December 06, 2012
Proper coordination and sequencing of movements will result it efficient, powerful rowing. Joel Martin and Bryan St. Andrews explain.
Rowing requires proper technique to maximize performance. Maintaining correct posture and properly sequencing leg, trunk and arm motion are important aspects of proper rowing technique.
Several research studies have been performed to characterize optimal rowing techniques. Most rowing experts agree that the proper sequence of motion—in order to maximize both stroke power and efficiency—is to start the stroke by driving the legs, then extending the hips, then pulling with the arms last. The majority of the stroke power comes from the legs and trunk. The greatest force exerted on the handle occurs in the first 40 percent of the row cycle.
Interestingly, the general coordination of the legs, torso and arms does not change with an increase in stroke rate. However, the arm-power contribution to the stroke and overall efficiency of the stroke does decrease with stroke rate. These findings suggest that the power developed in the legs and the sequencing of the leg drive to the trunk extension are the most crucial aspects of rowing. Failure to properly sequence motions can compromise how the spine is loaded, which may explain why low-back pain is common among elite rowers.
The purpose of this article is to present the findings from a small study performed at CrossFit Nittany, which quantitatively describes the rowing technique in several of its more experienced members and compares their data to that of a new member with little rowing experience.