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The Effect on Wattage for an Ergometer

based upon the Measured Drag Factor

Research Question: Does the Drag Factor create any statistical difference in the average
Wattage for a 100 meter ergometer test when set at either a high versus low resistance?
In this research paper, you will learn about a highly controversial and debated topic in the rowing,
Cross-fit, and exercise communities, through understanding and reading the exploration as to whether or not
there is a more efficient or effective way at producing watts on an ergometer, through adjusting the resistance
to a certain degree.

Created By: Michael Phillip Genovesi

Instructor: William Kiker
Date Submitted: Wednesday, May 27
Class Period: 7th
School Year: 2015

Table Of Contents

Page 1: Cover Page with Research Question and Abstract

Page 2: Table of Contents

Page 3: Introduction

Pages 3-6: Body Paragraphs

Pages 6-8: Conclusion and Conceptual Mastery

Pages 9-10: Supplementary Evidence

Pages 11-12: Appendix

Page 13: Works Cited

In modern day application, the Indoor Rowing Machine, also known as Ergometer, or Erg,
is used in many different ways. Nowadays, most gyms are stocked with multiple Ergometers for the
average gym rat to use. And while the people in the gym, simply trying to work on their cardio, are
most likely not concerned with the findings of this experiment, many rowers (ranging from the junior
to olympic level) definitely would be. Simply put, the purpose of this experiment is to reach a
conclusion as to if you adjust the resistance level, which basically makes rowing feel harder or
easier, will the watts that you pull have a statistically significant difference? The reason that most
average users of the Indoor Rowing Machine would not be overly concerned with this is because they
would most likely rather have their workout feel more comfortable, rather than changing the watts
that they pull by a very small margin. However, due to the widespread use of the Ergometer for
national team testing, recruiting, and lineup determination for rowers, if a certain resistance level
were to produce more watts, the rowing community would immediately shift to that certain resistance
as to obtain the fastest ergometer test times as possible (tests that measure how many meters you can
row in a said time, or vice versa). So, while the average person may not care about the exact wattage
difference between resistances, if there is one, it is still an interesting topic to many rowers, and
possibly many people as well, just due to the complexity of the sport of rowing and how the
ergometer effects a rowers career and life.
The main hypothesis that I have is that there will be no statistically significant difference in
wattage depending on the resistance level. This is due to the fact that while in most cases, competitive
rowers maintain a drag factor (resistance) of a 4-6 (from 1-10, with 10 being the most resistance),
each rower prefers it at a different setting, therefore I would assume that a 4-6 is simply the most
comfortable, on average, but it really is relative to the actual person. However, like previously stated,
if data were found that were to suggest that there is a difference between wattages from a certain

resistance to another, the rowing community would ignore comfortability and use whichever
resistance produces the best results. The overall population being investigated is Varsity Male rowers
at Texas Rowing Center. With me being in the position of Team Captain for the junior mens rowing
team, I have access to rowers to test this experiment on, yet not access to every rower in the state,
region, nation, or world. Therefore the most sensible population is the one that I have access to, which
is the Varsity Men at Texas Rowing Center.
The sampling procedure that took place was one that aimed to eliminate as many confounding
variables or unwanted variables as possible (Simple Random Sample). First, rowers from the Texas
Rowing Center Varsity Men were randomly selected, which was the population. Ten were selected.
The random process occurred from a calculator, in which the random integer function was used. Then,
the first subject would come onto an ergometer after warming up for one minute. Every rower
warmed up for exactly one minute to eliminate differing levels of preparation or warmth as a
confounding variable. All rowers rowed on the same ergometer (ergometer #8), also, in order to
reduce the confounding variable that the specific ergometer changed the wattage or resistance. The
rower would either start at a high resistance level (drag factor) of 185, or a low resistance level
(drag factor) of 90. Which one they would start on was randomly selected, also by using the random
integer function on the calculator. Then, if the said rower was randomly selected to row on the low
level, they would go to a function inside of the monitor of the ergometer, and row will the proctor
(myself) adjusted the resistance in order to display exactly 90. The said rower would then row a 100
meter piece, and they were instructed to pull as hard as they could, in order to eliminate the
confounding variable that the rower was pulling at different intensities for the low and hi
ergometer piece. Because it was a matched pairs test, the rower didnt have to be able to pull a certain
wattage, they just had to pull full pressure, which is subjective, for each piece, the low and hi
one. Upon completion of the piece, the rower would then hop off of the ergometer, and I would look

at the monitor and write down what their average wattage for the 100 meter piece was. The rower
would then go over to another ergometer, and paddle on the rowing machine in order to stay loose.
Each rower received exactly a five minute break in between pieces in order to replicate each subjects
ergometer piece and eliminate the confounding variable which is that some rowers were faster or
slower than others on their second piece due to their amount of rest. In order to simplify the timings,
the rowers would go in pairs. So one rower would complete one piece, hop off, stay loose on a
different erg, for five minutes, whilst another rower would in that time period complete their one
minute warm up, be randomly selected for either a hi or lo resistance, row in order to let me set
the drag factor to a perfect 185 or 90, respectively, then complete their piece, then when five minutes
are completed the first rower would row whichever level of resistance, hi or lo, they had not
already done. Then, when five minutes surpassed from the time when the second rower had
completed their first piece, the second rower would hop on the erg, and like the first rower, complete
whichever resistance level piece they had not done the first time. The scores would all be calculated,
in units of watts, and then another two rowers would come and the process would repeat. With 10
rowers that were randomly chosen, there were five groups of two. This was not pairing the rowers or
any sort of blocking, this just made keeping track of the time and rest much easier and effective.
Furthermore, the exact treatment imposed was the differing level of resistance; it is also the
explanatory variable.
One way in which this experiment may not have been representative of the population of Texas
Rowing Center Varsity Men is that the sample was fairly small. However, the population itself was
fairly small, but even so, a larger sample size most likely would have resulted in a more representative
selection of data and results from the population. The exact definition of the population, once again, is
the Texas Rowing Center Varsity Men. The sampling procedure is outline in the previous paragraph,
as well as randomization process. The assumptions are as follows: Simple Random Sample (yes),

Data is approximately normal (yes: see Figure 1 in Appendix), Data is Paired (matched pairs test),
Population Standard Deviation Unknown; use t test (yes), Each individual data is independent of the
next (yes), Population > 10 (10) (no) this condition is not met; therefore the data might not be perfect
but I am noting that this condition is not met and am continuing on. Furthermore, when looking at the
Normal Quantile Plot created in R (displayed in the Supporting Data section below), it is seen that
when fit with a line that would be perfectly normal, the NQP is fairly close to it, suggesting that the
data is approximately normal.
Now, onto the data itself and the calculations. A 1- Sample T Test was used, because the data is
paired so there would only be the differences, thus a 1- Sample. Since the true population standard
deviation was unknown, T Test was used. Then the calculations in R Studio were ran, and the
calculations were very basic. Simply, a t.test calculation in R Studio was run, after importing the
data via CSV file. I also created a histogram in order to display the level of normality. Then the mean
and standard deviation of the sample difference were run. The Null Hypothesis was that the true
population mean difference of average wattages for a 100 meter ergometer piece at a damper of 90
versus a damper of 185 equals zero. The alternative hypothesis is that the true population mean
difference of average wattages for a 100 meter ergometer piece at a damper of 90 versus a damper of
185 does not equal zero. The level of significance for this test was .05. The calculated P Value was
0.001172. This means that I reject the Null Hypothesis that the true population mean difference of
average wattages for a 100 meter ergometer piece at a damper of 90 versus a damper of 185 equals
zero due to the fact that the P Value is less than the level of significance. Thus, we have evidence to
suggest that there is a statistically significant difference in the true population mean difference of
average wattages for a 100 meter ergometer piece at a damper of 90 versus a damper of 185.
Furthermore, if the conclusion was to have been wrong through Rejecting the Null hypothesis, there
would have been a Type 1 error. The degrees of freedom was 9. The T Value was 4.67. A .05

significance level was used due to the fact that it is fairly strong, and also commonly accepted, so .05
was picked as the level of significance.
Furthermore, in this test I made use of all four mastery concepts. The first one, Exploring Data,
I employed by critically analyzing the data as a whole and noticing trends. What I noticed is that
people who weighed more, usually could produce more watts on their 100 meter piece. Also, for most
people, and most of the data, the higher resistance factor resulted in a much higher average wattage.
However, there were some people who had a fairly insignificant change. This leads me to believe that
the effect of the resistance may have more of an effect on some people rather than others. The second
concept, Sampling and Experimentation, I used while planning, conducting, and analyzing the
experiment. When planning the experiment, it was important to create randomization. I therefore
mastered that concept whilst planning the randomization portion. Furthermore, I had to plan out how
to remove the confounding variable of rest between 100 meter pieces. I also had to utilize that skill in
order to replicate the process of wattage testing between rowers. I analyzed the experiment when
using R Studio for my calculations and interpreting the value. Next, the theme of Anticipating
Patterns was used when the actual calculations were done, due to the fact that I had to take in account
the fact that the calculations were only based upon a normal curve, and if there were to be some sort
of natural random phenomena the data may have been incorrect, thus a Type 1 error. Finally,
Statistical Inference was used when calculating the data, since a population parameter was defined, a
P Value was calculated, and interoperated, and when attempting to make a valid conclusion. Due to
the low P Value, I was also able to reject my null Hypothesis, employing Statistical Inference skills.
Now, for the conclusion. The overall statistical conclusion of this data is that there is evidence
to suggest that a change in resistance of the ergometers drag factor does have a statistically
significant difference in the average wattage for a 100 meter piece. Furthermore, if we were to change
our alternative hypothesis to the true population mean difference being greater than 0, meaning that

the higher resistance (185) is able to produce more wattage than the lower resistance (90), and thus
half our P Value, we would still reject the null that they are equal; one half of the P value is still less
than .05.
Thus, we can conclude that not only do we have evidence to suggest that there is a statically
significant difference, but also that the mean difference is greater than zero. To apply this in context,
this data and conclusion is basically saying that a person or rower will be able to produce lower splits,
and more wattage or power, if the drag factor (resistance level) is set on a higher level (185) versus a
lower level (90). This means that rowers should definitely set their resistance at a higher one, but this
is not saying that 185 is the ideal resistance level for wattage production. Since not all high
resistances were evaluated, there is only evidence to suggest that a resistance of 185 is more effective
than 90, but not that, for example, 185 is more effective than 188 or 190. This is simply to say that the
results of this data exploration should not be used literally in the sense that every ergometer be set to
185, but rather the knowledge is now known that a higher resistance could possibly produce more
wattage than a low resistance, due to the evidence gathered and calculated. This ultimately means that
a rower who is about to complete a 2 kilometer or any other Ergometer test should increase the drag
factor, and therefore increase the resistance, and be able to produce more wattage and beat the

Data/Supplementary Evidence
R Code:
> hist(final$damper.nine)
> hist(final$damper.two)
> hist(final$differnce)
> data <- read.csv("~/Desktop/final.csv")
> View(data)
> final <- read.csv("~/Desktop/final.csv")
> View(final)
> t.test(final$difference)
One Sample t-test
data: final$difference
t = 4.6679, df = 9, p-value = 0.001172
alternative hypothesis: true mean is not equal to 0
95 percent confidence interval:
29.94354 86.25646
sample estimates:
mean of x
> mean(data$difference)
[1] 58.1
> sd(data$difference)
[1] 39.36002
> qqplot
function (x, y, = TRUE, xlab = deparse(substitute(x)),

ylab = deparse(substitute(y)), ...)

sx <- sort(x)
sy <- sort(y)
lenx <- length(sx)
leny <- length(sy)
if (leny < lenx)
sx <- approx(1L:lenx, sx, n = leny)$y
if (leny > lenx)
sy <- approx(1L:leny, sy, n = lenx)$y
if (
plot(sx, sy, xlab = xlab, ylab = ylab, ...)
invisible(list(x = sx, y = sy))
<bytecode: 0x1023fa988>
<environment: namespace:stats>
> head(final)
damper.nine damper.two difference
> qqnorm(data$diiference)
Error in qqnorm.default(data$diiference) : y is empty or has only NAs
In addition: Warning message:
In : applied to non-(list or vector) of type 'NULL'
> qqnorm(data)
Error in plot.default(...) :
formal argument "xlab" matched by multiple actual arguments
> View(data)
> View(data69)
> View(final)
> qqnorm(final$difference)
> qqline(final$difference, col=green)



Figure 1:

Other Supplementary Plots:



Appendix (Cont.)

Data Documentation:

Peer Review Pages:


Works Cited
Wyant, Chris. "C2 Drag Factor: A Guide to What You May Not Know. - CrossFit Discussion
Board." CrossFit Discussion Board RSS. Norwalk Rowing, 02 Sept. 2005. Web. 26 May 2015.

Kleshnev, V. "Biomechanics." Rowing (2007): 22-34. Web. 26 May 2015.

"Damper Setting 101." Damper Setting 101. Concept 2, n.d. Web. 26 May 2015.

*All of these sources are used for content and material, but not for quotations.*