This let's you focus on your watts (drive) instead of speed. Push off harder to get the watts up and pause at transition and your heart rate will still elevate while maintaining the target stroke rate.


This here. I can get into the orange zone with 24-26 SPM. OP, you’ll have to really drive your legs. Imagine you’re doing a jump squat/trying to pull your feet out of the holders. You should feel it in your quads. Mine are already sore from literally three minutes total of rowing below 26 SPM this morning.


I needed to see this! Been trying to figure out how to increase my wattage and have not thought of it this way.


Oh my gosh, yes, I can literally get to my 100% HR at only 20 spm when I'm pushing hard enough and letting the water in the rower slow down before my next row. My coach once told me that if you row too fast, the water in the rower doesn't stop, so rowing gets easier because you have all that momentum already in the water that's still spinning from your last row


Yes it’s the leg drive! One of our coaches really helped me with my form, before I was flailing around pulling and pushing just as hard as I could but it was not as effective as lowering my stroke rate and really just focusing on the leg drive.


Personally I get muscle fatigue long before my HR spikes at low SRs. Absolutely cannot get into the orange below 28+.


The pause is actually like art - patience and power - instead of forcing it.


Thanks for this reminder. I also really focus on engaging my core whenever on the rower. It can make for a good core workout when focusing on form.


Awww yeah! THIS


If you push hard enough, you'll get the wattage. It's the ultimate form check. I hit 450 watts this AM @ 22 stroke rate . I'm only 5'7. Anyone can pull the bar back and forth fast. 6ft+ guy next to me kept trying to beat me but could only manage high 200s. Coach called me out as an example of what to do, but he (and others) "knew better" and insisted on being one of our favorite OTFers, the Fast Flopper.


What is your technique to get your wattage that high with a low stroke rate.


Hard to explain, but think of powering from your legs, like a press - you explode backwards. The Legs - Core - Arms strategy follows naturally. Your heartrate will SOAR.


This!! Rowing is almost all legs. And do NOT worry about heart rate at low SPM. A low SPM does not mean “push back more slowly”. What it means is add more glide. Bonus of low SPM is the “glide”. At low SPM the keys are - push back with your legs as hard (and quickly) as sustainable - the end of each stroke pause for a split second — the would be letting a real boat glide a bit, maximizing the speed from momentum. It’s also part of what governs your stroke rate. - then return to beginning for another hard as F push back. Said differently, low SPM should feel like very heavy squats.


Just want to add - if you're doing it correctly - your heartrate WILL soar. There's just so much energy and momentum generated. No need to think, much less worry, about heart rate at all, it's just natural. One of these pushes and I'm LIT for the rest of class. Red-zone city.


Thank you both for these great tips! Can’t wait to put them (or try to put them 😂) to use tomorrow!


Thank you! I’ve been struggling with my distance. I feel like no matter what I do I can’t get over the 200m in :30 mark. I think I have to be more conscious of what my legs are doing.




Rowing at low stroke rates is a big challenge. You should be able to row at the same intensity (watts/split time) no matter what your stroke rate is. The lower the stroke rate, the more you have to drive with your legs. We say it’s 60% legs but that’s really at a base/moderate effort. Stroke rates around 20 with a focus on power will be more like 80% legs. In my coaching experience, a lot of members have trouble generating power through the legs and default to moving faster in order to generate power. Slowing down will force you to learn the leg drive in order to keep intensity high. I absolutely die at a 18-24 stroke rate if I’m working hard.


Goodness right here.


Max your power per stroke. With good form, you can get your heart rate up. Many people can achieve watts in the 250-500 range - I guarantee that’ll get you working! Actual rowers have SPM at this rate or lower.


To focus on good form.


Then shouldn’t the Coach be correcting form? Current coaches at my studio never correct form.


That’s probably the biggest complaint you’ll see from people in addition to correcting form on the floor. Your better coaches can do it all and do it all the right way. Lazy coaches, new coaches and/or uneducated coaches don’t do it


There’s a lot of trash form at OTF that goes unchecked


I think it’s more studio dependent. Coaches at my gym do a great job of fixing form on all 3 stations. We had one, who left bc of honors holdings and how they treated them when they took over, who would even correct us on the treads in terms of positioning and stride length. Made a world of difference




Mostly where are you positioned on the treadmill? If you run towards the front you actually run faster than your set speed to stay up there and take more, shorter strides. Float back into the middle (between the red lines on the deck ideally) and lengthen your stride. At that point you can likely increase your speed a little with little to no extra effort involved. I miss him so much! He was the absolute best and always had FIRE playlists


What red lines?


There’s red lines on the rails towards the front and back of each treadmill. Staying between those lines puts you running where the deck is the most cushioned and has the most support.


Ah. Ours do not have those


I'm desperate for feedback on the treadmill. So many runners get injured each year, watching everyone else's form in the mirrors, I see what I would fix, but I can't see me and fix what I can't see.


There are a lot of physiotherapy places that offer running analysis! I know my PT office does; you can book in specifically for a gait analysis. If you really want a running form check, this might be something to look into. Or for a cheaper option, ask a coach to take a video of you running before or after class. Then you can watch the video back and see what adjustments you might want to make.


Good suggestions. Thank you.


To be fair, you might not have context to trash form going "unchecked." There's this guy at my studio whose form is utter garbage and the coaches don't correct him; he's been coming for YEARS before I ever showed up, and the coaches tried for a long time to correct his form... he just doesn't listen


When things were slower after reopening from lockdown the coaches used to make sure everybody could row OK, basically once you got a couple classes in and were ready for the information they'd clean up your rowing. But I haven't seen a rower correction in ages and we have a lot of people now making giant rainbows.


Prepandemic (and pre-closing for 6 months) the coaches at my studio would correct our rowing form but after re-opening my studio had to hire all new coaches and the new coaches never ever correct rowing form and rarely mention watts or strokes per minute… I’m not a perfect rower but sometimes I shake my head in disbelief when I see how some people row.


I've noticed that new coaches in general are not comfortable correcting form. So if you're at a high turnover studio basically it's never going to happen.




It is more difficult. It makes it harder for you to row fast because you are not going with the momentum of the water moving. As others have said if forces you to focus on your form. It makes you a better rower.


It forces you to get your distance from the leg drive , not from rabbit-jumping up the slide over and over. You can think of it as two ways to get to a distance: Light strokes, and taking LOTS of them really quickly (high SPM) HEAVY strokes but taking them slowly/ lower stroke rate. You go slower back up and let the meters keep piling up because you drove so hard on the legs. The equivalent of lifting heavy at a lower rep count.


More push in the legs....it's about the force of each row rather than how rapidly you can row


As others have said, it’s to help dial in your form. You should be able to base push and all out at the same 20 spm. What changes and differentiates the 3 is the amount of power you put into each one of them. You’re able to maintain power for longer with less strokes as opposed to having less power but taking twice as many strokes, that will tire you out faster. This is super important on long rows (2k benchmark talking to you!)


I know what my peak stroke count is for long rows like the 2k. It starts at 8 per 100m, but goes up to 10 per 100m as I fatigue. That's definitely not at stroke rates of 26 to over 30 (which will surely gas me out).


>What is the point of rowing at a low stroke rate? Strength and proper muscle engagement. >When I do this, my heart rate doesn’t go up and much and I don’t feel like I’m working any muscles more or anything. Push harder with your legs.


20-24 is pretty normal for steady state rowing which rowers do for 20-60+ minutes to improve their overall rowing and aerobic ability. You can get good power at that rate. You just need to push harder with your legs.


Low stroke per minute to make sure you can check your form. You can row slow but still get the power in the leg drive and still have high watt//low split time. 20 is actually not that low. I’d suggest checking out Dark Horse on youtube for rowing tips or Coach Austin (OTF coach).


It's actually harder when you have to use a lower stroke rate - gotta really push off with the legs to get that wattage up. I easily jump in the orange when I have to do this


Low stroke rates are for strength rows. The focus is on a powerful leg drive and a patient return. Sit up nice and tall. It should feel like a leg press and you should get high wattage.


If you are rowing with correct form and driving your legs it can be challenging to do a low stroke rate. Pay attention to your watts.


Recently my coach said the slower moving water gives more resistance so it is more beneficial for strength.


Like everyone else said, leg drive! My heart rate gets way higher at 20-24 when I’m focusing on watts and correct row form as opposed to just flying along back and forth quickly at 28+.


It’s more like choosing a heavier weight in the floor. Focus on explosive but controlled moves


Rowing is basically a horizontal deadlift. If you were to deadlift really fast with a low weight you’d get more of an aerobic effect over an anaerobic effect. If you added weight (I.e. more rower leg drive on the rower) and slowed down you’d prioritize using anaerobic over aerobic effort. The use of your large leg muscles will get your heart rate up


Good form and efficiency. I can get myself into the red zone with really powerful strokes if I push hard enough. And I feel it less because I’m not scrambling.


It lets you focus on the most powerful leg drive possible. Push back as hard as you can, hold at the back, then 3 counts back— stroke rate down, wattage / distance / heart rate up.


On the water it’s easier to see the benefit of slowing down the stroke rate. The boat continues to move while you take a breath, sync with your crew mates, and lengthen your stroke. A longer stroke catches more water and allows you to fully extend before the leg drive. Of course, OTF is a completely different setting—you’re not worried about moving a boat. In class I find it helpful to think about maximizing my meters per stroke at the specified rate by pressing my heels into the foot stretchers/squeezing lats to finish cleanly out of the recovery. Then on challenge days, it’s second nature to row efficiently/effectively at a higher stroke rate.


It wasn’t until they started pushing the lower stroke rate that I felt I really learned how to use my legs. Before I was just flying and mainly using my arms. If you focus on your leg drives during these you’ll find yourself going faster during the rowing benchmarks! Plus I like the low stroke rate because it’s also a great time to catch my breath lol


You can definitely get your rate up if you drive with strength and pause. Key is your watts and getting them high


My comfort zone is 24, and I can finish most rows before others who are just going all out. The goal is to jump back as hard as you can. I pull around 200 doing this. My all out is higher but a normal row 24 is perfect. I am 5’7 for the record. Jump back and let it spin.


It’s all about form. On the rower, high stroke rate does not mean doing it well or “a lot” of it. It’s about quality of the stroke.


lower stroke rate is for power my watts will get up to 350+ (5’1” F) and my heart rate goes up just as fast as an all out


Low stroke, they want you to row harder not faster.


Strength training doesn’t require high HR.


I always feel I will fall off the seat on low strokes trying to go for max watts


Push back not up and back.


Low stroke rate is intended to focus on building strength on the rower. Stroke rates are not usually mentioned on power or endurance row days because the goals are different. Most people just sit down and row to row. Adding this component shifts the focus from 'how quickly can I get this done' to 'how effectively can I get this done'.


I would say low stroke rate is the most important for endurance days. If you’re strong enough anyone can pull a fast 150m. 2000m is where low stroke rate work really pays off as you’re far more efficient.


Except on a 2k test, stroke rates usually come up (above 30). But in general, low rates are definitely good for long distance rows. There was a Hell week class one year where we had a 13 or 14 minute row for distance. My neighbor and I had the same distance (within 5m) but my stroke rate was 6-7 lower than hers the whole time. Doing the math, she took roughly 80-90 more strokes than me to cover the same distance. I'd have had to row another 3-4 minutes at my rate to get the same number of strokes.


Yeah, but you still keep the ratio and the technic and efficiency you use on the low stroke rate stuff. I am not suggesting you test a 2000m piece at 24 SPM but all the work you do at 20-24 SPM helps you be more efficient at 28-30 SPM.


It all about making your row more efficient, getting the most out of each stroke. Really firing up those legs. Those are the muscle groups that are going to elevate your heart rate. Your legs should be on fire after strength rows.


Focuses on leg drive and boosts your wattage/distance by letting the water slow down slightly. 200 meter benchmark is about stroke rate, longer benchmarks are about wattage.


It’s a strength effort.


Need to push harder to get your watts up. Goal is to have low strong strokes.


Means you aren’t pulling hard enough.


This is my usual stroke rate, is there some benefit or difference to doing a higher stroke rate? It's been a while but I do remember sometimes a coach would say something like 26-28 and that always felt wrong to me.


I echo the person that said it’s similar to a jump squat, but would add it’s core building also. When you jump back and then hold…hold… hold… your calorie burn and heart rate will increase with that pause. I just see too many people doing it like is a base row…I don’t think that’s the intention. You definitely don’t want me leading a crew row.


I am only 5’1 and I find it really hard to get that power going at 24. Does being short or tall make any difference?


It will affect your top end power, but you can still get some decent power when short. Rowing is something that takes some time to really figure out and nail down. Low stroke rates are pretty helpful for working on form, and getting proper stroke sequence down. It feels awkward at first, but get smoother with practice. If it doesn't, there's likely a form problem somewhere (improper sequencing on the recovery would feel awkward).


A few weeks ago we had a work out where I think we had to row 200 m in the fewest number of strokes. And people in the class just weren’t getting how to do it I had the fewest number of strokes both rounds and the coach went through everybody and asked how many strokes and I was in the red zone it’s just a matter of learning how to push off as hard as you possibly can and then pausing at the back to let your machine rack up as many meters is possible but when you push off that hard to get so many extra meters you will tire your ass out


It’s all about the drive with the legs not speed. So many people get hurt or burnt out trying to row as fast as they can but your meters are driven by the power in your legs. By slowing your wattage and driving with the legs it increases your chances of using proper form.


You want to lower the stroke rate, not wattage. When rowing properly with the bulk of the power coming from the leg drive, the watts should be pretty high.


That’s what I meant, it made sense in my head. OP was asking about a low stroke rate and I accidently said wattage.


Funny, I work out with a woman who pulls like 34+ on stroke rate and low watts. She was trying to prep for the driving-tri and I told her to slow way down, pause, and just push harder. Well, it helped, but she’s back up and her energizer bunny rate and low watts again. It really is something you have to be conscious of for a long time before it becomes second nature.


The point is to make rowing more irritating (this is a joke for those who can’t tell!)


The coach is telling us to take a break


Being 6'9" it's quite hard for me to have low spm. The lowest I can do is 30.


Normally it's the opposite - taller people struggle to get there stroke rate up while shorter people struggle to get their stroke rate down. If you can't go slower than 30 spm at your height, I'd imagine there are a few things you might need to work on form-wise. If you're interested, [this is a playlist](https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLYb5SB-10SU9d97wn63kImUfRZgNGi4aR) of some of my favorite rowing videos. If you don't want to watch too many, I'd suggest at least watching the first and second videos.


You are doing something very wrong, jump back and pause.


It makes me go slower than I would like to 🙄 today I went between 30-35 stroke rate.


You probably could improve your form.


Proper form I understand the frustration as I get to blue real quickly.