3 Common Rowing Mistakes: Fix Them NOW


– What’s up Dark Horses and
welcome back to another video. In this week’s video, I
wanted to cover something that I mentioned in a previous video which is that in the thousands of people that I’ve coached, I’ve never seen a single person get on this machine and do it right the first time. What that means is that there are tons of errors that can come
when you are on this machine and yet it can be very hard to know which ones you may be doing and how they’re holding you back and also how do you fix them so that
you can get better workouts? So today, we’re gonna cover three of the most common errors
that I see that tend to, I would say they make about 80% of the issues that we see on the machine. We’re gonna cover those
three problems today and more importantly, how to fix them. Let’s get inside. (upbeat, powerful music) Problem number one that we’re going to cover can go by a number of names. You can call it leading with the head, with the shoulders,
opening the hips early. Basically, it’s that
the first move you make is here as opposed to a push of the leg. Now why is that a problem? Well, because it breaks the
sequence of the movement and once that’s happened,
you’ve basically taken your legs out of the
equation for the stroke and the legs are the
largest force production muscle group in your body
in the rowing stroke. So if we open those shoulders, we limit what the legs are able to do which means that we’ve now taken away one of the most critical work elements in the stroke. (machine noises) So one of my favorite drills to fix this is called the Top Quarter Drill. Now you can take that Top Quarter Drill, you can lengthen into the top half and then into what we call legs only. I’ll show you what this looks like but the intent being that what we do is we lock our body in the
forward angle that you want at the catch position,
the front of the stroke. So at the catch, I want my trunk in, I guess to you it would be
a one o’clock angle, so at this one o’clock angle, I’m
strapped in, I’m locked in. As I’m about to take the stroke, I brace here, I keep the arms long, and I focus only on the leg drive, moving back and forth in the catch with the objective of push and relax, push and relax, so that I can feel the brace and the tension and the push of the legs without
needing this movement here. So let’s take a look at
what that looks like. So I set up at the catch, my arms are long, my trunk is
braced, my feet are down, and I’m focusing on that
first quarter of the push. (machine noises) Notice that my trunk angle, my body, isn’t moving,
my arms aren’t breaking, and I’m just sliding in and out and using the push of the
legs to give myself tension. From there I can lengthen
it in the top half. (machine noises) And then I can go to full leg drive. Still not bending the
arms or opening the hips. So if you’re gonna be using this drill, what I would suggest is
that you work through 20 Top Quarter, 10 Top Half, and five Legs Only and then I would work
through that two times. Now, I would use that on
a fairly regular basis until you’re very confident
that you’re initial movement is not here but that
it’s a push of the legs. So use that as frequently as you need but that’s the system I
would use, 20, 10, five. 20 Top Quarter, 10 Top
Half, five Legs Only. So the second most problem
that I see is on the recovery and I like to call it
over the hump rowing. Essentially what it is is that as the hands travel forward,
the knees bend first and the hands come up and over so that they’re having to
go up and over this hump. Now why that’s a problem is because it, as well, is breaking the sequence and you’ll find that is a very common trend amongst all these issues, that by breaking the sequence, you break the body’s
ability to engage properly with the stroke or in this instance, you break the ability to set up into a good position, in
order to have a good stroke. And that’s why we want to avoid the handle moving up and over the knees and we want to correct it so that it
creates a straight path. (machine noises) So one of my all time favorite drills is what we’re gonna use to fix this handle up and over the hump
that we see on the recovery and what that drill is,
they’re caused Pause Drills. Now, the Pause Drill is versatile, you can use it any number of ways. For this specific instance,
what we are going to institute is a pause at what’s
called arms and body over. So what this looks like is that I would take a stroke, release the hands, close
the hips, and pause My arms and body are over
my legs, if you will. And I’m gonna pause here for, depending, if you don’t have a coach, I would say a five count, a slow five
count, not a fast five count. The objective is that
you are giving yourself time to get into position
where you’re normal habit is to break the knees,
we want to avoid that so that they legs stay straight, get the arms and body
over, pause for five, and then continue into the next stroke. (machine noises) So that is how you’re
gonna operate that drill. So you’re prescription for this drill, if you’re going to run it is in sets of 20 strokes with a five second pause. Now to ensure that you
have a five second pause, I would have a clock, if you can, on the wall in front of you or a very slow count or have a coach counting for you, but you’d be amazed how quickly that pause starts to reduce to two seconds or one second or half a second when five is really what I want. I want to give you time to sit there and think about being
in the right position. So as many sets of 20 strokes as you need until you can permanently fix this issue. Now problem number three, I like to call collapsing at the catch. The catch is the most
important part of the stroke. It’s the front of the stroke in the moment where we are loading to explode. Now, if I’m collapsing, it can come out in any number of ways. Number one would be that the hips are sliding underneath my shoulders and the seat is coming
up and hitting my heels. Another way would be
collapsing my posture, meaning rounding my
back as I come forward. A third could be that the knees are splitting to get further into the catch. All of those are displays of the body collapsing into the catch position. Why is that a problem? Well because if the body collapses in the moment when my body
is supposed to be tensing, getting into position,
ready to push, it’s never going to feel like I have
connection to the machine. Now the way to know if this is you, now you may not be able to identify which of those you’re doing,
but if you catch yourself saying, man, the machine just never gives me any resistance or I can’t feel any resistance and no matter how much I move, it just doesn’t feel like it gives me a good workout. All of those things might be a trigger to let you know that you are collapsing in some way at the catch and so we want to be able to repair that, fix it, so that you can get
connection to the machine because that is how you get work done, that’s how you get a great workout. (machine noises) (machine noises) (machine noises) (machine noises) So to fix this, I’m going to give you three potential drills that you can use. All of these are fantastic to help so think about stacking
them on top of each other. Number one is strapping into your machine, grabbing your handle, and walking yourself through a catch checklist. That would be hands nice
and wide on the handle, thumbs wrapped around, elbows extended, shoulders reaching, back neutral and flat, head relaxed, hips behind the shoulders, knees tracking underneath the arms, heels down, and then sliding forward as far as you possibly can and then holding that position for two minutes. That may not seem like a lot until you get into this position and you
try to hold it, you should be shaking everywhere, trying
to maintain position. So that is number one, number two is slow down your rowing
and this one’s easy. I would like to see you take five to seven seconds per stroke, why? Well there’s no rush to get anywhere and the slower you move
through the stroke, the more time you have to think about being in the right position. So, if I’m taking five seconds per stroke, that’s one, two, three, four, five, two, three, four, five, two, three, four, five, two, right? If I go to seven, that’s even
slower but what that does for me is it allows me to organize my body and make sure that I’m
in the right position. If I am speeding through the recovery, it’s very easy to blast
in and out of the catch without thinking about it,
letting the body collapse, without even realizing
it, so that’s number two. Number three is I’m gonna use a band. I’m going to set myself at
the deepest catch position that I can achieve and then I’m gonna take this band or a rope
or whatever you’ve got and I’m going to tie it around the slide of the machine then tie it down. So I’m gonna bump it up against the wheel and then snug it down. What that does is it creates a break on the slide, the seat
cannot move past that. So when I go in to workout
now, this is going to reinforce that I am not sliding too far forward. It may even short me a
little bit but that’s okay, we’re practicing improving
our movement here. So, I’m then going to row, I can row any distance, I mean you can do your entire workout with this thing on. The first few, I expect
your seat will hit the stop and it’s probably going
to jolt you a little bit but your goal is to learn where that is and then every stroke,
get as close as possible without hitting it and
you begin to develop and teach your body the proprioception to know exactly how deep you
can get with good position and that’s going to eliminate
the collapsing that comes from getting too deep into the catch until you’ve reinforced good positions, good behaviors, you can
then take this off and then perhaps you can get a little
bit deeper but with control. So my prescription for
those three drills would be number one, get into that
catch hold for two minutes. Do that at the beginning of every workout just to reinforce that position. Number two, that slow rowing, I’d like to see two minutes
of a five second stroke. Again, if you have a
coach or somebody nearby, perhaps a significant
other, a child, anybody who can just count to five
on repeat for you, great, or if you have a clock
on the wall, do that. And then, finally that banded row. Use that for an entire workout if you know that collapsing
into the catch is a problem. Throw that band or that rope or a t-shirt, tie it around there, and
run an entire workout that way and I think you’ll
find that it does help you. Once you get to take it off,
you’ll understand much better where that good catch position is for you. At the end of the day, we’re
bringing it back to basics and it’s important to remember that on this machine, you’re not
in a rush to get anywhere. You’re in a rush to get a great workout and slowing down the mechanics can often give you a better workout, give you greater
connection to the machine, give you greater understanding, all by slowing down the movement but being able to put more quality into it which is going to give you a
better result in the long run. Don’t be in a rush to
move through the stroke. Be in a rush to learn
good movement patterns which are going to benefit you
to give you better workouts, that’s why we’re doing all of this. And if you can eliminate
any of these three problems, you’re gonna find a huge
benefit to your own performance so take advantage of what we’ve done here, implement the drills in the prescription that I gave you, and it’s
going to give you value. As always guys, thank you for hanging out with us for another
video here at Dark Horse. If you just love what you’re feeling, what you’re picking up from here, you consider yourself a Dark Horse, you’re living that Dark Horse lifestyle where you’re trying to improve your own life with your own actions, then hit that subscribe button cause you’re gonna get
a whole lot of that here and if you really loved it and you just wanna know whenever we
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you for tuning in, guys. I love all of you Dark Horses out there in the world, thank you for working on yourself to make your own life better. Guys, we will see you on the other side. (upbeat, powerful music)

34 Replies to “3 Common Rowing Mistakes: Fix Them NOW”

  1. Tying that band around the slide worked for me. I was sliding too far forward but once I tried a bolt of cloth round the slide, that stopped. I left it on for more than a month through all my workouts. Muscle memory kicked in and it has never been a problem since.

  2. Great content as usual, my friend. I'm going to use "Legs are the largest force production muscle group in the rowing stroke"–brilliant! I have my crews start with the reverse pick starting with top quarter as a regular practice warm-up and as the standard on-water race day warm up.

  3. this is good one!!!! Thanks!

    a quick question – when I push hard with my legs – I almost bounce at the end (fortunately my feet are strapped to the Concept). Is it OK??? I don't like this feeling of 'over straightening' my legs. But if I stop pushing till my legs are totally straight – it feels like I didn't do 100% of a push. Thoughts?

  4. great video! always something new to learn . i actually put a big mirror against the wall so I can observe and correct my form while im rowing, it helped me big time fix mistakes i didn't even know i had

  5. Absolutely amazing video!! This is seriously the best Ergo-Technique-Video I have ever seen on YouTube! Easy to understand and to apply! Heads up!

  6. Hi, Shane.

    Have you heard of the YouTube-Channel "Aram Training"? The channel focuses on on-water rowing technique. However, they also produce and sell their on own type of ergo called the "Biorower" where you have actually two oars to pull, in contrast to the the single handle of the Concept2.

    Maybe you could review of the "Biorower"? Or maybe even do something of a colab with the channel like you once did with "Training Tall"?

    That would epic. Anyway, love your channel! Best wishes!!

  7. And one last thing 😀

    I would have a video request: Namely, how can you set up mirrors so that you see yourself from the side when you look in front of the erg? I have heard of this, but never actually seen it in a club or fitness center. Maybe you have some ideas and could even make a DIY video.

    That would be absolutely awesome!

  8. Thanks for these videos bud. It reminds me to make my legs work harder and tweak my row a bit with every video. Well done for not losing your focus whilst the dog was barking lol. Thanks again

  9. Can you predict the future now? I was about to come up with some drills for the most common rowing mistakes I see in our Box everyday. But now I don't have to. I just have to work with our athletes on these drills. 😀 Thanks Shane. You saved me some work here. 🙂

  10. Your demonstration of bad form is truly top notch. I think I'm guilty of that rounded shoulder technique.
    But how to catch myself with no mirror, shadow, or real-time coach?

    Note – Probably my best $4 spent in a long time was on a simple wall clock for the garage, with a sweeping second hand. 5 seconds is a long time to hold a position! That 2 minutes sounds brutal.

  11. Just ordered my rowing machine – EXTREMELY happy that I found this video to make sure that I’m starting off with the correct technique! Great videos 🙂 Thanks!

  12. Great coaching tips. As a coach, I see all three of these on the daily! Question: How can I coach a good catch position for someone with a big belly (either pregnant or overweight)? Follow up question: Someone with tight hips or tight ankles, how do I get them into a good catch position?

  13. You are awesome dude. I'm a coach and a collegiate rower – and you are fantastic. Great tips, coaching, explanation, etc. Love it.

  14. Hey! I’m going into eighth grade and I just started a learn to row camp. Today was the first day on the water and I was the worst on the team. Practicing at the dock I was in the stroke position and I was so confused. Then when we went out I was in the third seat. I was the worst on my boat and I caught three crabs. I feel pretty bad because everyone else got it whereas I was struggling. The coach kept telling me to be positive. Do you have any tips? Thank you so much.

    My goal is to row for Dartmouth.

  15. Brother I just started rowing and feel completely lost … I done a week and my upper body is sore??
    I just can’t find to include my legs..?
    Please keep these vids coming!!
    I desperately need a low impact workout and I enjoy rowing but I just can’t figure it out..?

  16. Even after rowing 7 years on C2, all your videos (also those for beginners) are still very informal and useful. Great job, Shane.

  17. perfect presentation! Thank you. At the beginning of my training I got used too many wrong things. I had no one standing by who corrected me. Your videos are great for self training. What helps me further is to film my self from the side with my smartphone. So i can detect my mistakes much better after workout in video…

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