Leaning back on the RipRow and the bike

Hi Lee,

I have a quick question for you.  When I’m RipRowin’ on a higher setting (9+) and am doing ShredLift sprints, the front end of the Rip Row will often lift off the ground when I extend my hips to the bar.  I’ve tried moving my feet further forward but it still happens if I really pull hard with my hips (which is the idea I think).  Any thoughts?  

I recall when we were riding together at Dakota Ridge, there was a large rock that I needed to quasi-bunny hop at speed up and over and one of my issues with smoothly transitioning over the rock was leaning too far back on the row portion and thus impacting my rear wheel with enough force to kill some momentum.  Could I be leaning too far back on the heavy Shredlifts and thus unintentionally facilitating the liftoff?  Would a short video clip be beneficial?  

Thanks for your help.  Have a great day!



Thanks for reaching out, and for these great questions. 

RipRow™ Wheelies

If the front end of the RipRow is popping a wheelie, you’re leaning back too far. This is super common, both on the machine and on a bike. Most riders, when they want to pull the bars really hard, cheat by leaning back with their body weight.

I’m supposed to be a great RipRower, but in this image I’m leaning back against resistance #12, and I’m popping a little wheelie. 

Ideally, when you ShredLift or do other serious pulling moves on the RipRow™, you’ll generate power while 1) balanced on your feet, and 2) generating the force internally, between your hands and feet. This is WAY harder than leaning back. 

I know this because I went to REVO Physiotherapy and Sports Performance in Boulder, CO, and they put me and their RipRow™ on a force plate. The plate shows exactly where my center of mass is — and even though I fancy myself an expert RipRower, I was leaning back against heavy bar forces. Hmm. 

With their machine showing where my center of mass is, I was able to quickly change my patterning. 

The keys to perfect, balanced ShredLifting seem to be:

Stand in a moto stance. If you’re advanced, put the balls of your feet on the pedals. You can upgrade to a bike stance later, but the moto stance requires better fore-aft balance. 

When you pull the bars, imagine you’re a scissor jack lifting a car. Drive your hands and hips toward each other, and smash your feet into the ground. 

Try not to lean back! The more you feel that urge, the more you need to lock your hands to your hips.
If you do this right, your core will tell you. I could do 100 reps at #12 pretty easily the old, cheating way. When I did it correctly, my abs burned at 8 reps. 

But I’ve adapted to the better form, and so will you.

In this video I’m doing a heavy ShredLift workout. You can see me struggling with the same balance issue — especially at #12. I pop a wheelie at -9:52.

If you want to train max raw strength, it’s OK to lean back a bit (but not so much the RipRow™ wheelies). But: The vast majority of your RIpRow™ work should be as perfectly balanced as possible. That’s why it’s smart to do tons of work at easier resistance levels. 

Smashing rocks with your back tire

Dakota Ridge is no joke! Here’s a video of two great riders (Matt Fisher and Nate Hills) shredding that trail. Your results may vary.

I guarantee you’re leaning back too far on the bike.

1) It’s how most people try to hop. The old way, which everyone but me still teaches, involves leaning back into a manual then popping off the rear wheel. This A) is bad patterning B) puts you off balance and C) can be super dangerous. You felt the way your bike hung up on the rocks at low speeds. At high speeds that’ll catapult you over the handlebars.

This image is from Bicycling Magazine. I used to teach this technique, but now I know better (and so do my students). 

2) Leaning back is the normal human fear reaction. No matter who you are, when you pass a threshold of fear, you will lean back. That’s what people do. Too bad it’s the most dangerous thing you can do. Alpine skiers know what I’m talking about. 

3) You’ve accidentally been learning back on the RipRow™.  

If you send video of your heavy ShredLifts and your big rocks, I’ll bet they look similar.

Clean up your RipRowing. Your riding will follow.

Make sense? 


Know more. Have more fun!

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