Indoor rower

Indoor rower

An indoor rower, or rowing machine, is a machine used to simulate the action of watercraft rowing for the purpose of exercise or training for rowing. Indoor Rowing has become established as a sport in its own right. The term also refers to a participant in this sport.

Modern indoor rowers are also sometimes known as ergometers (colloquially erg or ergo), an ergometer being a device which measures the amount of work performed. The indoor rower is calibrated to measure the amount of energy the rower is generating. "Ergometer" comes from the Greek words "ergon" (ἔργον), meaning "work", and "metron" (μέτρον), meaning "measure". "Ergometer", therefore, literally means "work measurer".


Machines using linear pneumatic resistance were commonplace around 1900, but they did not simulate actual rowing very accurately. In the 1950s and 1960s, rowing coaches in many countries began using specially made rowing machines for training and power measurement. The normal design was a large, heavy, solid iron wheel with a mechanical brake on it. They were considered something of a torture device, and were extremely unpopular among rowers of the time. []

Around 1980, air resistance rowing machines were introduced, and, in 1988, a hydraulic flywheel rowing machine design was released. Many modern rowing-machine designs are a hybrid of these earlier designs. Common variations of the rowing machine include kayak trainers, and sculling trainers.

Layout of the machine

The most common rowing-machine design consists of a flywheel connected to a chain and handle. The rower pushes his body backwards with the legs, then pivots his back, and pulls on the handle, causing the flywheel to spin. The flywheel has a braking mechanism applied (using either pneumatic, hydraulic or magnetic damping) that is intended to simulate the feel of an oar moving through water. Depending on the machine the rower either moves back and forth as part of the rowing action, or the rower remains stationary and the flywheel mechanism moves.

Some machines calculate the user's power by measuring the speed of the flywheel during the stroke and then recording the rate at which it decelerates during the recovery. Using this and the known moment of inertia of the flywheel the computer calculates everything else.


Indoor rowing primarily works the cardiovascular systems with typical workouts consisting of steady pieces of 20-40 minutes. Like other forms of cardio focused exercise, interval training is also commonly used in indoor rowing. While cardio focused, rowing also stresses many muscle groups throughout the body anaerobically, thus rowing is often referred to as a strength-endurance sport.

Unlike high impact exercises, which can damage knees and the connective tissues of the lower body, rowing's most common injury site is the lower back. Proper technique is a necessity for staying injury free, with a focus on both mechanics and breathing, as correct rhythm, exhaling on the drive and inhaling on the recovery, is a stabilizing force for the upper body. Non-rowers commonly overemphasize the muscles of the upper body, while correct technique uses the large muscle of the thighs to drive much of the stroke. Also, good technique requires that the angle of the upper body is never too far forward, nor too far back, both of which jeopardize the lower back and compression injuries on the knees and hip flexor muscles.

In addition to the high levels of fitness attained, rowing is an intense calorie-burning exercise. Although rowers with less ability and training will burn fewer calories, the ergometer is an excellent tool for use in a weight-loss program.

The standard measurement of speed on an ergometer is generally known as the "split," or the amount of time in minutes and seconds required to travel 500 meters at the current pace. For example, a 2:00 split would correspond to a 2:00 time for a 500 meter race, or an 8:00 time for a 2 kilometer race. The split does not necessarily correspond to how many strokes the rower takes (the "rating") since strokes can vary in power.

Ergometer Testing

Ergometer tests are used by rowing coaches to evaluate rowers and is part of athlete selection for many senior and junior national rowing teams. During a test, rowers will row a set distance and try to clock the fastest time possible. The most common distances for erg tests are 2000, 5000 or 6000 meters. Results of these tests are an objective measure of an athlete's fitness; however, technique and team coordination also impact performance in boat, thus assembling a crew based purely on ergo scores is not an optimal strategy.

Weight adjusting of ergo scores is sometimes employed since additional weight in a boat increases the drag resistance that the crew must overcome. A typical formula to account for the rower's weight is:

mbox{weight factor adjustment} = (mbox{bodyweight in pounds} / 270)^{0.222}


Concept2 organizes a large number of indoor rowing competitions all over the world, including the world championships (also known as CRASH-B Sprints) held in Boston, Massachusetts, USA in February and the British Indoor Rowing Championships held in Birmingham, England in November. The core event for most competitions is the individual 2,000m; less common are the mile (eg., Evesham), the 2500m (eg., Basingstoke - also the original distance of the CRASH-B Sprints). Many competitions also include a sprint event (100m-500m) and sometimes team relay events. The machines used are consistent although the resistance may be adjusted. The resistance adjustment does not effect the energy measurement so a result on one machine can be fairly compared with results on other machines regardless of resistance level.

Most competitions are organized into categories based on sex, age, and weight class. While the fastest times are generally achieved by rowers between 20 and 40 years old, teenagers and rowers over 90 are common at competitions. There is a nexus between performance on-water and performance on the ergometer, with open events at the World Championships often being dominated by elite on-water rowers. Former men's Olympic single scull champions Pertti Karppinen and Rob Waddell and five-time Gold Medalist Sir Stephen Redgrave have all won world championships or set world records in indoor rowing.

The world records for 2,000 meters are currently (as of October 2007) 5:36.6 for men and 6:28.4 for women. [ Full Records For All Distances, Weight, and Age Classes]

In addition to live venue competitions, many erg racers compete by internet, either offline by posting scores to challenges, or live online races facilitated by computer connection.

ee also



External links

* [ The World Rowing Network]
* [ Crash-B Sprints - Internationally recognized competition]
* [ US Rowing - Official US Rowing organization]
* [ Article of the effects of weight on ergo times]

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