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    Harnessing the Force Curve

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    As indoor-rowing season approaches, our focus shifts to building a strong fitness base for next season. Tough training sessions will get you fit, but how do you work on improving power on the drive from workout to workout? Answer: Use the stroke-by-stroke information from your monitor to inform your technique and make it more effective every time you strap into your indoor rower.

    The force-curve setting is like having a real-time coach looking right at you. The graphic readout will show your drive sequencing and give you feedback about how much force you’re generating. The black line on your display reflects how you apply power through the stroke. If the line is solid, the sequential power application of legs, body, arms is smooth and effective. If your line is broken or bumpy, it indicates an ineffective drive sequence and mistimed transition of force to the handle. 

    Applying a steady effort through the drive phase will appear as a bell curve with a solid line. Aim to see a peak in the middle and the curve on both sides of the peak relatively symmetrical. If you open your body early, you will see a plateau in the first part of the curve; if you lose your drive suspension in the second half of the drive, you’ll see the curve fall off sharply.

    The more wattage you can push out, the more volume you’ll have under the curve. As you progress through the indoor season, use your force curve—a simple and effective tool for giving you direct feedback on your stroke quality.

    Marlene Royle is the author of Tip of the Blade: Notes on Rowing. She specializes in training for masters rowers, and her coaching service, Roylerow Performance Training Programs, provides the program and support you need to improve your competitive edge. For information, email Marlene at or visit

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