One of the primary goals of good rowing is to make the hard easy, and the easy elegant. Physical training involves a lot more than just working on maximum efforts. It’s also about making submax efforts easier, more efficient, smoother, less likely to cause fatigue, discomfort or pain. In other words, you need to train the “easy” moves just as much as the hard ones.
The goal is to make these “easy” movements “elegant” – smooth, efficient, even pleasurable to perform.
Given this logic, it makes sense under the SAID principle that to get better at doing something easy, you should practice doing easy things. What would that look like? In rowing, it might look like reducing the force and speed of the rowing stroke in a way that will help you improve movement efficiency. Less load or less speed will allow you to pay closer attention to using proper form, and ensure that the movement is completely free of any awkwardness, discomfort, inefficiency or unnecessary effort, and that the movement feels good, even elegant or graceful.
Many people ignore this route to improvement altogether and focus instead on the top down approach – trying to improve “easy” rowing stroke with massive efforts in the gym. This is like building a roof before the foundation. The skills developed at low intensities supports the great effort at higher intensities, not the other way around.
Athletic excellence is mostly a question of willpower, effort and ignoring the signals from our body. Although effort and intensity are clearly necessary elements of achieving physical goals, excessive focus on these aspects of training will lead to injury and fail to provide adequate time and energy for learning the skills that support the higher levels of effort. Put another way, life and sport is more about skill than will.
In most sports, as I’ve discussed before, most of what professional athletes do is actually very easy for them. Maybe 80% of their moves are activities they could repeat with a minimum of effort, mindlessly, automatically, with very little strain and negligible chance of injury. For example, throwing a pitch or a punch, kicking a ball, making a lateral cut – these moves are the bread and butter of sports – and they involve actions that are easy enough to be repeated by the experts thousands of times with elegance.
If you can’t do the rowing stroke at low rates with ease and elegance, you will have a very hard time doing it correctly at high rates.
So, the take home point is this – include substantial time in your training for making the easy elegant and the hard easy – that’s where most of life and sport is anyway.
Thank you to todd Hargrove from Better movement