As many of you have heard, CrossFit-Orlando recently hosted the CrossFit Rowing Foundations Certification. Angela Hart, a competitive rower since 1981 and a scholastic, collegiate, masters and Junior National level rowing coach, did us a great pleasure by serving as head instructor for the Concept II Rowing Certification at our home away from home (CrossFit-Orlando). The participants who attended gained an abundance of information regarding the science, technique, and overall functionality behind the rowing stroke, both on the rowing machine (ergometer) and the water itself. Among the participants were Lori Schwartzberg, Kevin Kuryliw, Jay Hollencamp, Laura Waterfield, and other trainers and members from CrossFit affiliates across the state of Florida.

Some things learned:

Power Ratio (PR=Average Watts/Body Weight in pounds) -Preferred method to calculate overall pull in relation to one’s body weight. For example, someone who weighs 150 pounds, and who has an average wattage of 150, is pulling their exact weight. This is helpful to know when thinking about rowing on the water. The person who can pull their own weight, or more, will likely make the boat go faster, and their teammates will be happier knowing that they do not have to pull their own weight plus a teammate’s extra weight. So, while doing workouts on the rowing machine, set your screen to show Watts/Average Watts and see how hard you are really pulling. Ideally, you should try to keep your average watts AT or ABOVE your present body weight.

Force Curve-This refers to a graphic representation of an individual’s stroke in reference to overall connection and momentum. You can find this graph on the rower by pulling up the main screen and setting your display to show the Kg, Lb graph. After taking just one pull, you are able to see an entire breakdown of the front and back end of your rowing stroke. Ideally, you want your force curve to be smooth. A bump or divot in the back end of the graph reveals a disconnection in the back muscles and the arms. A divot in the front end of the stoke shows a disconnection between the power application in the legs and power application in the body. Basically, the goal is to get your curve to resemble a normal bell-shaped curve with no breaks in the line. In order to do this, you must make sure to keep continuous pressure through the leg drive and arm pull into the body without any breaks in momentum.

Damper Setting-We have had numerous people question the craziness that exists on the side of the rowing machine, that is, the damper settings that you can change which range from 1-10. Many people believe that the damper setting controls the “resistance” of the rowing machine. In fact, this is not the case at all. The rower will work only as hard as you, the athlete, are willing to pull. A good way to think about the damper is to imagine the gear on a bicycle. Some people like to move their legs at a faster cadence while others like a slower drag on the wheel. Given these two different modalities, it is still possible for these two athletes to cross a finish line at the same time. With rowing, the same principles apply. A damper setting of 10 may work for some, while a damper of 4 may work better for someone else. No real generalizations can be made to specify which one will be most effective for you. The best thing to do is to experiment with the settings during warm-up or if there is time remaining in a shorter class. See which setting works best for your level of strength, endurance, cadence, etc.

Rowing on the Water-For the second day, Angela brought us out to Lake Fairview for some on-the-water training. We utilized the foundational techniques that we learned the day prior during the rowing machine training and attempted to transfer this practical experience onto the water. We had an amazing time, and got to spend an entire day out in the fresh air and with good company.

Suffice to say that the CrossFit Rowing Certification was a complete success. It was great to learn more about the basics of the rowing machine, the stroke from catch to finish, and to be able to transfer that knowledge and practice onto the water. Rowing is such an incredible sport, and we encourage each of you to practice on the rowing machine and ask as many questions as possible. Learning to be effective on the rower will improve your times in workouts, help build strength and endurance, and will leave you with a feeling of accomplishment.

On a side note, a few of us are interested in setting up a potential CrossFit-Orlando rowing boat that will launch out of the Orlando Rowing Club’s boathouse on Lake Fairview (Lee Road). For anyone interested in participating, please feel free to speak with Lori, Kevin, or Laura.