The ultimate reason for this series/post is to slowly prepare a general population non-competitive rower to try a 2km test (strategy coming soon!), which is the length of a race for competitive rowers and a fun (read: masochistic) way to test yourself. But just like the beginning of any new workout regimen, sitting on an erg for extended periods of time can get really uncomfortable. Starting slow is the name of the game, so this post can also serve as regular aerobic conditioning for someone who doesn’t care about any tests. Now, step 1 is to practice your technique and be able to maintain it for a semi-extended period of time. For my post on technique, check out Part 1 of the series.
There’s a few reasons for this:
- Safety. Slowly build your mind and body’s tolerance to the rowing stroke. First off, rowing for more than 8-10 minutes can be mentally tiring if you’re not a competitive rower, let alone when you’re in the 2nd half of a 2km test or aiming for 20-30 minutes. Second, it can also take a toll on your back, knees, hands, etc. if you’re off in technique or go too much too soon.
- Learning a “comfortable” stroke rate and working at a consistent split provides a baseline time/500m for when you build up the intensity. It takes practice to figure out what is difficult but manageable and how to maintain that pace (don’t be surprised if your stroke rate and split are jumping all over the place when you first start erging).
- Aerobic conditioning.
Try the following to build yourself towards longer pieces. You can do them as many times as you like before moving on to the next one, and you can also mix them in with your other aerobic work. I’d recommend once or twice a week along with resistance training for optimal results:
- 3-5×5 minutes. Focus on consistent technique. Don’t pay too much attention to stroke rate or your split but attempt to keep them relatively even for the length of the piece. As a general guideline, stroke rate should probably be in the 20-25/minute range and your split around 2:30/500m. Keep your rest to under 5 minutes, just walk around for a couple minutes and shake out the legs.
- 2×8-10 minutes. Again, try to keep your stroke and split from jumping all over the place, and rest for about 5 minutes between the pieces.
- 1×15-20 minutes. If you can comfortably row around 20 minutes at an even stroke rate and split time, do this workout a couple more times and get an understanding of a difficult but manageable split time for you and at different stroke rates.
- 30 minutes. Not necessary if you just want to work towards a 2km test, but a good cardio training option nonetheless and it can provide some good feedback about your technique when you’re tired or your mind starts to wander. One of the standards for rowers is a 6km test, and if you maintain a 2:15 split you’ll finish in 27 minutes. So you’ll want to be “used to” being on the machine for a longer duration if you eventually want to try that.
Next post I’ve got cooking is some interval suggestions so you can get used to pushing through when your legs and lungs feel like they’re about to explode. And fair warning, I promise you they will feel like they’re about to explode.