It's cool that you can reach really far forward and pull really far backward, but focusing on getting the longest possibles strokes risks "over-compression," explains Crawford, a condition that causes knee pain by transferring the load to the quads. Hamstrings and glutes are the big muscles here, and you want them doing the big work. Be sure to keep your core braced, and when you lean forward, stay closer to 1 o'clock than 3 o'clock.
In the patent record, means are disclosed whereby the chain/cable take-up and handle return are accomplished without the use of a spring or elastic cord, thereby avoiding the stated disadvantages and defects of this broadly used method. One example is the Gjessing-Nilson device described above. Partially discernable in the thumbnail photo, it utilizes a cable wrapped around a helical pulley on the flywheel shaft, the ends of this cable being connected to opposite ends of a long pole to which a handle is fixed. The obvious disadvantage of this system is the forward space requirement to accommodate the extension of the handle pole at the "catch" portion of the stroke. The advantage is that, except for small transmission losses, all of the user's energy output is imparted to the flywheel, where it can be accurately measured, not split between the flywheel and an elastic cord of variable, unmeasured resistance. If a similar system were installed on all rowing ergometers used in indoor rowing competitions, consistency between machines would be guaranteed because the variability factor of elastic cord resistance would be eliminated, and this would therefore ensure that the monitor displayed actual user energy input.