The Quiske Xmas Calendar 2018
This Christmas it will be three years since we did our first ever field testing: measuring rowing technique from an oar.
There's been many adventures, twists and turns while developing our rowing technique measurement and to celebrate the 3 year milestone we're counting down to Xmas with a calendar: we'll be sharing some rowing related tips every day until Xmas. This blog will keep growing by a new pic/video every day, so please check back here or follow us on Instagram ;-)
1. Legs Legs Legs
When rowing, your legs is your power house. Think push, not pull! The drive is 60% legs, then a bit of trunk power and some finetuning with your arms. Take care of those legs and make sure you stretch every day. Yoga is good and you can do it your own way, it's not so serious.
Rowing Tip one: Stretch every day.
2. Get a coach
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.
The Quiske App comes with a Virtual Coach when rowing indoors. Real human coaches will always be needed and they can see subtle things, but they cannot always be there. The Quiske Virtual Coach is always available and focused, relentlessly observing your every stroke and giving guidance on your rowing rhythm and style. The Quiske coach promotes a segmented and front loaded rowing style, explosive legs first, then opening your back and finally pulling with your arms while staying at backstops quite long, before entering into a relaxed recovery. The coach provides feedback on your technique, every stroke, on color coded five basic areas:
The Quiske App supports not only static Concept 2 but also RP3 and C2 on slides.
3. Focus on technique
Whether you row on your own, in crew, under the supervision of a real or a Virtual Coach you do need to focus on technique in order to get the most joy and benefit from rowing.
Rowing consists of four stages:
Also within these parts there are segments, and the drive consists of
- 60% Legs
- 30% Torso
- 10% Arms
The segments should fluidly follow each other, e.g. don't bend your arms before your legs are completely straight. Rowing is not intuitive and it takes practice to master the technique. It helps having someone take video of rowing from the side but some things are difficult to spot when relying only on the coaches eye...Can you spot in this video whether the back is opening up too early? What about when using slowmo?
For minute things though you really need the numbers. That's where you can use the Quiske Virtual coach to assess the nitty gritty changes in timing and rhythm, every single stroke. There's the "Rower View" where rowing technique is color coded in an easy to understand way, or, for more detail there's the "Graph View", where you get access to the raw data and numerical metrics to drill into the smaller details of your technique.
4. Sign up for an ErgoMarathon
And why not join the World's largest ErgoMarathon in Finland? The race takes place again on April the 27th, 2019, in Gustavelund by the scenic Tuusula lake, only a short ride from the Helsinki Vantaa Airport.
Once you've set your mind on doing the marathon you need to prepare. And do it for real. On the erg. The marathon is a mental and physical challenge which requires good aerobic fitness as well as solid mental determination. You need to do lots of long ergs, so your body gets used to the grind. There's still enough time to get in shape for April!
- 100km, Open
- Full Marathon
- Half Marathon
- 60minutes, Junior (below 16y boys and girls)
- Rowing machines
- Dynamic: RP3 or Concept2 on slides
- Static: Concept2
Many records have been broken at the Finnish ErgoMarathon perhaps because of the good atmosphere where everybody is cheered to the finish line .
Set your target, practice, and hope see you at the ErgoMarathon :-)
5. Rowing shouldn't be a pain in the...
The ProW seat pad developed by the rowers at Danish Citius Remex allows you to optimize your rowing position and can help prevent legs going numb when rowing long distances. One recent example: Finnish rower Joel Naukkarinen broke the 100km Concept2 world record while seated on the ProW pad : 6:06:06.1 (1.49.8), pretty incredible, eh? The seat pad is also perfect for holding the Quiske Pod so you can measure the speed of your leg push both on the erg as well as on water.
6. Do Pull-ups
It's healthy to also add some other forms of training to your rowing routine: pull-ups are a great addition because they can make you feel very good. There's something really satisfying in being able to pull your chin above a bar, and it is also very good for your back and biceps.
Today is the Finnish Day of Independence. To celebrate this we did 6 pull-ups. By Christmas we'll try to do 15.
7. Measure your rowing. Part 1: Oars!
Gathering data which reveals details about your rowing technique and how you handle your oar is easy. You need a Quiske Pod which you put next to the oarlock.
Look at your horizontal and vertical angles. Does your oar sky before catch? Do you bury the blade too deep during the early drive? Do you washout? Check your oar flight path for consistency. Are your angles the same also when you get tired? Do you pause your hands at finish or do a quick hands away? Do you accelerate your hands towards the catch? Measure your oars to make sure you row consistently. Upload the measured sessions and compare your technique with that of your crew so you can synchronize your technique.
8. Measure your rowing. Part 2: Seat!
Rowing power is about 60% legs. Therefore you should think "Push!" (and not pull). To make sure you push hard with your legs, and do it every single stroke, you can measure your seat speed and timing (to make sure you're not bum shooting). Tape the pod under the seat (or place it inside the ProW pad) to measure your seat speed during the drive and recovery. Get insights into your rowing rhythm, and how segmented your rowing style is (if your style is segmented your seat is at backstop for a large percentage of time).
Tired legs tend to go soft and then the push off the stretcher loses its sharpness. Instant feedback helps focus on the legs, and keep their push explosive throughout the workout session.
Focus on your legs. Every stroke.
9. Read up on the Physics of Rowing
Rowing is a beautifully rhythmic cyclical motion of a mechanical system where the rower is the engine and which can be described with basic physics. We especially recommend the Basic Physics of Rowing by A Dudhia. To row well it helps to understand Newton's laws, e.g. to state just one example why the boat can accelerate during recovery although the blades have been extracted...
The Physics of rowing doesn't have to be described by complicated equations, it can also be understood on a broader level or through intuition, to benefit from knowledge on how to row in the most efficient manner.
Measuring your rowing gives data that can be analyzed, to provide valuable insight on how to make the boat faster.
You can also learn by experimenting. Try different styles of rowing and see how they influences your rowing metrics. The Quiske Rowing App gives graphical and numerical feedback on your previous stroke, so you can learn the influence of different rowing styles.
If you want to know more about measuring rowing you should download our free compact guide on measuring rowing technique. It is available for download on the main page of our website.
10. Row different types of ergs
...so that you know which one is right for you.
Push vs pull. After long sessions on different types of static and dynamic machines we think the biggest difference in the feeling between these two types of rowers is that one gives the feel of pulling whereas the other one a feeling of pushing.
By applying basic physics to ergometer rowing the fundamental difference between static and dynamic becomes clear: The force applied by your legs to the stretcher acts equally on you and the stretcher.
- If you sit at front-stops on a static erg and then push your legs down you move backwards relative to room by an amount equal to your leg length
- Similar to in a boat, if you sit at front-stops in a dynamic erg and then push your legs down you only move backwards a small percentage of your leg length - the rest of the motion is taken by the erg frame (or boat) moving away from you.
The force applied by your legs to the stretcher acts equally on you and the stretcher. In the static case, the stretcher is effectively attached to the whole planet so doesn't move - you do all the moving. In the dynamic case, the mass of the erg frame is much lighter than you, so it moves further than you do.
A 'dynamic' ergometer, attempts to simulate the reaction effect by having the stretcher/flywheel (together weighing approximately the same as a sculling boat) also mounted on a rail so that they also absorb most of the motion. Putting the Concept on 'slides' also simulates this effect, although since the Concept erg is much heavier than a sculling boat, it's not as realistic.
The conclusion is therefore that dynamic ergs simulate on water rowing better than stationary ergs. That's why we think they can convey the feeling of Pushing with your legs much better.
Also, in the stationary case you need to accelerate your body much more at catch and finish since you (and not the erg) is doing all the moving back and forth, which puts more strain on your back and joints.
Choosing the erg that is best for you is a matter of taste. All give an excellent low impact cardiovascular exercise that is healthy for anyone. However, for those rowing also on water we do recommend the dynamic erg since it best simulates the feeling of being on water, the pushing, not pulling, kind of feeling.
11. Make friends with the Ergo
Technique matters no matter what type of erg you're using . The Quiske Virtual Coach can help find the right technique on many different ergs, e.g. the Concept2, the Concept2 on slides as well as the RP3. By contacting us you can also get setup files for the dynamic Oartec DX as well as the WaterRower.
Erging can help make the boat faster but only if you train with correct technique. If you stare and optimize just split numbers you may do tens of thousands of repetitive strokes with the wrong technique and there's considerable risk that you take that same non-optimal technique into the boat with you come springtime.
The Virtual Coach can also help you find flow in your training. When you focus on a firm properly segmented and front loaded drive and a really relaxed recovery you can start to feel like you're dancing with the ergo, which can help you keep going on for a long period of time. It's a positive feedback loop where you get fit and start enjoying the erging more and more, so much that you might sign up for the next ErgoMarathon: in Finland 27th of April 2019 ;-).
Video is also a good tool for checking your technique and it is very good to use it in combination with the Quiske Virtual Coach to learn what exactly the details in the graphs mean in your particular case.
You don't need to use the Virtual Coach during every training, but as it is easy to install and use you can use it say weekly to track your improvement. You can also follow your progress by uploading the recorded sessions to the portal for more detailed analysis and possibly comparisons with your peers or crew.
There's more to erging than 2K. Yes, believe it or not. Erging is an excellent way of getting very fit in a very time-efficient. healthy low impact way, suitable for anyone no matter your age, fitness level, or gender. By focusing not only on your 2K splits you can get much more enjoyment and therefore more benefits from this beautiful monster of a machine.
12. Learn the rowing jargon
When rowing you're moving backwards. At considerable speeds. Which means you need to know where you're going and understand any commands that are shouted at you.
You need to know the jargon. And colors too. Green doesn't necessarily mean go nor red stop.
Red can be Port, which is Right from a rower's point of view. Which is opposite to the cox view :-P
Green is starboard, and left.
Ps. you can check you've placed your Pod on the correct Oar from the blinking color (red for right, green for left, blue for seat).
13. Try coastal rowing
and not just coastal rowing but other types of rowing too. It's good to row different types of boats and to learn about their tricks and peculiarities.
Coastal rowing is a lot of fun and it's great that you can go rowing into big waves on the sea too. Coastal boats also allow you to prolong the rowing season into the winter since they are safer to row in cold and windy conditions than traditional shells.
Whenever you row a new type of boat it is good to measure it. The boat acceleration graph tells a lot about how the boat behaves during drive and recovery. You can measure boat acceleration for free using the Quiske Rowing App.
The Coastal boat has a larger surface area so accelerates a bit slower than the sleeker boat models, but faster than e.g. the traditional Finnish wooden boats.
Coastal rowing is quite a new genre of rowing which has just recently landed in Finland. We arranged the 1st Finnish Championships in Coastal Rowing this September in Helsinki. It's a short sprint type race around a small island, welcome to Helsinki in Sept 2019 if you'd like to join the race.
14. Smash a record
Setting a target for your training makes sense and it can be very motivating for to decide to set a new record, a personal one, a national one or even a world record.
We've started keeping the Finnish RP3 Ranking and because we're so few in Finland we decided to open up the ranking for anyone outside of Finland too. If you'd like to be featured on the Finnish RP3 ranking just send your name, category and a link to your online RP3 session to firstname.lastname@example.org for any of the below:
- ½ marathon
- Full marathon
This week Kristina set a new record on the half marathon and Joel Naukkarinen a pretty decent one on 30minutes.
Earlier Eeva Karppinen put an awesome record on the marathon: 02:52:51.44
15. Erg as a team
There's lots of benefit in training together. Research proves that rowing together enables a better workout with better results. You can get extra strength especially if you're friends row with the same rhythm.
You can also synchronize your rowing style during the indoor season to make the boat faster when the ice melts again. You can put your ergs on connected slides behind or next to each other. With the ergs next to each other it is easier to see what the other is doing. Mirrors also help. Also for the RP3s there are connection bars for the frames and the handles. Highly recommended to try this out.
You can also measure your indoor rowing technique with the Quiske Rowing App and compare techniques by overlaying the data from crew members in the Quiske web portal.
16. Synchronize crew technique
To maximize the speed of your boat you need not only a committed and fit crew but also aligned rowing technique. With detailed post-training analysis, you can find differences in the timings within the stroke: the catch, the drive, the finish, and the recovery. When differences in technique are found instant feedback can help rowers align technique while on water.
The data from each individual rower can be regularly uploaded to the cloud and overlaid and compared within the crew, to help spot differences and finetune the synchronization of technique.
When overlaying the oar handling data of the rowers in crew you can see whether the motion of the oars is synchronized. Same for the seat speed during drive and recovery.
The rower can choose to see graphs of oar angles or seat speed or to see simple numerical metrics which might be easier to digest while concentrating on rowing. Instant feedback on the stroke angle can help the rower make long strong strokes, consistently. The App can also show the maximum seat speed during each drive, helping the rower focus on pushing hard with the legs, every stroke, even on long sessions.
The Quiske Rowing App can be used in many types of boats, also in traditional Finnish wooden boats whose oars do not feather.
17. Never too early or late to start rowing
Rowing Tip 17. Start rowing. It's never too early or late to start.
Rowing is great for you no matter your age. Unfortunately everyone doesn't have access to a lake or a boat.
Indoor rowing, however, is the most efficient sport which almost anyone can do, no matter age, gender, weight or fitness.
Indoor rowing comes with valuable health benefits that anyone can gain. It improves body composition and allows keeping muscle as you grow older. Rowing is very low impact (compared to e.g. running) but gives high results. It allows you to challenge yourself and completing targets you set for yourself can make you feel awesome. Indoor rowing is a cardiovascular exercise which can reduce your risk for heart disease. When done correctly rowing is safe.
The Quiske Virtual Coach can help novices to rowing learn to erg with better technique and to help find the right rhythm, which enables longer sessions on the erg... - >get fit faster.
18. Power IS important
We always talk about technique and tend to downplay power (because we are lightweight rowers at Quiske). However, power is of course important.
The Quiske Rowing App measures power indirectly :
- On the static C2 via the seat speed and timing
- On the dynamic RP3 via how frontloaded your leg push is during the drive (your Rowing Style)
19. Ergs do float
Some say ergs don't float, but they do. Erging outdoors in fresh winter air is good. Here's a workout suggestion:
6x2'/1'/10' e.g. 6 intervals of 2mins on the erg, 1 minute in the ice hole, and 10minutes in the sauna. This is a 1 hour 18 minute circuit training. Consult your doctor before you do it though.
If you do insist to go on ice on a boat, make sure you talk to your boat in a soothing manner because the sound of breaking ice is very scary for any poor little boat, and the ice is sharp, repair any damages after the row or the boat won't be happy with you.
20. Row alone now and then
Sometimes rowing solo feels just right and you can keep on going for a long time. It helps if you seek a place that you really like and take your erg there. Solitary rowing to the sunrise or sunset is totally different to rowing with your noisy crew in the gym. Both kinds of rowing are needed we think. Sometimes it is good for you to row in solitude.
Long steady state rows are crucial to build your endurance base. Don't always push hard, but go slow and enjoy the flow.
21. Try new sports tech
There’s more and more data available to analyze sports performance, and technique. Many sports, such as running and cycling, are ahead of rowing in terms of the availability of different types of gadgets you can buy and the numbers of metrics you can track. Recently however a limited number of Apps and sensors have been specifically developed for rowers.
Earlier only the world’s elite rowers could afford the expensive measurements and the vast majority of the active rowers in the world never had their technique measured. With some of the new Apps even ordinary gym rowers can afford virtual coaching which helps find good rowing technique through instant feedback.
The Quiske system comprises of a sensor, a so-called pod, a phone app, advanced algorithms, and a cloud service for data storage and analysis. The system is suitable for all rowers, elite rowers as well as for beginners and for club coaches. Additionally, the system allows rowers to coach themselves, is easy to install, gives instant feedback, and includes innovative cloud analytics providing facts for discussion.
At Quiske we love trialling any new sports tech gadgets and especially tinkering with ergs. Last summer we tried AR both on the erg and on water. Not in production yet...
22. Upgrade your Coach
Xmas is coming and so is a new version of the Quiske Rowing App v2.0! A new version on iOS will be out any day now and Android is due the1st week in January. The update includes an improved Virtual Coach who spurs you on with thumbs up or a heart when you do particularly well during 10 consecutive strokes. Also the App has two views: The Rower view with visual color coded grades on your technique and the Coach view which shows the actual measured speeds of the handle and seat and numerical metrics on rhythm and timing.
The update improves the quality of technique measurement especially on dynamic ergs.
There's also a new Style Metric which measures how frontloaded your leg drive is. The Virtual Coach prefers segmented rowing style with a front loaded drive coming from a sharp leg push. To get thumbs up from the Virtual Coach you need a Style score below 25:
<25 = very sharp and front loaded leg push
25-35 = non-segmented continuous style
>35= your back opens too early
Last but not least the App includes a configurable Magic Tile in the Rower view (see picture above). It can show any one metric of your choice together with the target for that particular metric (the value of the target depends on the level chosen for the Virtual Coach).
23. Row with Good Friends
Life is short, and you have just one. Surround yourself with people that you like and trust. Laughter is healthy, the more the better.
Rowing alone is great but rowing with friends is even better. A shared adventure is better than a solo endeavor.
24. Merry Xmas from Finland!
Quiske Rowing tip 24.12: Do a little yoga or stretch daily.
Check a suggested yoga sequence and the boat pose here:
Quiske Rowing tip 24.12: Do a little yoga or stretch daily.
Hope you have time to relax during the holidays.
Quiske wishes all rowers, indoors and outdoors, a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year.