's worth, Concept 2s can and do stand up on end. They can also be stored in two pieces. Given how many of them you can fit into a small area when they're stood up, I suspect they take up less space than a water rower.
  • AnnPT77AnnPT77 Posts: 12,486Member Member Posts: 12,486Member Member
    aokoye wrote: »
    Well, I have no intention of competing at indoor rowing. I've used Concept 2s for years, and I have to say that the "feel" of the water rower is a lot smoother. I don't really think there is much difference at all, really, beyond market dominance by flywheel ergs. The monitor is actually better than any Concept 2 one I've used, the stroke is smoother, the resistance is stronger on the catch. Plus it looks a whole lot better, it makes a pretty sweet noise, and it stands up on end in my little bitty house.

    For what it's worth, Concept 2s can and do stand up on end. They can also be stored in two pieces. Given how many of them you can fit into a small area when they're stood up, I suspect they take up less space than a water rower.

    FWIW, last I knew, C2 was saying not to store them standing and unsecured . . . but I know pretty much everyone does. :lol:

    I'm not sure the C2 dynamic is much bigger than a Water Rower. (I'd buy a dynamic if I didn't already have a model D, and was buying now.) Still not as pretty as Water Rower, though. ;)
  • aokoyeaokoye Posts: 3,126Member Member Posts: 3,126Member Member
    AnnPT77 wrote: »
    aokoye wrote: »
    Well, I have no intention of competing at indoor rowing. I've used Concept 2s for years, and I have to say that the "feel" of the water rower is a lot smoother. I don't really think there is much difference at all, really, beyond market dominance by flywheel ergs. The monitor is actually better than any Concept 2 one I've used, the stroke is smoother, the resistance is stronger on the catch. Plus it looks a whole lot better, it makes a pretty sweet noise, and it stands up on end in my little bitty house.

    For what it's worth, Concept 2s can and do stand up on end. They can also be stored in two pieces. Given how many of them you can fit into a small area when they're stood up, I suspect they take up less space than a water rower.

    FWIW, last I knew, C2 was saying not to store them standing and unsecured . . . but I know pretty much everyone does. :lol:

    I'm not sure the C2 dynamic is much bigger than a Water Rower. (I'd buy a dynamic if I didn't already have a model D, and was buying now.) Still not as pretty as Water Rower, though. ;)

    Safety? What's that?! Safety with regards to falling objects in an area that is within the ring of fire? Nah.
  • mtaratootmtaratoot Posts: 1,575Member Member Posts: 1,575Member Member
    I row a whitewater raft. Your "zen place" may be attainable. Whitewater or not, there's simply nothing more worth doing than simply messing about in boats. (Thank you mister Grahame).

    Indoor rowing is different from rowing the boat you may be thinking about. Like a raft, a wherry or pram doesn't have a sliding seat. I think you can use a rowing machine as intended to increase your performance rowing a boat without a sliding seat. I ALSO think there may be a place for "doing it wrong" to simulate rowing a fully loaded gear boat through challenging water if that's what you do or at least to work on the motions you encounter rowing your boat.

    As for rowing shells, I am kind of looking forward to thinking about dedicating some time to that when I retire. For now, I like rafts and kayaks and getting places with some gradient and some canyons.
  • MikePfirrmanMikePfirrman Posts: 1,038Member Member Posts: 1,038Member Member
    AnnPT77 wrote: »
    Rowing is a more demanding sport than many people realize, and across multiple dimensions of performance. (Maybe partly because it looks so deceptively smooth, controlled, even graceful?)

    But in the video, no comparison to elite XC skiers? :lol: They're going to exceed, at least in CV performance. And no slouches in other dimensons, as well.

    I do think X-Country is at least as a demanding sport as rowing, but there was a little known study years ago. I only found it because when I first took up rowing, I didn't know a guy from my hometown in Ohio was a former Gold Medalist at the Olympics (and a US Olympic Coach for years). They did a study on heart enlargement, mainly to see if in elite athletes, it meant something potentially harmful longer term.

    Anyway, they looked across all Olympic sports, even Cross Country Skiing. What they found was A) enlarged hearts doesn't mean necessarily any harm for you long term. B) That rowers had such gigantic hearts it astounded them. The scientists allegedly all gasped when they saw elite rowers' hearts. They were gigantic compared to all the other athletes, presumably because they worked much harder.

    Here's an article on that study.

    https://www.nytimes.com/2008/07/07/health/07hearts.html
  • jhanleybrownjhanleybrown Posts: 139Member Member Posts: 139Member Member
    I don't know....I had about a 25 year break from rowing and did some single sculling this summer...had not done a lot of sculling previously....

    i found sculling pretty "zen"...

    when you are clicking and are feeling your swing and the boat just runs...it basically feels like flying.

    It's good exercise but when the boat is moving well, very few things that compare.

    Hope to do more next summer.
  • xelsooxelsoo Posts: 152Member Member Posts: 152Member Member
    I have a random question: I believe my technique might be a bit off in terms of my hand/arm movement because whenever I row for more than 20 minutes I usually end up with blisters around my inner thumb area, even when wearing gloves... I guess I rotate my hands in their grip, or let the handle slide and turn; should I keep my hands fixed? Thanks for the tips
  • MikePfirrmanMikePfirrman Posts: 1,038Member Member Posts: 1,038Member Member
    xelsoo wrote: »
    I have a random question: I believe my technique might be a bit off in terms of my hand/arm movement because whenever I row for more than 20 minutes I usually end up with blisters around my inner thumb area, even when wearing gloves... I guess I rotate my hands in their grip, or let the handle slide and turn; should I keep my hands fixed? Thanks for the tips

    I'm hardly an expert, but you should work on softening your grip. The proper way to grip is to keep flat wrists at the catch (start of the movement) all the way through until the finish, which ends with a light finish to around your sternum. Your thumbs should actually never wrap around the handle. It's more of a hook with the other four fingers that allows the handle to not cause friction, if that make sense.

    Some machines also have terrible handles made of cheap rubber. My gym has a Matrix Machine like that. They have 3 Matrix machines and all fight over one machine with a better (newer) handle that is made similar to the Concept2s. I have a C2 at home and never have an issue with it. Better made rowers like the WaterRower and Concept2 will also have better built handles that are smoother and won't bunch or fray.

    If you are using a solid rower with lighter grip, you won't need gloves. Gloves sweat and can also cause an issue.

    If you're not driving from your legs and instead pulling from your arms and wrists to start, that can cause the issue as well. These videos explain more.


    https://www.concept2.com/indoor-rowers/training/technique-videos/common-errors
    edited November 8
  • sgt1372sgt1372 Posts: 3,259Member Member Posts: 3,259Member Member
    I think water rowers are fine.

    Nicer looking and more suitable for stand up storage where space is at a premium but more expensive and more fiddely than a C2 which is why I bought the C2.


    Didn't & still don't have a space problem, didn't want 2 bother w/the water (filling, adjusting, cleaning , etc) and didn't see the point in spending the extra $, even though I liked the looks of a water rower better.
    edited November 8
  • AnnPT77AnnPT77 Posts: 12,486Member Member Posts: 12,486Member Member
    xelsoo wrote: »
    I have a random question: I believe my technique might be a bit off in terms of my hand/arm movement because whenever I row for more than 20 minutes I usually end up with blisters around my inner thumb area, even when wearing gloves... I guess I rotate my hands in their grip, or let the handle slide and turn; should I keep my hands fixed? Thanks for the tips

    @MikePfirrman's advice is perfect.

    Flywheel/water style single handle rowing machine, or on-water rowing shell, you don't grip the handle, just hook fingers around it with the last couple of finger joints, relaxed as that hand-shape allows. On the drive (push/pull part of the stroke), the thumb base shouldn't even be in contact with the rowing machine handle. Ditto on the recovery phase, since the flywheel pulls the handle back toward it as you body motion up the slide allows it to do so.

    Think of it as guiding the handle, not gripping it. (One of my coaches used to say: "Don't hold the handle so tight that oar juice squirts out the end!" :lol: ).

    In on-water rowing, especially sculling (two oars per person), the thumb has a job, but it isn't the thumb-base area. Sculling, the fingertip thumb pad presses outward lightly on the end of the oar handle. Sweep (one oar per person), the thumb of the inside hand (one closest to oar blade) has a role in feathering/squaring the blade, but it's still more a fingertip thing, not a web thing.
  • MikePfirrmanMikePfirrman Posts: 1,038Member Member Posts: 1,038Member Member
    @ Ann - if you tell me I'll have to learn to use my thumbs, I might not ever get in the water! I have a hard enough time with symmetry and it's still really bad with my bad right knee. I tend to lift my right hand up and slide it in versus the left. I'm thinking I'd do better in a boat (sweep) with one oar. Not sure my lack of strength on the one side would do with sculling. I fear I'd be going in circles!
  • AnnPT77AnnPT77 Posts: 12,486Member Member Posts: 12,486Member Member
    @ Ann - if you tell me I'll have to learn to use my thumbs, I might not ever get in the water! I have a hard enough time with symmetry and it's still really bad with my bad right knee. I tend to lift my right hand up and slide it in versus the left. I'm thinking I'd do better in a boat (sweep) with one oar. Not sure my lack of strength on the one side would do with sculling. I fear I'd be going in circles!

    LOL! You can do it. And yes, you have to, either way.

    If you sweep, trust me, you want to work on being bisweptual: More seats in more boats more often!

    Sculling will teach you not to raise one hand: Raise it a little too much, your course is diagonal. Raise it a lot too much, you swim. ;) Think of the sculling thumb position as a way to keep your hand in the correct spot! Raise one hand too much in sweep, tick off your boatmates. ;)

    Relative strength imbalance will be OK, once you figure things out, sweep or scull.

    And gosh darn it, you need those thumbs either way. Sweep simulation: Take a chunk of maybe 1" diameter dowel or something (broomstick?). Hold your arms out, with the dowel hooked by both hands, side to side, like an oar handle. Keep your wrists flat. Can you rotate the dowel around its central axis with just your fingers, no thumb? Thinking "no" . . . . :lol:

    Sorry. ;)
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