Do Rowers Have the Strongest Legs of Any Olympic Athlete? RESPONSE to the Olympic Channel


– What’s up guys. We’re here to answer
one extremely important, and mildly, mildly, selfish question, that I feel everybody wants to know, are rowers really the most well rounded athletes in the world? Now, I know what you’re saying, you’re super biased in this discussion. Yes I am, I’m not denying that. However, I feel like we
should talk about it, one way or the other, and
there’s a really interesting video that just came out the other day, studying a famous Olympic rower, who absolutely crushed it on the scales, but I don’t wanna give
the answer away too soon. I feel like we need to
get into a more science-y, business type environment
to have this discussion, so let’s get inside and check it out. (techno music) So the athlete that we’re
talking about is Damir Martin. In the last Olympics he took
Silver in the Men’s Single, and he lost by 5000ths,
thousandth’s, of a second. That is the closest
racing finish in history, in the Olympics, for rowing. You have got to see this
picture, it’s unbelievable, as to how close he was to taking the Gold. So they put Damir through
a battery of five tests, and these tests are tests they’ve put a multitude of athletes,
across different sports, and for various purposes, to really assess what is the caliber of each athlete, and for their specific sport. What are the things that are
important in their sport, versus non-important, and
then how do they then stack up against all of these other sports. Now those five tests were, a dynamometer, which is essentially testing
just pure, raw torque. Next you’ve got body fat,
we all understand that one. Then they had an Enviro-test, which is a fancy way of
saying altitude chamber. A Spiro test, which is lung capacity, how much air is an athlete able to exhale in a single breath, and
then they tested VO2 max, the classic lactate threshold test, that you always hear
about, read about, see, in any fitness publication anywhere, where they’re always testing VO2 max, and so of course they tested VO2 max. But let’s take a look at what
the real results of this were, because this is where
it gets so interesting. Let’s just start with body fat,
we all understand body fat. Now, he was off-season, because this was post
Olympics when they tested him. He came in at 18.4% body
fat, for off season training. What they compared that
to is an Olympic swimmer, who comes in at about 12.4%, but you compare that to a heavyweight, Olympic weight lifting athlete, and they come in at, a
smooth 26.7% body fat. Now the reason that’s interesting, is because he falls in the mid range, for athletes as far as body fat goes. Why is that interesting? Well, because this is a
power endurance sport. So his body fat levels, although
an endurance based sport, are still relatively high,
compared to the type of work, that he is having to do for rowing. It’s an interesting sweet spot between, an Olympic weight lifter, and a swimmer, which is interesting point number one. Put that aside, that’s
interesting point number one. Interesting point number two,
was the dynamometer test. Now the dynamometer test,
maybe you’ve seen it before, it’s like a dude strapped into a machine. It’s like a chest harness,
and he’s holding on. It often is used for elbow
flection and extension, or knee flection and extension, and in Damir’s case they
did knee flection extension. Which is testing peak torque
of the quad and the hamstring, as well as the ability
to test the asymmetry, between left and right
legs, so they tested both. Now what Damir scored at was,
I believe it’s Newton meters. Can we Google that one, I’m gonna… Newton meters… (techno music) All right, my phone’s not working, let’s just assume it’s Newton
meters, but 400 Newton meters. Now, that means zero,
that means nothing to me, it probably means nothing to you, but when we stack that, that peak torque, it beats out NFL players,
elite NFL players. Not just your bench
warmers, elite NFL players, and basketball players, for peak torque. The other super interesting fact, is his legs are incredibly symmetrical. The tune of the only variants was that, he was at 103.5% different. 3.5% difference, that’s remarkably
symmetrical between legs. Most people, probably not me, are symmetrical or not
symmetrical between legs, you probably aren’t either, but because of the demands of
sculling or being in a boat, and having two oars in your hands, your legs have to be giving equally, so you go straight down the course. If one goes harder you end up, doing this thing off the course, a guaranteed (blows raspberry). That in and of itself,
also very interesting. Peak torque above a pro NFL
player, boom that’s huge. So let’s put that point number
two, interesting, over here. Point number three, VO2 max. We all love VO2 max, it’s everywhere, everyone talks about it,
it’s a performance point. Where he really killed it, was at 6.25 liters of O2 per minute. Now, what does this stack up against? It put him well above elite
marathon runners in his VO2 max. Elite marathon runners,
if you didn’t know this, are exceptional in that category, because they live at
these mind boggling paces, that if you just ask me to
do it once I couldn’t hit, and he is living well above
an elite marathon winner, when it comes to VO2 max. So interesting point number
three, let’s set it over there. Point number four, not that interesting. The Enviro, they tested him at altitude, with a minute thirty off,
thirty on, eight rounds. Basically tested his capacity, heart rate, as sea level increased up to
2000 meters above sea level. The findings, as far
as it’s been reported, not really that interesting. So, (blows raspberry) go
put that one over here. But where I was really interested to see, and this is yet another
strong point for rowers. Again, biased, ah maybe, probably yes. Yes I’m biased, but all of
this reinforces my biases. Therefore, I am probably
right, because of this. Anyways, the Spiro test
is a lung function test. It’s like where you
(breathes in and out) exhale, and you’re pushing out
as much air as possible, and what it’s testing is lung size. Basically how much air you can
displace at any given time, and Damir was putting out
6.4 liters per breath, which is above Olympic swimmers. Swimmers, that is unbelievable. These swimmers, in my opinion, are some of the most amazing
athletes in the world, and swimmers actually
make fantastic rowers. Swimmers, if you’re thinking
about switching sports, rowing, we gotcha covered,
got a seat for ya right here. They have incredible capacity. Their lungs displace so much air, and the control of breathing. It’s something I’ve never figured out when it comes to rowing,
or swimming I should say. But he was putting out
more liters per breath, in exhale than swimmers do,
the man has lungs of steel. He’s a huge human being as well, so let’s not forget that component, but sometimes those tall guys,
that doesn’t necessarily mean that they’re gonna have
increased capacity, because it’s more human to
move over space and time, which can be a detriment. That’s one of the things that
rowers tend to struggle with, is putting on strength and being strong, because they’re so long and wiry. We have these long, gangly limbs, that just don’t make for very effective strength drivers or torque drivers, which I bring back to
the dynamometer test, on Damir was particularly interesting. So, (whooshing) let’s pull
all these interesting points, leave that fifth
non-interesting one over there. Four interesting points;
strong dynamometer test, fantastic VO2 max, body fat, in between an Olympic weight lifting
athlete and a swimmer, so he falls in the mid range, particularly interesting
to me, and the Spiro test. All those things, if we stack those up, for what it actually means
to be a rounded athlete, I think that makes a
fairly strong argument. I’m not saying this is definitive, but it makes a pretty
strong argument for rowers having the ability to
be very well rounded, when it comes to athletic pursuits, which is one of the reasons why rowing is such a great sport. I don’t necessarily mean rowing, rowing, but indoor rowing can be just as effective as a longevity sport, because of the value of what you are working on
when you are on this machine. It requires leg strength,
it requires lung capacity, it requires the displacement of air. It also helps to keep strength, as well as aerobic capacity,
so you don’t necessarily see these diminishing returns
on the strength side, or the capacity side, it tends
to build both really well. So, is rowing the most well rounded, and useful sport in the world? I don’t know, I’m gonna
leave that up to you guys, but I do think that this
makes a very valid argument, for rowing being an extremely
useful form of fitness. If you had to choose one tool, I’d say this is a pretty good bet, for you to make sure that your getting everything you need out of your fitness. But at the end of the
day do I have to declare that one’s better than the other? Nah, I think there’s a lot
of great forms of fitness. So you decide, but let the
facts settle for a little bit. As always guys, thanks for hanging out. I’m Shane Farmer, this
is Dark Horse Rowing. I really appreciate you
hanging out, I love all of you. If you love this video,
make sure you hit subscribe, punch that button over there. And if you really liked
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we put out new videos, but as always guys,
thanks for hanging out. We will see you on the other side, hah.

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