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Smoother Rowing for More Power by Tom Bohrer - CrossFit Journal

In Rowing

April 01, 2008

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In rowing, the "catch" is the transition between the recovery and the start of the drive. If you were rowing on the water, this is when you would place your blade in the water. Once the blade is in, you would feel the resistance of the water against the blade as you start to push with the legs. On an indoor rowing machine, there is no resistance from water but there is a similar resistance from the flywheel. In either case this transition of moving from the recovery to the drive, if not done correctly, can take away from the power of the drive and make your rowing stroke less eficient than it could be.

Transitioning from the recovery to the drive is like running wind sprint indoors. If you run full speed toward a wall, you know that you need to slow down (decelerate) so that you don't crash into the wall. If you decelerate smoothly, you are able to stop yourself without feeling your momentum continuing toward the wall and then spring off the wall and change direction. If done right, it feels coordinated and powerful. Another example is squat jumps, where you need to control the landing so that you can spring up again. Landing without control makes it harder to do the next jump. You won't be able to go as high and it will seem slow. When you row, the same principles apply. It is all about control and applying the power at the right moment.

Tom Bohrer has over 20 years experience rowing and coaching. He is a two-time Olympic silver medalist (1988 and 1992) and a three-time medalist at the World Championships. In 1989, he was voted U.S. Rowing Athlete of the Year. He is currently the head rowing coach at the Union Boat Club in Boston, where he trains rowers of all levels. He is a Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist (CSCS) and a Certified Personal Trainer (CPT). You can send questions to Tom at or go to his web site for more training information.

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