Recently we wrote about how the Virtual Coach can help improve your technique on the Concept2.
So you can enjoy the erg more, and get comfortable doing longer workouts, get more efficient and go faster.
Compared with dynamic ergs the standard C2 is quite simple, it has only two moving parts. That's why it took a bit longer for us to develop the Virtual Coach for the dynamic erg but finally, here you go! If you're a dynamic rower, read on for how to put the Quiske Coach into good use on the RP3.
Static vs Dynamic: What's the difference?
Where the static machine has just two moving parts (the handle, and the seat) the dynamic is mechanically quite a bit more complex, with not only a handle that's being pulled, but also the frame which is pushed in the opposite direction of the also moving seat. The dynamic erg is a floating system giving the feeling of rowing on water. We won't go into great detail in the differences between static and dynamic rowing machines in the post (see our earlier post if you want more info) , just a quick analysis of how the rower and erg masses interact with each other in both cases:
In the dynamic case, such as the RP3, the mass you’re pushing against is that of the mobile frame. The erg frame is lighter than you, so it moves further while your center of mass moves less. You interact with the mass of the erg, and both move.
This is similar to when pushing against the foot-stretcher when rowing on water: When at front-stops you push your legs down (oars out of the water) you only move backwards relative to the bank by ~20% of your leg length - the rest of the motion is taken by the boat moving away from you.
On the static erg, such as the Concept2, only the rower moves. The mass the rower is pushing against is the mass of the whole planet. The rower does all the moving back and forth on the moving seat while the Concept2 itself remains stationary while firmly attached to the earth.
Since the dynamic machine is more complex to measure it is also more error prone. To get a successful Quiske measurement from the dynamic machine you need to make sure you tick all the below boxes:
- the machine is well maintained and correctly adjusted
- the chain is oiled and running smooth
- the machine is positioned on a level surface
- the drag-factor (K) is suitable taking into account the strength of the rower
- use a small phone for the measurement, a large phablet type phone may weigh down the handle too much and can influence especially the recovery
Additionally, a technique where the handle is being hit strongly into the chest at the finish causes errors in the measurement.
The Quiske system consists of an App and a Pod. The App is running on a phone (iOS or Android) and is placed on the erg handle using a dedicated phone holder. On the dynamic erg the pod does not go on the seat but on the frame of the machine, with the Quiske blade on the pod pointing towards the rower.
The Quiske system is so easy and fast to install, so you can even use it every workout if you want. It comes with a Virtual Coach which gives easy to understand visual feedback on your technique. That’s really what this post is about.
The Quiske Virtual Coach (shortened to “Coach” below) gives instant feedback on five important things, every single stroke: Drive rhythm, Legs rhythm, Legs speed, Legs stopped, and Style. You can choose to see visualized feedback on technique via color coded balls in the Rower view or choose to look at actual numerical data in the Coach view. You can toggle between the two views simply by swiping left/right.
Ps. There are many ways to attach the pod to the erg frame, just make sure the thin end of the pod, and the blade in the sticker, points towards the rower.
This is the default feedback view, where the Quiske Coach gives easy to understand feedback on your technique. The Rower View comes with five color coded balls where green means good and yellow is OK. If a ball lacks color it means that improvement is needed.
The Quiske Coach promotes a front-loaded and segmented rowing style, meaning that you should push fast and hard with the legs to reach maximum leg speed quickly. Only after that should you open your back, and finally use the arms at the end of the drive cycle.
The Coach comes with three levels: Easy, Moderate, and Challenging.
The level of the Coach determines the tolerances for reaching yellow and green 😉.
The Coach looks at and provides feedback on five areas of your rowing technique.
The 5 Focus Areas
1 Drive rhythm (ratio)
The percentage of time of the drive vs the time of the full stroke. The ideal value depends on the rate but smaller is better. Keep your drive firm and your recovery relaxed
2 Legs rhythm
The percentage of time during which your legs are pushing (=frame and seat moving). The ideal value depends on the rate but smaller is better.
3 Legs speed
The maximum leg speed in m/s during the drive. Try to make it over 1 m/s.
4 Legs stopped
The time you keep your legs stationary as a percentage over the time of the full stroke. The ideal value depends on the rate but bigger is better. A typical novice mistake is to start rushing with the seat during recovery, keep the seat stationary while your hands and your body starts swinging, only then start bending your legs.
The Style factor measures how front-loaded your drive is. It finds the position (as a % of time of the drive phase) of your maximum leg speed. The Quiske Coach wants you to reach maximum leg speed early on during the drive. Only a very small percentage of the handle movement should come from the upper body during the first stages of the drive, the main contribution should come from the legs. A big Style factor means you’re either grabbing with the arms or shoulders or that you’re opening the back too early. The Style metric is very sensitive and to get it right you really need to push with your legs without opening your back too early. A smaller Style value is better. PS: Make sure you reach maximum leg speed early without bum shoving though (this you can check via the seat timing metric in the Coach view, read more on this below).
In addition to the five focus areas of the Coach the Quiske Rowing App also has some further tricks to keep you motivated:
To spur you on the App gives thumbs up or even a heart when you’ve been rowing technically well during the 8 previous strokes. The emojis are displayed in upper right corner. It the upper right corner is empty of motivational emoji then you have not yet reached the first thumb level 😉 You can select an easier level of the coach and/or set a smaller damper setting to get better scores (a lower drag factor allows for better leg speed which makes it easier to reach good technique).
When focusing on improving your rowing technique it makes sense to focus on one improvement area at a time. The Quiske Rowing App includes a special Focus tile, the 3rd tile from the top on the right, and there you can choose to see any one of the five metrics numerically. Choose what to display by pressing the tile long. The Focus tile also displays the target value you should be aiming for on the lower left corner of the tile.
Technique vs Style
Technique should not be mixed up with style. You can row with correct technique using different styles and vice versa. See below a popular categorization of different rowing styles, we believe this categorization was originally done by Dr. Valery Kleshnev? The Quiske Coach prefers the segmented Rosenberg style but gives a pretty good score also for the Grinko style. If you prefer rowing with another style skip the Quiske Virtual Coach and swipe right for Coach View, which visualizes handle and frame speeds without promoting any particular style.
If you want to see more detailed data, you can swipe left to switch from Rower to Coach view. The Coach view is for coaches and for people who like a lot of detail or who want to decide on their rowing technique themselves. This view does not include the Virtual Coach but instead shows the handle (blue) and seat (red) speeds as graphs in full detail every stroke. In addition to the graphs the Coach View shows four or eight (defined in Settings) predefined numerical metric tiles. You can select which numerical values to see in which particular tiles by pressing them long.
By analysing the graphs you can gain a lot of additional insight into what is happening during your drive and recovery and about the timing of catch and the seat. For experienced coaches and rowers the graphs can come to replace video, the graphs allow analysing swing and timings just like slow-motion video. For example, you can check whether the seat and handle graphs are aligned during the first leg drive phase, if not (the seat and handle graphs gradients deviate) it usually means that the back is opening too early. There is also lot of insights in the numerical metrics, e.g. the sign of the seat timing value reveals whether the seat starts moving before or after the handle (bum shoving can be seen in the seat timing tile).
Disclaimer: Since the dynamic erg is more complex to measure some of the metrics (e.g. stroke length and seat timing) are not as accurate as they are on the static erg.
Comparing with the RP3 force curve
.The front loaded style promoted by the Quiske Coach can be also indirectly visualized for the drive phase via the RP3 force curve: a front loaded drive means that the force curve peak should be on the left side. This indirectly also measures that you don’t start opening your back too early (measured by the Quiske Rowing Style metric). Opening your back too early slows down the legs and moves the force curve peak to the right.
Note that all the metrics are filtered, which means that there is some smoothing in the values between the strokes.
Record your rowing
You can choose to just row and get instant feedback from the Coach without storing your session. However, by pressing “Start” you can also record your session for later analysis, and then you also gain a Summary of your session when you’re finished. Press the back key to stop your session. After that you can see the overall technique score of your rowing and also upload the data to the cloud for more detailed analysis.
The summary screen comes with two different looks depending on your preferences, choose which one you prefer under Settings ("Rower+Scores" or "Scores" only). The "Rower+Scores" look shows Finnish Rower Joel Naukkarinen pictured behind your scores. Joel is a promising young talent aiming to compete at Tokyo Olympics in 2020.
How to use Quiske
- Download the App (iOS/Android) and get a pod
- Create an account and login
- Attach the phone firmly to the handle at a 20-30deg, and the pod to the frame
- Set the drag factor to suit your strength
- Start rowing and see what the Quiske Coach suggests
- Focus on the five metrics one by one and try to get them green, start with the rhythm and then move onwards 1-5
- Record some steady state rowing for uploading and analyzing in the cloud
- Share thoughts and findings with peers and with us if you’d like help or comments
- Continue rowing regularly and try to see how following the coach feels
- We recommend rowing at 20-24SPM when working on improving technique
- Learning new things takes time so lots of strokes are needed and learning away from bad technique also takes time
Finally, we'd love your thoughts on the Quiske Coach! We've had lots of discussions with rowers on segmented versus other rowing styles, and on how long to keep the seat at backstop. What are your thoughts on these things?
What about the seat timing? How much before the handle should the seat start moving? Comment below or get in touch with us at firstname.lastname@example.org or via FB.