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Rowing Technique Focus

Coach Andy speaks on the rowing stroke and how we will practice it at Madlab in our new programming cycle.

The rowing stroke can be divided into 4 phases.

Leg Drive - With the rower's shoulders positioned in front of the hips, a flat back, and arms reaching long, the rower's legs drive against the footpads in an attempt to push to rowing machine across the room. This is where 60% of the power generated during the rowing stroke comes from. 

Hip Swing - Towards the end of the leg drive phase, the rower will swing the hips open (at the pelvis), opening the torso angle. This accounts for about 30% of the stoke.

Arms - As the leg drive and hip swing near their conclusion, the rower pulls the oar to the bottom of the rib cage. Only 10% of the stroke comes from the arms.

Recovery - After the leg drive, hip swing and arms have finished their work, the rower returns to the starting position. This is where 0% power output comes from (so take your time and ensure you get into a good position for your next stoke).


 Rowing - Good Sequence

One of the biggest issues a beginner faces is that of timing and rhythm.

Rowing - Bad Sequence


Example 1 - Mistiming the hip swing - When someone swings their hips open early, it's usually in an attempt to pick up chain tension at the beginning of the stoke so they feel like they've got something for the rest of the body to push against.

This leaves a lot of power on the table. 

Give the leg drive a chance to pick up that chain tension (it takes practice) and reserve the hip swing so it can generate power with the back when the power in the legs starts to fade (towards the end of the leg drive).

Example 2 - Rushing the recovery - This often happens when rowers mistake cadence (strokes per minute) for boat speed.  

If the recovery doesn't allow the rower to get into their best position to start the next stroke, it is usually rushed.  

A compromised starting position makes for a less efficient stroke. A less efficient stroke means more work and a slower boat.

Take your time to ensure you can follow this sequence to make your next stroke your best stroke:

Finish position ->  Arms reach long -> Hips swing closed -> Legs Fold -> Starting position


Simple. Not easy.