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The Internal Energy of Rowing

© 2014 Atkinsopht (09/29/14)

The time has come to measure the lost internal energy expended by the rower owing solely to his effort on the slide; that is, the energy required to move himself to-and-fro without doing any external work either at an oar (or fan wheel) handle or at the footboard. To my knowledge no one has measured or paid any attention to this lost energy partly, I suspect, owing to the difficulty of its accurate measurement.

I think that no one would argue that a rower seated on a slide with feet in stretchers urging himself vigorously to-and-fro would soon tire from the effort. And yet this (lost) work (especially in the stroke recovery phase) seems not to be accounted for in the rowing energy balance. Is this true, or not? If not then I would like very much to hear from someone who knows to the contrary, especially if good data can be provided.

Referring to the Shell Energy Balance the energy in question is that represented by the box on the lower right.

The measurement is not simple because it cannot be done using ordinary work recording devices--a fanwheel--for example. It must be done using oxygen uptake (VO2) equipment because it does zero external work. The loss is all dissipated within the body of the rower himself.

The "rower" simply moves to-and-fro on a slide (any slide) in a crude simulation of rowing. But, in order more realistically to represent the rowing motion, it would be better to use a rowing ergometer--subtracting the recorded fanwheel work from the total VO2 result.

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