I’ve always loved sports, especially when it comes to learning and competing at new sports that I don’t get to play often. Whenever we learn something new it’s far to easy to try and learn a couple of basics and then go full speed. Whether it’s golf, tennis, running, olympic lifting, rowing, or any other sport. The thrill of competition and grace in motion that sports played at full speed creates is amazing. Full speed competition elicits that feeling of joy and excitement that we all live for. However, a couple of problems usually arise at one point or another in our performance at full speed, especially if we take it up to full speed to quickly.
1. We lose form and things get sloppy. Basically the wheels come off.
2. We need more speed to out perform our competition, but it’s just not there.
Over the past couple of weeks I’ve experienced this situation with many of the athletes I coach, both on the water rowing and in the gym training. We’re always fighting for more intensity and boat speed, but too often something falls apart and our true potential is never reached.
Personally, I’ve experienced a similar situation while learning the piano. I currently take lessons once a week and have worked up to playing 4 songs and almost all of the scales, but my progress tends to stumble when I go to fast. It seems easy when I play a scale or a song slowly, so why not pick up the speed and just figure out how to not make mistakes playing faster? Well because it just gets sloppy and I never really learn what I’m doing wrong or better yet, what I can be doing better.
After being turned on to two great blog posts on slow motion practice, one from the music world and one from the golf world, I decided to share this idea with the rowing and strength training world that I hope you all partake in.
First, read through the above two blog posts and think about how slow is super slow. To often we think we’re going slow, but we could be going slower. Then, go out and practice super slow motion movements in your warmup. Be mindful, find the points where your focus lapses or you make a mistake, figure out how you can be more efficient, smoother, and more consistent. If you can take at least 20 minutes to practice this I guarantee you will find more boat speed, achieve more power, and perform at a higher level.
Above is Drew performing the Reverse Pic Drill in a single. Think about how many hours of slow motion practice, balance, and boat feel it has taken for him to get to this point. Look at where he slows things down to find better balance, feel, and connection to the boat and water. For him to make this better and go faster at full speed, he will probably need to practice this even slower. Now it’s your turn, get on an erg, setup a barbell, or get in a boat and master your movement skills with super slow motion. It’s harder than you think.
Share your thoughts and experience to comments.
23 Apr 2015
When performing cleans or snatches in a wod with moderate weight it is possible to touch and go. In order to touch and go there is a gathering point just above the knee when returning the weight to the floor where athletes lock in their posture and prepare their body for the next repetition. When rowing on the water many coaches talk about body preparation by half slide to be ready for the catch. This usually involves thinking about or feeling a gathering point as the bodies swing forward out of the finish so that everyone in the boat can get together and time the catch correctly. When rowing by yourself on the erg it is possible to slow yourself down on the recovery and gather yourself and your body preparation as you start to slide forward toward the next catch.
Take 5 minutes today to row nice and slow and see where you tend to gather yourself. Too often competitors or athletes in the gym gather at the finish and dump their weight to the floor. Instead think about the finish as a continuous movement and put a gathering point just after you swing the body forward and begin your slide. This will save energy, improve your sequencing, and make everything much smoother.
When’s the last time you went for a row on the water or in the gym? When’s the last time you warmed up for rowing? When’s the last time you used Rowing as a warmup for something else? For many of you rowing is either your main sport or a foundational training tool that you use to get in wicked good shape. Regardless, anytime you pick up that handle you should be rowing with purpose and taking deliberate strokes. So how do we develop purpose and deliberate practice? A good place to start is the Reverse Pic Drill.
Every time I prescribe a rowing warmup I usually kick things off with the Reverse Pic Drill. It’s a drill that includes 4 progressions:
Reverse Pic Drill:
1. Half Legs – Taking short strokes at the front end using the first 3 inches of the leg drive.
2. Full Legs – Slightly longer strokes pushing the legs all the way down.
3. Legs and Bodies – Longer strokes adding in the swing of the body.
4. Full Strokes – Full length strokes with the arms finishing the stroke.
When done well and with awareness this drill allows us to focus on three important skills with regards to rowing:
1. Posture – The Torso should be stacked and strong in a neutral and braced position at all points in time during the stroke.
2. Control – As the seat slides forward toward the catch it maintains a constant speed and does not accelerate into the catch. With good control you should be able to stop at any point in time during the stroke and be in a strong position.
3. Connection – The hips and the hands move together into and out of the catch as if connected by a cable. If the hips move, the hands should move the same distance, no more no less. If you are connected you can also focus on your shoulders. The hips, hands, and shoulders all move together in the first three inches of the drive.
I believe that if you can learn to do the Reverse Pic Drill correctly in your warm up, you can and will become a better rower. The key is how you execute each progression and what you focus on. Above is a video review of an elite rower I’m working with. This is what the Reverse Pic Drill looks like in a single on the water. Check out what he’s doing well and what you can start to focus on every time you row.
If you’re interested in getting on the water, I will be organizing a sculling group to row out of Community Rowing Inc. in Brighton every Monday and Wednesday evening from 6:30pm – 8pm. If you can fit that into your schedule I’d love to get you on the water. We will be starting in May. Shoot me an email ([email protected]) now and let me know if you’re interested. I’ll keep you updated and get you setup to join us.
Let us know if you have any questions or thoughts in the comments!
Today we’re taking a look at some of our athletes from the noon class at Our Crew Fitness. This is a video review that I put together to help them and you develop your stroke and find new areas to improve upon. I’ll be posting regular video reviews about once a week, usually on Thursdays. If you’d like feedback on your stroke or would like to see me talk about a certain area of the stroke, please let me know in the comments. If you’d like to be featured in the weekly Video Review please send me a 5 stroke video via email to pat@.
Today’s topic relates to how you sit on the erg and how your feet are connected to the erg. Are you balanced on your sit bones or falling off them? How does your point of contact with the seat affect your posture and positioning throughout the stroke? Are your feet connected to the footboards at all times? What part of your foot? These are things to think about and an area where you can make a quick change to see big gains. Let us know what you think and if you have any questions.
Also, if you’d like to join in the fun in person, Renegade Rowing Classes are held throughout the week. Checkout the schedule and pricing here. When you’re ready to get after it and have some fun, sign up for a free consultation with Coach Pat here.
02 Apr 2015
I hope you had a good April 1st yesterday and you’re ready for the warmer months to start taking hold. This month we’ll be working on a few different gymnastic skills. When practicing gymnastic skills it helps to know what your current ability is and how you’re going to progress to a higher skill movement. The video above contains all of the different progressions I have used to improve my Pistol. Take a look and get excited to master a pistol in addition to other gymnastic movements this month. If you have any questions or need any help let me know or grab me next time you’re in.
Also, pistols are a good skill to learn if you’d like to scull (aka – row) on the water with me this Summer. As the weather gets nicer I will be hosting a couple of learn to scull seminars for anyone that’s interested in trying out for the Renegade Rowing Team. If you’re interested in learning to scull let me know in the comments or send me an email. I will be sure to keep you in the loop.
When’s the last time you performed a Deadlift? When’s the last time you picked something up off the floor? Yesterday we got a chance to do Deadlifts and Rowing. I wanted to use my post today to highlight some of the similarities between the two and what I think about when performing both movements.
First things first, anytime you pick something up you should be deadlifting, because that’s what a deadlift is. It’s the strongest, most efficient, most powerful way to pick something up off the floor.
I believe that if you can learn to hip hinge and deadlift correctly you can and will become a better rower. The key is how you deadlift and what you focus on.
Take a look at my hip hinge and deadlift above. What parts of the deadlift can we tie to the rowing stroke? I always teach the skills of 1. Posture, 2. Control, and 3. Connection whether it’s rowing or weightlifting.
1. Posture – How am I doing at maintaining a solid brace through my torso? Is there any movement within the vertebrae of the spine?
2. Control – Is the bar traveling in a straight line over the middle of my foot? Am I in control of my body and the bar? Can I stop at any point in time and be in a strong position?
3. Connection – How am I connected to the bar? How am I connected to the floor? Are my hips, hands, and shoulders connected when the bar is below the knee?
After taking a look and answering some of these questions, think about your own rowing stroke. In the front end of your stroke, from 1/2 slide up to the catch and back, how do your joints move in relation to one another and what does your body angle look like? Does it stay the same? When does your body start to swing open? Do you feel or see any similarities when you deadlift and row back to back? Can perfecting one movement help improve the other?
Please share your thoughts to comments and checkout RenegadeRowing.com for more content on rowing and lifting.
How’s it going CFB?
I must say it’s been awesome seeing everyone attack these reverse benchmarks like “Narf” and “Reverse Elizabeth”. Keep throwing down and finding that high intensity. The results are showing!
Today I wanted to offer up some reading from the Huffington Post:
Take a look and think about how you’re rowing in your pre-class warmups. Are you making any of these mistakes?
If you’d like help or you think there is room for improvement in your rowing, grab me next time you’re in the gym and we’ll get you fixed up.
Have a great day and fingers crossed for more warm weather!
12 Mar 2015
I believe that life is motion and learning. To live and survive, we must be able to move from place to place and interact with the world around us. In this movement and interaction lies an important opportunity, the opportunity to learn through experience. As a coach, teacher, and lifelong learner, I hope to guide people’s movements and interactions so that they may learn by experience and develop into contributing members of teams, communities, and society. This idea of life and learning through experience is the foundation of my ever-evolving coaching beliefs and the Journey that we take together.
Life is a journey, and the time we spend together in our gym is a way for our crew to experience the journey. Our mission is to develop a healthy community of firsthand athletes using general physical preparedness as a guide while allowing for specialization in things like rowing, weightlifting, strength club, obstacle course racing, mobility, or racing up Mt. Washington. As a member of our crew and our community, you get to build general physical preparedness and have fun playing and doing whatever it is that makes you feel alive. Life is more fun when you can continually improve and challenge both yourself and others. If there is anything that I or our crew of coaches can help you with please let us know. We’re here for you and we want nothing but the best for our crew.
Last but definitely not least, congratulations to all of our athletes that trained hard this winter and executed an amazing race at CRASH-B 2015, the World Indoor Rowing Championship. I had a blast coaching you and I can’t wait for next year! Here are some pics of our crew post race.
19 Feb 2015
How’s it going CFB?
Today we’re taking a look at Kevin mid race. This is a video review that I put together to help him and you develop your stroke and find new areas to improve upon. I’ll be posting regular video reviews about once a week, usually on Thursdays. If you’d like feedback on your stroke or would like to see me talk about a certain area of the stroke, please let me know in the comments. If you’d like to be featured in the weekly Video Review please send me a 5 stroke video via email to [email protected]
Also, if you’d like to join in the fun in person, the Renegade Rowing Club practices every Monday morning at 6am and Wednesday evening at 6pm. There will be new days and times starting in March, so keep an eye out. Everyone is welcome, just let me know via email – [email protected], and I can get you the details on how to get started and join the group. Share your thoughts to comments and get fired up for CRASH-B 2015!
12 Feb 2015
I hope everyone is staying warm and finding some place to put all of this snow! I just wanted to shout out to all of those athletes that participated in the Renegade Rowing 2015 Improvement Survey this past week. Thank you for sharing your feedback and interests with me. I will do my best to continue to offer my best coaching and feedback and run programs that you’re passionate about.