If you have ever experienced on-water rowing as a sport or a training method, you immediately notice the difference in rowing on a body of water versus an indoor rowing machine. Rowing biomechanics can differ greatly depending upon the type of race and discipline, but the key differences and similarities, in on-water rowing and indoor rowing is now a growing field of research.

 

New research in the Applied Mechanics and Materials Journal, examined differences in the biomechanics of on-water rowing and rowing on a Concept2 indoor rowing machine. Researchers tested the differences between motor control patterns and rowing technique. They also assessed handle positions, seat and trunk mechanics, and shell acceleration in single scull, on both machines and on-water rowers. Researchers found a 60-80% similarity between erg rowing and water rowing. However, they noted some critical differences. These included; drive length (the Concept2 erg was 10%-12% shorter than the drive length on the water rower), stroke rate (the on-water rowing had a 10-15% higher strike rate than on Concept2 erg), and leg drive (the Concept2 erg was 4-6% longer than the on-water rower. 
 
Overall, researchers reported significant differences in the two rowing methods. Researchers advise athletes, that rowing machines area an excellent training method for rowing athletes and general fitness enthusiasts. However, researchers warn that indoor rowing is significantly different, and does not replicate or replace on water rowing.
Topic: