It is the middle of winter here in the northeast and a stretch of single digit/below zero temps and snow/ice have driven all of us indoors for activity. So, when the treadmill and elliptical become boring and you feel the need for a different workout try the erg. For those asking what an erg is, it is a indoor rowing machine. This will provide one of the most beneficial total body cardio workouts. Technique seems to be a problem most new erg-ers, so here is a straightforward guide.
There are four parts to each stroke: Recovery, Catch, Drive and Finish.
Recovery: this part of the stroke you are not applying any pressure to the handle, you are “recovering”. From the finish position (legs strait, handle touching chest and body slightly beyond ninety degrees (upright)), your first move is moving your arms away from your body. Once your arms are strait, the next move is to bring your body over, keeping your back flat and hinging at the hips. You can begin to bend the legs once the body is over, moving to the catch.
Catch: this is the moment in the stroke between the recovery and drive. As you slowly bend your knees at the end of the recovery, do not over extend or round your back and shoulders. The catch ends when your shins are perpendicular to the floor. This is when you are ready to drive.
Drive: this is the most physically demanding portion of the stroke, its where the boats movement is generated. The large muscles of the legs and back get to show their strength. You should drive your legs, then back, then arms. The drive will later become an explosive movement requiring maximum effort, it is much slower during the learning process; correct sequencing is more important. The drive starts in the legs, until they are almost straitened with the arms extended and the body over. With the legs straitened begin swinging the body back until just beyond perpendicular to floor, then bend arms and pull handle to body.
Finish: You could think of everything from the body swinging back as the finish portion, then pulling the handle to the body just below the pectorals. Then begin the next stroke by using your elbows to lower the handle and start the recovery of the next stroke.
In the early going keep it simple, legs, body and arms. Don’t be jerky, stay smooth during the stroke. Until you become proficient, the drive is the most important part of the stroke.