by: Leeny Hoffmann

Have you ever gotten on the erg and wondered what else the monitor could do for you besides reluctantly dole out meters?  Do you get bored with the meter and pace screen so many rowers seem to be stuck on?  It might be time to hit the “change display” button on the monitor and check out the force curve. Not only does this screen give you your work output parameters in meters, calories or watts,  but it also gives you immediate feedback on your stroke.

Per the Concept2 website:

The Force Curve graphically represents how you apply force (or power) during the rowing stroke, indicating how your total force varies as you use your legs, back and arms during the drive:

  • The smoother the curve, the smoother the application of force.
  • The larger the area under the curve, the greater the amount of force applied.

When all parts of your stroke are sequenced well, (the application of force is applied smoothly throughout the entire drive phase) you will be rewarded with the ideal force curve which is a smooth inverted parabola. Your screen might look something like this:

 The shape of the force curve can be changed by varying the relative timing and emphasis of the legs, the back and the arms during the drive phase.  For example, if your transition from legs, to back swing to the arms in the finish is not smooth, you may see multiple peaks in your curve.  It may look something like this:

Some things to consider when trying for that “ideal” curve:
  • When initiating your drive, apply equal pressure to the foot plate and to the handle to achieve a sense of weightlessness or suspension over your seat.  Drive hard with the feet and exert pressure on the handle.   This connection between seat and hands will give you a powerful start to your stroke.  You always want the seat to move simultaneously with the handle.
  • Use your hips effectively in your stroke.  Shoot for the back angle to swing from 11-1 o’clock.  Continue the power application with the arms through the finish.
  • Strive for length in the hip joint at the catch, but not by thoracic flexion (turtlebacking).  You don’t want to collapse at the thoracic or lumbar spine, rather keep a good posture with a flat back.  Think deadlift posture. 


Watt do you mean by power?

The average power applied during each stroke can be displayed in Watts. (Use the “change units” button on your display to get to watts.)   In general, the more power applied, the faster your pace.  However, this relationship between power and pace is non linear.   There is no direct relationship between power and pace because of the variations in efficiency between strokes with different force profiles.  You may have two force profiles with the same average power (watts), but the inefficient (spiky) force profile will produce a slower pace than an efficient (smooth) one.  Dialing in that technique and working on that smooth force curve will pay dividends by making you a more efficient rower. 

Next time you get on the rower, whether during warm up or in class, change the display to the force curve and see what your stroke looks like.  What can you do to smooth it out?  How does it change depending on the force you apply?  Play around with this and watch your stroke improve.
May the Force be with YOU!

 Don’ Forget:  

There will be no Friday rowing classes during the months of June and July.  The regular Friday class schedule will resume in August.