How to Get Better at Rowing and Improve Your WODS


(“Put the Place Up” by Niklas Gustavsson) (“Put the Place Up” by Niklas Gustavsson) (“Put the Place Up” by Niklas Gustavsson) (“Put the Place Up” by Niklas Gustavsson) – Guys welcome to another
episode of Dark Horse Rowing and today we’re gonna talk about how you can take this absolute
disgust for the rowing machine and make it work for
you inside of your WODs. Frankly one of the reasons
that we’re all even here or that this channel
even exists to talk about indoor rowing is because of crossfit. So whether you like it
or dislike it, crossfit really has been the thing
that has brought rowing back into the mainstream
line of sight if you will. Now you’re probably here
because there’s some kind of WOD at the gym that has rowing in it. And you’re thinking to yourself God I hate rowing. God I hate rowing. If only there was some magical video that would help me get through
this day without suffering more than I’m already going to. Well, that’s why we’re making this video. – [Children] YAY! – To help you get through your
WODs a little bit easier– – [Children] Yay! – And make it a little less bothersome to have rowing
in one of your workouts – [Children] Yay! – And I got ya covered and frankly these are
three of the easiest tips you could possibly implement
when you’ve got this rowing workout in front of you, without having to go back
in our archives and look at all our videos. Now don’t get my wrong there’s
a lot of great content there but if you are here now because
you’re looking at a workout and you haven’t done any
of this practice before, these three tips are
gonna be extremely useful for you right now, today, usable to make ya happy. Gotchya covered. So if you’re unsure of what the catch is, the catch is the front of the stroke, it’s where you get loaded
into position and you’re ready to take your stroke, that’s the catch. The catch is the most
important part of the stroke and it’s really important that
we’re in the right position there because if we’re not
then we’re not going to have the ability to properly
push against the machine. Imagine that you were in
the bottom of a deadlift, you’re setting up and you
have poor position, right? No coach is gonna let that go, or let’s say that you’re
setting up for a snatch or a clean and jerk, in a poor set up, that is going to impact the bar path as it moves through the lift. Same goes for the stroke, if we don’t have a good set
up in the catch position, then we’re going to struggle
through the rest of the stroke so the things for you to think about, just when it comes to the catch, that’s just very broad, is number one, elbows
extended, shoulders reaching, lats engaged, back nice and
flat, hips behind the shoulders, so you’re in a forward body angle. Then you want your knees
tracking underneath your arms, and you want your heels down
and you wanna be as compressed as possible without any of
those things springing a leak. And by leak, I mean coming out of position to cause an energy leak, in case that wasn’t clear. Cause it probably wasn’t. So what’s really
important about this trick is that you understand that
it’s not about working harder, this trick is simply about
changing your focus point when you’re on the machine
to try and get the absolute most out of every stroke. So, when we’re talking
about a quick catch, all I mean is that the
change in direction, that moment in time from sliding forward to driving, that little bit, right there. That moment, if you can speed that up, you’re gonna create a more
instantaneous connection to the fly wheel which is
going to within the machine, read as a longer stroke,
as well as allowing you to pick up tension right away
which means you can apply more to the stroke as
you drive through it. And the reason being is
that this is a free wheeling fly wheel inside here so, after I take stroke, when I release, it begins to freewheel meaning it’s now spinning
on its way down but its no longer connected to the cog inside here so as I slide forward,
there’s no connection to the fly wheel. Now, once I get here, I have
to catch up to the speed of the fly wheel, whatever
speed that it is at, in order to grab it again, twist it, and then send it off. Sending it off now it disengages, I pick it up right here,
I disengage right so, that’s what’s happening every
stroke is you’re engaging disengaging, a quick catch
insures that you grab the flywheel immediately
and start spinning it up on the drive. So what does that look like? Well I mentioned it’s a focus change so as I take my stroke,
I recover nice and slow, I’m not rushing the last
quarter, I’m gliding in and the only thing that
changes is instead of hanging out here, instead of getting
here and having a moment of pause and then driving, I simply turn around or change direction as soon as I get there and
it establishes better tension on the handle, the chain and then directly connects that to the fly wheel. And so really, when I
think speed of the catch, the rest of the movement
stays relaxed and chilled out, it’s simply that turnover
time and a little trick that may help you, is to think about changing
direction almost as the half an inch before you actually
get into your full catch. So as I’m gliding forward, right now I would think push and in the amount of
time it takes my brain to send that signal to my body, I’m going to complete
that final half an inch to take off. Push Push Alright, and that speed of the turnover is gonna have a big impact, that goes for any damper setting, any stroke rate, a fast catch is going to be
extremely useful for you. Now, I always like to use Jackie, a very standard crossfit
workout as an example. For those of you that don’t know, it’s a thousand meter row,
50 thrusters and 30 pull ups. Now, if we were to just
do Jackie standard, thousand meters to start, the way that we approach the row is going to be extremely important because what you have to
think about is all the work that comes after the row. Effectively when something
comes after the row, it negates the need to
push all the way through the row because the row
is simply just there to tire you out. It is not going to win the workout for you but if you don’t know
how to use the machine, it can very likely lose
the workout for you. So in this instance,
let’s use standard Jackie if there is something
that comes after the row, then you are going to taper
the final 10% of meters. Now in calories, it’s only
like one or two calories but in meters, for anything
a thousand meters or less, you are going to taper the final 10%, that means 100 meters
in our Jackie example and by taper I mean really taper. If I’m coming in at a 150, I’m going to in the final 100 meters, let it climb, 210, 220,
230, I really don’t care, because nobody is going to
be able to make up enough time on me in that final
100 meters that I won’t be able to make up
afterwards by feeling better because I’ve used that
100 meters to recover and that’s what you do, while you’re tapering, you’re
gonna ease off the throttle, bring your heart rate down, get your breathing in control, and get your legs just ready
for whatever comes next, in the Jackie instance it’s thrusters. Now, that goes for any time
something else shows up after so if I took Jackie and I
split it into two rounds, I made it a 500 meter row, 25 thrusters and 15 pull ups, two rounds, in both of those instances
I have something after the row therefore I’m
going to taper the final 10% in this case it would be 50 meters and that is how I’m going
to spend the last 10%. The only time that you
give everything to the row, is when rowing is either the
only thing in the workout, your gym programs 2,000 meters for time, or if it ends the workout,
using our Jackie example let’s say we took Jackie but reversed it so did it in reverse order. 30 pull ups, 50 thrusters,
thousand meter row, well in this instance,
rowing is the last thing and the thing that ends
the workout therefore, you better go hard in that thousand meters and that is going to benefit you but the majority of the
time that’s not the case, so rowing shows up in your
WOD, think about the final 10% being your taper now if it’s over a thousand,
just cap it at 100 meter taper because somebody could make up
a significant distance on you if you will in the workout, if for example it was a 2,000
or a 5,000 meter workout at 500 meters, somebody
could really do some damage, 200 meters they could
still do some damage. So that is our final 10%. So when we’re talking about the taper, what does that actually look like think of it in theory just
as a tactic if you will or a trick that you keep in your tool box. Not a trick in like the magic sense or that you’re tricking somebody, it’s just a tool that
you’re going to have. So, let’s imagine, I’m gonna pull up my monitor here and row it you know, I’m gonna take myself up to the pace that I would use for Jackie, again we like to use Jackie as an example. So let’s imagine that I’m rowing at a 140, coming into the final 100 meters, let’s just take a look at
what that taper, looks like. It’s simply easing off the throttle, I’m not going to push
as hard with my legs, and I’m just gonna almost
glide through the movement because my priority is going to be breathing, calming my heart rate and letting my legs get ready to step off and transition into the next thing. So what that looks like,
I’ll just take a few strokes at pressure and then I’ll
ease off so you can see what that is. Alright, there’s the 140. So let’s say I’m cruising comin in to my final 100, 2 more strokes that’s 9 9, so that’s 890 and 900. So I’ve got 100 meters left I’m at 158. 206. 211. 214. Alright, so I’m just gonna cruise here, I let my stroke rate come down and my whole effort is relaxing, breathing, and letting my legs get ready and my body get ready to
do whatever comes next. Now this tip is extremely
important and those of you that have hung around for a while, know this is a really
critical piece to the way that we coach, and it’s so easy and all
it is is a paradigm shift, all you have to do is change
the way that you perceive the movement and it can
have an extremely large impact on how you are moving
and impacting this machine and that is push versus pull. – Ladies and gentleman, can
I please have your attention, I’ve just been handed an urgent
and horrifying news story, and I need all of you to stop
what you’re doing and listen. – The rowing movement is a
big push, it’s a huge push. There is no, there is a pull but the majority of
your strength comes from pushing the machine away from you, not trying to pull the handle to you. Think of it this way, how much more can you squat, how much more weight can you squat versus how much weight can you pull up? Now, I hope that there
is a large disparity between those two. If you can pull up as
much as you can squat, we have bigger problems, call me, cause we gotta work through that. But, the majority of the
time you’re gonna be able to squat more than you can pull up, therefore we want to be
giving the thought to the movement of pushing the machine, because a push gets you using your legs, a pull makes you think
about using your arms and that is one of the
greatest errors that we see in this movement is people
always trying to pull the handle or if your friend is
over your shoulder in the middle of the WOD screaming at you, what are they screaming? It’s “PULL HARDER.” Nobody is telling you to push harder. So if you internally can change
the way that you perceive the movement to think about a big push, you’re gonna find that that
has a big impact on your ability to deliver force
and power to the machine. So, with push, don’t pull being probably the single most impactful cue that we give or
that we teach people to give. It really comes down
to simply understanding how do you push against this machine and to that extent, we wanna come back to the catch, right? We briefed the catch already, so loading in that catch position, we talked about arms
straight, nice relaxed grip on the handle, shoulders
forward, lats engaged, back nice and flat, hips
behind the shoulders, knees tracking underneath the arms, shins as vertical as
possible, heels down, okay? Now, when I go to drive,
I need to brace everything from my lats all the way down to my hips, I brace and lock in place and
then I’m going to establish this handle tension with that catch, right we talked about
a quick catch before. I’m going to push through the legs, BOOM, and firing that leg establishes the tension on the handle. it’s not pulling here and then
trying to push with the legs because the instant I try to pull, I take away my force
production from the legs, because I break up the
order of operations. So, if I open here, I
don’t have the ability to apply that force any
longer with my legs, as impactfully as if I brace
and start with the legs to initiate that heavy load which I can then accelerate into. If I get up to the catch and
my first move is shoulders open, pulling with the arms,
I can’t apply that same power because I’m not able
to load appropriately, so that this becomes a force driver. Instead this becomes an energy leak, because of a break
somewhere else in the chain, breaking of the elbows, soft midline, whatever it may be. So for this push versus pull, load, brace, push with the legs, and that’s just a snap
of the handle at the end. But that push of the legs, is the real big driver
that I’m looking for. So frankly guys, all of these tips, they’re incredibly easy and for the most part,
these are super fast wins where you can spend less
energy, being more efficient, going further, faster,
and getting more out of that actual row element of your WOD and in the long run, you can focus on the actual
movement and get even better, but if you need right now, if you just need those tips
that happen immediately, these are them, like if you
can make these three changes, huge difference, I promise, you guys are gonna have an amazing impact on your rowing workouts or
workouts that include rowing if you will, so continue
to practice these, put them in your head, write em down on a little white board, set it there while you’re
working on that workout and constantly come back
to these three tips. Fun fact break, did you
know that the model A concept to rowing machine
was made with a bicycle wheel completely exposed, that
just had little black plastic flap cards on it to help
create resistance as it moved. Incredibly dangerous, and ingenious. So go give these tips a try,
guys and you’re gonna find they are extremely useful
and helpful for you and your WODs and/or workouts, wherever they may be and if you really enjoyed
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in guys and as always, we’ll see you on the other side. (upbeat techno music)

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16 thoughts on “How to Get Better at Rowing and Improve Your WODS

  1. Good stuff Shane. Your vids have tremendously increased my rowing performance in my OrangeTheory workouts. Of course I had to come to terms with why my Concept 2 times at home were so much slower than the water rower times at OrangeTheory. Do you think that Quick Catch works the same way with the Water Rower? You aren't technically trying to catch up to the current created in the water are you?

  2. Good video. You did miss an oppertunity to teach about drag factor for crossfitters. Most people in my box just put it on 6 or higher because they think that means you are stronger and therefore row faster. They are really missing out on maximum performance. Keep up the great video's!

  3. Feedback? Too silly. I just wanted to get to the point without the awkward transitions and silly distractions. …. if you’re really looking for inputs 😬

  4. So i am doing 10 -11 k every second day, but my drag factor is just 85 and r/min just 18 -21. Is this ok for fat loss?
    What can i do to the blister on my booty 😬????

  5. What is your opinion of the optional seat pad for the Concept II rower? Does it really help with comfort?

  6. Jerry. My favorite torture workout. 1 mile run 2k row 1 mile run. My fastest time was 21:53. The next day my legs hurt like hell.

  7. I did know about the Model A – my college had them in the gym and I used to practice my stroke mechanics on them. This was in the mid-1980's – long time ago.

  8. One observation of the first tip and it’s that as you mentioned in a previous video the position of the head followed by the rest of the body is also key on that catch in order to keep your body in a strong and focus position for that purpose. Learned it from a great coach. 😉Thanks for it. 🐎👍

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