The Force Curve display may be the most underutilized screen on the Performance Monitor. For many of us, it’s not clear what we’re looking at or striving for. However, the Force Curve can be a helpful tool to help you work on your rowing technique indoors.
In a nutshell, the Force Curve shows your power application (on the y axis) over time (x axis). As explained in Using the Force Curve, the curve shows your total force as you use your legs, back and arms during each pull of the drive. Ideally, the curve shows the legs generating the most force (around 60% of the power), followed by the back (30% of the power) and finally the arms (10% of the power). This is what creates the bell shape: the legs are the strongest and biggest muscles, and help create the “peak”. As the power transfers to the back, power starts to decrease (these are still smaller muscles than the legs!). This is one reason not to lay back too much in the finish position. The power curve starts to drop dramatically the more time you spend on your layback. Finally, the arms finish the stroke, bringing the force curve to zero in preparation for the next drive.
Ideally the curve is smooth. Why? Dips in the curve reflect a lack of continuity in power. To maximize your speed, you want to apply consistent power. Each dip in power is some tenths of a second per stroke that can add up. A common “blip” on the Force Curve is the transition between the legs and back. While the legs are working, ideally you’re continuously building your “peak” on the Force Curve.
The Force Curve gives immediate feedback on every stroke, allowing you to react throughout a workout. Improving leg drive and timing will result in improved times on workouts. As Founder Peter Dreissigacker explains, "Even if you have 'good' technique, doing rows where you watch the Force Curve and use a low damper setting can help improve your rowing."
As an experienced on water athlete looking to return to sculling in a few months, I’m dedicated to the Force Curve in my workouts so that I can improve my timing and connection.
The Dynamic Indoor Rower further challenges my timing at the catch and “locking on” at the front end. Even if you don't row on the water, this tool can help you smooth out your power application and dial in your technique.
Geoff Canyon, who has been rowing on a Concept2 Indoor Rower for over ten years, recently let us know how helpful he finds the Force Curve. “Getting the Force Curve right has produced significant results. In the past two weeks I have broken my ten-year-old personal best for the 10K, and I think other distances are likely to yield similar results. This is not the result of being in better shape, or stronger—it's due to getting my form into better shape, and using my legs more. I can't say this strongly enough: the Force Curve has changed how I row, and made me faster and more efficient, and it's going to make me stronger.”
Geoff felt his technique wasn’t obviously “bad” in ways shown in our Common Errors video, and yet he had room for improvement. The Force Curve helps point out subtleties in your stroke that may not be noticeable without close experienced coaching. Find the Force Curve on all PM3s, PM4s and PM5s by pressing Display or Change Display until you see the Force Curve at the bottom of the screen, or press the second button down on the right of the monitor.