From 500 to 5000 meters

Rowing is a complete exercise that builds strength and endurance and can be used to develop both aerobic and anaerobic fitness. Traditionally considered an endurance sport, rowing is also a speed and power sport. Rowing speed is measured in the time it takes to cover 500 meters (ie; split) and power is measured in watts.

A typical 2000 meter rowing race lasts between 6 and 8 minutes and relies mainly on the aerobic system but it also places a high demand on the anaerobic energy system.  Power output is high and typically in the range of 200 to 500+ watts, the equivalent of a 2 min and 1 min 30s split, respectively.

 On the Concept2 indoor rower the 500 m  split and power in watts is displayed in large numbers in the middle of the performance monitor. Select Change Units to see watts. Essentially both units  measure the same thing – the amount of work being done per 500 meters. It doesn’t matter whether you are rowing 500 or 5,000 meters the monitor always displays your time or power per 500 m for each stroke and your average (see bottom left of screen).

But a 500 m row and a 5K row will elicit very different training effects. A 500m row for time draws primarily on the anaerobic energy system, resulting in high concentrations of lactic acid, whereas a 5,000 m row is mostly aerobic in nature. The difference is intensity. A 5K row is done at a pace that can be sustained for approx. 20 mins or longer while a 500 m race pace cannot be sustained beyond 90 secs to 2 mins.

One of the great things about the indoor row machine is that you can use it to do an infinite variety of workouts for either time or distance.  From the performance monitor Main Menu you can easily access a number of preset distance workouts, ranging from 500m to 5K and beyond, as well as timed interval workouts. The set pieces found in Standard List, such as the 2K and 5K rows, are great benchmark workouts that you can use to measure your progress over time.

Indoor rowing is a very effective method of interval training. The interval workouts in Custom List alternate periods of high-intensity work with brief periods of low-intensity work or rest and are used to improve both aerobic capacity and power output. But before you work on improving your power output (speed) on the indoor rower you should first work on improving your rowing efficiency by practicing good technique and stroke rate control.

Longer set piece rows, such as the 2000m and 5000 meter, allow you to do this while also improving your aerobic fitness, which will ultimately benefit your performance over any distance. Try the following two workouts:

1)  Set the monitor to 2000m. Row the first 500m at 22 spm, the second at 24, the third at 26 and the last 500 m at 28 spm. Your split (time) should get faster on each quarter as your average 500 split decreases over the duration of the piece. Note that your avg. split x 4 equals your finish time. Take a 5 or 10 min rest and repeat. From the start of the second 2000 m piece , try to keep your avg. split (or avg. watts) below the average for the previous piece so that you finish in a faster time than the first.

2)  Set the monitor to 5000m. Row the first 1K at 20 spm and increase the stroke rate by 2 for each 1K so that the last 1000m is rowed at 28 spm. As above, your 500 m split should decrease over the duration of the piece. Remember that the main purpose of these longer rows is to work on good technique and stroke rate control. Save the high intensity and high stroke rate (30 +) workouts for the shorter distances such as 500m or less. Or save them until your next race!

Row Long and Row Strong.


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