Carlos Dinares TIP # 486: What you need to be a FAST OLYMPIC ROWER

February 14, 2013

I’m a 18 year old female student, rowing for the university and for another club. I currently train and compete and both of these clubs highest levels but I am not yet good enough to progress through to a high performance level. There is very little support for myself and athletes at a this level and the gap between seems to be rather big to tackle on your own. I was wondering what advice you would have for me as I wish to one day compete internationally.
I look forward to hearing from you.

It takes an average of 8 years to be competitive on an International level for rowing.
This is the time it takes on average to develop the skill to move a boat fast (not an erg) and to develop your body engine and strength to be able to produce the rowing stroke to go fast on the water in a sustainable way. So if you haven’t spent a few years developing and improving, it might be too early to make any conclusions about your rowing dreams.

Some athletes will get there faster, normally because they have one or several of the following:

1) They have very talented engines. This means they sit on an erg from day one and have an amazing test.
2) They are really tall and strong without doing extra work and they get the movement easy. It will take less time to make them fast.
3) They sit in a Team boat with other talented athletes. They take advantage of technical skill of the group to be able to perform at High level without that much skill themselves.
4) They work extra than the rest and improve faster.

So if you aren’t any of the one above you need to understand that they will be the rowers that will get there on the fast track that just might not be for you.

So I recommend to not obsess about early success or failure and get yourself to the best coach and the best system so you can spend your time developing correctly.

Here is an objective list of 4 subjects that ANY ELITE ROWER after the 8 years of really good training with a top system and top coaches will score REALLY HIGH! If you score the best on the 4 of them you will be one of the best rowers in rowing history if you have the best system and the best coach for you and the right people around you to help you get there. Any top rower will score really high in at least 3 out of the 4.


Have ever seen that rower that pushes every workout with everything it has. Have you seen that athlete that is excited to wake up to go workout and is always positive and happy. Have you ever seen that rower that never gives up. Have you ever seen that rower that can do the work alone and doesn’t need the coach or anybody to be motivated. Have you ever seen that rower that knows that he will get there and will work night and day until he gets there without any doubt. Have you seen that rower that can push herself beyond anyone else. If you are this rower and do all the things listed above you get a score of 10 out of 10!


Are you tall and have long arms and big hands with long fingers to reach longer? Do you have good flexibility on your ankles and hips? Are your body measurements ideal for rowing? Are you the rower that every coach turns around and wants to recruit just by how you look? Are you just born to be a rower meaning you look like the rowers that are winning the Olympics? If you can answer a yes to all of that you get another 10 our of 10.


Have you broken 21 minutes on a 6km test on the stationary C2 or 18:30 if you are a man? Have you broken 6:40 or 5:45 on a 2km test on the C2? Have you recorded amazing results on your lactate test and VO2 max test? Are you able to run faster than anybody around you? Have you been successful internationally in any other endurance sport? Are you able to produce very high watts on a test bike? Are just better than anyone else training around you doing the same training? If you have answer yes to all of those you have a good engine and will be able to sustain the effort required to compete at the highest level.

Do you think you can feel the boat and understand how to make the boat go the fastest with what you have? Do you have good rowing rhythm? Do you consider yourself a good athlete with good athleticism? Are you a good dancer? Are you coachable? Do you adapt and change fast to the instructions of your coach? Do you look natural and flow with the boat when you see yourself on video? Are you used as a rowing example to others? Do you think you row like the best? Are you a real boat mover? Do you get all the speed you can out of the effort you put into it?

So now you can see what are some of your strengths and weaknesses might be. My advice is to see where you are and develop a strategy to position yourself in the best place possible so you can develop to your top overtime. There are things that you don’t have control over like the length of your arms, how tall you are, or if you have natural rhythm or not, but there are many that are a 100% under your control.
So target those you can control and take responsibility of all of them with no excuses. If you want to be the best rower you can be then you will workout, rest, and eat the best you can, find the best coach and system for you to develop, and instead of looking at the difficulties as problems, you will take them for what they are and focus all your energy on what you want to achieve and just do the work everyday.

Carlos Dinares TIP # 485:How I use the RP3 to build a crew TEAM

January 09, 2013

When I get rowers that want to make a boat go fast together I tell them that:

1)You will be faster when individually you have a really high level of fitness and rowing skill. So this means that if you want to go fast you will need to have the fitness and level of rowing skill of that standard individually you are looking for. So i motivate them to develop as an individual and don’t get just thinking about the team boat. The 1x and the 2- for that are great boats.

2) You will need to have the ability to be a Team player and adapt to your other crew mates so you make make the team boat go fast.

So during the process of developing athletes, they also develop the ability to match to rowers and build possible crew combinations. I tell them that to be fast they need to be:

a) The fitter rowers on the ergo and on the 1x.
b) The better rowers technically, the ones that row the more efficient stroke.
c) The best matching rowers, the ones that can match to anyone and that are easy to match.

So to be the best matching crew combination out there has nothing to do with the ability to produce very exceptional erg scores or the ability to row really well and fast on the 1x or 2-. These 2 will help them to achieve c) or will help them when they have c) to go fast.

In these videos I’m working with 2 young rowers to teach them to learn to match to each other and get to move together. For that I use the Rowperfect3 and I connect the machines and the handles. What i want is that they feel each other and move together finding a unity and a rhythm that works for both. To do that well they need to agree on:

- The level of their hands.
- how they spend the time during recovery.
- How they produce the drive, acceleration.
- on a rowing style.

To motivate them to work on their matching skills and crew development I tell them:

Think we are training to go to a competition where all the boats will compete in front of a jury with sensors on the boats to detect efficiency and good boat moving skills. The goal of that competition is to be the best crew who looks the more together and moves the more efficient disturbing the less the run of the boat. I tell them that if they can win that competition and they are the more fit team they will be fast.

In this video you can see how i help them on land to develop that coordination to move together and I do that in combination with water rowing on the 1x and the 2x.

Carlos Dinares TIP # 484:How I use Joules x stroke in ROWING

January 06, 2013

In this video I try to explain you how I use the Joules x stroke on the rowperfect3 rowing machine. The joules x stroke are the area inside the power curve. Every stroke generates a power curve. The power curve is stroke length and force. The more area, the more joules x stroke and the longer and with more force we have rowed that stroke.
If you want to increase your area, row longer, row with more force from catch to release. The ideal imaginary curve in an impossible world will be a rectangle where you get max force at catch and you keep it all the way to the release,

Carlos Dinares TIP # 483: ROWING on the SQUARE

November 05, 2012

I am a junior rower for a Junior Crew. I’ve been very interested in your coaching style, especially your use of the Rowperfects as I used them myself when I was at a camp at Seattle Rowing Center this past summer. In a lot of your videos, I’ve noticed the rowers have been rowing on the square a a good deal or have extremely early roll-ups into the catch. Why is it that you emphasize this so much? Interestingly enough, my coach just offered me a challenge to row (during practice) this entire month on the square. Every piece, every drill, he said must be on the square. Do you think I should take this? He said it will book bolster my technique to where I will be able to qualify for youth nationals next spring. Thanks for the help.

This is what I think about Rowing on the square, about early roll-up and about your coach challenge.

1) With boat speed it is easier to balance your boat, boat speed comes over blade connection to the water that moves the boat and the key to balance is good timing at the change of direction. The reason I’m talking about this is because in order to row on the square, first you need to know how to have balance while you row. So to balance your boat you need to be able to change direction at the end of the stroke without losing pressure on your feet against the footstretcher while you take the blade out of the water and change direction of your body mass from going to the bow to now going to the stern. If you know how to do that well we can start talking about rowing on the square!!

2) When you know how to move on the boat, have connection to the water from catch to release and change direction at the end of the stroke having still pressure in front of the blade before the extraction (you can only do that having pressure on your feet against footplate) then you can start thinking about rowing on the square on a 1x.
These are few reasons why I like to have the rowers I coach row plenty on the square or half feather:
- It teaches them to complete the stroke, keep pressure in front of the blade until the last moment and take the blade out of the water on the square.
- It is easier to make the good rowing stroke without involving the turning of your wrist to feather. If you row on the square first, you learn to tap down and away first without adding the complexity of turning your wrist and changing the blade from square to feather. Before i teach rowers to feather I teach them to complete the stroke cycle without adding the complexity of the feather. I have them rowing on boats that are easy to balance like learn to row shells or team boats with part of the crew balancing the boat.

3) The early roll-up. When the rowers can row correctly on the square, then I start teaching them the correct action of their wrist to do the feather. What I always tell them is to roll up early enough going to the catch so they have their homework done before the catch. The catch by itself is complex enough, so I ask them to don’t make it harder by waiting to the last moment to square. We need a square blade to do the catch correctly. So early roll up is the way to go to have an easier way to get the job done well at the catch, but for that we need a balanced boat and some speed on the boat.

4) About your coach challenge to row for a whole month on the square: It depends on how you can do it. If you are not connected to the water, if you are not able to change direction correctly at the end of the stroke, rowing on the square it’s IMPOSSIBLE. So what I will say is just get the homework done before you can row on the square by yourself on a 1x. Learn first to connect to the water all the way to the release, learn to change direction at the end of the stroke by having pressure on the blade and on the feet, learn to balance the boat as a reaction of the prior actions done properly and when you have achieved that, then rowing on the square is possible and will teach you:

- to complete your stroke
- to get the blade out of the water clean and vertical
- to feather when you want
- to get an early roll-up to achieve a better catch overtime.

Carlos Dinares TIP # 482: HEAD of the CHARLES Race PLAN

October 08, 2012

After rowing for 22 years non stop I stopped for 10 years. My first real race after that long rest was the 2007 head of the Charles. It was my first time there and I entered the Lightweight Men Open 1x. I had the bow number 23. I placed second ahead of few National Team rowers.

When I moved to the USA I started to coach rowing. My first Head of the Charles as a coach was with the first rower I coached full time, Ursula Grobler. She raced the 2009 Head of the Charles on the Open Women 1x for the first time ever and she won starting with bow number 19.

Both of these times I used this text given to me by a rowing friend. This information helped us to navigate trough the unknown course and be able to do our best against the locals!


Mile 1: A little faster than we’re comfortable
Mile 2: Technique (We’ll pick 2-3 things for race day. For tomorrow, 1 of them will definitely be catching on the recovery)
Mile 3: Go like hell.
Anytime we need to make a “fast straight line” move, instead of making a “bee line” let’s call it a “Buzz line”.

First minute, let’s pick a solid line through the BU bridge. It will be loud around Mag Beach, and louder at Riverside. We’ll be stylistically perfect at RBC, and going FAST. I also suspect that we will be passing a boat here. There is plenty of room to pass and still get a good line for the rest of the course.
(I think this will be the first time we pass someone, and that, after this, we won’t pass “cleanly”. I think this will be “pass one boat” and after that, any passing may be a cluster of multiple boats trying to get clear).
After RBC, through the Powerhouse, we’ll do a “wind up” to get us into the Second Mile with power. As we come through that mile, it will be technical. We’ll use the whole mile to be relaxed and get the mid-drive super solid (its been feeling awesome this week, even in the wind!). We’ll cut a tight corner through Weeks and line up for Anderson almost on the Boston side of the river. It will feel very wrong to us, compared to the regular traffic pattern.
At Anderson, prepare for another cluster-$%& and for it to be LOUD at Newall. Likely, we’ll be able to hear Kate our friends, we’ll be very close to Newall. Plan on passing here, with solid form. We will also need to do some “home field advantage” on that buoy line. If I need a really solid technical change there!
As we pass Newall, again, GEAR UP for Mile 3. This is definitely OUR mile. First of all, we both like the last mile, and, second, we will have the advantage on the turn. Let’s assume at this point we are in the lead, or very close, and can make a big break away. Make them chase us. As quasi-lightweights, our cardio fitness is superior to almost everyone else’s.

Finally, really LOUD at CBC again. We’ll get a good line through the arch and make a “buzz line” for the Belmont Hill dock. Once we get even with the dock, its about 5 port strokes, 7 even strokes, and 5 more port strokes around the corner, depending on how far the trees are overhanging the river.
At this point, we’ll just “seal the deal” by charging the corner. We could have a hefty head wind, but we’ll do “corner repeats” the week before to prep. We just need to stay loose.

The day of the race!
Meet at the boat. Race clothes under warm ups. Individual warm ups (erg, stretch, or just sit). Visualizing: 1 motion; we know how to do everything, our MUSCLES know how to do their job, our LUNGS know how to do their job, our HEARTS know how to do their job; our BRAINS don’t have a job-they just have to let the rest of them do it.

Blades down. Boat in slings. Check over.

Rain is good. Wind is fine. We have an advantage in “conditions”.
Perfect from the shove.

LONG warm up. Very relaxed. Let the muscles find their groove. Go from stroke 1.

Strip, last water, set the clock.

Ready for our event!

This is a very stacked field. There are 4 current US National team members, 2 current European World championship athletes, and several former national teamers.

We are on the course. Let’s do it!

Push, press, squeeze. Wide grip. Blades behind. Feet first, feet last. Push harder. Go hard first.
Good line on BU.
Through the bridge, stay OUT from shore.
Hands match boat speed. ONE motion.

Body follows hands out on recovery.

Around Magazine. Port, port, port, even.

Start to hear the rumble at Riverside.
Push the pace. Very clean. Make them come to us.
They won’t beat us, we will WIN it. Outright.

Very loud at Riverside. Sharp, tall. Clean corners.

Middle arches.
Secret 5 and 10.
Under the light through the arch.
First mile.

Make them come to us.
Push away.

More leg. Squeeze and flow.

Tight corner at Weeks. Far Cambridge-side medallion on the way out. Feels VERY wide on the turn.

Bodies are still. Head is high. Chest up. Tall. Hips under.

Getting loud again. Big lungs. No one will be fitter. The well is deep!

Past the Newall dock, meeting up with the buoys again.

Loose hands.
Set up our mile.

Mile 3
Right into the chute. Momentum. Accelerate.

Blades level. Shoulders loose. Grip loose. Feel the water.

First to start, first to finish.
(Keep in mind, “I’ve never seen anything like you guys approaching CBC last year- it was amazing- you could SEE how fast you were going).

Nothing changes but the hull speed.

Tight corners.
Port (its usually about 5 port, 5 even, 5 port around this corner).

Build. Build. Squeeze.

Carlos Dinares TIP # 481: My ROWING CONFIDENCE is UP! Carlos and RP3

October 05, 2012

I was lucky enough to row with Carlos for 2 and a half months at Lake
Samish and have learnt and developed myself as a rower by being on the
rowperfect for hours every day, getting in good repetitions and
slowing figuring out how to get the right power application to produce
the most joules possible!! The progress I made in such a short time
has given me great confidence coming back to college rowing and I have
been able to excel on the erg and the water even more so than I

When I first arrived at Lake Samish spending 70 minutes on a
rowperfect did not sound like my kind of fun! But never the less I was
to find myself for weeks on end spending 70 minutes every morning
pushing myself to the limit, and in the afternoons doing more erging.
It actually became strangely addictive as i was always seeing vast
improvements. I never rowed a single stroke on the water while I was
at Lake Samish (Which was torture- the Lake is so beautiful!) as my
aim was to improve my strength and power on the rowing machine so I
could return to college rowing with a head start by having a top erg
score. Although to begin with I wondered if the lack of rowing would
inhibit my feel for the water, I soon discovered that rowing on the
rowperfect is exactly the same concept, the rowperfect teaches you
good connection, and by being able to watch a detailed force curve on
every stroke it is easy to manipulate your stroke to get an accurate
and smooth curve.

When I really realized how similar the machine was
to rowing on the water was when I first got back to College. I
took out a single one morning, after having not been on the water for
months, and rowed the single how I would row the machine back at Lake
Samish. The movements were the same- I had the same strong connection
(which I never really had rowing in the single before) and I felt like
I was rowing efficiently. The biggest difference I noticed was my pick
up from the catch. Prior to training with Carlos I had a bad habit of
using my shoulders to initiate the catch, but from being on the
rowperfect for the whole summer I slowing eliminated it, and found my
legs. I was now able, in the single, to really pick the boat up with
my legs and open up smoothly to really get some power behind the
blades. I also noticed that at the finish I was able to sit up and
stay connected right through the end of the stroke, which was
developed by get stronger through the core on the RP.

Getting back on the stationary erg after being on the rowperfect was
definitely and experience but I felt just with muscle memory I could
row the stationary machine just like the RP. There is very little
connection at the catch on a stationary erge, unless you can find it,
and the RP really taught me how to pick up the flywheel with good
connection and I felt I could get that same connection, and then
suspension and hanging feeling that I would get on the RP.
But after
using both machines in can definitely see how people training on a
stationary machine all the time would lose that powerful connection.
Carlos always had me training at low ratings which really helped to
figure out where the power should be applied and grasp the rowing
stroke while also developing my strength. Although I was rating low on
the RP I had no problem going onto the C2 and being at higher rates
for my 30 minutes tests.
Every time I got on the C2 I was improving my erg scores which gave me
great confidence that all the hard work was paying off!

One of the workouts i remember was Carlos making me hold above 750
joules for as long as i could and when i took 3 strokes below 750 i
had to stop. This was definitely a different approach to what i was
used to, but the challenge was set and i ended up holding it for 80
minutes. 750 joules was well above what i would normally do even for
30 minutes, so to hold it there for 80, not knowing when my body would
give in, showed that the only limits i was setting were all mental, i
was fitter than ever and capable of holding well above what i believed
i could. I came away from Lake Samish tougher than ever after that

Even now being back at college, although we don’t have any rowperfect
machines here I have been able to keep up all that hard work by being
on the water in a single when I am not with the rest of the team in
the bigger boats. I feel being able to get out in the single allows me
to focus on having that same connected rowperfect drive that I worked
on in summer and not have to be concerned with everyone else in the
boat. However in the eight I have no trouble transferring what I have
learnt to sweep rowing and I am far more confident being out in the
eight everyday knowing I have developed a great base for further
improving every day.

So far I have come back with one of the best 6km
erg scores on the team, and had a great first regatta of the season at
the Head of the Oklahoma. Having Carlos coach me for the summer was
such a great experience, and everything I learnt by watching,
listening, and getting in good repetitions everyday changed me as a
rower. Although it is now a tough life living without the rowperfect
which in some ways became an extension of myself! I still have dreams
about the perfect force curve!

Carlos Dinares TIP # 480: USE of ARMS during the ROWING STROKE

September 28, 2012

Usually all coaches will tell you that you have to finish with your legs then use your back and then arms… but here you can clearly see how he starts using his arms before he finishes with his legs. Why is that so?

We all know that the rowing drive has the legs, body swing and the arms. We also know that the sequence of those during the rowing drive is legs, body and arms. The question here is:
How I sequence those 3?
When am I supposed to start my arms?
Can I start using my arms before my legs are done? If not Why is the Swedish 1x 4th at the Olympics doing it?

So if you look at the picture you can see a clear overlap of the use of legs and arms. Actually in that picture there is overlap of the 3 parts, legs, body and arms.
I’m pretty sure that this picture is a picture of the start of the race. When you start a race you use all 3 at the same time, It is the way to get the most powerful drive to get the boat at speed. So I believe that this much overlap you can see in this picture is because of that, shorter strokes and more overlap.
So what is the reality of the sequence and the timing of this sequence?
They depend on the body of the rower, the strength of these 3 body parts and the rowing style that he is rowing.
To understand that just think that you have a rower that has very strong legs and lower body but weak lats and arms. This rower will have trouble at full pressure to keep his arms extended at the catch and finish just with arms so you will see a use of arms earlier on the drive and an overlap at the finish of body and arms.
If you have a rower with strong arms, lats and body but weak legs you will also see an early use of those arms and body to help him to take the load during the first part of the drive.
So what we can understand by now is that the rowing drive is the action of the blade pushing the boat away from catch to release. This blade doesn’t look at you or even care who you are and how you do it. The only thing that this blade cares about is what makes your boat go fast and win races. So what you need is a long efficient drive with constant pressure on the blade producing good acceleration on the boat.

So this is my advice:
a) Detect with a good coach where your strengths and weaknesses are.
b) Develop a rowing style, drive sequencing that works for your own body.
c) Work on getting stronger where you are weak to eventually row the most efficient style.
d) Don’t obsess about what you are doing but about what your blade is doing, you might look correct on the books but your blade is not getting the work done.
e) Work on a good coordinated drive that works for you. Coordination is everything in rowing.

The ideal rowing drive for a balanced, strong, and coordinated advanced rower is:
1- Start with legs, overlap with body and finish with arms.
2- At the start on the short strokes you will look like the picture and it’s good!
3- Every person is different on height, weight, length of body parts and strength of those, so every person will look a little different.
4- What needs to be the same is the power application, power curve, so the work of the blade on the water. How you do it is not the key but what you deliver on the blade that is what moves your boat.

So think of the rowing drive as the action of a golf swing and understand that every golfer has a different swing also depending on all the things we talked about. Not everyone will look like Tiger Woods but the best will have the same club swing looking not the same on their bodies.

Rowing well is a process that never ends, so my advice is row good miles, get good coaching, and with that develop your rowing body and rowing skill overtime in the right direction.

Carlos Dinares TIP # 479: Canadian Henley GOLD!

August 05, 2012

Hi Carlos
It is late, but I needed to share with you my first Canadian Henley GOLD in my 1x. I am so grateful for the opportunity you gave to me to come and train with Pau & Alex both incredible ESP National Team rowers..Despite not being an elite rower you took me under your wing and your coaching help me to believe that all is possible in rowing!!!
Thank you for the RP3, my tool on land to help my body remember how to row properly with power and grace….keep on doing what you are doing Carlos.. I know it is lonely and it is seems so uphill, but I for one am grateful for your work – THEY WILL KNOW… or THEY WILL COME TO KNOW.

Carlos Dinares: More ROWING speed when GOOD ANKLE FLEXIBILITY

July 27, 2012

How many ROWING programs test their rowers ankle flexiblity and hip rotation?
Do we have a standardized testing in ROWING for ankle flexibility and hip rotation?
Do we really know how much advantage is to have ankle flexibility and good hip rotation?

We all know that if you have a good Concept2 Stationary erg score means that you have a good engine.
What happens when you have this amazing score and cannot move a boat?
Many coaches know that a Fast rower on the water has a good engine so a good Erg score. We keep forgetting that a good erg score doesn’t give us have a boat mover all the time. Sometimes it will give as an ANCHOR. Why? There are many reasons for that. We know that bad ankle flexibility and hip rotation are disadvantages to go fast on the water.

Is ANKLE FLEXIBILITY and HIP ROTATION one of those things that don’t really matter on the Stationary ergo?
The fact that we are using all the inertia of our body mass against the stationary front of the ergo to compress our body is really helping us to reduce the disadvantage of poor ankle and hamstrings flexibility.

In order to solve the problem of bad ankle flexibility you can lower the footstretcher, increasing the distance from seat to ankle to a distance up to 21cm or even more if the boat let’s you do it. The less you increase that distance the more efficient the push will be and the more direct the power application to get the boat going fast.
Also you can change the angle of the fotstretcher. Regular angle is 42 degrees. Rowers with good angle flexibility can go to 43 and 44 degrees.
The ideal is to have a low number on the distance from ankle to seat and a high number on the angle. Why? Because the power application will be more direct.

What are some of the problems on the boat of having poor ankle and hamstrings flexibility?
If you don’t have good ankle flexibility and good hip rotation, you cannot shift your body weight ahead of your hips on the first part of the recovery and compress to the catch holding the position at full compression to place the blade and connect to the water. If you cannot do that well the speed of the boat will be affected.

When you row you dance with the boat. The effective power application gives you speed and this speed gives you rhythm. In order to get good power application you need to be able to load well your blade and lever your body against that blade. Good leverage of your body against the blade will happen when you are positioned correctly on the boat on a powerful way to be able to load and push the boat away.

Rowperfect3 and Batlogic help you to work on that on the land. Batlogic can go to the water. The Rowperfect3 rowing machine has a footstretcher like the one on the boat with a 42 degree angle and the possibility of moving up and down the distance from seat to ankle. Rowing the Rowperfect3 at different footstrtecher settings can show you with the use of the computer software where you are the most efficient and powerful.

This is the text about ANKLE FLEXIBILITY from Batlogic australia:

It would be be frustrating to learn that something as simple as the ankle flexibility you were born with or acquired through an injury would curse you with a disadvantage in rowing. This is especially so since our bodies’ ‘function’ is rarely able to be altered in a significant way.

We began analysing this problem by critically reviewing the equipment athletes are forced to use: a flat footboard fixed at around 40-42 degrees.
This set-up provides a reasonable, whole-foot platform towards the finish of the stroke, but not at the catch or (for most athletes) up to the first 60% of the drive phase.
Instead, when pushing off a standard footstretcher at the catch, the athlete’s foot is in a flexed position, with weight being braced against a small area under the ball of the foot. The picture above demonstrates a typical position immediately prior to the catch. As it shows, the heel has lifted between 30-40 degrees from the position it will be in at the finish (or between 4-8 centimetres depending on shoe size and ankle flexibility).
What was interesting however was that the degree of heel lift (and thus the foot area an athlete has to push against at the catch) is determined by ankle flexibility. Further, it is rarely the flexibility of the athletes achilles tendon which is the limiting factor in ankle flexibility, rather the point at which the bones of the shin and ankle ‘lock up’ and lift the heel during the recovery.

So, the ankle flexibility you were born with will determine what degree of heel lift you have, and the foot surface area you will be pushing off at the catch. We see the importance of this only when we then consider what happens during the rowing stroke when the foot is placed in this weak position.
The immediate effect is that the arch of the foot collapses as pressure mounts on the foot. Further, postural (non- dynamic) muscle contractions are required as the body strives to hold the foot and lower limb in a position to maintain the power on the blade. As the force increases on the blade, further unnecessary stress is placed on the knees, lower back and shoulders in order to maintain a degree of stability.

At best this means wasted energy and muscles that are not recruited to apply power. At worst, we see a mechanism for injury inbuilt into our standard rowing equipment.

We like to compare it to trying to do squats on your toes – you just won’t be lifting the amount of weight your muscles are capable of if your feet aren’t in a strong, supported position. It makes sense when our data demonstrates that peak leg force is applied only when the foot has full contact with the foot stretcher.

Carlos Dinares: ROWING coordination and the POWER CURVE

July 26, 2012

Hi Carlos, I have a bit of a technical question for you. Do you think the power curve through the water and on the row perfect should be different based on whether you are sweeping or sculling? For example, if you are in an 8 should your peak power be earlier compared to if you are in a single, double or quad? And do you think that there should be a difference in that power curve between men and women?

That is a good question.
Let’s start by understanding that when you row on the rowperfect you are learning to find the right way to coordinate your body with the rowing machine to get the most efficient power application. You will achieve that when you get the better split at any given rate with a given Lactate level. To understand the lactate level, it is understood that if you are able to give a split A at a certain lactate level at a given rate, you will prove more fitness when you keep the same split A and the same rate and the lactate level is lower. Or you give a better split with the same lactate level and stroke rate.
Ok said that it is important to understand that the ideal power curve is the one that will give you the better split at a given lactate level on the water. A good power curve gets you closer to efficient rowing and efficient rowing gets you a better split with less effort.
Now the question is:
Do you think the power curve through the water and on the row perfect should be different based on whether you are sweeping or sculling?
The power curve on sweep or sculling boats follows the same principals. It is the power you get on the pin when you lever the blade against the water, agaisnt the handle. To reach that you need to lever the handle against the footstretcher.
When I coach on the rowperfect3 power application I teach simple coordination of the stroke. The principals of coordination ad power application are the same for any boat class, sweep and sculling. I teach connection, coordination and efficiency. To do that I use the Joules x stroke data, the peak force position and the length of stroke. Rowers with practice and good repetitions develop a rowing body that can produce a good power curve.
It is a question of focus, attention, good coaching and repetition. It is not rocket science. Eventually any rower with the right tool, good instruction and plenty of good repetition achieves the right rowing coordination.
To do that I have the rower row at low rate and with a heavy drag factor to slow things down.
When I have developed a balanced body and good coordination and a good power curve that will be peaking at 50% and always going out and thick and big, I can move to develop a more similar curve to the boat they are going to race.

We know that the slower boat is the 1x. After that we have the 2-, 2x and 4- and finally the 4x and the 8+. If we check the drive times of these different events at race pace we can see that the slower even has the longer drive time and the fastest bat the shorter drive time. This is a data that we can take to the Rowperfect3. If we are racing on a 1x we know that we will have a longer drive time, that means that we will have a higher drag factor. If we race on an 8+ we are going to have a lighter drag factor. Also we know that the lighter is the drag factor and the shorter the drive time the harder is to keep your body weight suspended all the way trough the drive and because of that the harder to peak on the curve later. Also we know that the fastest the boat the more effect of a front loaded drive and this also makes the peak force position move closer to the front of the curve.
To give some clear ideas here what I’m saying is that the curve will look different as you play with the drive time, stroke rate and drag factor. The curve needs to always go out. Depending on how you are build and where do you find strengths in your body will also have some effect on the shape of your curve.
Said that I like everybody to start with a heavy drag, a low rate and trying to peak at 50%. When they are able to produce a perfect curve like that peaking at 50%, then i start increasing the challenge b getting a lighter load and increasing the stroke rate. Also increasing the intensity makes hard to sustain good coordination and mistakes on the power curve are much easier to show up.
Do you think the power curve through the water and on the row perfect should be different based on whether you are sweeping or sculling? For example, if you are in an 8 should your peak power be earlier compared to if you are in a single, double or quad? And do you think that there should be a difference in that power curve between men and women?
The answer is I should do the same for everyone at the beginning of the season. Like if all were rowing on a 1x. Low rate, heavy drag factor and peaking at 50%. As the season moves on, I will start reducing the drag on some workouts and increasing the rate. I will match the drive time n the water for the boat I’m going to race at the one on the rowperfect3 (The drive time time is a field that the software gives you).
Yes if you are doing pieces at race pace at the drive time of an 8+ you will be picking at 35% – 38% of your power curve. If you are on a 1x it will be 45% to 50%.
The other events and on the middle numbers from 35% to 50%.
Power curve on women normally show less power on the second part of the stroke. Women have proportionally more power on their legs, glutes than on their upper body. This will be clear on the power curve. Women are more front loaded and peak earlier in general than men. It is a question of power and strength.