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Erg Rowing Tests – 7 Tips For Domination

Ok, preparing for an erg test involves  making sure you do things like some good 2k erg specific workouts. It should also involve having a solid 2k erg strategy as well as doing some mental preparation for the test itself.

But there are a lot of other things that you can do to help you score a good 2k. Let’s take a look.

#1 Nutrition

For endurance athletes like us, we need lots and lots of carbohydrates. Because intense erging burns gets it’s fuel from carbs you need to make sure you eat diet high in carbohydrates. I’ve followed this rule for many years and the difference between a high-carb diet and a low-carb diet is like the difference between night and day.

# 2 Hydration

You can run car with gas, but if you don’t have oil in the engine you’re going to blow it. Your body needs water like a car engine needs oil. Water is lubricant. And because you wouldn’t want to put any old oil into your BMW, you wouldn’t want to put any old water into your body.

You need a good hydration strategy that ensures you are topped up and ready to pull hard. Sports drinks like Gatorade are good because they have electrolytes that help you retain the fluid. Otherwise you’ll be just pouring water down the drain – literally!

# 3 Lactate Threshold

The best workout in the world for erg test preparation is 3 times 1000 meters faster than race pace. You need to do this session 1 or 2 times per week for maximum effect. Warm up well and set the C2 Erg monitor for 1000 meter intervals with 3 minutes rest. Go off hard and maintain a pace that you can hold for the entire piece.

Hold on towards the finish and make sure you do not back off the power. Repeat 3 times. Each 1000 will get harder but this is ok – it’s where you earn your race day pain tolerance gold.

# 4 Caffeine

Taking on a good dose of coffee roughly an hour before a hard workout or test can work wonders for your perceived effort. Some studies have shown a 6% drop in perceived effort after the ingestion of caffeine.

But the thing with caffeine is that tolerance can kill its potency. If you are a regular drinker of coffee, tea, caffeine drinks or even high percentage cocoa chocolate – the benefit you will gain on race day will be reduced significantly. For best results, stay off all caffeine for about 2 weeks before a big race. You might suffer a little from DTs but stick with it – it will be worth it.

# 5 Mental Toughness

This term is as elusive as it is important. Mental strength and Erging go hand in hand. Embrace the fact that you are a unique person able to withstand large amounts of suffering and discomfort. It’s what sets us apart. If you are having problems with your toughness examine your physical condition. Most mental strength issues have their source in over-training, poor hydration and nutrition or lack of fitness.

# 6 Race Strategy

I’ve mentioned at the beginning that you need a solid 2k erg strategy. But I want to mention again how important it is to have a race approach – particularly 2k race strategy. And while it’s something that you can learn and get better at with experience, you can avoid many mistakes by talking to other more experienced ergers. Ultimate erg domination will only come when you have nailed down an excellent world class 2k erg tactics.

# 7 Relax on the Burn

One major difference between the average and the dominant erg rowers is their ability to row the last 500 meters almost like it’s their first. All good race plans are almost symmetrical – the first and last 500’s are fast with the middle 1000 slower. Because the last 500 is cumulative it’s where the most pain is.

The best way the top rowers deal with it is by being more relaxed the harder it gets. Tense muscles will only lead to a restriction of blood flow to the parts of the body that need it most. So row like the champions – and stay loose.

Next Steps – Supporting Articles



Mental preparation


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Erg Workout Recovery Strategy – 7 Great Tips

Do you have an erg workout recovery strategy? Are you confident your current recovery strategy is giving you the best type of recovery from a hard rowing session?

Read on to see if you are getting the most out of your erg sessions by boosting your recovery.


1. Warm Down

You absolutely positively need to warm down after each erg workout. This is especially true for intense sessions. But it’s also true for easier sessions. The harder the session is, the more time you need to spend warming down.

There is a big difference between warming down and cooling down. Cooling down is merely lowering your body temperature back to normal levels so that you stop sweating. Warming down involves a bit more.

A proper warm down involves active movement on the erg or another exercise such as stationary bike or jogging. Exercising at a low intensity will help you to clear up your system from any lactic acid and unwanted by-products from training that will impede your recovery.

I usually like to jog because I find that it releases me from the pressure of the erg and allows me to start warming down mentally. And warming down doing a different exercise speeds warm down and cleanup process.


2. Stretch.

Have you ever felt tight buttocks and hamstrings after erging? Ever felt tight arms or shoulders? Even a tight back? Well it takes time for your body to release and heal temporary tightness.

Boost your recovery time by giving your body a leg up on the road to recovery. Do some static stretching or consider a massage. A hot bath will certainly help or if you have access to a jacuzzi try it out.


3. Eat within the golden window.

All the experts agree that the best time to boost recovery by refuelling with HI – GI carbohydrates is within 20 minutes of the workout. In other words this is the 20 minute golden window.

When I say immediately – I mean immediately – even before you hit the shower! Once you begin your cool down, begin your refuelling. This requires a little extra organisation on your part before the workout. Bring along a HI-GI snack which you can start eating right after your workout. I usually have a sports energy bar or a banana right beside my water bottle. Think easy access when you are tired.

The 20 minute window is important because your body is in an elevated state of absorption during this time where it can guzzle any carbs you feed it. After the 20minute window the absorption slows down -a bit like trying to refil the gas tank of a car with a straw rather than a fire hose!


4. Eat a meal rich in carbohydrates within 2 hours of working-out.

Snacking within the golden window won’t really cut it if you have spent an hour doing hard intervals on the erg. In a hard session you might have burned over 1000 calories -a high proportion from glycogen.

So you need to eat a proper meal with a lot of LOW-GI carbohydrates within 2 hours of working out. You should ALSO include protein in the meal to help your body the heeling process.

Eating within 2 hours is important because the body is it’s most receptive for refuelling during this period – it’s crying out to be refuelled – so feed it. Lots of studies show that the absorption rate declines significantly after this 2 hour period.


5. Active Recovery.

If you plan on having a day or a couple of days rest after an erg workout it might be a good idea to consider doing some active recovery to help boost your healing.

Basically this means you should do some very light exercise on a recovery day to expedite your recovery. Anything from taking a walk to a light jog to a swim or whatever can really help your body clear out any residual debris from the previous days’ workout.

If I can I love going for a nice easy swim because it helps me do some light exercise while at the same time relaxing my muscles in the water. On the days I can’t swim I just go for a nice brisk walk and enjoy the outdoors.


6. Switch off.

Learning to switch off after an erg workout is another magical tool to boost rapid recovery. While it’s fine to think about and digest the workout you just had and think about your general position -it’s a whole other thing to not leave it behind.  Don’t obsess about it – especially if things are not going well.


7. Sleep.

We all need different amounts of sleep – depending on lots of factors. But the one sure thing with Erging hard day-in-day-out, is that sleep is the most important recovery tool of all. When you sleep, magical things happen.

Thousands of processes occur in your body that help recovery from many things involved in day to day life – including exercise. Top rowers know the importance of sleep and use it to their advantage.

Many rowers sleep the regular 8 hours per night but they also have cat naps during the day. Rowing at the top level requires 2 or more workouts per day and they often use the gap between sessions to catch a 30 minute cat nap.

Napping boosts recovery by helping the body produce natural growth hormone which is essential for muscle repair.


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