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Damper settings are such a drag…

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Damper settings are such a drag…

What a looker; I worry for her father in 16 years...

Warm-up: 2 Rounds – 400m Run, 300m Run, Rotator Cuff Stretch, Pec Stretch, Front Straddle

Bench: 5-3-1; 50% of single for one max rep set

Squat: Dynamic squats 10×2 @ 65% – OTM

MetCon – For Time:
500m Row

I would be remiss in the utmost if I did not begin this post with a holla to the Brosnan family, which just burgeoned to a whopping three people!  Kate says, “Emma Scarlett Brosnan arrived on her own at the 11th hour!! 7lbs 12 oz, 20″ long. Born at 6:55 this morning. We could NOT be happier!!!!!”  Please know that Kate was squatting as of this past weekend – so proud!  And now that those three quarters of you got the information you came for, you may skip the dry, informational piece that follows.

Let me get this out right away, the damper setting on the rower is not the resistance – that is a total falsehood.  On days like today when you all get to ride the emissaries of pain for 500m we hear a lot of you say, “What should the resistance be set on?”  It is far easier to smile, knowingly nod, and then help you choose your damper setting.  The blog is a far better place to sling knowledge.  So listen up.

Did you know that rowing is a real, physical sport?  It happens on the water.  There is more to life than the gym and the “erg” as it is called by many.  (Erg from the Greek word for work ergon, as you well knew.)  Training for a sport needs to mimic that individual sport as closely as possible.  A rower would train on the water in a boat as often as possible.  But sometimes weather, funds, time, and the sewage from Third Creek spilling in to the river do not cooperate.  Enter the rowing machine.

For the best training results, one would need to closely replicate the movement and feeling of an oar in the hands and a boat in the water.  To mimic the boat in the water, Concept 2 created the damper to change the drag.  Drag occurs when an object moves through a fluid.  When you run the 400m at Ktown you experience drag.  When you are trying to spoon out the coconut oil to cook with you have drag.  And when the boat slides through the water you have drag.  A bigger, heavier boat would create more drag.

A useful analogy for the damper and drag is to picture you and seven of your best friends out on the French Broad in an eight person row boat.  If you imagine the feeling of just you and one other friend rowing while the other six occupants sat there with their oars out of the water, you would be imagining a damper setting of 10 (high drag).  Now if we asked two of those six friends who were not rowing to now join in, we have maybe changed our damper to a setting of 7 or 8.  Let us add another two rowers to the mix.  Now there are six of eight people rowing so there is less “dead weight” in the boat.  This would feel closer to a 5 damper setting.  All eight people rowing might put us at a 4 damper setting.

So what is resistance then?  Resistance is how hard you pull that oar through the water.  Whether you have two of eight or all eight people rowing, you can affect your resistance through how hard you pull that oar through the water.  Pull slowly and you will have low resistance.  Pull that oar quickly through the fluid and you experience greater resistance.  It matters not what my drag factor/damper setting is; resistance is dependent on how fast you pull that handle!

So now you may be asking what a good damper setting is for you.  Great question!  And like most answers at Ktown, it depends on the intended goal and, most importantly, you.  A lower damper setting will allow you to open your joints (knees and hips) quickly and pull that handle in to your body rapidly.  If you were a sprinter or short track cyclist in a previous life you may enjoy a lower damper setting so you can better mimic your years of previous training.  If you were a long distance runner before committing to getting stronger while still crushing 20 miles at once, you may enjoy a higher damper setting.  You just have to play with it.

If you set the damper lower (1-5), you will need a higher stroke rate to elicit a lower 500m split time.  With a higher damper setting (6-10), you can slow your stroke rate down and, if you are very powerful on the out stroke, still maintain that lower 500m split time.

Crap, did someone out there just ask what a 500m split time is?

Coach G

P.S. – Rob-train, can you speak to induced and form drag?  Treatise on my desk by tomorrow morning, please.

By | 2017-04-25T14:38:47+00:00 February 1st, 2012|CrossFit Ktown Knoxville, Uncategorized|9 Comments


  1. Callie February 1, 2012 at 9:09 pm

    Very informative and well written Grant, thank you. And congrats to the Brosnan family!!

  2. G8rDave February 1, 2012 at 9:16 pm

    I nominate this post for consideration in CFKT Blog-Post Hall of Fame. I sense a missed opportunity to elucidate of etymology with an expansion into terms such as ‘ergonomics’ but there is time for more blog posts so i will await with bated breath.

    Also, I notice Emma is hook-gripping already. Kate has Jedi powers as she instructed her uterine midichlorians to pass along her CF Fundamentals skills training to Emma, our most nascent member of the gym.

    Welcome to the Fellowship of Shared Suffering, Emma. It prepared your parents well.

  3. Terri February 1, 2012 at 10:09 pm

    Most fitting that Kate was simulating a MetCon between 6 and 7 this morning!!! And I confess that I am among the 3/4 that checked the site for just this info!! But I did, indeed, read the rest, Grant. Thx.

  4. Brandon February 2, 2012 at 9:02 am

    “instructed her uterine micichlorians” – fantastic.

  5. JB February 2, 2012 at 9:02 am

    Everyone, thanks for the all kind words yesterday. Kate’s recovery is going well. To put in perspective for me, she said she felt as if she did Murphy, Badger, and a 2K row all in one morning.

  6. Ben February 2, 2012 at 9:10 am

    And I would venture to guess this was a PR??? ;)

  7. Ben February 2, 2012 at 9:14 am

    Grant great post, but alas I’m pretty sure it won’t help….

  8. G8r Dave February 2, 2012 at 10:14 am

    @ Ben…each one of them is a PR. You’ll see that in time.

  9. AG February 2, 2012 at 11:51 pm

    I’ve read this post four times, and still can’t figure out what resistance I should use.

Comments are closed.