Indoor Sport Services Training Guide
Our Indoor Rowing Training Guide is the ultimate training resource for the Indoor Rower. Written by top education and coaching specialists, it includes information on technique and training, with programmes on cross-training, 2,000m and marathon race training, weight management and keep fit. There are guest chapters written by top names such as Jurgen Grobler and Chris Shambrook as well as dedicated sections on psychology, nutrition and weight training.
Cross-Training - Cross-Training<< Frequently Asked Questions on Training ProgrammesIndoor Rowing For Games Players >>
When Concept 2 created the first rowing machine it was made for and used primarily by rowers. More recently indoor rowing has become a sport in its own right and the Indoor Rower has become a valuable tool for people wishing to add variety to their training for other sports. This section of the training guide gives an outline of how indoor rowing can benefit other sports.
Specific training is practising your sport while cross-training is when you add non-specific activities into your training regime. In this section we explain the principles to apply in order to develop a useful cross-training programme.
Firstly, what are the benefits of cross-training? Many sports use isolated muscles that lead to structural imbalance. Perhaps the clearest examples of this are games like squash and tennis. Here the racquet is held in one hand and the repeated action of hitting the ball develops the arm, shoulder and hand on one side. This causes the body to become unbalanced which in turn will limit the progress of the player. By developing the non-playing side of the body the balance will be restored and then further progress can be achieved. However, trying to restore the muscle balance by a right-handed player playing left handed would be a very inefficient method and so a different approach is needed.
By analysing the muscles used in the game, considering the range of movement, speed of contraction and loading, alternative exercises can be developed to restore balance.
All sports are a combination of skill and physical effort. Rowing is a closed skill sport, which means it requires the rower to learn one simple sequence of movements. The skill level is further reduced on the rowing machine where the issues of balance and oar control are removed. The fact that this movement has to be repeated continuously over a period of time requires a great deal of physical effort.
Team sports like rugby and football require a high degree of coordination between the players who all have a specific role to play within the team. During a game they are faced with a constantly changing set of circumstances and these require hours of practice drills. Although these games require a high degree of physical condition, the success of the team will depend on the level of coordination, which can take years to develop.
Because indoor rowing is predominantly a physical activity it has developed as a very efficient cross-training method. Below are some of the benefits of using the Indoor Rower to complement and enhance your training:
- It adds variety to your programme.
- It offers a time-efficient method of aerobic improvement by using large muscle mass.
- It can provide excellent anaerobic workouts complementary to explosive power sport training.
- It offers all weather training to cope with times when conditions prohibit outdoor activities.
- It is weight-bearing and non-jarring and so can be a safe and effective way of training whilst recovering from illness or injury.
- Positive reinforcement can be gained by tracking improvement via the Performance Monitor.
- It is transportable, so can be used either at home or at other locations.
Cross-Training on the Concept 2 DYNO
In 1999 Concept 2 brought out the DYNO, a strength-training machine. By using the same principles of air resistance as the rowing machine, but with a modified fan arrangement, a much greater load can be developed. The advantage of this machine is that with no fixed weight a load of 1000kgs can be developed on a machine weighing only 50kgs. Because the load is dependent on the force developed by the user it is a very safe method of strength training. The load varies with the force applied so it mirrors the varying force that muscles are able to develop over their range of contraction. Despite many advantages of the DYNO over traditional strength training systems it has its critics. The main criticism is that there is no eccentric component to the exercise. Whilst this is true this would only be relevant if the DYNO replaced all other forms of exercise.
Muscles cannot push, they can only pull (shorten), and this action is known as a concentric contraction. There are two long strand proteins called actin and myosin arranged in bands along the length of the muscle fibre. On receipt of an electrical stimulus from the brain a chemical reaction takes place called the actomyosin complex that requires ATP to supply the energy for contraction. A bridge is formed and the actin glides over the myosin, which has a series of tentacles that draw the actin along. These are microscopic movements individually but repeated over the length of the muscle fibre combine to move a limb over its full range. Muscles can be used in two other ways; contraction without shortening is called static or isometric contraction (i.e. holding something still), and contraction whilst lengthening is called eccentric contraction. Which of these three options are used will depend on the task but the actomyosin process is common to all three, the difference is a neurological function.
Muscles are made up of a number of fibres and for any task only a relatively small proportion of the total number of fibres are recruited at any one time. If we consider a situation where you are lowering an object, while you are holding the load still the muscles are neither shortening nor lengthening. There is a balance between the number of fibres and the load, creating a static situation. To lower the object some of the fibres are switched off so that those still working cannot stop the muscle lengthening. This process has created an eccentric contraction, that is, the muscle is lengthening while under contraction.
The development of the neurological element is a vital ingredient in the preparation of an athlete and so eccentric as well concentric exercise is essential. Eccentric use of the muscle occurs for example in ball games where the athlete has to stop suddenly and change direction and also when landing in jumping events. Static, eccentric or concentric contractions are functions of the muscle and because of the sport specific nature of these functions it is best done whilst practising the sport and specific sport drills.
Strength on the other hand is determined by the cross sectional area of the muscle fibre and is a limiting factor of the loads that can be tolerated during the muscle functions. Rapid strength gains can be achieved through eccentric training but the majority of muscle damage is done during eccentric exercise. Therefore the safest way to increase the cross sectional area of the muscle fibre is by progressive overload of the muscle in concentric contractions. This is only one aspect of training and greater strength alone will not necessarily improve performance. Acquired strength has to be developed into greater speed and power in the context of the sport you are training for by using a comprehensive programme of exercises and practice.
Training the Energy Systems
Anaerobic Alactate Training
For athletes requiring instant power e.g. throwers, jumpers, sprinters (60m and 100m).
Development of the Anaerobic Alactate System
The exercise pattern should be a low number of hard strokes at a high stroke rate, interspersed with some light ones.
Example: 3 x (10/5 x 10) AN 32 to 36spm. Damper setting: 3 to 5
Row ten hard strokes at 34 strokes per minute followed by five light strokes repeated ten times, rest then repeat the whole process twice more, giving a total of 300 hard strokes. During the hard stroke phase, the heart rate will soar but, unlike during longer intervals, there will be no lactic acid accumulation. Progression would lead up to 3 x (17/7 x 10), AN 32 to 36 spm.
For games players and 400m runners.
Development of Explosive Power
The exercise pattern should be a series of high intensity intervals of 30 to 60 seconds duration. Work to rest ratio 1:2.
Example: 2 x (45 secs/90 secs x 8) AN 32 spm. Damper setting: 8 to 10
Row 45 seconds maximum effort (this will cause high lactic acid levels) followed by 90 seconds of very light and relaxed rowing to allow the shunt mechanism to work. Repeat eight times, rest for five minutes, then repeat. Progression is indicated by improved power output measured on the monitor during hard strokes. Maintaining a higher output throughout the session indicates greater lactate tolerance.
For most sports, including those with low physical requirements e.g. bowls and curling.
Development of Endurance
For aerobic training the monitoring of output is vital. Heart rate is the simplest and most practical way to control work intensity as it increases with an increase in physical output. This is perhaps more important during long periods of aerobic training to ensure that you stay in the correct training band. Aerobic exercise intensity should be carried out at between 65 to 85% of MHR continuously for a duration of 20 to 90 minutes depending on the fitness level of the athlete. The damper setting/drag factor should be quite low, enabling the athlete to row with a flowing rhythm.
For all sports, especially contact sports e.g. hockey, rugby, football and basketball.
Another excellent use of the machine is blood washout. After strenuous exercise, muscle damage and small lesions can occur, especially for those involved in contact sports. As a result, debris accumulates in the muscles leading to soreness and muscle stiffness. A period of low intensity rowing keeping the heart rate slightly elevated at 65% of maximum, increases the blood flow through the muscles. This not only speeds up the metabolisation of accumulated lactic acid but also carries away any debris, thereby aiding recovery.