(Repost from CrossFit St. Louis blog 2-6-14)
I often walk into the gym to get the rowers set up for my class, only to find that many of the dampers are set all the way up to 10. This always amazes me because I know what a slog rowing at a 10 can be. I understand that people don't always know better and often treat a damper setting like resistance. They think, "If I set this thing at a 10, it will make me work harder and I'll get a tougher workout, and that will make me a badass." You will have a tough workout, and quite possibly a miserable experience and a backache to boot. Understanding what the damper actually does for you will allow you to row more efficiently and create a more "enjoyable" experience on the erg.
Damper 101 First of all, damper setting is NOT resistance. The damper setting creates a drag (allows more or less air into the flywheel). It gives you the feel of a heavier boat or a lighter boat. To move both types of boats quickly, you have to put more energy into the system. If you want to move a lighter boat quickly, you must row faster or harder. However, if you just paddle along, even a light boat will go slower. It all depends on how much energy you put into the oars. Imagine a sleek, one person racing boat. The faster you move the oars through the water, the faster you will go. The same principle applies to the erg. At a lower damper setting (1-3), you will move quickly on the slide, and it is easier to row at higher stroke ratings. Rowing at a low damper means that the flywheel is more closed and less air is able to come in and slow it down. This also means that the flywheel doesn't decelerate as quickly so at the catch, you can continue to move quickly into the next drive without taxing the leg muscles too much. Once again, your pace will be determined by how much pressure you put into your footplate and handle. At a lower damper, you can move faster and rowing at faster stroke rates tends to be more cardiovascularly taxing.
On the flip side, rowing a heavier boat requires more pressure into the oar to move the boat through the water. As with a lighter boat, to move a big boat faster,
you have to row harder. On the erg, rowing at damper settings between 8-10 can feel like
a big, heavy boat. The damper opens up the flywheel allowing more air to circulate, thereby requiring more energy to keep it moving. The flywheel also decelerates quicker, requiring more muscular energy at the catch to get it moving again. This typically
means a slower stroke rate. Rowing at a high damper setting can be more muscularly taxing.
Which one do I do? Damper setting is a very personal preference. You need to row at different dampers to find out where YOU are most efficient. Some questions to ask yourself... Do you like to move faster like a sprinter? Do you like to move slower but pull a heavier load? What type of build do you have? What type of piece are you rowing? In general, smaller people with petite builds seem to have good luck at the lower damper settings. Bigger, taller, more muscular people can often handle a higher damper. I find that rowing somewhere between 4-5 works well for me for all purpose rowing.
For very short pieces or when looking for max power or calories, you may consider bumping
up the damper a notch. It's always good to practice and see where you feel the most
powerful. Try a watt test...row at damper 2 for 30 seconds at heavy pressure and see what
watt output is. (Bodyweight plus is a good thing to shoot for). Rest 30 seconds and try
again at damper 4. Feel any different? Continue up the flyhweel until you get to an 8 or 9.
As you go to a higher damper number, when do your returns begin to diminish? Play around
with it and you will find a damper that seems to give you what you want.
For a great article and more info on damper setting and drag, visit the Concept2 website here:
This article is fantastic and I borrowed heavily from it.
For other great videos on Damper setting, check out Shane Farmer's Dark Horse Rowing. He has two videos on damper setting...Part 1 and Part 2.
Here is another great video from UCanRow2 featuring the late, great Terry Smythe on choosing a damper setting. She makes the point that the better you can learn to make a good connection at the catch, the more efficient you can be with your stroke working less hard and with less air flow.
There is a common flaw among indoor rowers to go hard on the drive and in their effort to recover slowly, inadvertently stop the handle and rest it on the legs, or even pause or stop during the recovery en route to the catch. While this may allow you to catch your breath, it’s not helping you be efficient and it effs up the consistency of your technique and stroke on the recovery. Below is a video of what I’m talking about. When I see people do this, Lil Jon shouts in my head, “Turn down for what?”. Why are you slowing down the flywheel and basically stopping mid stroke?
In the video above I am rowing about a 16 stroke rate, driving hard, and catching my breath on the recovery. The problem is, in rowing, your hands should always be moving. You can still come in nice and slow to the catch, but don’t stop. Glide to the catch slower. At the finish of your drive, redirect the hands back to the flywheel, follow with the body, and then slowly layer in the bend of the knees to get you to the next stroke. By half slide coming back in, you should have shoulders in front of hips so you are ready to go for the next stroke at the catch and not trying to get into position at the last minute. See video below:
This video shows slower stroke rate rowing with hands constantly moving.
Whether you are rowing a 16 or a 30, your hands should always be moving and your recovery sequence of “arms, body and legs” should look the same. The slower your stroke rate, the longer it takes you to get back to the catch. The faster you are stroking, obviously, the less time you have to recover. But nothing else changes technique wise. For more info on how to recover on your rowing stroke, see this article.
So keep that handle moving and breathe on your way in. You’ll be set up early for success on your next stroke. And Lil Jon won’t be screaming at you.
(This article is a repost from October 2014 when I originally posted it on the CrossFit St. Louis blog.)
I have some funny ass friends. And when you have funny ass friends, you often get their unique, unfiltered world view. I was reminded of this the other day when I ran into an old friend on a walk. (Old as in we go back a long way and old as in we are both in our 50's). We were talking about how much harder it is to fight the midlife middle when you hit your 50's and how we wish we looked like we did 10 years ago when we wanted to lose 10 pounds.
She said her husband told her he was going to have "DSM" inscribed on her tombstone...Diet Starts Monday. With that attitude to start the weekend, she went on, you can enjoy all life has to offer knowing that you will reel it in on Monday and get serious. I told her that in my house, we call it "going out with a bang". We laughed about our rationalizations but it got me to thinking about how pervasive this rationalization is. Turns out, the hope and excitement that come with committing to a healthier way of living can be fleeting as the harsh reality of behavior change hits you square between the eyes. By Wednesday or Thursday, if you make it that long, your resolve starts to wear thin and when Friday hits, it's back to "DSM". Wash, rinse, repeat.
Making diet and lifestyle changes is hard, especially if you have years of the "I'll do it tomorrow" attitude. Not only do we need some powerful motivation, but we also need the confidence it takes to make it happen. If one or two of those is off, real behavior change is doomed.
So how do we move those two markers of success in a positive direction? First, we need to find out what truly motivates us to make changes. Ask yourself, "Why is this important? What are my reasons for wanting to make this change? What might happen if I don't make this change?" Finding out your true reasons for making the change is a key start. But what do you do next to make lasting change?
This is where a health coach can be immensely helpful. From the Coaching Psychology Manual by Moore, Jackson and Tschannen-Moran, coaching is described as "a growth-promoting relationship that elicits autonomous motivation, increases the capacity to change, and facilitates a change process through visioning, goal setting, and accountability, which at its best leads to sustainable change for the good."
Below are five ways a health coach can help you realize the vision of health you create for yourself.
1. A HEALTH COACH IS A BEHAVIOR CHANGE SPECIALIST
A health coach specializes in behavior change and collaborates with you to lend support and empathy without judgement as you find your own strategies and motivation for change. Your coach will encourage you to mobilize your own insight, strengths, support and resources to help you make positive, sustainable changes for a higher level of well-being and performance in your life and work.
2. A COACH CELEBRATES THE EXPERT IN YOU
The coaching relationship is a partnership where creativity and thought provoking inquiry will inspire and support you to maximize your potential. The coach is not the expert in the relationship, rather they work alongside you to empower and encourage, so you can make the right choices for yourself. No one is more of an expert on your life than YOU! Have you ever had someone tell you what to do and suddenly you feel a bit resistant? When you come up with your own strategies that work within your circumstance, you are more likely to have success with that change.
3. A COACH HELPS FACILITATE YOUR VISION OF WELLNESS
At some point, you and your health coach will explore your "vision of wellness". If life is as good as it gets, what might that look like? How might your life be different if you were able to successfully make the changes you've been wanting? What do you value? What is important to you? You will explore all the beautiful experiences and qualities that make you unique, and create a vision of health and wellness that motivates and excites you.
4. COACHES CAN HELP KEEP YOU FOCUSED AS YOU PLAN OUT YOUR GOALS
Your health coach will listen attentively and carefully as you create 3-6 month goals for yourself that will ultimately get you closer to your wellness vision. With this roadmap in place, together you will break down your goals into smaller pieces and focus on each piece week by week. Through this process, you will explore your motivations and your resources. You'll leverage strengths and past successes as you commit to the changes you want to make. You'll get in touch with your values and beliefs and honor those as you create your plan. Your health coach will help you connect the dots between who you are and who you want to be.
5. A COACH CAN HELP KEEP YOU ACCOUNTABLE
In the beginning of any behavior change, accountability can be a big thing. Your health coach is there to support you as you make the changes you want. They will encourage, empower, and help keep you accountable. They will gently challenge you to venture just outside your comfort zone. They will be honest and open with you. And throughout the process, the coach will respect and honor your choices without judgement. Over time, you will find that you start finding your own ways of holding yourself accountable.
If you've been trying to make lifestyle changes but feel "stuck", maybe it's time to consider working with a health coach. You have everything you need within you to make change, but sometimes it helps to have someone unlock your superpowers, to respect you and your choices and to see you as whole, creative and resourceful. And what a powerful process this can be!
Are you looking for a beautiful, luminous look that is fast, easy and effortless? Look no further than Beautycounter's Dew Skin foundation, Illuminating Cream highlighter, and Color Pinch blusher. You will get maximum results with minimum fuss and walk away with a gorgeous, "no makeup" look that is radiant and glowing.
The cream blushers and highlighters can also be used on lips and eyelids so they are multifunctional. Because they are creams and not powders, they are easy to travel with or to toss in a bag. And you don't need any special applicators...your fingers will do!
Products I used:
Dew Skin no.2
Concealer in fair (or light)
Cream Highlighter in Rose Glow
Color pinch blusher in caramel
Brow gel in Medium
Lip Gloss in Peony
Warning: Upcoming post contains sugar and gluten. This recipe is not paleo, primal, or any other kind of healthy. BUT...it IS a good ol' fashioned decorated sugar cookie that I've been making for many years and it has been a family tradition around our house to bake and decorate these at every holiday! So sometimes, tradition trumps nutrition.
Traditions are the threads that weave family stories together. They become part of us and keep us connected to one another. My kids always look forward to our decorating sessions and even as they are grown, we still continue to make time for this!
So while eating cookies aren't necessarily part of a healthy lifestyle, creating something delicious, unique and fun for a special occasion truly makes life sweet and everyone needs that from time to time! And you will come back to this recipe time and again.
*(If you are gluten free, you can certainly sub out the regular flour for a gluten free alternative. My favorite is Cup 4 Cup which you can find on Amazon and at other specialty stores.)
Sugar Cookie Recipe
1 C. butter
1 C. sugar
1 t. vanilla
1/2 t almond extract
2 t. baking powder
1/4 t. salt
3 cup flour
Cream butter and sugar in the bowl of an electric mixer. Add egg and blend. Add vanilla and almond extracts and blend. Add baking powder and salt, and then add the flour 1 cup at a time and blend after each addition. Dough should come together in a big ball. Roll out dough and cut with cookie cutters. Place cut cookies on cookie sheet (I like the insulated, Air Bake pans) topped with parchment paper for best results. Bake at 325 about 8-10 minutes or until edges are brown. Cool on cooling racks.
Powdered Sugar Icing
4 C. powdered sugar
2-3 T. corn syrup
1 t. vanilla extract
1/2 - 1 t. almond extract (depending on how strong you like the almond flavor)
4-7 T. water or enough to make the icing the consistency you want.
Decorator food coloring
Put powdered sugar in a big bowl. Add corn syrup, vanilla and almond extracts and 4 T. water. Stir until icing starts coming together. Add water 1 T. at a time to get a thick icing that is spreadable but not runny. See videos below for tips on how to roll out the cookies with ease and how to make the icing.
How to videos for rolling out cookies and making the icing below:
Here's a nice little workout of the week! I am naming this Metabolic Magic because it hits two of the things we need to lose fat...a little bit of conditioning as well as building muscle through strength training. Depending on your experience in the weight room, you can use a barbell or dumbbells. I know my back squat numbers so I based the percentages off my one rep max. If you would rather use dumbbells, go for it!
You will start with 1000m row and go down by 100m each round. Then you will do 10 back squats at a light weight and go down by one rep each round as you build in weight. So each round starts with a row and finishes with a round of back squats both descending every round.
You can go different ways with this workout depending on what you are trying to accomplish.
For speed: Go harder on the rows and try to negative split (go faster) each time, and use lighter weights in the squats.
For strength: Go heavier with the squats and use the row as an active recovery, going about 60%.
Let me know how it goes! Tag @leenyhoff on Instagram and show me your numbers!
Have you ever felt completely overwhelmed with all the stuff that you have to do that you spin in your tracks and go nowhere instead of making progress? Welcome to my world. Sometimes I expend so much energy thinking about all the shiz I have to do and trying to figure out how to work it all in, that it ends up robbing me of the joy of being present and keeps me from getting anything done at all.
I started thinking about what it actually means to me to have a "good day" productivity wise while also honoring my health goals and personal needs. A little ME time ain't bad and sometimes we have to schedule that stuff in too. I realized that I like getting things done but I don't have to get it ALL done at once. Progress over perfection is my new mantra. To that end, I created a little rhyme regarding 4 of the categories that are important to me to feel good about my forward progress.
I was inspired by the rhyme brides often use on their wedding day to ensure good luck. They are supposed to wear something old, something new, something borrowed and something blue.
Along those lines, I came up with my own rhyme for improving my productivity without the stress, and it includes these four categories:
Do something HARD, something TRUE, something BUSY and something YOU.
Allow me to break these down.
Something hard: This can be anything that takes energy, that is out of your comfort zone, or something that pushes you. It might be writing in your journal, creating a blog post, or taking a class that is challenging. Maybe it's having a tough conversation with someone. It might be something that isn't necessarily hard, but requires diligence and brainpower. We all have those hard things we have to do in life that often get pushed to the bottom of the list simply because they are challenging and possibly uncomfortable. Acknowledge that it won't be fun and do it anyway.
Something true: This can be something that is true to you, something that honors a value that you hold dearly. Examples might include spending a little time on a goal you have made or on something you are trying to accomplish that requires dedicated time. Maybe it's a meditation practice or spending time with someone special. It's time you dedicate to invest in something that is important to you.
Something busy: We all have a lot of these things. Cleaning out a closet, writing thank you notes, paying bills, or doing the laundry. These might be day to day tasks that simply aren't that fun and feel like busy work. But they need to get done. Sometimes, I'll set a timer and say I'm going to do something for 20 minutes and then stop. What usually happens is that by the time the timer goes off, I'm in a mode and I finish up the project. But if I quit at 20, and I'm still not done, that's ok too. I made progress.
Something you: This can mean anything but typically involves some kind of self care. For me, it was taking a yoga class. It might be taking time to listen to your favorite podcast or going on a long walk with a friend. Whatever it is that you need, do that for yourself!
I've found that when I break down my work into these categories and earmark my time for each, I feel balanced and accomplished. And what a great way to make progress in your day!
Swingers and Ballers
Equipment needed: Wallball, kettle bell, and rowing machine
If no rower, you can sub rowing with biking, running or jump roping)
6 - 3 minute rounds with 1 min rest in between rounds (23 min total)
Round 1: Start 3 min round with 15 wall ball shots, and then row out the rest of the interval. Take note of meters rowed. Rest 1 min.
Round 2: Start 3 min round with 15 swings, and then row out the rest of the interval. Take not of meters rowed. Rest 1 min.
Repeat rounds 1 and 2 two more times for a total of 6 rounds, resting a minute between rounds.
Score is total meters rowed over 6 intervals.
If you've ever experienced a good plate of enchiladas or some delicious brisket and ribs, there is a very good chance you had a tasty side of pinto beans to go with. Growing up in south Texas, one comes to understand what is expected of this side dish staple. I like bits of bacon with hints of cumin, garlic and paprika in the background. I want my bean juice on the thicker side, which usually comes the second day. And I want a little bite from just enough jalapeños. Obviously, you can adjust all the ingredients to appease your flavor meter, but here is how you make my version of the perfect pot of Texas beans. These go great with Mexican food and BBQ.
1 lb dry pinto beans
2 t. olive oil
4 bacon slices, cut into pieces
5 cloves garlic, chopped
1 yellow onion, chopped
5 cups chicken broth (or water)
(optional, sub out one cup beer for 1 cup water)
1/4 C. chopped cilantro
2-3 t. Turkish seasoning from Penzey's
(If no Turkish seasoning, then use: 1 t. garlic powder, 1 t. cumin, 1/2 t. ground pepper,
1 t. paprika, 1 t. chili powder, 1 t. salt and cayenne pepper to taste)
Rinse beans and add to a large pot. Cover with water and soak beans for 8 hours or overnight to mitigate some of the digestive issues beans are notorious for. Drain beans and set aside. In a large pot, saute bacon, garlic and onion in 2 t. olive oil until bacon is cooked but not crispy. Add soaked beans and 5 cups chicken broth or fresh water. Bring to a boil and then reduce heat to medium low. Continue to cook on the stove top for about 1-2 hours or until beans are tender. Check often to make sure beans don't dry out and add broth or water as needed.
When beans are tender, add 2-3 teaspoons of Penzey's Turkish seasoning or the alternate seasonings provided. Top with chopped cilantro and continue to cook on low heat for about 20-30 min more. Add salt to taste.
The bean broth gets thicker the next day and I like my beans this way. If you prefer a "soupier" broth, add more water and stir.
I came across Turkish seasoning about a year ago when I was huffing spices at Penzey's in Maplewood, MO. The minute I smelled this blend, I was reminded of the Texas beans I'd been making for years. So now instead of mixing up all my spices, I just use a few teaspoons of this and the beans are perfectly seasoned.
1. Add chopped fresh jalapeño for spicy beans.
2. Add 1/4 cup Herdez salsa casera or Rotel to add a spicy, Tex-Mex flavor to the beans
3. If making borracho beans (drunken beans), sub a cup of beer for a cup of water. Gives beans a great flavor!
4. Blend leftovers in a blender and use as "refried beans" or to make Bean and Cheese tacos. Sooo gooooooooood!
I am a certified rowing instructor through UCanRow2/Concept2 and since my certification in 2012, along with countless hours of coaching athletes in my CrossFit St. Louis hybrid row class, I like to brag that I can "straighten out anyone's rowing in 30 min or less". I would say 15 minutes, but I like to give them a little practice time. (insert winking emoji here). I thought it would be fun to do some "before and afters" of athletes who commit to improving their technique and call it "Row Tech. U."
I recently had a client who had come to me after purchasing a donation I made to a "Girls on the Run" auction of a one hour rowing technique session. With the popularity of the rower in many on trend fitness classes (and the rampant bad rowing technique that I have witnessed in said classes), I hoped that someone would appreciate some technique tips to help them power through the rowing portions of whatever fitness classes they took. Luckily, my new client enjoyed Orange Theory classes, so it was the perfect opportunity for me to help her improve her rowing technique so she could be more efficient and produce more power in her workouts. Check out the before and after videos below and see what a difference 30 minutes with a certified instructor can make.
Thanks for stopping by! Info here will help guide you on the path to better health. I'll share my passion about health, fitness, nutrition, and finding safer personal care products as well as cooking, gardening, and raising chickens. You want it, I got it. ~ Leeny