Tagerging

3 Ways To Pull The Erg Harder – Without Breaking The Energy Bank

 

#1 Load up the Front End

The erg responds well to a front – loaded power phase. If you are working hard at the back end of the rowing stroke you are probably limiting your erg splits because:

A. Working the handle hard towards the finish is not very efficient
B. You are missing out on the natural erg response to loading the first 70 – 80% of the drive.

So if you can spend your power early in the drive and not rely on back loading towards the finish you can produce more efficient power. And it’s a power curve that the erg monitor responds to  – sometimes by up to 1 second/500. (depending on your rating and power) Continue reading

2k Erg Rowing Test – The January 2011 Experiment.

I was involved with a group of rowers and ergers doing a 2k erg test last weekend. I was standing there right behind the ergers, shouting, encouraging and supervising and – you know how it goes, just helping out.

But afterwards we got talking about the run- in to the test and how crucial the last week is in determining how well you score. We talked about the actual quality and timing of the rowing workouts in particular.

Because I had no input into the preparation for the 2k at the weekend I didn’t want to be too critical. But I offered my help for the next test.

Long story short – some of the group have agreed and are willing to participate in a non-scientific 2k erg test experiment. We will re-test in 10 days from now (Friday February 4 2011).

The goal of the experiment will be to discover if there is a difference in the rowers’ 2k erg test results with different 2k erg test preparation plans.

The rowers and ergers will be split into 2 groups – 4 in group A and 4 in group B.

Both groups will follow the same rowing program until 3 days before the test.

All are from the same rowing club and have been following the same general group program since October 2010.

Each group has a relatively broad cross section of age, gender, experience and erging fitness.

Here are the groups:

Group A

Male (21 y.o) 5 year erg and rowing training. P.B. 6.44.3 (April 2010)
Male (42 y.o) 26 year rowing and erging training history P.B 6.39.4 (Feb 2003)
Female (18 y.o) 5 years rowing and erg training. P.B 8:06.7 (Feb 2010)
Female (28 y.o) 13 years rowing and erging experience P.B 7:24.1 (Jan 2011)

Group B

Female 33 (y.o) no rowing history. Erging for 1 year. P.B 8:54 (January 2011)
Female (28 y.o) 10 year rowing and erging P.B 7:45.0 (Feb 2005)
Male (19 y.o) 6 year erg and rowing training history P.B 6:28.0 March 2010)
Male (56 y.o) 8 year erging history. P.B 7:32.3 (August 2010)

Both groups will follow the same daily erg training workouts for the first 7 days (until Monday January 31) .

After that, Group A will change the erg rowing workouts they did in the run-in to last weekend’s test. Group B will follow a different workout plan.

I will post the daily erg workout for each group including the scores for each rower.

Again it’s worth repeating that this is a non-scientific test and the goal is to discover if there is any difference in the 2k erg scores of the rowers and ergers with different training plans in the final days approaching the test.

7 Things Erg Rowers Can Learn From Cyclists

 

1. Mileage Is Not Always The Answer

Lots of rowers believe that cyclists spend all of their training time doing miles and miles of lower intensity cycling. Not true. Cycling has moved on a lot and many cyclists now structure their workouts like we do.

During the winter, cyclists might do 3 x 20 minutes on a stationary trainer. In spring they might do some of the VO2 Max workouts rowers do. And during the summer… Continue reading

Empowering Your Workout – Switching Off The Monitor

Have you ever tried to erg without the monitor? Maybe the batteries were dead or the connection was broken.
Today I did.
And discovered something revealing.

I found an internal power that I had long forgotten was there.

Forced into a gym with bad weather and new year (over)celebrations, I found a shabby, clapped out erg obviously unfamiliar with hardship.

It also had no batteries – which was ok since I didn’t really have a plan in mind.

So I just rowed and rowed.
Staring at the blank monitor.
And occasionally at a spot on the wall.

I didn’t have a watch with me

So I was just me and the machine.
And I got sucked in…

I found a new… Continue reading

Rowers – Why You Must Always Sprint

Rowers like pulling hard. On the erg and in the boat. It’s what gives us speed and makes us feel good. It makes us feel like we’re doing something honest and playing by the cardinal rule of rowing and erging – pull hard and go faster.

But given that you spend most of your time erging and rowing at a rate below 24 strokes per minute you end up pulling A LOT of hard, slow strokes.

Physiologically that’s fine(and necessary) for lots of reasons. But there is one major problem with it- especially for erging:

You teach yourself to mainly pull slow hard strokes when all the money is at fast hard strokes.

How You Can Fix It.

Always finish your session with a stepped sprint. Whether it’s an hour long erg or a short series of 500 meter intervals, always finish the last work piece flat out. Why? Because you will benefit massively in millions of ways – both physically and mentally.

Your body will adapt and respond to the increased stimulus you heap upon it at a point where you are under a lot of stress and fatigue. It will learn to expect that every rowing session you do will have a sprint to the finish. This is a great weapon to have in your armoury for tight races.

Your mind will also respond in a positive way to finishing the session on a high. You will come away feeling good even if you didn’t have a good row. You will also come to realise that you will always be capable of going harder (and faster) no matter how tired you are coming to the line.

But what about your long steady session?

Yes, even if it’s a long 1 hour row on the erg, you should still sprint to the line.

Here’s an example.

  • From about 3 minutes left, step up your rating and power slightly (1 second per 500).
  • Do the same with 2 minutes left.
  • Then in the last minute start to slowly nail it.
  • Incrementally increase your power and rating so that in the last 20 seconds you are all out – recruiting every muscle fibre and brain power in your possession.

The same goes for shorter rowing workouts.
Over time if you practice a sprint in the long sessions you will develop an ability to sprint for short sessions also. Even if you are only able to reduce your average power by 0.5 seconds per 500 it will be worth it.

Sprinting is a great habit to develop. And it will not affect the general core purpose of a particular rowing session.

Introduce it to your rowing and erging sessions and one day when you find yourself in a dog fight use it to blow your opposition away.

P.S. Read the follow up to this article, where I clarify some interesting questions raised by one of our readers.

Best Erg Footplate Position – A Definative Answer.

Over 1 Million times a day, people search google for “correct erg footplate position” or “best foot plate on the erg”.

Ok I’m exaggerating by approximately 999,997.

But you will be surprised about how many ergers and rowers do not set the footplate position correctly on the erg.

Did you know that the correct footplate position can make a massive difference in power and technique?

And good technique = more efficient power = (life is easier! (or faster) – take your pick)
 
 

So what is the best foot plate setup?

The goal is simple. You need full length sliding and maximum power through your feet and legs.

Full length is vertical shins at the beginning of the power phase. Most people either over-compress or under-compress and neither is good. And unless you have a mirror or a good coach beside you, it’s impossible to tell if your shins are vertical at the catch. So get some help.

But there are more factors you need to consider to ensure a good erging  foot plate position.
 
 

Your Height.

Taller people generally have larger feet and need to position the footplate low (with maybe 1 or even zero holes showing).

Otherwise their toes and balls of their feet would be overhanging the top of the footplate. Which is and a big waste of power and a definite short slide maker.

Smaller shorter people generally have shorter and smaller feet. If you are like below 6 ft you need to put your footplate higher up (with 2, 3 or even 4 sets of holes showing).

Why?
Because you are not in an efficient position to gain maximum power from your leg drive when your feet are too low. Plus it’s a mechanical certainty that you will open up too early with your body-swing on the power phase.

Which means a weak acceleration to the finish of the stroke.

Next time you are erging, try it out. Set your feet lower than you usually do and you will find that it feels really weird. You’ll discover that it feels like you can row a lot longer and getting to the catch is a breeze.
 

But on the erg, longer is not always better.


If you are under set with your feet and you are over-compressing at the catch there will be a delay in getting your legs fired up. And you will accumulate more lactic acid (pain – which we don’t like!) because of the acute angle between your upper and lower leg.

A good footplate position should allow you to power up easily and horizontally.

The best way for you to pull the handle is in a straight line – as close to your strong levers (legs, back and arms) as possible.

Weightlifters do it all the time. Have a look on YouTube for some Olympic Weightlifting techniques and pay attention to how they all emphasise the bar remaining close to the body as much as possible during the lifting phase.

Ok rowing is different, but not all that much.

You gotta keep that handle straight and close to your body as much as possible. Otherwise it’s like trying to stretch out at full reach and pick up your grandmas favourite (and really heavy) ornament from her mantelpiece. A dangerous move and not guaranteed to give you a result!
  

The Proportion between your legs and back.

You might be a tall person with long legs and a short back. If that’s the case you need to set low. On the other hand you might be tall with a long back and short legs

If you think you are in this category you need to fix your footplate high. Even if your feet overhang a little.

Because there will be too much of a gap between your handle and feet.
  

Your Hip and Ankle Flexibility.

You might have ankle, achilles tendon, knee or hip flexibility problems which might prevent you from rowing at full slide length. In that case you need to drop your feet low (at the cost of being more ii) because good length is more important than maximum efficiency.

The bottom line is keep the footplate as high as possible, without overhanging with your toes and balls of your feet. Without being so restricted that you cant even get past half slide with your seat.

Learn More Insights in the 2K Erg Book...

Strapless Erging Will Fix Excessive Lay Back.

Sit on the erg and pull a few light strokes without putting your feet into the straps.

Most who try this for the first time end up falling back off the seat as their feet rise from the foot plate. And Ergers who have excessive lie back usually end up on the floor!

    • The first secret to successful strapless Erging is timing. You must aim to finish your legs back and arm power phase at roughly the same time. When you do well, your natural lean back angle will be at about 2 o clock. When it is done very well, your chest and core open up and your shoulder blades almost pinch together at the finish. The upshot of this is that it allows your lungs to function very well.
    • Point your toes and straighten your legs. The second secret for successful strapless Erging is to keep pressure on the foot plate at all times – especially at the finish of the stroke.
    • When you first try this you will really feel as though you are cutting the power phase short by about a third. For while it will feel counter intuitive, but stick with it. I always begin my workouts with a couple of minutes warming up with strapless feet. And when I go back to normal feet, the difference is amazing.
    • Work on your core. Lots of excessive layback is caused by default – weak stomach muscles and core. Engage your core during the power phase to brace yourself and use it to prevent laying back excessively.

    Low Pull or High Pull?

    • If you Erg with a long lean back you must pull high because otherwise the handle would end up somewhere below your waist!
    • The most efficient path for the handle to travel from the start to the end of the power phase is in a straight line. And as level a handle as possible. Imagine looking at yourself from the side when you are on the erg. You can see the handle moving perfectly parallel to the floor around and around in a smooth cyclical rhythm.
    • More often than not the handle is drawn in too high. This is caused by too much arm pulling at the finish. If you have this problem, think about powering up early in the stroke and releasing the handle early towards the body in a smooth horizontal motion.

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