Learning How to Row With an Olympian: Part 2

By Erin Cafaro and Rory McKernan

In Rowing, Videos

March 29, 2011

Video Article

Join Rory McKernan of CrossFit HQ Media as he receives some rowing tips from Rowing Seminar trainer Erin Cafaro, who won an Olympic gold medal in Beijing in the women’s eights event. Cafaro coaches McKernan through a rowing session on a Concept2.

In Part 2, Cafaro provides some tips to fine tune your rowing technique.

“The idea is to keep this chain as tight as possible. You never want any slack because that is ... a loss of energy,” she says.

A drill she suggests is watching the chain and making sure it isn’t “wobbling around,” which signals a lack of recovery. Cafaro suggests a tempo of 1:3—a 1-second drive and 3 seconds spent on the recovery.

“There’s rest built into this exercise, so why not use it?” she says.

Cafaro also identifies another rowing fault: body position at the catch. When your heels and butt touch, “there is no way you can keep your hamstrings turned on and get into a good powerful position,” she says.

Rowing technique is developed through practice, so Cafaro introduces drills for fixing some of these common errors. One drill is to unstrap your feet and let them rest in the footpads.

“So if you have somebody who’s pulling in too hard or laying back too much, even opening up too early, that’s a good quick fix because they’ll fall right off the erg,” she says.

11min 51sec

Additional reading: What Is an Erg? by Judy Geer, published Aug. 1, 2008.

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7 Comments on “Learning How to Row With an Olympian: Part 2”


Ryan Powell wrote …

without a doubt, the best rowing instruction video I've seen to date, thanks!


wrote …

Thank you! So much to put to work!


Dale Saran wrote …

Wow, I've got so much to work on. Thanks, Erin and Rory!
By the way, anyone who hasn't seen the video from the Beijing Games that the late Bud Greenspan did (it was on Showtime) - the piece on the women's eight is one of the most moving, amazing things I've ever seen. I was in a hotel on the road and caught the premier by accident. I am not embarrassed to say I was wiping my eyes. I'm a sucker for that stuff. The piece on the brother and sister fencers is also amazing.



wrote …

Rory and Erin mention stroke rates for novices. What do they consider a novice rower? At what point should you go beyond the recommended 24-30 strokes/minute?


wrote …

Great video!


Where did you get your tshirt???




wrote …

I think I have the same problem - my biceps are stronger than my legs.

Also, is it wrong that I find it amazingly ...ummm, nice, to hear a gorgeous woman talk about workout technique?


replied to comment from Par Larsson


I think you're problem is between the ears. It would be really hard to get stronger biceps than legs. You are likely just used to using your biceps as the primary movers. It's a mental block.


Happy rowing.

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