Choosing Dynamic

Oct 20, 2011

Chris Wilson, our on-site coach and Rowing Advisor, had this experience over the weekend:

“On Saturday morning, an athlete I used to coach joined me at Concept2 for an indoor workout. He and his wife are deciding which indoor rower to purchase for their new home. James rowed in high school and college (often in the stroke seat), and is now a very able sculler. He’s logged a lot of kilometers on the Models B, C, and D.

To help him decide between the Model D and the Dynamic, I proposed the following workout: a ten minute warm-up interval on the Model D (20–22 spm) to be repeated on the Dynamic. James would then continue to switch back and forth between the ergs, completing intervals of medium length, until he had a clear preference.

What happened was surprising. The first ten minutes on the Model D were unremarkable for him, given his familiarity with this machine. After only four minutes on the Dynamic at 22 spm, however, James noted that the new erg was “harder.” Then, after returning to the Model D, he took only two strokes before he got up and returned to the Dynamic while uttering the conclusion “rowing doesn’t ever feel like that in a boat.”

Side-by-side we continued—now both on Dynamics—through a few more ten minute intervals. There was no music blasting. There were no earplugs. We simply listened to the rhythm of our work, me adjusting my cadence to match his; it’s always good for a coach to learn from the athlete.

Then we positioned the two ergs one behind the other—20 cm apart to be exact—and connected the machines with the Dynamic Link. I followed James and within the first few strokes it was obvious that we were rowing and applying power differently from one another. So, I adjusted. Of course this 18 years-younger-than-me-oarsman has just a little more juice than I do, but he took it easy on the drive; however, it was easy to feel the differences in the sequencing of our recoveries. When we were not moving together in the recovery, the work felt heavy for both of us. If I matched the stretch of his arms and the shift of his shoulders in front of his hips, suddenly there was an easiness to our movement into the catch. Sound familiar all you stroke seats out there?

I’ve often wished this new Dynamic had been available when I was a full-time coach because it is such a helpful teaching tool. Having this exchange with James shows me once again that the fundamentals of what moves a boat can be taught and reinforced more effectively on the Dynamic, while scary habits often take hold with monitor-focused, numbers-above-all-else training on the Model D.

I’ll leave you with these key observations that a good athlete shared with his former coach:

  1. The Dynamic takes to the hips what the Model D allows to happen in the shoulders.
  2. The power application required on the Dynamic is much more like rowing in a small boat such as a single or a pair. To see good numbers on the Performance Monitor, you can’t just throw reckless power at the work. The same is true for making a big boat go fast.”

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