April 01, 2007
People often ask us at Concept2 what the damper on our rower does and where to set it for the best workout. The damper setting is important, but it does not determine how much actual work you are doing when you row.
Selecting a damper setting is not like selecting how much weight to put on a bar. In the case of the bar, if for one workout you load it with 100 pounds and lift it 10 times, and for the next workout you put 110 pounds on for 10 reps, you have clearly done more work in the second workout. The rower, or "erg," is different. It does not determine how much work you do; rather, it responds to the amount of force you put into the exercise. The more force you put into each stroke, the more resistance you will feel.
Rowing on the erg is really about producing power, and here I would like to clarify what I mean by power. Power is often confused with force, and, although related, they are different. Force applied over a distance yields work. Work integrated over time yields power. By this definition, lifting 10 pounds two feet is the same amount of work as lifting 20 pounds one foot. And if both those lifts are accomplished in one second, they require the same amount of power. Obviously, the speed movement of the two-foot lift would be greater than the speed of the one-foot lift if they both take one second.