Ergometer Rowing Benefits - Bookshelf
benefit of “taking the catch” with bent elbows may be to allow the rower to more quickly “load” the oar. Acting as a hydrofoil, ... Sparrow, et al.,  looked at the economy of rowing for non-experienced rowers using ergometers.
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Six experienced, male college rowers were recruited and performed two different catch techniques on an instrumented rowing ergometer: one with elbows straight throughout the catch and early drive phase, and one in which the elbows flexed throughout the drive. Data collected included force data from a transducer-equipped rowing machine, elbow and knee 3-D joint angles, and EMG for muscle timing. Four dependent measures were calculated from the data: average work per stroke, percent of work done in the first ⅓ of the drive, average peak force per stroke, and average time to ½ peak force per stroke.
Nevertheless, competitive rowing programmes have generally been slow to adopt sliding ergometers in large numbers, possibly suggesting that the perceived benefits are insufficient to warrant the extra financial cost.
But superior crews have been training hard and winning big races long before the ergometer arrived. ... go on cross-country skiing trips as part of their training, and the Scandinavian rowers also benefit from doing a lot of it.