– Rowing for calories, we’re
finally going to settle this question once and for all. What is the right way and technique to use when you’re rowing for calories? (upbeat music) So probably the most commonly and repeated over and over question that comes when it is calories for rowing is what damper setting do I use in order to get the most
calories while I’m rowing? So I’m gonna answer that in a second, but first let’s get to the technique piece because that’s actually a really critical discussion to have as well. Ultimately, we need to answer, what is the right technique to use when calories is the unit
of measurement du jour? That means of the day, for those that aren’t familiar with colloquialisms or French, either of those. Now, when it comes to
technique, people get tripped up because people around
them are telling them that they should be getting
one calorie per pull. First off, those of you that are here know that that is wholly inappropriate for one very specific
reason, but number two, they’re also told they
should take big strokes, or big pulls, and finally, maybe that they should
take big long strokes and then rest and relax. All three of those are fallacies, but let’s discuss why, and
then you can understand and you can speak to it knowledgeably. All right, the most important part is, let’s just dispel with the myth of one calorie per stroke being the thing that everybody should be striving to do. Listen, if somebody can’t squat 225, we aren’t going to tell them that that’s the thing they
should be striving for, because that’s just an arbitrary unit that doesn’t actually benefit the person. Trying to get a calorie per stroke is not what you should be shooting for. You should be shooting to get as many continuous calories per hour as possible, because by doing that, you are increasing your efficiency and your ability to pace. Calories is another unit of
measurement, just like pace, or stroke rate, or
meters, whatever they are. You just need to understand that it’s just another
unit of measurement. Trying to get one calorie per stroke, that’s not the unit of measure. Because just because you can’t
get one calorie per stroke doesn’t mean that you aren’t
doing it right, right? It’s this arbitrary number
that for some reason we’ve loaded onto the
shoulders of everybody when we talk to them about calorie rowing. It’s a myth, there’s nothing to that or no reason to do that! Your goal is to maximize
your calories per hour as a unit of measurement
consistently across time, because that will give you the most effective outcome, of course! A second is this myth of run
that we need to talk about, taking a big stroke and then just sitting there and hanging out. Now that may seem like a good idea because you give it
more time to churn over or something, but think of it this way, you’re allowing the flywheel
to slow all the way down. That means every stroke, you have to start that
flywheel from the stop point, and that becomes extremely
inefficient over time. You end up wasting a lot
more energy in that fashion, instead of keeping the flywheel moving and chipping away as well
as telling the machine that your average is going to be higher instead of start, stop, start, stop. So keep the flywheel moving, none of this starting and stopping thing. And what is the technique
that we should use? It’s just good technique, nothing, the usual technique that
we’re always rowing with, that’s the technique you wanna use when you get on to the
machine for calories. Because your goal is to create
consistency and efficiency as well as you’re maximizing your ability to put force into the
machine every single stroke, not just one, not two, not three, but all of the strokes, every stroke ever, your goal is to maximize
it over the time span in which you have to work. And the thing that probably
trips people up most about calories and why
it may be a bit confusing is because for example,
with meters or split, you’re seeing feedback
every single stroke, but with calories, because it needs to calculate as you are moving, you’re not going to see
input happening every stroke. You have to understand that you are going to aggregate those calories over time, which is what’s going
to make you effective. So you need to understand
that while you may not be seeing those calories
tack up every single stroke, it is constantly calculating, and that is the important part, and that’s why looking
at calories per hour is more important than staring
at the calories number. All right, what this means
at the end of the day is focus on the important
parts of the stroke. A good catch, a good drive, good body position, posture, for example, and just consistently over
time, I can’t say this enough, applying consistent force into the machine and that’s gonna give you
the most bang for your buck. Now, the damper setting question. A quick run-through of what
damper setting is and is not, damper setting is simply
the adjustment on the side of the flywheel, it’s something
that you move up or down and all that does is
adjust the amount of air that makes it into and out
of the flywheel housing. This determines neither
whether you are strong or weak. All it does is make the
flywheel feel heavy or light. That’s going to depend and change based off of what type of athlete you are and whether or not you’re
fast-twitch or slow-twitch. The important part is that you spend time with damper setting understanding
which is right for you, not being told by somebody else that a 10 makes you strong and a one makes you weak. In fact, it’s often the inverse
of what people typically expect which is that
a lower damper setting might be more advantageous
to a fast-twitch athlete, who might be stronger,
and a high damper setting may be more advantageous to a
more endurance-based athlete, who is more slow-twitch,
and therefore needs a little bit heavier damper
setting or flywheel feel in order to connect to the machine. Wow, all right, (chuckles)
so with that being said, the important part to note is that as you are moving with the machine, you should be simply using the drag factor that is optimal for you. Going outside of that range, for example, using a
10 because you’re told that you need to row at
a 10 for calorie purposes or that it’s gonna give you
more calories is totally false. In fact, moving outside of the range in which you normally work on the machine is in fact going to be a
detriment to your performance because it’s going to
mean you won’t be able to achieve the same
calories per hour, again, the pacing unit, the one that matters, over a prolonged period of time! And where that really ends
up hurting you is that you’re in the middle of a
piece in which you are trying to really get the most out of the machine and because you are at this damper setting that’s not normal for you, nor is it best for your performance, you end up suffering early and quickly, and the performance piece just does this, you just start to tank
because you get exhausted. Whether it’s exhausted because you reach muscular fatigue much
faster than you used to or your heart rate climbs a lot higher and you’re breathing faster
than you are comfortable with, you find yourself in a place
where you can’t perform, and yet you still have all
of these calories to go. Now, it’s important to note
that the tough part can be that the slower your overall pacing, the more meters you’ll
actually need to row to accomplish the same number of calories as somebody next to you. For example, I row at
1,500 calories per hour and the person next to me rows
at 1,000 calories per hour. Not only will they have to row longer to achieve the same number of calories, but on a not quite exponential but definitely a sloping curve, they’re going to have
to row a lot more meters to get the same number
of calories as I am. Therefore, it behooves you to maintain the highest possible average for yourself instead of getting thrown out
of your normal comfort zone. So the answer is, use the damper setting that
makes the most sense for you. You’re gonna be happier, the machine’s gonna respond better, and overall, you’re going to end up with a faster and more beneficial workout. And one final important note, and this has to do with that sloping curve that I was telling you
about on performance and whether or not your
output is as high as possible, if you have a single-calorie
piece that is low enough, I would say 20 to 30
calories, maybe 40 to 50 depending on your endurance
and your capacity, is that because the machine rewards you for a higher overall performance, if you hit it hard upfront at
a pace that you can sustain, understand, because you
end up rowing less meters, it will front-load you with
calories, and therefore, you can be rewarded for
hitting it hard early, not for any purposes of trick, you’re not doing anything
funny with the machine, all you’re doing is setting the bar artificially high with
something like that. So this is only something
to use if, for example, you’re doing a 20-calorie piece once. If you have to do it
over and over and over, this method isn’t going to work because you will tire yourself out so much in that one piece, it
doesn’t become usable and you just (whistles) throw it out. But if it’s a single piece, know that you can
essentially tell the monitor, hey, I’m gonna work really
hard and high for you, and it’s gonna reward you early with a lot of calories up
front, which will then give you kind of an artificial
bump on your performance. All right, that should definitively answer the question of
how to row for calories. The technique is the same, the
damper setting is the same, the strategy may be slightly
different, but that’s it, it’s only a strategy
difference, not anything else, not anything of substance. If I missed something, leave me a question in the comments below, because I would love to answer
it, and I will do my best to try and respond in the
comments and give you guys all the complete answers
that I perhaps missed, but I’m hoping, I’m hoping, that this just puts to rest all of the 10s and big pulls and send-its. – I dunno, I just woke
up from a little nap, it’s a little dark, but–
(engine revving) Just gonna send it! (machine thumps) – That exist out there. Thank you for tuning in with us again. This is Dark Horse, where you
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26 thoughts on “Rowing for CALORIES Vs METERS? New TECHNIQUE?!

  1. Here's a good write up on what the Calorie unit means on the Concept 2 and how's it's calculated: And, yea drag factor has nothing to with it. Your power output (and energy burnt over time) will only increase with a higher drag factor/damping if you keep the flywheel moving at the same speed (or faster) as you did before increasing the drag factor i.e. the only way to increase power on the rower is apply an increased force or apply the same force more quickly… basically make the flywheel turn faster.

  2. Why would anyone row for calories instead of meters? They sound like the same thing. Same technique. I’m still confused. I’ll do some research.

  3. I have replaced the “power generator” (as C2 calls it) on one of the model D rowers at my gym. After seeing how it simply measures the speed of the flywheel, I have an observation regarding calories vs meters that may or may not be true. When rowing for meters, we continue to get meters after the finish part of the stroke. That is easily observed when on the erg. But with calories, I’ve never seen the machine give credit during any part of the stroke except for the drive.
    My guess is that the power generator (when on calorie mode) can tell when the flywheel is accelerating (we know it has this capacity because of the power curve option on the screen) and only gives credit for calories if the flywheel is accelerating.
    Just an observation. Not that it should change technique. Just throwing out some thoughts on how the machine’s software might be giving credit in meters vs calories.

  4. An interesting concept (No pun intended!) and becomes subjective depending on the means of calorie measurement. For example my erg has no individual profile input (ie uses an average for all rowers) so on a 40 minute erg (Steady state) I might get a cal reading of say 370 on the erg computer. In order to get recorded data, I row with a HR monitor that has my profile, Sex, Weight etc input, and is measuring HR for the same row. This will give a reading of say 250 cals burned and as my HR is increasing progressively over time, the cals burned / minute will also be increasing.

  5. First, let me say I'm fully of the "eye-roll hard when people throw the damper up to 10 at the box" mindset!

    That said, I think it may be fair to consider that setting a short duration row on a higher damper is a valid strategy to result in a higher calorie/hour… but not because anything special is happening with the erg, rather that the athlete is working harder against the higher drag. What the athlete doesn't know is that they could accomplish the same thing by putting more force into their normal stroke (at their normal drag) and achieve a higher cal/hour, but they don't understand mechanics/technique of proper stroke. Said another way, I think it's just a mental thing… the machine feels different, therefore I row different, therefore I have different results, so then the advice to row at a 10 must be valid.

    Also, I've been a CrossFitter for a little over 4 years and have just in the last year started rowing for distance (10k to 50k) and, based on my experience, I think CrossFit rowing pieces are honestly just too short for CF athletes to have cause to understand things like efficiency and consistency or fatigue and injury. If all you ever do is sprint very, very short distances, you don't have to worry about holding it all together for a marathon.

    Also-also, the C2 "Damper Setting 101" blog post closes with this line: "You can also vary your damper setting to achieve different types of workouts. In general, lower damper settings are best for aerobic workouts, while higher damper settings make rowing more of a strength workout."
    So obviously the creators of the erg see room for some level of drag strategy???

  6. I've heard it said that rowing for calories versus meters is simply a different measurement, no different than rowing say for meters or miles. You wouldn't row differently if the machine measured in miles, why row different for calories? Is this a valid statement?

  7. I think you should have touched on the heart rate percentages/effort during each row. My understanding is that the general thinking was that you sit around the 65% mark and row for longer however that's on the basis you are relatively new to exercise or not conditioned. If you have an established fitness level and can row at a higher percentage then clearly you are putting more effort in and as such burning more calories. Long and short is that you need to burn more than you consume during the day. How you burn those depends on your fitness level to start with and your recovery. I'm talking about general people and not condition people trying to lose their last 1 or 2% of body fat. Clearly diet pays a much more significant part then also.

    Or am I completely off track here or out of date?

  8. Thank you for your amazing videos. Always very informative. I learn so much and am able to implement the techniques into my workout.

  9. Stroke rate question! I’ve read that a slightly higher stroke rate is better for accumulating calories whereas slower. Can be better for meters. Is this related to the concept of front loading your effort or just an old wives tale ?

  10. I appreciate what you are trying to explain but wouldn't it be clearer if you showed a graph of pace per average 500m pace versus cal/h. I understand the physics of fluid resistance in that the relationship between the two isn't linear such that doubling your pace might triple your calorie burn. So if you are rowing for calories then yes the crossfitter's preference for short sprints, hard pulls, and high damper settings would maximize calories for shorter intervals. But if you want to row for meters then you want to find your highest sustainable average 500m pace and even out the peaks and valleys of pulls as much as possible to keep the fly wheel spinning as much as possible.
    Such is the nature of fluid resistance.

    Interesting discussion but I will always row for meters simply because it's better resolution.

  11. Random question based on results, here: 6'1", 220#, 6500' elevation, clydesdale CrossFitter. Did some 20 cal repeats (sub 1 minute) just to try and dial in the settings. I'm 5-7 seconds each interval faster on a 10 damper setting than on a 7 where I row my 2k. Is that just because of what you were talking about with the perceived force helping to front load the cals? Pulling upwards of 2100 to start, and settle in at 1300 once it's spinning.

  12. Awesome as always Shane.

    I'd be interested in your thoughts on the relationship between DF and stroke rate. My understanding is that DF imitates drag on a boat so also effects the slowing of the flywheel. So would it make sense for an individual to match their DF based on their optimal SR ? This seems to make sense in that a higher DF suits sprint distances when SR is much higher than a distance piece.

  13. Calories, in this case, is a, totally, arbitrary number. It may be a good way for someone to "keep score" and determine progress but it is just a number. There is no way for a rowing machine to know how many actual calories you are burning as it is unaware of your physiology, age, etc.

  14. Thank you so much for this video. Being a CrossFit athlete I am always questioning the rower. This video has helped me know what my strategy should be when I approach the rower in my wods. Very informative! Keep em coming!

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