We’re all aware of course of the slider control on the fan wheel of the rower, you know the one, it’s usually set on ‘number 10′ whenever you get on the machine. This slider determines the amount of air allowed to enter the flywheel. A higher number will allow more air in which will in turn, slow down the fly wheel quicker.
Guys tend to favour a higher setting due to their ego getting in the way but the fact is a higher setting won’t actually suit many people. Higher numbers generally suit more powerful rowers whilst light weight rowers would be better served on a lower number. It takes a bit of experimentation to find the right resistance which maximises your performance. Many of the competitive rowers use a damper setting of between 4 and 5 since this best represents rowing on water. I, personally use a damper setting of 5 on my Concept 2 at home.
However, there is another problem here. Not all rowers are the same. This is where drag factor comes in.
Drag factor is a numerical value for the rate at which the flywheel is decelerating. It is calculated during the recovery part of the stroke.
On a new, or indeed a well maintained rower, the drag factor (the resistance at the flywheel) will be about 90 on level 1 and 210 at level 10. On my rowers at my local not very well maintained gym, the drag factor rating is only 90-110 on the number 10 setting. This is because they are clogged full of dust and in desperate need of a service. Atmospheric conditions and air temperture will also affect drag factor.
To display the drag factor on either a Model C rower or Model D just follow the instructions below.
To view drag factor: on a Model C (generally ‘grey’ rowers) On a PM2/PM2+:
Turn the monitor on.
Wait for zeros to be displayed.
Simultaneously press Ready and Rest.
Row to display your drag factor.
On a Model D (blue coloured rowers)
On a PM3 or PM4:
Press Menu|Back until the Main Menu is displayed.
Select More Options.
Select Display Drag Factor.
Take a few strokes. After a couple of seconds, the monitor will display the drag factor.
Once you know how to do this you can then determine a ‘drag factor’ that suits you and set each rower you use to the appropriate intensity. So, in simplistic terms, number 5 on one rower won’t neccessarily equate to the same resistance as number 5 on the rower sitting next door to it. Now you will have consistency across all rowers which is very beneficial if you are using multiple rowers at your gym. So, don’t go by the number on the slider but set the slider instead until it produces the correct drag factor number. This takes me to the next point:
Determining the best drag factor for you.
Experimenting with different drag factor settings is the best way to find one that enables you to produce your best results.
Bear in mind that at a lower drag setting, such as 70-100, the flywheel will spin up quite quickly but that doesn’t equate to quicker rowing times since you will get less meters per pull. On a higher setting such as 130-180 you will clearly have a lot more resistance when you pull, but providing you have the power you will produce more metres per stroke. It’s all about finding the balance. I like to equate it to either a diesel or a petrol engine, which are you? A petrol, Lots of revs (high stroke rate, low resistance) or a diesel, Lots of torque ( low stroke rate high resistance, probably somewhere in between!
Understanding the monitor.
OK, here’s a picture of a PM3 monitor. Top left is the time that you have been training. This could be a rest period or a work period if you are doing intervals.
To the right of this is your stroke rate. I tend to work with a stroke rate of between 28 and 32 so quite fast. However if working for power you can produce the same ‘pace’ at 25 spm as you can at 32 spm. Same pace but completely different session!
Now the important one. The 500 metre pace. This is the figure that’s most relevant. This represents the time it would take you to row 500 metres at your current speed and intensity. The quicker and harder you pull the lower the number gets. so for example, 2.05 showing on the display eqates to 2 minutes and 5 seconds per 500 metres. Once you get familiar with these numbers, you will instictively know what’s a comfortable pace, a moderate pace and a fast pace. For me I know that 2.00 minute pace is a pace I can hold for along period or a steady state pace that leaves me sat in the so called ‘ fat burning zone’. (there’s something for another article!) 1.45 PER 500 metres is a good Aerobic threshold pace for me whilst 1.35 per 500 metres is a quick pace at an anaerobic capacity which I use for short intervals. Of course as your fitness improves so will all your pace times.
The ‘ave/500′ underneath represents your average pace for either the duration of the row if it’s a single piece or the average for the current interval you’re on.
Split metres: A typical split refers to the average time to complete a certain distance. For example, if you rowed an 8:00 for a 2,000 m ergometer piece, your 500m split time is 8 minutes divided by 4 (2:00).
Projected: (bottom) This is the overall time or distance you will accrue/cover by the end of your session. The functionality here is only relevant if you have set the monitor up for a certain distance or time. For example, if you have set the rower up for a timed 2K then as soon as you begin rowing, your finish time will be displayed. Of course this is constantly changing as you either increase or decrease your speed.
Likewise, if you set the monitor up for a 20 minute row, then your projected finishing distance will be displayed. This is very useful information as it enables you to ‘pace’ yourself for a certaind time or distance.
Once you understand all of this information and it becomes more than just a bunch of numbers, I guarantee you will have a far more productive session on the Concept 2 rower!
Don’t forget to check out the concept 2 website, http://concept2.co.uk/ They have a lot of good stuff on there including articles on fat loss and rowing technique. There is also a pace calculator and interactive programmes for all fitness levels that you can follow. Best of all though though is a feature called ‘ranking’ whereby you can log your times over several different timed and distanced pieces and see how you compare to people all over the world!
I sincerely hope this article adds to your enjoyment on the Concept 2 rower.