10x500m Erg Workout with (1min rest)

The 10x500m erg workout is a seriously hard workout to do any time of the rowing season. But it’s really effective in the Fall and early Spring so let’s take a look at some benefits:

  • Improving your 5K, 6K and 2K Erg Score
  • Lifting your Pain Threshold
  • Sharpening your Technique Efficiency at High Rates
  • Developing your Explosive Power
  • Strengthening your Mental Toughness

What 500m Pace should I Aim For?

For early Fall, you should aim for your 2k split + 5/6 seconds and aim to rate between 24 and 26 strokes per minute.

For early Spring sessions you should start with your 2k split + 5 seconds and aim to rate between 24 and 26 strokes per minute. And as you get faster over weeks, you should look to lifting your rate to 28-30 and aiming for your 2k split + 1-2 seconds.

Why should I do 10x500m in the Fall?

There are a couple of reasons. The main reason is to give your system an occasional lift into higher intensity to support you in 6k/5k tests. A second reason is to give your system a stimulus and stay in touch with what rowing is all about – high intensity hard rowing. A third reason is that it can be a welcome change for the boredom of longer workouts.

10x500m at lower rates is around a 20 – 25 minute session. You will be doing a lot of longer workouts (for example 3x20minutes or 2x 30minutes, 10ks etc.) which are like the cornerstone to the success of your rowing season. So a twice monthly or a weekly session of 500s for 3-6 weeks in October/November is a great addition to any training schedule.

How should I Approach 10x500s – What are the Best Tactics?

Doing the 10x500m correctly is crucial – lets bullet point these, just so there is nothing left unclear:

  • Take is easier in the first 5-6 500s and aim to build for the last 4-5.
  • Do not go too hard too early – this is a major mistake and you will pay for it later in the session.
  • Attack the first 5 strokes to get your average split down (use short strokes for 1-2 then lengthen)
  • Relax. Yes – work hard on the power phase, but relax on the recovery.
  • Take a drink of water between 500s and use a towel
  • Keep moving very slowly and pulling very light on the rest phase.

Can I take a longer rest?

Yes, you can start 10x500m with a 2 minute rest. Then aim to reduce your rest time by 10-15 seconds per week over 4-6 weeks.

Also, 1 minute rest is the lowest you should go, anything less and it becomes a trade off between quality and recovery.

Can I do 7x500m Instead?

You can do less 500s and keep the rest at 1 minute. That allows you to ramp up the intensity without going over the edge. As you get better, you can add one more each session.

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Crash Your 2k Erg Score Test Strategy

Note, this was written as part of a three part series, you can learn about Part 1, the advanced 2k erg here.

Attention…. Go!

Scoring good 2k erg times is all about doing what the good ergers do. Imitation is the greatest form of flattery and when it comes to a 2k erg test, imitation of the top Olympic rowers is definitely they way to go.

So what’s the 2k erg strategy of rowers who regularly score great 2k times? And more importantly what do you need to do to erg like them?

Most of the top ergers follow the same pattern and it can be easily analysed by breaking the 2k test into 3 parts.

How to Start The 2k Test

They go off very hard for the first few strokes and settle down into their average pace early (after about 20 seconds). They then hold their split at an even manageable pace which is been worked out before hand using an erg score calculator, or from memory.

For example, say you want to pull sub 7 minutes for your 2k. You calculate that you need to have an average split of 1:44.3 /500 for the entire 2k. This will give you a finish time of 6:57.0.

What to do in the Middle

Having gone off hard for 20 seconds your average split might be around 1:40 and as you settle down into pace the average will climb.

Maintain pace and do not go for power 10’s or pushes unless you are experienced and fit enough to be able to cope with the extra power. This is a common mistake made by many beginner rowers (and some not so beginner!). If you want to get the most out of yourself you need to be pulling hard – on the red line with high average power.

Red lining your pace means that you are in a position where you are flicking between grinding to a halt and just about able to hang on and manage.

How to Finish

With 500 meters to go slowly raise your power (drop your split by 1 – 2 seconds/500) and hold it until 300 meters to go. From this point on it is all about slowly winding your power and rating up to the last stroke.

Some rowers prefer to delay the beginning of the push for the line to between 400 and 300 meters to go. Decide for yourself on the timing of your sprint. Factors like how good you feel or how fit you are will weigh heavily on the timing of your sprint.

If you have trained well and are well prepared then you will have practiced your sprint to the line. This is what all the great Olympic rowers do. And because they have practiced sprinting (no matter how hard it feels or tired they are) they are able to sprint on auto pilot – no matter what.

So if you have gone off hard and lowered your average power over the first 20 seconds. AND rowed the middle part of your 2k test on the red line. AND you have practiced sprinting in training (no matter how tired you are) you can row yourself to a 2k best time faster than you imagined.

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How To Mentally Prepare For A 2k Erg Test

1. Begin early

To guarantee a good mental preparation for your 2k erg test or race make sure you begin early. You probably do it naturally anyway. But once you are notified by your rowing coach or you take a personal decision to race a 2k erg test you should immediately begin the process of internal preparation.

Because usually, the more time you have to prepare,  the better you can be mentally prepared for the 2k.

2. Plan every detail

You must plan everything. And be absolutely meticulous about everything. Attention to detail is key. Decide exactly how you are going to prepare. Decide exactly on what you will do on race day. Have a 2k erg strategy well planned in your mind and practice it if possible at lower intensities in training.

Knowing exactly what you you are going to do  will reassure you and give you a strong base to launch your race plan on race day. Don’t fulfill to prophesy of he who fails to plan, plans to fail.

3. Train hard

I am a big believer in preparing physically for a 2k erg. I believe that an excellent physical preparation will give you enormous confidence and mental strength in your approach to the race.

If you are well trained and have developed the necessary fitness and mental toughness for the 2k erg in your training, then the need to do other extra mental preparation should not be as strong.

4. Better to be under than over cooked.

Never, ever over train with erg rowing when you are preparing for a 2k erg test. When you are tired and over trained the chances are that you will be weak mentally. Or at best you will be in a vulnerable mental state for the 2k.

This balance between under and over training is up to you. And will come with experience. But when you’re are in doubt – more is less.

5. Attack.

When it comes to race day, within the confines of your 2k test plan you should aim to attack. Our primitive natural defence mechanisms instruct us to either fight of flight. Adrenalin can be a great strength for a rower. It can make our rowing perceived exertion seem easier.  So use it. Aim to attack the erg test (within your plan) and do not fear it.

6.Keep those promises.

Remember the last 2k erg test you did? What promises did you make yourself during or afterwards? Did you keep them? Maybe you promised yourself that you’d train harder, smarter, get more sleep or eat better. We’ve all done it. But the real difference comes in keeping those promises to yourself. It’s all about personal integrity. It’s just between you and me. Keep your promises – and when it comes to preparing for a 2k erg test, you will thank yourself.

7. Understand that It will be difficult

Aim high, under achieve and you’ll feel bad.

Aim low, over achieve and you’ll feel great.

Expect an ok erg test, it’ll be hard and you’ll suffer mentally.

Expect a very difficult erg test , it’ll be easy and you’ll score a PB.

(I’ve used this tactic successfully many times).

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Boost Your Middle 1000 Meters with This Rowing Workout

This is a new rowing workout that we’ve had good success with recently. It’s a great workout that can be done in the boat or on the erg. Most of the rowers and ergers that have tried it all said it helped them to precisely:

  • Row a really hard rowing session
  • Touch many training zones
  • Stay motivated (it’s a mentally alerting workout)
  • Jolt from the comfort zone into new rowing territory.

But be warned – of all the rowing workouts that ergrowing.com recommends this one is one of the toughest.

But most of all it’s a rowing workout designed to help you develop an awesome middle 1000 2k race pace.

Here it is:

Warm Up:

  • Warm up for around 20 minutes with some solid rowing.
  • After around 10 minutes do a 1 minute pipe opener rating 30 – 32 rowing hard.
  • Next (after a short break) do 3 x 15 strokes at rate 32, 34 and 36 respectively.
  • Take around 1 minute easy rowing between each 15 stroke push.
  • Finally do some easy rowing for 2 – 3 minutes and get ready for the actual rowing session.

Phase I

  • Row hard at 32 strokes per minute for 30 seconds, then drop the rate down to 30 for the next 30 seconds.
  • Repeat this wave for a total of 5 minutes.
  • In other words you will do each rate (30 and 32) 5 times in a row at 30 seconds each continuously for 5 minutes

Take 5 minutes easy rowing and repeat the 30 second rowing wave for 5 minutes.

  • After that take 5 minutes easy rowing again and repeat the wave a third time.
  • Row easily for 5 minutes and take a short break.
  • 7 minutes after finishing the 3rd rowing wave begin the next phase.

 

Phase II

  • 12 minutes steady rowing rate 28.
  • Focus on power and rhythm developed in the 5 minute wave phase.
  • Take a 5 minute rest and repeat the 12 minute workout.
  • That’s it!
  • Warm down in the usual way.

Rowing Tips:

For the 5 minute wave workout make sure you work hard. For some rowers (and rowing crews) rating 30 – 32 in the summer racing season is easy. But if you do it with extra punch and purpose, you will get an excellent physically challenging workout.

But here’s the best part. Most rowing workouts focus (mainly) on the physical training effect of the program. Very few have a physical element intertwined with a specific technical & physical element built into the workout.

Very few are designed so that it would be impossible to do a good workout without using your technique and physicality properly.

Let me explain.

In this workout, when you drop the rate down from 32 to 30 strokes per minute you should actually row harder. That’s right – you should actually work harder in the water.

Now to some rowing coaches (and rowers) doing something like this is borderline rowing heresy– it betrays the very fundamentals of ratio and rhythm with the timing and speed of the boat.

Accepted.

That stuff is all fine and dandy and in the real world of racing 2k competitively its actually crucial. But in the world of training and practice you need to learn to improve your weaknesses.

And you know what one the biggest weaknesses (technically & physically) of mid level rowers and rowing crews is?

The 2k Rowing Settle Slump

Is that point of a rowing race where crews make a change from the after start phase to the middle of the 2k course phase. It’s the point where most crews actually lose speed and set themselves up for a slower than potential  middle of the course pace..

It happens because rowers and crews lighten off the work rate in the water way too much.

Trust me. 50 – 60 % of rowing crews (at mid level) do this in every race.

Powering down as the rate drops causes two things:

  • A drop in speed (because rate and power drop)
  • A distortion of the rhythm (power drops more than rate)

The distortion of the rowing rhythm causes all sorts of problems for the rest of the race. Crews get too tired rowing in an incomplete rhythm that is not a direct match of the boat speed.

Here’s How To Solve It.

The rhythm at the beginning of a rowing race is generally good amongst most crews. But most lose it when they drop the rate down for the middle 1k.

Of course it is necessary for survival to drop the rate and power (even the best crews in the world could not hold the rate, length and power of the start phase for the entire 2k – although some are getting close)

You and your crews need to train and practice the transition from the racing start into the middle 1000. Doing the 5 minute workouts (with 30 second waves) will help you and your crew practice that transition.

So when the rate drops by 2 pips – Harden On In The Water.

But what should you do when the rate goes back up to 32? Pull lighter? Pull the same?

I’ll leave that up to you to feel it out. But most will pull harder.

 

Is this an Erg Workout?

I’ve tried this rowing workout on the erg and found it to be a very demanding erg session. Be warned this workout should only be attempted when you are mentally and physically fit. And more importantly, should only be attempted once a week – max.

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7 Steps To Seriously Effective Erg Technique

1 – Super Quick Hands.

You can never be too quick with moving your hands away from the finish of the erg  rowing stroke.

Not only does it help rhythm and power towards the finish, but if done correctly it can really set you up for the next stroke by recycling some of that dynamic energy built up during the power phase.

2 –  Follow your hands

Use the speed and energy of your hands away from your body to swing your body over the hips. A lot of Ergers make the mistake of not moving the body past vertical in the recovery phase.

If you don’t then you never be able to achieve maximum power in the power phase

3- Lift your knees smoothly.

This is especially important if you are a rower. Most of the time rowing Ergers will really emphasise the separation of the hands, body swing forware and slide on the recovery phase.

That’s fine if your game is proper rowing technique. But on the erg this is a waste of time and energy. The idea is to keep recycling the energy dynamically. If you delay or make a sticking point along the stroke cycle then it’s just wasted energy.

4 – Be set up and ready for the power phase.

Once your seat wheels are on the move towards the beginning of the stroke you need to be thinking only of one thing – the next stroke. Most rowing coaches will call this heresy but they are looking at it from rowing-a- boat perspective. Ergers are looking at it from the fastest possible erg perspective.

5 –Take it easy on the easy phase.

When it’s easy make it easy. In other words when you are going up to take your next stroke allow yourself to take it easy. Taking it easy doesn’t mean taking it slow. RELAX. If you can learn to relax then you will save A LOT of energy.  Even by just by thinking ‘easy’ makes the blood flow and mind feel strong.

6 – Use the easy phase to make the power phase easier.

This is one of the most important tips you will read at erg rowing.com Most rowing coaches will never mention it because they don’t even know it exists. Most average rowers don’t know about it. The top Ergers however DO know about it.

You won’t  see it by watching YouTube. You won’t even see it at the CRASH B’s. It’s so imperceptible that it’s almost invisible. You just have to know it exists, find it, feel it and use it. I’m talking about recycling dynamic energy. If you find it you can save unbelievable amounts of energy and when you get the feeling you won’t let it go.

To find it you need to approach the beginning of a new stroke with perfect speed. It’s a very subtle feeling. A lot of rowing coaches will say that you need to slow down the seat as you go for a new stroke. Recycling dynamic energy demands that you actually maintain your seat speed or slightly faster.

When you do it correctly and you hit the next power phase you will feel a reduced load with the same split or even lower. I don’t have percentages, because I can’t measure it but take it from me, once you can hit this sweet spot, you will save yourself a lot of pain. Remember recycling dynamic energy.

Another way of thinking about it is to keep the wheel spinning. Feel as though you are tapping the wheel along. You are not ‘muscling’ the handle on the power phase.

Recycling dynamic energy is closely related to rating which I examine below under rating.

7 –   Sequence your power phase.

If you can dance (well!), then you will know that sequence and timing is crucial. Similarly the power phase of an erg stroke is all about sequence and timing. Strongest – Next Strongest – Weakest. Legs – Back – Arms in that order. Simple, yet it’s absolutely the most efficient and effective way of pulling the handle.

To get the most from this sequence you need to follow the advice in the next article very carefully.

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