Originally Posted by Svenn
I don't necessarily agree, I think this is an example of taking abstract physiological concepts too far: every way you work out your muscles is going to build mass... expect for bodybuilders over 200 pounds, the resulting size difference of your muscles between doing 3 reps of 10 on the seated row versus 300 strokes on a 2000m erg row is very minimal. Putting the erg setting on 10 and consequently doing less, more forceful strokes is going to approach weightlifting more than an aerobic 3000 rep jog, and a slightly greater muscle gain will result.
Sure, putting the setting on 10 will destroy any proper "real" rowing form like you're supposed to do in a boat (unless you're rowing through a sea of mercury or something), but I have long believed that one shouldn't use 'crew' form on the erg if you're not actually training for it. It's physiologically safer to do a conservative stroke where you keep your back straight and bring the handles to your stomach, rather than doing a crew stroke where you lean far back at the end of the stroke and yank the handles up to your chest.
Rowing with the setting on 10 is similar to splitting hemlock or doug fir with a maul, from what I've found both involve lots of reps but result in mass gains. Just my 2 cents.
Unless you were in the Canadian 8+ in the first half of this decade, this isn't really good "crew" form either. It's the sort of thing you see guys do on rate-restricted test pieces to get the most out of every stroke, but doing a lot of volume this way will not only increase the chances of injury, as you point out, but will also stuff up your form big-time. On the water, I've always found that the front end is where it's at.
Rather than talk about the damper (1-10) setting, which varies with altitude and how much dust is clogging the flywheel housing, I think you should take a look at the drag factor, which you can access through the utilities menu on a PM3/PM4 version of the C2. I do most of my erging at around 120-125, bumping it up to around 130 for short-distance test pieces. I find this setting forces me to get the power on with the legs early in the stroke to "catch up" with the wheel, and also doesn't kill my back even though I do a lot of low-rate work (SR 18-22).