If you were asked: What’s the impact of Leverage and Load in your rowing, would you be able to answer the question?
Chances are you might state some theoretical relevance but not what makes them truly impactful.
- What do you have to do to make the Leverage work for you?
- How do you know when your Load is not right?
If you’ve been rowing, both Leverage and Load (and yes, I’m going to capitalize them both because they are THAT important) are a big factor, and you might not know just how important.
Let’s explore that reality for a moment.
Leverage is the mechanical set up that allows the work to happen
In terms of rowing we are specifically referring to the following:
- oar length
- blade shape
- positioning of the hips relative to the pin (aka work through).
These five adjustments (which I’ve written about recently) form the lever of your rowing.
And together they impact the wicked-important reality of Load.
Load is the effort expended to achieve a level of output
When you pull an oar—by, interestingly enough, pushing on the foot stretcher—you are using a lever.
This action requires power from you.
How much power you apply (and how hard or easy it feels) is the Load.
And although Load is a force, to help understand it try to think of Load as something subjective,
“Ugh…this feels heavy!” Or “Phew, this feels light, I can do it all day!”
An example from the world of two wheels might help.
Let’s go for a bike ride
It’s a beauty of a day. You decide to hop on your 10-speed bike for a workout.
The road ahead is flat—no wind, no traffic. Just a nice long peddle on a beautiful flat road.
Your workout plan is to stay at 92 RPMs (peddle rotations per minute) for the whole ride. A steady state workout.
Off you go and soon you’re cruising along in 7th gear.
Your effort level is right at steady state and you think to yourself,
“I could do this-all-day-long!“
Then…around the corner, gulp, you spy a hill ahead.
Up you go
Charging up the incline, staying in 7th gear at 92 RPMs, you start to feel the effort.
*pant pant pant*”…this…is…getting…heavy…”
Feeling the strain you realize you have a choice:
- I stay in 7th gear at 92 RPMs, and work really hard, or
- I change to a lower gear, stay at 92 RPMs, and don’t work as hard
But today is NOT your day for a grind-of-a-workout so you downshift to 4th gear —allowing you to keep your RPMs at 92 and reduce your effort level back to steady state.
Change your Leverage or change your Load
Because the terrain changed you had to adapt—you changed your gearing to keep your power output the same.
What goes up must come down
Not so bad…
…you think as you crest the hill.
Now comes the down hill.
As gravity grabs you and you start to zip down hill you notice something new, Whoa, this is toooo easy!
Staying at 92 RPMs in 4th gear is getting you nothing.
So you’ve got another decision to make to keep your workout going,
- I stay in 4th gear at 92 RPMs, and work waaaay too easy, or
- I change to a higher gear, stay at 92 RPMs, and bring my effort level back to steady state
Because the terrain changed once again, you change your gearing to maintain your effort level.
You shift to 10th gear, keeping your RPMs at 92, and your workout level at steady state.
Once you hit the flats again, you shift to 7th and bring it on home.
See, it’s all a balancing act of rowing Leverage and Load
That example is basically how Leverage and Load work in rowing—set a Leverage and balance a Load.
There are two interesting parts that we can tease out of this example and apply to our rowing.
- In rowing, we don’t have the ability to shift our Leverage on the fly, like a bike. So we need to make our Leverage adjustments BEFORE hand, making the best educated guess we can.
- We don’t have hills in rowing (waterfalls don’t count) but we do have wind. Think of a head-wind or head-current as going uphill, and a tail-wind or tail-current as going downhill.
Using our bike examples should help you make your Leverage adjustments so your Load is correct.
Leverage and Load are a critical reality of rowing—whether you are chasing speed or just absorbing sunrises.
Getting comfortable with what they mean and how they impact you can help make your rowing more effective and enjoyable.
It’s (kinda sorta) just that simple.