Micheal Knippen is a member of the USA National Team, having competed in their M4X in 2018 and 2019. This post looks at his technical development rowing indoors from 2017 to 2019 and what you can do to make the same changes he achieved.
The video shows an overview of the development of his technique, the top one being from 2017 and the bottom from 2019:
There a few factors that really jump out:
1. The fluidity of the movement - Knippen very obviously has greatly improved how he flows from one stroke to the next. In the second video, his hands seem much more free around the back turn of the stroke as he moves onto the recovery.
2. Posture - His posture, particularly in the upper back has greatly improved. The image below shows a comparison between his catch position before and after. The latter shows an improved upper back position which allows the more powerful muscles of the back (the lats) to take the load.
3. The finish - in the first video Knippen finishes with the handle unnaturally high which forces his elbows down. This results in an awkward position at the finish, especially unconducive to balancing when considering transferring the technique to rowing on the water. In the second video, you can see that he has rectified this and is holding his core much stronger at the finish. This not only sets up the finish for an easier transition onto the next stroke but also protects his back, reducing the risk of injury.
Drills You Can Do to Make These Improvements
Part of improving how you move while rowing comes with the repetition of the movements and time on the machine. Use a mirror if you've got one and focus on how your body is sequencing through the drive ensuring the first part of the drive comes from the legs, then overlap the body as the leg drive ends and finally overlaps the arms as the body swing ends reversing the motion on the recovery. Higher resistance will slow down the movement making it easier to react to what's going on, you should then look to reduce resistance while maintaining the changes.
Improving your rowing posture requires work on and off the rowing machine. A huge part of this is core strength and mobility related; try adding a core and stretching workout (such as yoga) 10-15 minutes in length 2-3 times per week to your training programme and you should quickly see results while rowing. Additionally, you should ensure that your rowing machine is set up in a way that means you can comfortably reach your catch and finish positions while rowing, overstretching every stroke will lead to poor posture. Check out our previous blog post to found out how to do this: https://www.rp3rowing.co.uk/post/optimising-your-rp3-before-a-workout.