Q: I’m unable to increase my stroke rate above 20 SPM on the erg. I can get more power on the drive to improve my splits, but can’t seem to add speed. Any suggestions?
A: This question comes from one of my on the water teammates. If you’re struggling to bump up the strokes per minute (SPM), one thing to try is faster hands away. Unlike on the water where you push hands down and away, here you want your hands and handle to travel on an even plane back up to the catch. When you reach the finish, shoot your arms away from your body as quickly as you can. The chain should not be dipping up in down, which signals a loss of efficiency. When the workout calls for a rate change, often just getting those hands away faster can give you a 2 SPM bump to what you’re already maintaining.
Another thing to play with is your ratio of drive to recovery. When we’re erging at 20 – 22, the 1:2 ratio is ideal. One beat of drive, two beats of relaxed recovery. Starting at 24 SPM you’ll notice that it’s harder to maintain that true 1:2 ratio, so your recovery must speed up to compensate. As you increase up to 26 SPM and beyond, that ratio narrows further, with your drive becoming even more explosive, and your recovery that much faster.
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