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Are you putting a 'damper' on your rowing?

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The concept 2 rower has become a staple machine in the crossfit world. It’s pretty simple right? Sit down and pull back. But has anyone ever wondered about the numbers on the side of the flywheel? For most, we set it to somewhere between a 4 and 8, hope for the best, and start the workout. But there is actually a rhyme and reason to the number options on the side.

The lever, also known as the damper, controls how much air can get into the fan on the inside of the machine. Higher numbers allow more air into the fan. As more air enters, it requires more effort to spin the wheel against the air. Vice versa, less air makes the fan easier to spin. I like to think of the damper settings like a bicycle. The higher gears on a bike are typically used for downhills or trying to crank up speed. It requires a bit more effort, however it more effectively spins the wheels of the bike. Similarly, when taking off on a long bike ride, or riding up hill, a lower setting is more beneficial so you can keep the wheels moving but won’t burn out your legs too quickly.

“Great information, but where does that leave me?”

Typically I suggest everyone starting somewhere between a 3 and a 5 until they are confident on a rower. From there, depending on the workout you can play around with what number feels right for you to get the aerobic benefits of the row while also not burning out your hamstrings, glutes, and back. In general, think lower settings for aerobic, and higher settings for strength based workouts.


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