What percent of rowing is legs, back and arms?

Understand how your movements contribute to the power phase in the rowing and sculling stroke.


00:30 There are many different ways to row – below we share how you can test this for yourself.

01:15 Sequential rowing stroke

Using the legs, back and arms in sequence one after the other.

02:00 Simultaneous rowing stroke

Start the legs and back at the same time and then adding in the arms later. Blending the overlap between each body part happens in practice so that the power doesn’t drop off between each body part.

03:40 Force curve alignment

The sequential movement gives a longer time in the water and a longer duration of the power phase from catch to finish. Simultaneous gives a higher force curve because the power is higher, but it is a shorter curve because you cannot sustain the power as long as in the sequential.

04:55 Legs | Back | Arms Rowing is about the effective delivery of power and recruiting muscles into that endeavour.

Legs – the first part of the movement is from your knee – you push the footplate away so only the shins and ankles move. Initiate the stroke with the legs. Before your legs are fully straight, activate the back. One of the most difficult things to teach is how to keep your legs pushing straight while the back swing begins. Letting the legs drift without adding to the boat speed is a waste of power. The arm draw is also affected as some forget to continue the back swing when they start the arms drawing. Many masters have a good leg drive and arm draw but the back can be neglected.

08:00 What proportion of the stroke is legs, back and arms?

Based on my experience legs is 65% and back is 25-30% and arms 5-10%.

08:45 Test this for yourself

In the boat or on the erg set up speed measurement using meters per second rather than 500m splits because it’s more sensitive to boat speed changes. Row at firm pressure, low rate. Then stop using your arms and see how much the speed drops – then stop using the back and the arms (row legs only). Then do the reverse – do the pick drill and measure your speed as each body part is added into the stroke. This will show you how much of your stroke comes from each body part.

Faster Masters teaches a drill how to improve your stroke. Contact us to find out.

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