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Finding Rhythm

and breaking a World Record!

· seat sensor,indoor rowing,Coach

This post is a rather technical one focusing on Indoor Rowing metrics and introducing our new Virtual Coach helping you get those metrics right, but before getting into those details we want to start with the new 1 minute World Record (19-29years)!:

Our team was there in the early June summery Finnish countryside in Kouvola recording the strong rowing of Joel Naukkarinen: 416 meters in 1 minute = a new World Record! Quiske startup is supporting Joel on his road to Tokyo 2020 and we're listening closely to his feedback when we're developing our Rowing Performance system.

Rowing is about rhythm. The right rhythm not only makes you go faster but also makes rowing feel more enjoyable. Finding the right rhythm is challenging, especially for beginners, as can be seen in the struggles with indoor rowing machines happening at gyms worldwide. That's where our Rowing Performance system can help.

Our system consist of the RowP App running in an Android phone that's attached to the handle and a sensor that can be attached either to the side of the seat or inside the awesome ProW seat:

Rowing Performance sensor on the side of the Concept2 seat
The seat sensor can also be placed inside the slot underneat the ProW seats by Citius Remex

That's all you need to get your rowing performance measured, analyzed and brought back to you in the form of real time feedback with a graph and numbers:

Rowing technique measured with the RowP App. Rhythm is measured from the seat and handle.

The real time metrics are:

-SPM =strokes per minute

-Stroke length (m) ->this is an approximation but give a good idea on the length of your stroke especially on how it changes with time

-Handle max speed (m/s) =maximum handle speed during the drive phase

-Seat max speed (m/s) =maximum seat speed during the drive phase

-Seat stationary (%)= the percentage of time over the full stroke that the seat is kept stationary at the backstop

-Rhythm (%) = the percentage of time over the full stroke that the handle is moving during the drive phase

-Seat rhythm (%) =the percentage of time over the full stroke that the seat is moving during the drive phase, e.g. this measures the sharpness of your push with your legs

-Seat timing (1/100s) = the difference in timing between when the handle vs the seat starts moving during the drive

In addition to the above real time numbers the App also shows the full speed graph of handle and seat overlaid, stroke by stroke. We measured Joel right after his 1 minute world record:

The stroke length and seat timing metrics are the best approximations we can currently do with the kinematic sensor of the phone and they are not absolutely correct. When the stroke rate is below 20 or above 24 the stroke length becomes less reliable. The handle and seat speeds are good approximations. Unlike the speed metrics the rhythm metrics are exact and that's why with our App we're focusing on the rhythm of rowing.

Finding the right rowing rhythm is not easy, especially if you're new to the Ergo. To help row with the right rhythm we launched the new Virtual Coach for indoor rowing in the latest release of our App . Turn on the Virtual Coach from the App settings and get help with your rowing rhythm by the tiles going red whenever your row outside of the rhythm set by the Coach. An example:

There is of course no one right rowing rhythm and therefore you are able to adjust the ranges of the Virtual Coach. The default limits of the coach are set to work at SPM 20-24 and require rowing at rhythm<33%, seat rhythm <25% and seat stationary >36%. Also the seat timing is set to 0-6/100s meaning that the seat should start 0-6/100s before the handle. These limits can be changed by exporting and tuning the property list from the settings in our App so that any coach can define their optimal rowing rhythm themselves. Below a sample stroke where all the default Virtual Coach metrics are met:

The Virtual Coach helps improve rowing technique by focussing on rhythm of handle and seat

We've had people try to meet the above metrics at many indoor rowing events in Europe in the past year and it is not dead simple...So... how do you meet the metrics so that the tiles don't go all red? Here's how to do it. First of all, we've tuned our algorithms to work best at stroke rate 20-24 because we think that's an optimal stroke rate range when working on your technique, so that's the SPM you need to row at. Then focus on one tile at a time to take them off red one by one. To take the rhythm to <33% you need to have a strong drive and a relaxed enough recovery, at stroke rate 20 that means you need to spend less than 1 second on the drive phase and more than 2 seconds on recovery. To make the seat rhythm <25% you need a front loaded drive, meaning that you need to push with your legs early and fast. The seat stationary metric is perhaps the most interesting one (and can divide opinion between coaches): we've defined that at SPM 20-24 the seat should remain at backstop for over 36% of the time of the stroke. This is achievable by making sure your legs, body and arms really move in the right sequence, making sure you don't rock your body and use your arms too early. An additional hint to helping you meet the Virtual Coach metrics is make sure you use a drag factor corresponding to your own level of strength. If meeting the seat rhythm metric is difficult we recommend you lower the drag factor to help your legs move faster. Many people tend to row with dampers set too high making their movements too slow and rowing a real drag...

The right rhythm makes rowing feel more enjoyable but that's not all. When rowing in a crew it is really important that everyone rows the same way, that's the most efficient way to make the boat faster. Our system helps rowers in crew synchronize their rowing rhythm. Differences in technique are easy to find by overlaying the speed graphs from different rowers on top of each other in our web portal: We've recently launched new subscription levels (rolling them out publicly this week) to our web portal allowing coaches to compare different rowers with each other. Hurry up to sign up for this as the coach option in our web is free for a limited time us at during this week if you're interested to act as a coach subscription tester.

Once the coach has identified differences in rowing rhythm these are easy to fix by helping the rower focus on whatever problem there is with the real time feedback in our App, not only indoors but also on water:

Row with the right rhythm.

Br, Kristina and Pentti from Quiske

Kristina of Quiske Indoor rowing with the RowP App and ProW seat
Pentti screencasting our App to easily follow the real time metrics :-)
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