Over the past few weeks I’ve discussed counting during your row to find a rhythm, stroke rates, split times and how to position yourself. Putting this all together takes years of practice, unless you’re a seasoned athlete committed to rowing 100% of your free time. What’s important is putting together small pieces to make the bigger picture. Think of it as getting your first pull up. You might start with bands. In the meantime you practice jumping pull ups; gradually using less of your legs to get your chin over the bar. Then negatives, lowering yourself from the top position to train your shoulders to support your bodyweight. Moving on to accessory exercises like the pressing and scap pull ups to build strength in your lats. The more you practice the smaller parts of the whole pull up, the more strength and muscle memory you gain. Until one day you find that your elusive pull up come to light. From there you learn how to kip by mastering the rhythm of the swing. Find time in your day to do a couple sets of hollow rocks and hold. Doing hip bridges and developing strength in your core to control the movement. A few more months and you’ve found your kip. It’s all the small pieces.
Back to the erg. It’s great to have a basic understanding of the topics previous discussed but it’s putting it together that counts. Keeping your body as one fluid moving object is not only safe but kinetically sound. Some common flaws that I have gone through myself are a result of a disconnected body.
A few examples of movement disconnections I have gone through are as follows. The “Booty Shooter”: an athlete who pushes too fast with their legs leaving their torso behind. Typically there is an over drive of the legs and the upper body is left behind. All the hard work the legs have just done is all for not. The connection between the lower and upper body are lost. Often this athlete attempts to correct for this by over pulling with the arms.
The “Chin Pull”: pulling the handle above the sternum almost into the chin. This athlete’s hand position would be relativley correct if their torso wasn’t laid all the way down to the rail. The lean forward and back is fairly subtle. Pulling into anything higher than your mid chest is a waste of energy.
The “Casual Rower”: My rowing coached called me out on this a few times when I started. “Alia! We’re not rowing down lovers lane! Row like you need to get somewhere” She would yell from the coaches speedboat next to us. It was embarrassing. The video below should be pretty self explanatory. You’ll notice there is no sense of urgency and all of the positions are “soft” and blend into one another. Much like you are rowing a boat down a tree lined lake on a Sunday afternoon. The arms bend too early and the legs drive is incomplete. No real power delivery is coming through here.
My point with those examples is that you have to be engaged and connected to you entire body the whole time. That can be said for any movements. When you do a push up, do you just relax your glutes and quads? No, at least you shouldn’t be. To maintain a solid plank position your core and glutes must be engaged so that your shoulders and arms can support your body weight. When you do a kettlebell swing, do you just let the weight crash on the swing down? No, you want to avoid rounding your back so you keep your lats tight and hips on to be able to thrust that ketllebell up to the sky.
I am by no means a perfect rower, nor do I claim to be. Despite my years on the water, being on the erg takes all of my concentration. Keeping my sequence in tact when I’m fatigued to get the most out of a stroke is what is important to me. Turning my glutes on and not being a casual rower is what I hope to demonstrate to others. I hope that you have learned at least a little from the past few posts. Staying conected may vary form person to person depending on your proportions but play around with this knowledge and find what works for you and your connected powerful body.
Lastly, the gym is putting together an order for Tropical Traditions coconut oil supplier. We currently sell the small jars in the store. They sell coconut oil by the gallon and a variety of other products. If you have any interest in ordering something for the site and would like to save on shipping leave a message in the comments or ask a coach!