In Rowing, Videos

September 07, 2009

Video Article

In the final part of our rowing series with former Olympic coach Chris Wilson of Concept2, Jon Gilson of Again Faster learns that drills can be frustrating because they force an issue. Drills spotlight problems and must be done perfectly to increase effectiveness.

Chris instructs Jon to hit different stroke rates at maximum power while implementing everything he has learned in previous lessons. Jon soon runs into problems because the preparation in the early part of his recovery isn’t happening quickly enough. Things improve when Jon rows at higher stroke rates.

Rowing at different stroke rates boosts your discipline and control of the machine. You can see your numbers and determine which stroke rate is best for you. A direct correlation between stroke rate and power output doesn’t necessarily exist. Some athletes are more effective at lower stroke rates. A great deal of individual variation is caused by both physiology and skill level.

8min 2sec



8 Comments on “Rowing Lesson 4: Putting It Into Practice”


wrote …

Why would you want to practice going at a low stroke rate? seems like it just produces bad habits like it did with john


wrote …

I was so excited yesterday when I saw the video was pre-formatted for I-pod/I-Phone. Could we please please continue that. I would be most grateful. Thank you.



wrote …

Rowing at a low stroke rate can be used to focus on stroke mechanics as well as to focus on generating high power per stroke. My coach (Olympic gold medal rower) has a lot of our workouts at 18-22 strokes/min. Many people mask poor efficiency per stroke with a high stroke rate. The rower in the video is still not maximizing the leg drive at the beginning of the stroke--you can tell because his feet are coming off the foot rest and slamming against the straps. Rowing without being strapped is a great drill to force maximum leg drive.


replied to comment from Derian Lai


The answer to your question is that the most common error that individuals who have never rowed on open water make, is that of excessive stroke rate at the expense of stroke length and stroke power.

With proper length and power one should be able to comfortably hold a 1:40 split pace, at or below 25spm


wrote …

What he said. (Thomas, that is.)

Lately, it seems like the rowers in these videos don't want to use the legs. Whats up with that? Bend zee knees. Flatten them feet. Drive that mfng erg with the biggest muscles you got.


wrote …

The first time I tried an erg was some 13 years before CrossFit, and I remember consciously shaping my stroke as I would "on the water" -- hands higher on the pull through the water, hands lower to clear the oars out of the water and return to start.

But my only purpose in rowing is for fitness. I am not training to row on the water, but only on a Concept2 erg. Is it actually relevant to simulate the shape of a stroke for the purpose of dipping one's oars in the water and clearing them out of the water? I train my athletes to pull the chain - straight in, straight out.

If *any* shaping of the stroke were relevant, it would be to minimize the lever arm on the back, while keeping the force vector as efficient as possible. Unlike a barbell, we're not pulling against gravity. "Center of gravity" on an erg is where the chain meets the flywheel. I would think that, like a barbell/olympic lift, the "pull path" would be the most efficient compromise between the force vector through the spine, scapulas, to the hands and back to the flywheel. And that's a straight line.

Please tell me if I'm wrong about this. I haven't been to a rowing cert YET and I'm doing the best I can to synthesize all this material and coach my athletes.

The material is awesome! Huge thanks to Chris Wilson, Jon Gilson, Again Faster and the super folks at Concept2 for sharing this with us. These drills for helping to impart mechanics and technique are priceless.


wrote …

Also Derian,

Rowing at a lower stroke rate didn't "produce" bad habits, it magnified the habits he was already making. If he can work out those kinks and become efficient at the slower stroke rates, then he can be even more effective at the higher rates.


wrote …

Ok, it's 2013. I wanted to answer Cash's post in case anyone is still reading this. I am new to CF, but have been indoor rowing for years. Cash you make a very good point. On the indoor rower, erging for fitness, it is not necessary to lower the hands on the recovery like you'd do on the water to bring the oars back. The most efficient stroke on the erg is when the chain is pulled in a straight line and the recovery is in a straight line.

Lower stroke rates are useful when you want to work on maximizing the power on every stroke. It's the same in the water. There are 2 ways to make your boat go faster - stroke faster or get more money on every stroke. If you take care to minimize the stroke rate, you're left with having to put money on every stroke in order to get the boat going fast. This drill helps you train your body to learn how to maximize the power on every stroke. Then, when you bump up the rate, that power on every stroke will carry over and you'll have all the bases covered.

Leave a comment

Comments (You may use HTML tags for style)