Return to site

Dancing with the Ergo?

The Virtual Coach helps you with your rhythm. New technique videos!

· indoor rowing

Autumn has arrived in Finland and with it rainy and windy weather. Last weekend was a happy exception with just a bit of drizzle but no wind. We carried our Concept2 outdoors to film technique videos showing our RowP App Virtual Coach in action. Scroll down for our new videos showing correct technique and beginner's mistakes, or read on for a simple breakdown of correct rowing technique.

Rowing consists of continuously repeating strokes which in turn can be broken down into a series of alternating drives and recoveries. The drive must be powerful and firm whereas the recovery needs to be controlled and relaxed. Hold the handle with your fingertips in order not to tense your shoulders. The drive should consist of three segments that seamlessly flow into each other: legs, body and arms. Start the drive with your legs by hanging off the handle with straight arms. Pull the lever of the C2 low enough to enable a sharp, fast push with the legs. Engage your torso, that is your back, after the legs. Only after the legs are fully extended and you're leaning suitably backwards (depends on your length!) should you pull with your arms. If you pull with your arms too early there's no strength left in them left for the finish and then your stroke ends up too short.

On recovery the sequence is the opposite, first the hands, then the torso and finally the legs. Hands away should be quick but relaxed. Body rocks over with a fluid motion and with good posture. Recovery of the legs starts partially at the same time with the body rocking over. Recovery should be relaxed in order to gather energy for the next drive phase.

Indoor rowing can feel like dancing when you get into the right flow. Rowing consists of accelerations, decelerations, and pauses, that should happen at exactly the right time, just like dancing. It's about doing the right moves at the right time with the right rhythm.

Our RowP App can help make indoor rowing more enjoyable. The App and the seat pod that goes with it helps rowers find the right rhythm by measuring the following metrics:

  • The % of drive time vs. the full stroke (= "Rhythm")
  • The % of time of the leg push vs. the full stroke time(="Seat rhythm")
  • The % of time that seat is at backstop (="Seat stopped") 

The RowP App comes with a Virtual Coach that sets limits on what the rhythm should be. The Virtual Coach currently works best at SPM 20-24 and within this rate window the recommended rhythm metrics are:

  • Rhythm <33% -> Rowing is triple time Waltz ;-) 
  • Seat rhythm <24%
  • Seat stopped >40%
If a rower fails to meet the above limits the RowP Virtual Coach colors the corresponding tiles red. The red color can help the rower focus on rhythm and improve on it from the next stroke.
See below our first technique video with embedded screenshots of our App as it looks like when rowing correctly. We also include some beginners drills to practice the different sequences that the stroke consists of.

Getting into the right rhythm may not be so easy. It is quite normal for beginners and gym goers to rush on recovery or to pull with their hands before fully pushing with their legs. The RowP App Virtual coach can help rowers improve by alerting mistakes with red color. The below video shows these common beginners mistakes:

  • Back opening too early
  • Bum shooting (the seat starts moving much before the handle)
  • Rushing on recovery
The video also shows how the RowP App Virtual Coach can highlight the mistakes and in that way help the rower focus on improving.

The back opening too early shortens the time of the seat at back stop (="Seat stopped") and also causes negative "Seat timing". It also shortens the stroke length (but that is not something the Virtual Coach checks).

Bum shooting is visible in the "Seat timing" tile and when the seat starts early enough before the handle the Virtual Coach turns the tile red. Note that our App has a grace period and there needs to be two consecutive bad (or good) strokes before the tile changes color.

Rushing on recovery influences all of the rhythm metrics. When recovery is quick there is less time to recover and focus on the next drive. That's why the Virtual Coach wants rhythm and seat rhythm to be quick compared with the recovery. By keeping the seat stopped at backstop for a long enough time (over 40% of the full stroke time is the default limit for SPM close to 20) the rower can lengthen their stroke and produce more power by using their body and arms more effectively. Based on discussions with coaches it seems some disagree with keeping the seat stationary at back stop for such a long time. We believe a long pause at back stop helps the rower segment the different parts of the stroke better. At race pace and on water the motion becomes more fluid anyway.


The Virtual Coach limits in the RowP App are not set in stone and any coach or enthusiastic rower may change the limits themselves by adjusting the parameters in a JSON file. Ask us for the detailed instructions if you'd like to do this!

Happy Rowing, Indoors or Outdoors