Category Archives: Rowing Fitness

Poor Old Lactic Acid – the Pain is Not His Fault!!

Lactic acid gets some pretty bad press, but it doesn’t exist in the body for more than a few seconds. It is quickly converted into lactate and hydrogen ions and it is these little guys that drop the pH in the muscles making them acidic and painful. This article from World Rowing explains more..

Lactic acid has been cast in the role of nemesis, as the necessary evil to higher athletic performance; not just in rowing, but in many sports over the years. The scientific knowledge, however, has advanced in recent decades and lactic acid seems to play a more complex role than is often assumed.

“First of all,” explains Dr Trent Stellingwerff, lead of Innovation and Research at the Canadian Sport Institute Pacific, “we should call what we are measuring lactate and not lactic acid. Within the muscle, 99 per cent of the lactic acid (LaH) separates immediately into lactate (La-) and hydrogen ions (H+). It is the H+ that is the problem.”

“Lactate is both fuel and metabolic waste product,” says Alex Hutchinson, author of the Sweat Science articles for runnersworld.com. “The body has different ways of mobilising its fuel stores and it all depends on when you need the fuel.”

“When you are performing over your V02 max (maximal aerobic capacity),” says Stellingwerff, “you have to draw on anaerobic metabolism to provide the required energy. A 2000m rowing race is done at 98 to 110 per cent of power at V02 max. This is why rowers produce so much lactate.”

“Professional marathoners, by comparison, run at 85-90% of V02 max and would probably never have a lactate measurement over 4 mmol (millimoles),” he says, “but in rowers it can be around 15-18 mmol and sometimes even a bit higher.”

Measuring lactate, however, is an indirect measure, since it is not the lactate itself that causes the acidosis (or drop in pH inside the muscles). The hydrogen ions (H+) produced with the lactate cause the drop in the muscle’s pH. Normal pH in the body is 7.2, but can drop as low as 6.6 if it were to be measured in rowers after a race, according to Stellingwerff.

“The burn you feel,” he says, “the toxic feeling you get later in races is the H+ causing the drop in pH. That sends a signal back to all the enzymes to slow and stop producing energy.”

As well as directly causing a lot of pain through acidification, this drop in pH may have other effects on performance. “Because you are disrupting the normal contraction cycle of the muscle,” says Stellingwerff, “I would imagine that there could be an impact on the central nervous system as well.”

“It is unclear exactly what is happening,” points out Hutchinson, “but it does appear that there are various places along the central nervous system that are responding to fatigue. If you exercise one arm very hard for instance, the other will also be tired. This non-local fatigue is mediated by the central nervous system and is one of the best pieces of evidence that fatigue isn’t just in muscles.”

So, although lactate does not appear to be what is causing the ‘burn.’ it is what coaches and sports scientist tend to measure. But why measure it in the first place and how is the information useful?

“It’s a matter of convenience,” says Hutchinson. “Lactate is simple to measure and although it doesn’t cause the burn on its own, it does give an indirect sense of what is going on in the muscles.”

“Lactate is an important molecule to measure in the right context,” says Stellingwerff, “but it can be over-measured.” Stellingwerff knows rowing well as he worked for a number of years with the Canadian senior men’s rowing team as head of physiology.

Stellingwerff identifies three situations in which a sport scientist might measure lactate in an athlete:

1)      Standardised testing such as a step test to assess aerobic/anaerobic fitness
2)      As a means to qualify/quantify a set workout to assess if the workout is having the desired effect
3)      Regular monitoring of training adaptation and fatigue during a recurring set workout

“The big thing,” says Stellingwerff, “is consistency of measuring the same thing each time. Anyone can take a lactate, but it takes a lot of time to understand what that value means. There are so many variables and you have to be careful of not just taking a lactate sample and making an assumption on that alone.”

“I think when you measure lactate,” he says, “you should also be measuring heart rate (HR), the athlete’s rate of perceived exertion (RPE) and some objective external measure like boat speed. It is the integration of many variables, that might include lactate, which allows for the correct interpretation.”

“The biggest mistake possible,” says Hutchinson, “would be to take lactate measurements and say this person is or isn’t good enough. To me it is a tool to assess how an athlete is progressing over time.”

So, measuring lactate may not be as all-important on its own, as is often assumed. It does. however, remain an important component of training and preparation for elite rowers in their pursuit of high performance.

http://www.worldrowing.com/news/why-rowing-hurts-facing-fatigue-and-lactic-acid

www.rowing-machine-review.com

The ultimate guide to the rowing machine

These Olympian-approved workouts and techniques are guaranteed to get you in killer shape without killing your back.

YOU MAY HAVE noticed a rowing machine, otherwise known as an ergometer or “erg,” gathering dust in the corner of your neighborhood gym or as Frank and Claire Underwood’s workout of choice in House of Cards. If you’re a CrossFitter, there’s a good chance you’ve probably even used one in a workout before.

There’s also a good chance you’re using it all wrong.

While the rowing machine is an incredibly efficient, full-body workout that allows the athlete to build aerobic endurance and muscular strength at the same time, a lack of proper technique and training is common among gym-goers and can lead to injuries and misuse. So we asked experts from the number one collegiate men’s crew team in the country at the University of California – Berkeley—Head Coach Mike Teti and Associate Head Coach Scott Frandsen—to give you the lowdown on everything you need to know about the rowing machine. Both are Olympic medalists (Teti is both a medalist as an athlete and a coach) who know exactly what it takes, in the gym and on the water, to get in gold medal-winning shape.

In order to get the most out of your time on the rowing machine you should:

Incorporate these erg workouts into your fitness routine.
Make sure to avoid the following common mistakes and always keep an eye on technical focuses during the workout, even when you’re feeling fatigued.
Take some time to get to know the machine itself and understand the way the screen settings work.
Proper rowing machine technique

Olympic rowers and experienced collegiate crews make the rowing stroke look easy and pretty darn effortless. But make no mistake, the rowing stroke is nuanced, complex, and can take years to master on the water. Luckily for those of you at the gym, the erg is a far simpler machine that can be perfected with some basic knowledge of technique and a little bit of practice.

Catch

Rowing - The CatchThe “catch” is the beginning of the stroke. “Here, you are at full compression forward and taking the weight of the stroke,” says Teti. If you were in an actual rowing boat, you could visualize the blade as entering the water and “catching” the weight of its resistance.

Drive

Rowing - The DriveThe “drive” describes the basic sequence of the rowing stroke, which is legs first, then back, and finally arms. A few common mistakes to avoid are pulling with your arms first or opening up with your shoulders before you’ve driven the legs down. “I always liken the movement to a power clean and stress the importance of holding a strong body angle while pushing the legs down and then accelerating through with the body and then arms,” says Frandsen.

Finish

Rowing - The FinishQuite literally, the “finish” of the stroke. After completing the stroke sequence, you should be “sitting with your legs flat, shoulders behind your hips, and the handle drawn horizontally to the body at the lower ribs,” according to Teti.

Recovery

When you rest! From the “finish” position, the correct sequence is to move the hands away from the body first, then pivot from the hips to get back into that strong body position forward (your shoulders should be in front of your hips) and finally break the knees to roll up the slide to the starting “catch” position. “This movement should be blended together so as not to be too rigid, but the handle needs to get out past your knees before you start to roll up the slide so the handle doesn’t have to go up and over your knees,” says Teti. It can also be helpful to keep in mind that the handle should remain on one horizontal plane for the entire stroke and recovery, instead of bobbing up and down.

Body Swing/Posture

“I always try to reinforce the need to swing over from the hips and not simply by curving you back. This is crucial to avoid injury and to get you into a stronger position to be ready for the next stroke,” says Frandsen. Even as you start to get tired or feel fatigued, don’t allow yourself to slouch or to collapse into the “catch”–swing over early in the stroke and then think about your chest rising up to the catch.

Rowing machine settings you should know

Fan Setting

A common misconception is that putting the fan setting up to 10 is somehow better or harder, but Frandsen completely disagrees. “In my 18 years of rowing, I never trained on the erg at anything over a fan setting of 3 or 4. Anything higher puts a lot of unnecessary load on the body at the beginning of the stroke and can lead to injuries,” says Frandsen. He recommends keeping the fan setting low and working on posture and quickness around the catch to pick up the resistance, instead of depending on the machine to give you that heavy load.

Split

The “split” refers to how much time it would take you to cover 500 meters if you maintain that split. For example, if you are holding a 1:45 split, then it will take you 1 minute, 45 seconds to cover 500 meters. “It’s a great way to see if your training (and technique) is paying off with improved splits,” says Frandsen. You are able to program your workout in by going to “Select Workout,” then “New Workout,” and then inputting your work intervals based on time or distance, as well as your rest interval.

Navigating the Screen

Concept2 Monitor
Photo: Concept 2 CTS

The most recent models of the erg, produced by Concept 2 (pictured above), have a screen with different options for what measurements or figures you want to see during your workout. Using the screen, you can monitor calories expended and watts produced, but “the vast majority of rowers will set the screen to track their 500-meter split or just simply ‘split,’” according to Teti. The stroke rate, which appears on the screen as “SPM,” refers to the number of strokes you are taking per minute. Typically the split and stroke rating have an inverse relationship, meaning that when you increase your stroke rating, the split should go down.

Rowing machine workouts

For the workouts, it’s not only critical to make sure that you maintain proper technique, but also that “you are properly warmed up for these workouts, especially the power sessions,” says Frandsen. He recommends starting slowly by adding one or two of these sessions, most of which are between 30 and 40 minutes in duration, per week before your strength training workout and then build from there.

*During the rest periods, you could take a few minutes to lightly paddle out on the rowing machine and then use the remaining time to stand up, stretch yours legs, and grab a quick drink.

Power 20’s

Sets: 2
Reps: 8
Rate: 20-24 strokes per minute
Take 20 strokes as powerfully as you can while still maintaining correct technique, then take 10 strokes very light. That’s one rep. Rates for these power strokes should be between 20 and 24 strokes per minute. The goal should be to hold as low of a split as possible for each 20-stroke piece. Use the light strokes in between reps to regain length and correct your posture. Take a short break, no longer than 6 minutes, between the sets.

Row 1 Minute On, 1 Minute Off

Sets: 3
Reps: 5
Rate: 18, 20, 22, 24, 26 (+2 on each rep, for each set)
Row for 1 minute applying as much power and force as you can, then take 1 minute of very light strokes for rest. That’s one rep. Complete 5 reps and then take a short break, no more than a few minutes, before moving on to the next set. Similarly, the goal is to hold the lowest split possible in the hard pieces. The prescribed stroke rates are 18, 20, 22, 24, and 26 for the first set; 20, 22, 24, 26, and 28 for the second; and 22, 24, 26, 28, and 30 for the third.

Row 1,000 Meters

Sets: 4
Rest: 7 minutes between each set
There isn’t a prescribed stroke rate for this workout, but it is important to make sure that you are keeping full length on the slide (legs). Be careful not to shorten up or scramble, as this will negatively affect technique and posture. The target is to hold the lowest average split possible, at a sprint pace that would be unsustainable over longer distances, for all four pieces. According to Frandsen, a competitive rower would “take advantage of every second of rest to ensure that each piece is of the highest intensity.”

Row 8 Minutes

Sets: 3
Rest: 6 minutes between each set
Rates: First four minutes at 24, then two minutes at 26, and last 2 minutes at 28
These pieces are set at mid-range rates with lots of rest between. Just like the 1,000-meter workout, you’ll want to take advantage of the long rest so that each piece is of the highest quality possible. The set rates step up throughout the piece, meaning that with each step up in rate, your 500-meter split should go down.

Row 10 Minutes

Sets: 3
Rest: 3 minutes between each set
Rates: First 3 minutes at 20, then 4 minutes at 22, and last 3 minutes at 24
Now we start to decrease the intensity and increase the volume of these workouts, which will improve overall endurance and stamina. Complete this workout, 10 minutes of rowing at a hard steady-state pace (that’s one set), and take 3 minutes of rest between each set. The rates are set slightly lower so you should be able to focus on technique and solidify your posture at the catch, as well improving overall stroke length.

Row 3,000 Meters

Sets: 3
Rest: 4 minutes between each set
Rates: 1,000 meters at 20, 1,000 meters at 22, and 1,000 meters at 24 for each set
Complete this workout at a hard steady-state intensity throughout. Stick to the prescribed rates for each set and continue to work on improving length and posture.

Row 6 Minutes

Sets: 6
Rest: 2 minutes between each set
Rates: The prescribed rate for each set is as follows: the first set at 18; then 20; 22; 20; 22; and the final set at 24
This workout increases overall volume, while reining in the intensity. Row 6 minutes at a challenging pace, focusing on maximum application of strength and power. That’s one set. Use the short, 2-minute rest to stand up and stretch between each set, but don’t let your heart rate come down too much.

Row 20 Minutes

Sets: 2
Rest: 5 minutes between each set
Rates: First 5 minutes at 20, then 10 minutes at 22, and last 5 minutes at 24
This a very standard rowing workout, designed to stretch volume at a steady, attainable pace. The focus should be on maintaining a solid 500-meter split (not too high, not too low) and working on technique and length.

Row 15 Minutes

Sets: 3
Rest: 3 minutes between each set
Rates: First 5 minutes at 20, middle 5 minutes at 22, and last 5 minutes at 24
Continue to stretch the volume at lower rates and with shorter rest.

Original Post: http://www.mensfitness.com

Rowing Machine Review

Why runners should be rowers.

This is a great post originally from www.firstdegreefitness-europe.com that struck a chord with me. I used to play a lot of rugby and got into rowing once I had stopped playing regularly. Rugby is an intense sport and as part of my training I did a lot of running and picked up a persistent calf muscle injury which took a lot of rehab. To keep fit I was swimming and cycling but had I known about how intense rowing is, I would most definitely had done this instead and then added it as permanent part of my training.

As a runner I was in need of a workout to help me retain fitness while I rehabbed a foot injury, so I was directed to a rowing machine—commonly referred to as an ergometer or “erg.”
Then I endured one of the most challenging cross-training workouts of my life—for exactly 12 minutes.

Rowing is an invaluable tool for runners. When you learn how to do it right it lights up weaknesses you didn’t know you had. It helps runners and cyclists find power in muscles they hadn’t used before.

Rowing is a potent weapon in an endurance athlete’s cross-training arsenal, or as a replacement for running when injuries surface. It’s no joke. It’s some serious, lung-searing stuff. When an athlete is dealing with a foot or Achilles tendon problem, often the solution lies in replacing running with work on the ergometer. For both continuity and recovery. In place of key running workouts, use indoor rowing.
It’s all about proper technique. If you don’t do it right, it’s not going to work.

While running and rowing are similar in cardiovascular benefits, they differ in the muscular workout they deliver. Erin Cafaro, a 2008 Olympic gold medalist and member of the U.S. rowing squad, said that rowing punishes the body in different ways. “In one continuous motion rowing works legs, core, back and arms,” she said. “It’s a full-body workout.”

One of the chief benefits rowing offers runners is improved posture. “Runners typically have terrible posture, leading to bad form, leading to beating the hell out of yourself.
Proper rowing helps runners develop robust midline stability to help shift running from smaller, weaker muscles such as hip flexors to more powerful muscles in the hips.

Properly performed rowing gives a runner a solid blast of cardio work, works the abs, core and lower back, and even develops flexibility in the hamstrings and calves.

Where should you start? Don’t make the mistake most runners do when they first hit the rowing machine and yank away—not only will you miss out on the primary benefits rowing has to offer, but you also might make things worse.

So, what benefits does rowing offer runners and triathletes?

Rowing machines allow runners to do a non-impact form of endurance training. If you want to be a better runner, your training should focus on running mainly. However, cross-training during non-competitive periods in the year and during recovery blocks throughout the season helps runners stay injury free and mentally fresh. Those are the key benefits of rowing for runners.

Any tips fur runners taking up rowing?

Strongly resist the urge to become a rowing specialist. This is especially true for triathletes, who tend to want to mimic the training done in the specific sub sports of their discipline. For example, very often triathletes fall into the trap of training like Masters swimmers, road cyclists and runners rather than training like a triathlete. The same intensity and inquisitiveness that leads to those miss-steps can also lead a motivated runner or triathlete to use the erg as if he is a crew specialist. This is counterproductive because it can hurt recovery. If you’re really trying to improve on the erg, it’s likely your training load will increase on the erg and will cut into your recovery, leading to decreased volumes of sport-specific training. Both problems can reduce sport-specific performance.

Click here to view original web page at www.firstdegreefitness-europe.com

 

 

http://www.rowing-machine-review.com

Why Indoor Rowing Is Much More Than Just Cardio

The term “cardio” is loosely used to define several activities. It is important to note some cardiovascular activities hold greater weight than others despite being under the same umbrella. Indoor rowing would be one of these activities.

It is one of the more robust activities a person can use to lose weight and get stronger. Let’s take a look at why indoor rowing is more than simple cardio for those creating a meaningful workout program.

What Is Indoor Rowing?

Before looking into dissecting indoor rowing for its benefits, let’s assess what it encompasses.

Indoor rowing is completed with an indoor rowing machine or “indoor rower.” The premise of this machine is to recreate the rowing motion indoors.

An ergometer is attached to the machine to determine how much force is being expended and the artificial distance being covered. This helps shape one’s workout and progress towards established goals. Many gyms and home gyms are now filled with these machines because of how useful they are in losing weight and getting healthier.

Comparable Types Of Cardio

What are some of the comparable types of cardiovascular activities and machines one can use?

Treadmills are not as effective as indoor rowing1) Bicycle
2) Treadmill
3) Stepper

These are the three key cardio machines a person will get to see when heading to a local gym or when buying equipment for a home gym.

These pieces of equipment are fantastic, but it’s important to understand rowing machines are better. The amount of wasted force with these machines is greater than that which an indoor rowing machine will require. With wasted force comes lost potential.

Studies have shown an indoor rowing machine is far greater in getting a whole body workout.

Benefits Of Indoor Rowing

Let’s begin with the advantages of indoor rowing for those who are looking to come to grips about this activity and why it holds merit in the world of cardio. Many people feel this is the ultimate solution and far better than other activities due to these underlying advantages.

1) Whole Body Workout

Indoor Rowing Workout Rocks!
Workout Rocks!

The first benefit comes from usage. A general cardiovascular activity will get the blood pumping and heart racing. This is wonderful, but it’s not ideal when it comes to time expended. With an indoor rowing machine, it’s possible to get the whole body working out at the same time.

The movement requires force and this means the body from head to toe has to be utilized.

With indoor rowing, the body will be put under the pump, and this will extract real value from each minute spent on the machine.

2) Maximizes Muscle Retention

The one thing a lot of cardiovascular workouts tend to hamper involves muscle retention. This is the idea of losing muscle over a period of time. Instead of letting this happen, it’s better to go with a machine designed to retain muscle in the long-term.

The maximization of muscle is one of the key selling points of the indoor rowing machine.

It gets the heart racing, but it also makes sure the body is working in a manner where the muscles don’t start to lessen in mass.

3) Builds Mind-Muscle Connection

The machine does an excellent job of building an in-depth mind-muscle connection. This lets you understand your body better and get more value out of the session.

This is why many prefer indoor rowing over other activities.

It challenges the body to maintain good posture and continue the movement in a safe manner. If a person ignores this, they don’t optimize the movement. It’s a unique activity and one with a lot of value.

4) Reduces Pressure On Joints

The final benefit comes in the form of reduced pressure on the joints. There is no reason to go with a machine such as a treadmill, which can ruin one’s knees from the constant pounding. The low-impact nature of indoor rowing makes it beneficial.

These are the reasons why indoor rowing is more than simple cardio and continues to be a prime option for those wanting high-grade results in this day and age. Working out isn’t about getting up, but also making sure things are doing with a high level of care where quality results are possible.

Rowing Is The New Spinning, Here’s Why

In previous years, spinning was the workout craze. Today, It’s been upgraded to rowing. You don’t want to miss out.

Rowing machines have long been poo-pooed as too much work. However, today, the lowly rowing machine has seen a new surge in popularity. With upgrades in their technology and upgrades in style, the lowly rowing machine has finally found its niche in the exercise world. With water tanks added to give it a more realistic appearance when compared to the real true crewing conditions, the rowing machine is back with a mission. That mission, to give you the rock hard body of the Hollywood icons that you’ve long drooled over. Yes, you too can row your way to a great body all at an affordable cost. Today that lowly rowing machine is the new “spinning” and it’s working wonders on cardio and sculpting bodies. Continue reading Rowing Is The New Spinning, Here’s Why

Watch U.S. Olympians Teach Us Mortals How To Row

At first glance, rowing seems to belong to the well-heeled and faintly evil. In House of Cards the Underwoods stoically row their way into the right fitness level for world domination. The Winklevosses, those large adult twins, rowed big boats at the real Harvard and at the thinly fictionalized Harvard of the The Social Network. Before their time, way back in 1852, Harvard raced Yale in the U.S. first-ever intercollegiate sporting event. Steel magnate Andrew Carnegie built a 262-acre manmade lake in Princeton, New Jersey just so the university’s varsity crew team could have a less crowded place to train.
Continue reading Watch U.S. Olympians Teach Us Mortals How To Row

10 ways to get better on the indoor rower

This is a great article written by the British newspaper The Telegraph just before this year’s Oxford vs Cambridge University boat race. There are a number of ways you can improve your performance on the Rowing Machine  and they’re not just about fitness… although that certainly helps!!

Man using rowing machine in gym

Working out in the gym can help develop your self esteem Photo: © Alamy

The Oxford and Cambridge crews will have to contend with currents, winds and the capricious British weather when they compete in the 161st edition of the Boat Race on the River Thames this weekend, but most people’s personal experience of rowing comes only from the whizz and creak of the humble indoor rowing machine.
Continue reading 10 ways to get better on the indoor rower

Training for The Concept2 2000m Test

There are always a number of questions that arise when talking about technique on the Concept2 or Waterrower rowing machines. Most beginners make the same mistake of using their arms far too early in the stroke and not really putting much leg power into the pull. These are fairly basic errors that can be corrected by getting an experienced rower to coach you or watching a training video such as this one.

This video shows some of the common mistakes

So as you improve and start to work on your 2000m times, finer points of technique start to come into play.
Where should you pull your hand to when on the rowing machine?
Afloat you have to keep the blades in and then feather, wherever that takes your hands. Low for flat water, higher if rigged for rough weather. Most oarsmen seem to keep wrists high aground too, presumably from habit.
But on a grounded erg, no need to lift wrists, it’s much easier to keep wrists flat and all in line with the chain, as Concept2 writes, so that there are no bending moments anywhere. Any extra length from cocking the wrists can only be small and at the expense of small muscle-tendon units in the forearms, so not worth it and possibly risky as noted above. Better save a little time to get in an extra stroke done full body. Continue reading Training for The Concept2 2000m Test

2K on the Concept2 – No Place To Hide!

The British Rowing team has a long and impressive history and a close connection to the Concept2 Rowing Machine. The level of training is beyond what normal human beings like you and me could really contemplate. One of the big standard tests of how good / fit you are is the two kilometer sprint on the Concept 2. All rowers of every standard dread it.  You put yourself on the line, there is no place to hide. Watch the video to see what they think of it.

The Concept2, 2K Test

There are very few sports which challenge the body as much as rowing. That said, it is a safe way to get fit as it does not harm the joints in the same way that running  does. The British Rowing team and pretty much all of the worlds rowing clubs use the Concept2 as their chosen Ergo due to the fact that it is so accurate. You can do the test at sea level in London or on top of the a mountain and the data will still be the same. Continue reading 2K on the Concept2 – No Place To Hide!

Rowing: The New Cardio

Chances are your entire cardio life has consisted of alternating stints on the treadmill, elliptical and bike. You probably thought that would be the best way to burn calories, torch fat and increase your overall fitness, right? Wrong. Turns out you should have been rowing. The oft-forgotten rowing machine burns the most amount of calories in the shortest amount of time with the lowest perceived rate of exertion, while being easiest on your precious, carefully-honed body.

It’s not your fault. You didn’t know any better. And why? Well, for two reasons: First, the poor rowing machine is usually cast to the corner like an unwanted stepchild — an afterthought amidst the more high-profile cardio equipment of treadmills, ellipticals and bikes. Not very motivating. And secondly, you most likely don’t know how to use it. Continue reading Rowing: The New Cardio