Keith found a great discussion on the CrossFit message boards about the ideal damper settings for the row machines. Here’s the heart of it, but the entire thread is worth reading.
Ok I am writing this thread to clarify the drag factor on the Concept 2 rowers. Many people comment me “Chris – I row with the damper on 10 because its the hardest and thus im doing the most work.” I shake my head in dismay. To clarify how the drag factor works imagine that you are in an actual boat. A drag factor of 10 is the same as rowing in a Central park row boat – 8 feet wide, 10 feet long, and impossible to flip. It’s heavy, its slow, but if you can get it moving it has quite a bit of inertia. A 4-5 on the damper setting is the equivalent of a racing shell – 24 feet long, 18 inchs wide, and the slightest off weight tilt will flip you – a set of 5 strokes gets this boat moving. A 1 on the damper setting – There is no boat.
Now what is the best damper setting for you?
This depends on many factors – primarily weight. Workout being second.
To make my point clear a damper setting of 10 (8 for women) should only be used for pieces under 150 meters. This is not a rule – but a suggestion. The reason I say this is that unless you have been trained with the proper stroke for years – you will cause damage to yourself at this setting. 150 meters is a sprint/muscle piece that no matter what you do – it wont kill you.
Now I will discuss wieght before going back to distances.
The following is a laymans chart of where you damper should be around for your weight. (Applied for 500meter+ piece)
250lbs – 6-7
200lbs – 5-6
175lbs – 4-6
150lbs – 3-4
125lbs – 2-3
So that now you know where drag is you must realize – these drags are considered in the rowing world to be the most efficient for how a rower works. These drag factors rely on endurance and aerobic ability more then anarobic. Moving higher to the 10 setting emphasizes strength more and more – but subsequently takes much more strength to move the fan (This will make you much more tired sooner then at a lower drag). Remember – it may look easy – but anyway you slice the cake (erg?) it will hurt.
The athlete’s anerobic threshold, the point at which the body’s muscles have exhausted their oxygen store and start burning other fuel. For regular folks, reaching that threshold is quitting time; anaerobic work is 19 times harder than aerobic work. But rowing is all about harder. Elite rowers fire off the start at sprint speed — 53 strokes per minute. With 95 pounds of force on the blade end, each stroke is a weightlifter’s power clean. Rowers cross their anaerobic threshold with that first stroke. Then there are 225 more to the finish line.
Anyone care to venture a guess about what tomorrow’s WOD will be?