In this video, Concept2 master trainer Angela Hart discusses damper setting and cautions against calling it “the resistance.”
“Please don’t ever let it pass your lips that this is ‘the resistance’ because it is not,” she says.
According to Hart, resistance is completely different than drag, which is what the damper setting controls. The drag mimics the weight of the boat.
“You create the resistance by how hard you work,” she says. “So if I ask you to rower harder, you’re going to feel more resistance.”
The damper setting is a personal preference, she says.
“You need to play with your damper. You need to make adjustments. Find out what works best for your body,” Hart says.
The greater concern is the drag factor—it increases as you set the damper higher and decreases as you set the damper lower, independent of the intensity of your rowing.
A lower damper setting and lower drag factor allow you to “open your joints a lot faster,” she says. “So if you naturally perform best at a higher stroke rate, a higher number of strokes per minute, then you’re going to probably perform best at a slightly lower damper.”
Additional reading: Indoor Rowing: Damper Settings & Intensity by Peter Dreissigacker, published April 1, 2007.