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How can I tell if rowing gearing is too hard?

My set up was 159 span, 288:88 oars but I’m dimensionally challenged at 176cm tall. Giving me a … read more

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My set up was 159 span, 288:88 oars but I’m dimensionally challenged at 176cm tall. Giving me a 95 degree arc. Reducing the span to 158 and oars to 286.5:87.5 (same gear ratio) brings my arc out to 105 and increases my stroke length theoretically by 33cm. Am I overloading my drive phase with this gearing?

[The measurements above are for a man in a single scull.]

I’m not an expert on rigging but I’ll trust you have got your ratio calculation correct.

The key here is to test the new gearing out…Go do some high rate race pace pieces over a marked distance.  You are experienced so dig out your race times from 2k regattas so you have something to compare to.

If you find the early part of the race your 500m splits are way faster than you would ‘normally’ have done and that they fade in the latter parts of the race, that would indicate you’re geared too hard for your strength / fitness /physiology if you can’t lift the rate in the last 300meters to nearer your start 300m rating.  Then you may be geared too heavy.  e,g. if you rate 38 out of the start and at the finish can’t get over 34 then this could be the case.

A test for your 1x gearing

One test you could do is this

Do 3 x 2k on a marked course.  Each piece is a progression in rate.

24 / 26 (change at 1k)

26 / 28 (change at 1k)

28 / 30 / 32 (1000m, 500, 500)

At 1000m step up 2 points in rate.  Do this for the first two pieces and start the second piece at the rate you finished the first.

On the third 2k, do 1000m step up 2 points and then step up at 1500 as well (so you go up twice instead of once).

Watch the speed meter to check your boat speed gets faster by 3 seconds per 500m up to rate 28-30.  This speed gain reduces to 2 seconds over rate 30-32 approx and then reduces again to 1 second as you get closer to your race rate.

You need to get used to doing these repeats – start doing them once a fortnight and start at rates lower than 24 so you get used to the workout….

Let us know how you go

Any one else got suggestions of how to find out if you’re overloading your drive phase?

About Rebecca Caroe
Rebecca is the host of RowingChat podcast and is a masters athlete and coach. Passionate about helping others enjoy the sport as much as she does. View all posts from Rebecca Caroe

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