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Don’t Do This on a Rower

To finish our series on improving our rowing technique and power, in this post, we want to cover common faults in the drive phase and recovery phase. Bottom line, if you want to maximize power and efficiency, don’t do either of these.

Pulling early

The first fault we commonly see is when you bend your elbows during the drive phase before the legs are locked out.

Let’s review for a moment. The drive phase is when you press through your heels to “drive” back and pull on the chain in spin the rower’s wheel. In a good stroke, your arms stay locked out with a lot of tension on the rower’s handle for most of the drive. Only once the legs are locked, and you lean back slightly, should your arms start to bend.

The pulling early fault is seen when you start to bend your elbows before your legs are locked and before you lean back slightly. This transfers the resistance of the pull from the power legs to the weaker arms. No good when we are talking about POWER!

Legs before arms return

The second fault we commonly see is when you bend your knees in the recovery phase before you straighten your arms.

Another quick review. After you finish the drive phase, you enter the recovery phase. This is when you return the rower’s handle back to the catch position. The proper sequence is to move your arms straight first, then lean slightly forward, then bend your knees. We like to refer to the entire stroke as “Legs, Arms, Arms, Legs. ”

To put this fault into words, the stroke lingo would be “Legs, Arms, Legs, Arms.” This is more of an inefficiency than a loss of power fault. When we return to the catch position bending our knees first, we have to raise our hands over our knees. That is a lot of added and unneeded shoulder movement. However, it can lead to a loss of power because it will often cause a pour catch position where the seat moves in too far. See our post on a bad catch position.

To help see these faults in real time, check out this video. We also use that deadlift analogy one more time to demonstrate how these two faults. You can easily see why you wouldn’t use these faults anywhere else when power is your goal.