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3 Summer Erg Workouts for Rowers

If you are a rower, it would be a good idea to do some erging during the summer rowing season. Even if it’s just 1 erg session per week it can really benefit and help your rowing.

Erging in Summer will help you

  • Keep in touch with the erg for the following winter
  • Row some fitness boosting workouts without having to rely on a crew.
  • Extract a maximum rowing related workout from yourself – without worrying about rowing crew technique.
  • Get some extra rowing sessions in (good if you are looking to get an edge over your rivals and are involved in a seat-racing or selection scenario)

All of the following workouts are designed to be short and hard. In summer the priority should be with your on – water rowing sessions. But if you feel you need to erg for any of the reasons above, it would be better if you could just get a quick, effective session in without adversely affecting your crew rowing.

But the thing is – you need to be able to judge this for yourself. And it depends on lots of factors.

Here are some things that you should consider:

  • Your current training load (and how tired you are)
  • Your overall fitness base (and ability to recover from extra sessions)
  • Your time – and the priority you give to rowing or erging
  • Your rowing technique – some people believe that erg can affect your rowing boat technique in a negative way. This is an important consideration if you are a novice or are less experienced rower. Beginner rowers’  rowing technique can be more impressionable and open to influence.

The last point is very important. Say you have spent the past 5 weeks learning how to load your legs in co-ordination with your back and arms. Then you get on the erg and hammer out 5 x 500 meters (causing you to pull and jerk your shoulders at the catch) – you could set yourself back a long way in terms of technical development.

In summer, rowing coaches pay close attention to rowing technique.

But it’s not really a big problem for more experienced rowers – they can usually hold their technique regardless.

Here are the workouts.

Summer Rowing Session #1

  • 8 x 500 meters / 1 minute rest
  • Do 8 times 500 meters with a 1 minute rest.
  • Aim for a consistent average erg score.
  • You can vary the intensity using average power or rating.
  • Or, if you are feeling really good, extend the session to 10 x 500 meters.

 

Summer Rowing Session  #2

  • (16 strokes hard / 5 strokes light) x 15
  • Row hard for 16 strokes (this is 30 seconds if you are rating 32 strokes per minute)
  • Row light for 5 strokes (15 seconds of you rate 20 strokes per minute)
  • Repeat 15 times

Again you can vary the intensity using rate and power. A higher rate will obviously make the work phase shorter.

If you are feeling Olympic, you could take a 5 minute rest after the 15 repetitions and repeat the whole set again.

Summer Rowing Session  # 3

  • 3 x 1000 meters (rest time: same as your work time)
  • This session is great and one of the best (in my opinion) for summer rowing training.
  • The session is based on the erg workouts that boost your Vo2 Max article and you should read it for more details.

Important. For all the workouts, you should warm up well (as you would for any hard rowing workout). Also bear in mind the timing of the session. If you are using the erg to get ahead and do some extra sessions by yourself make sure you do them when they will least affect your actual crew rowing sessions.

The best time to do them is when there is no rowing seat racing imminent. And you know you will have plenty of time to recover for the next important crew rowing session. I stress important here, because you need to decide which crew rowing sessions are important.


Related Articles

1. Crash Your 2k Erg Score Test Strategy
2. How To Mentally Prepare For A 2k Erg Test
3. Boost Your Middle 1000 Meters with This Rowing Workout
4. 7 Steps To Seriously Effective Erg Technique
5. 2k Erg Test 7 Day Taper Plan

Learn More Insights in the 2K Erg Book

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Rowing Workout for Serious Rowers

Is your Erg Rowing Workout file getting  a little old this summer? Do You feel like you are not getting a return from your rowing workout sessions? Well, here’s a nice rowing workout blaster plan to blow out those summer cobwebs. (And help you discover more ideas for a new erg or rowing workout)

The Blaster Pyramid Rowing Workout

First – How to Warm Up

  • Begin with some easy rowing for 10 minutes.
  • Then do 1 minute at medium power rate 26 – 28.
  • Take a short break and do 15 strokes at high power rate 28 – 30
  • Row light for 20 strokes and then do another 15 stroke push at high power rate 30 – 32
  • Again row light for 20 strokes before doing a 10 stroke push high power rate 32 – 34.
  • Take a short break before rowing continuously for 5 – 7 minutes.
  • Next get ready for the blaster rowing workout proper.

Before you begin this particular rowing workout you need to remember a couple of things.

First: Row or erg efficiently.

Second: Focus on a good rowing workout rhythm

Third: Have a plan. Even though the rowing workout is not a 2k all out, you should still follow a good rowing workout strategy.

Fourthly: Set yourself up. That includes setting a correct drag factor setting and also adjusting your footplate to the correct position.

This rowing workout focuses on a pyramid system. Here it is:

  • 2 x 250m with 3 minute rest.
  • 2 x 500m with 5 minute rest
  • 1 x 750m with 7 minute rest
  • 2 x 500m with 5 minute rest
  • 2 x 250m.

So as you can see. Begin with a 250m and when you finish take a 3 minute rest. Repeat the 250m before moving on to the 2 x 500m. The long 750m in the middle of the rowing workout is the peak of the session. See below for an explanation on the rowing  intensities.

This rowing workout is a stinger and is best left for a time when you feel like you need a sharpening session. Also make sure that you are in good physical and mental shape before attempting this workout.

The Blaster Rowing Workout Intensity Guidelines

The first 250m rowing workout blasters should be done at close to maximum power and speed. This is an important step for the rest of the erg or rowing workout. Don’ t try to save yourself  because in a rowing workout like this one – every stroke counts.

The 500m sections should be done at a lesser intensity than the 250s. You could for example try to practice the 1st 500 of your race. In fact a rowing workout like this one is great for trying out different things. You get a number of chances to tweak your racing routines.

The 750m should not be done at maximum. Remember over longer distances you need to be smart. A good example of approaching this section of the rowing workout is to use it to practice the middle 750 of your race pace. Alternatively, if you are feeling tired you could aim to do race pace – 2 seconds per 500m on your split power.

Like all rowing workout (for the boat and the erg) you need to be personally aware and responsible to your own needs and requirements. This erg rowing workout is designed towards sharpening you up and getting you in peak physical condition for a 2k erg or rowing race.

And like all good erg rowers, you should aim to train and develop your physical and mental rowing skills towards a strong 2k erg score test strategy. And have this in mind when you approach any rowing workout.

Learn More Insights in the 2K Erg Book

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Learn Good Erg Rowing Posture

Did you know that there are 1000’s of things that you can do to make yourself a better rower – starting right now. And almost all of them are non rowing tasks.

Changing habits are hard. And the bad news is that this tip requires you to change one of your habits.

But first:

 

I Have a (non Rowing) Question for You…

Where are you sitting right now? Are you at a desk – crouching down looking at these very words on your monitor? Or maybe you’re on the couch at home slouching down flicking through your ipad? Or are you on a bus or train, on your way to work reading this on your phone?

You could be anywhere reading this.

Wherever you are and whatever device you are reading this article on, I want you to  think about one thing – right now.

 

Just one simple thing.

 

And when you think of it, I want you to do something immediately afterwards.

 

Ready?

 

Your posture.

 

How is your posture?

 

Are you sitting correctly?

 

Or, are you slouching down with a curved back, tense shoulders and protruding chin?

 

If it’s the last one – change it right now. Make yourself sit correctly so that you are maintaining your back and spine in a good neutral position.

How to correct it:

Uncurl your back, rotate your pelvis and sit on the bones of your ass. That’s the same bones that stick down those 2 holes in your seat as you are rowing in the boat. And same bones that sit on the seat of the erg (and somehow always get really sore after a really long erg session).

 

But What Has All This Got to do With Rowing?

And more specifically, helping you to row faster?

Well let me show you by telling you a short story. I heard this once a couple of years back and was amazed by its simple brilliance. At the time Peter Haning was coaching some rowing crews.

Haning was 3 times World Champion in the Lightweight Men’s Single Scull from 1993 – 1995. In some ways he was ahead of his time because he rowed with a particular style and technique that is not unlike the current rowing styles and techniques. Most notably was his flat back and upright body position.

But though he rowed upright with a flat back he still got a great dynamic body action with lots of length generated from swinging his body both forward and back.

I don’t know if it was by accident or design that he rowed this way, but the fact is that it was great to watch.

And deadly effective.

Anyway – back to my story. When he was coaching, he once subtly corrected a rower who was on a public computer on a hotel lobby checking his email. Very courteously and helpfully he motioned to the guy to sit up a little. To correct his posture from the slouching position he was in.

Before you say anything – this wasn’t a case of Haning getting involved in something that was none of his business (even though the rower was not one of his athletes). This was a guy who had seen this rower actually row out on the water and saw his limiting problem.

And like all good coaches he took his opportunity to impart his knowledge freely and helpfully – in the right context.

The rowers problem was a pronounced curved back. This curved back was – with time – making him inefficient and have some of the following adverse problems:

  • Weak finishes of his rowing stroke
  • Tired a lot especially towards the end of races
  • A generally a poor performer into strong headwinds
  • Have thoracic back tightness (which lead to injury threats)
  • On more than one occasion in a rowing race had difficulty breathing (his chest was constricted with the curve)

You would think that this guy should have been able to solve this problem, long before Haining came along. Especially since he was getting intensive (and good) coaching from his university rowing coach. But no matter how hard he tried in the boat to correct his problem, he still reverted back to his old habit when he was under pressure.

 

That is until the day he got a subtle bomb dropped on him by a 3 time world champion. Who showed (and fixed) him his problem for him in 10 seconds.

 

You see, it was not about his posture in the boat that was the major cause – it was about his posture out of the boat.

So Remember This:

Sit up and be aware of your posture until you have created a new (good) habit. And you will go a long way towards avoiding some of the problems this guy had with his rowing technique.

Rowing Seat Racing – Why Rowers Need To Be Vigilant

Whatever the rights or wrongs of selecting a rowing crew with seat racing – if your coach is into it – you must learn how to handle it.

Making sure you do as well as you can in your seat race is all about looking out for yourself. Here are some things you need to watch out for (other than rowing and pulling hard).

#1 Never Hold Back in a Seat Race

Most seat racing in rowing is blind – you never know when you are going to be switched and tested. For that reason you need to make sure you give it everything in each race. Ok, that’s easier said than done, but you’ve prepared long and hard for this, so now is the time to put all of that training to use. And because  you are giving it everything you need to…

#2 Insist on Honesty and Fairness

If you smell a rat (that a rowing rival is trying to screw you)  then you need to speak up. Let your coach know. If it’s a crew fairness issue – tell the rowers that the seat racing is not fair. Let people know you are not happy.

Let them know you are angry.

This is a competitive situation and months (or maybe even years) of hard training and sacrifice are on the line.

For that reason everyone needs to play by the rules. Including:

  • Same rating (whether it’s capped or open)
  • Same start sequence (if its power 20 and settle to 38 – then it has to happen in every seat race)
  • Same finish sequence. Say you are doing 1000 meter seat races. You are switched into a boat and you break free with clear water up with 200 to go. Make sure your boat finishes off the finishing stroke sequence**

**If the crew you get switched into were cranking the rate up to 42 for the last 25 strokes – insist that it does the exact same in your seat race. Just because you are winning by a lot of water and rowing well, it should never be a reason to ‘save’ some energy for the next seat trial.

Because you must make as much time as possible in every race.

#3 Never Ever Power Down

The same applies to your crew if you are behind. Some crews give up towards the end of a race (especially towards the end of a set of seat races when everyone is tired). Insist that your crew finishes the race like all the other races.

Remember if your coach is using a seat racing matrix – every second counts towards your aggregate score. So even when you’re boat is losing you can still gain total time.

Police this yourself. Don’t expect your coach to spot these things. S/he will be busy taking times and watching how well everyone is rowing. So its up to you to ensure that your crew rows as hard (and sticks to the same rating) as all the other seat races you are involved in.

Even half a stroke less per minute for 10 strokes can make a big difference in a short seat race. So the bottom line is to be Vigilant. And if things are not being done fairly – Make it known. To EVERYBODY

#4 Watch out for Mental Weakness

You can mentally prepare for extremely hard rowing races using methods you might not have considered. And while seat racing is like real racing – from a mental point of view, you still need to watch out for mental weakness and tiredness.

Embrace The Fear

It’s ok to wake up with your heart pounding in your chest. Seat races and rowers make for a potent mix of adrenalin and fear.

You can use this to your advantage as long as it doesn’t consume you so much  that you can’t even pull the oar.

While it goes without saying that you should try to instantly gel with the crew you have been switched into – you need to mentally blend also.

Let the crew you join know you are psyched and ready for a fight – Ready to win.

If someone comes into your crew invite them into the fold. Let them know they are welcome and that you are on their side. This is very important for:

  • Fairness
  • You own needs (you want to win)

Even a few simple reassuring words can make a big difference. Get rowing immediately and tell them that it’s GOOD. Small reassuring gestures like telling them the boat is going well and that it feels like you are going to have a great race can be reassuring for both you the newcomer (not to mention the positive impact it can have on the entire crew).

Make sure you brief (and re-brief) the crew on what the plan is. If it’s a set race plan from your coach –  repeat it. Just so you and the rest of the crew know exactly what’s happening.

Also try to fix something the crew did not do well in the last seat race. Talk it through quickly and sharply. If it’s making the first 10 strokes better – make them better (but stay within your coaches instructions).

Good Luck…

Learn More Insights in the 2K Erg Book

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Oarsome Foursome v Romanian Women’s 8 – A Technique Lesson

Have you ever watched the Romanian Women’s 8 in full flight? Here they are in the 2008 Olympic Final.

Take a look especially at 1:04 and at 4:54

When they were at their best, watching them rowing was something to behold. It was truly unique – and deadly effective. Their results speak for themselves.

But their rowing style and technique really defined them.

At its most simple – they moved their hands very fast away from the finish of the stroke and followed with a really fast body swing forward. Then the slide was taken very – very slowly (in proportion to the hands and body movement). They crept  up the slide as slowly and delicately as possible. (You can relly see this at 4:54)

Look at the overhead shot at 1:05 in the video. Watch out for the speed of the blades on the recovery of all 6 crews. Notice how quick the Romanian blades move off the finish and then slow dramatically in the slide forward.

  • There is a notably big difference in comparison to the other crews’ bladework.
  • See how they explode with an amazing leg drive off the catch and open up the body angle late in the drive phase?

And you know what?

They did the same thing – whether they were at 36 strokes per minute in the middle 1000 meters of the Olympic Final, or out for an easy training session during a World Cup Regatta.

Watching them train was great and was a real chance to see how they rowed their boat. The contrast between the hands & body speed and the slide speed during the recovery was almost unbelievable.

It was almost like they were doing a stop drill exercise -where you stop at various points during the recovery to help with timing, balance, co-ordination and all round general technique.**

Anyway – the point about the Romanian Women’s 8 is that they had a particular way of rowing their boat. And it wasn’t just confined to the 8. At the Sydney Olympics in 2000, the bow and stroke of the 8 teamed up to row the pair.

Which they won gold to match their Gold in the 8.

Rowing exactly the same style.

Oarsome Foursome – Completely Different Style (Still Effective)

Do you remember the Oarsome Foursome? If not – here’s a really great video of them training in 1996

See how they are much slower with the hands away?

But see how fluid they are after that initial ‘set’ point.

Look at how they just roll up into the front and into the water with the blades – in one fluid seamless movement.

I’m sure you’ve heard before that the catch is the ‘last thing you do on the recovery phase’? (or something similar). This rowing is a perfect example of that movement.

Important Features of Both Styles

Romanian

Hands: Really Fast away from the finish.

Body: Follows the speed of the hands (quick)

Slide: First quarter on the recovery is quick. But then it slows dramatically.

Catch: After the very slow slide the blade drops in quick and the change of direction with the slide (and the engagement of the legs is dramatic.

Leg Drive: Go down hard and the body remains forward. The whole of the drive phase is very horizontal. See how low and level they move their bodies towards the bow? It looks like their whole style is based on not disturbing the boat run (in both the recovery AND the drive phase).

Back swing: Very dynamic through to the finish (which helps a fast spin of the hands away on the recovery)

Australian

Hands: Deliberate and controlled way from the finish. The guys sit very still at the finish with toes pointed, knees flat, core braced and the only things that move are the hands. See how they all meet at a point together?

Body: Controlled – and a noticeably separate movement from the hands. Very different from the Romanians where the hands and body move almost together.

Slide: Very fluid, direct and deliberate. Notice how well they match the slide speed with the speed of the boat.

Catch: Part of the recovery.

Leg Drive: Simple effective movement: Press (or push)

Back swing: Compared to the Romanians the back swing in the Australian Boat is much more ‘even’. Sure they open up hard together towards the finish, but they don’t over rely on the legs-back separation in the drive phase.

The use both together.

But notice how dynamic the finish of the drive is: The back and arms move faster as the momentum, power and boat speed increase towards the finish.

It shows excellent timing with the movement of the boat.

So Which is best?

It’s up to you. I been directly involved with crews rowing both styles at a serious level for a long time. We spent 2 whole seasons trying to row the Australian style and spend 5- 6 seasons rowing more like the Romanians (but not as extreme).

The crews I was involved in went fast with either style – Top 7 in the world fast.

What you can try…(and why)

Option # 1

If you are inflexible the Australian style may suit you better because the fluid movement in the recovery will give you momentum for a good

  • Compression
  • Stroke length

Aim to purposively build the boat speed towards the finish.

Release the blade and feel your boat run.  Make sure you brace and sit still on the finish and don’t disturb your boat.

The Australian style could also work well for you if you have a problem with the length of your stroke (you row too short)

Be very careful though. The oarsome foursome match the slide speed forward with a quick catch and connection. So for you to do it right, you need to match this.

Option #2

Rowing the Romanian Style is a little more challenging in my experience. It’s a bit like walking a tight rope. Once you are moving and are in the groove then you are ok, if you stop moving or break the rhythm they you could be in trouble.

It also requires good control and flexibility – especially with your hips, hamstrings and lower leg joints and muscles.

Creeping up the slide is the balancing on the tight rope part – but the dynamic drive and lightening quick hands – body  – first quarter slide creates a nice rhythmic momentum that will carry you a long way up the slide towards the catch.

It’s kind of like sting and float – with a high work to rest ratio.

It works on the erg too

You can try either of theses techniques on the erg. Study both videos and decide which style you think will work best for you.

** Actually this is one of the best rowing drills you can do to get your boat going well. Whether you are in a crew of 8 or in a single scull or are on the erg – it truly is a worthwhile drill.

P.S. Drew Ginn is the bow man in the Australian 4. He runs a great blog and site called rudderfish – which gives us all a really unique insight into the world of a multiple Olympic Rowing Champion.

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