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.
Preset Programmes - Frequently Asked Questions on Training Programmes<< 80,000m Marathon Programme TaperCross-Training >>
answered by Terry O'Neill
As well as using the Concept 2 my wife and I ride bicycles as part of cross-training, and do so wearing heart rate monitors. When going up a decent sized hill, my wife frequently has a heart rate of more than 100% of maximum rate as defined by the usual 220 minus age equation. This also happens to us both when doing a 2,000m test. What recommendations could you make regarding sustaining very high output levels for non-professional sportspeople?
220 minus your age is a very rough guide of maximum heart rate and errs on the side of caution when used to recommend training intensities. The heart rate rises in response to the demand for oxygen and different activities will bring about a different heart rate maximum. Factors that will affect the maximum heart rate include how many major muscle groups are involved in the activity and the body position; whether seated, standing or lying down.
A measure of your physical condition is your ability to do prolonged work close to your maximum heart rate. As a result of training, anaerobic threshold is pushed up to around 85% of heart rate maximum. The heart also benefits and increases the amount of blood it is able to pump around each beat. This means that for a given task, as you get fitter your heart rate will come down or alternatively you will be able to do more work at a given heart rate. Unless you have some heart or circulatory problems there is no danger in going flat out. Training at the higher heart rate will have the most impact on your cardio-vascular system with low heart rate exercise improving muscular efficiency.
At what stage during a session should you reach the desired beats per minute? If, for example, I'm rowing for 45 minutes at 75% of my maximum heart rate, should I aim to reach 75% as quickly as possible then maintain it by gradually easing off, or should I aim to reach 75% by the end of the row?
Training is a combination of quality and quantity. Quality is reflected in the pace while quantity is measured in the duration of the session. Training at different intensities is designed to challenge the whole spectrum of the energy producing system. In the lower training bands UT1 and UT2 (Utilisation) it is better to get into the band reasonably quickly and hold it throughout the session.
With AT (anaerobic threshold) and TR (oxygen transportation) you are looking to finish the session just in the band. This is because the rate of increase in the heart rate is very steep and it is easy to shoot through a band and end up in the band above. The consequence of this is that the benefits of training in the band are missed and the programme becomes unbalanced. With AN (anaerobic) and AL (alactate), depending on the duration of the intervals, you may find that the heart rate will continue to rise even though you have finished the piece.
The World Rowing Federation have a table giving boat speeds as a percentage of 2,000m speed, for the different training zones, e.g. UT1 65 to 75%, AT 75 to 85% etc. I presume that these are lower than for a rowing machine as there is not the same increased resistance on one compared with on the water. Is this the case?
An oarsman could row 2,000m in February, return in August without doing any training in between, and row the same 2,000m at least ten seconds faster. This would be purely as a result of the increase in water temperature which would lead to a corresponding reduction to the drag on the hull. There is no parallel to this with indoor rowing where to achieve an increase of ten seconds will require hours of training. Training on the rowing machine is far more efficient than on the water where, to get the same training benefits, you would need an increase in training time of around 25%.
Of course an oarsman also needs to practice the skills required to move a boat and boat speed ultimately determines the success of oarsmen. Boat speed alone is not a good general measure of training intensity. Any measuring system has to be reliable so that you are only measuring the difference brought about by improved performance. Differences in wind speed and direction, water and ambient temperature plus the movement of the water will each have a considerable effect on boat speed.
On the other hand using pace as a measure of intensity on the rowing machine is totally reliable and makes a lot of sense. One of the alternatives is measuring heart rate, but pace will continue to increase beyond heart rate maximum. Stroke rate can also be used as a measure but as athletes fatigue, stroke length shortens in order to maintain rate. For this reason we recommend a combination of heart rate, stroke rate and pace as the best way to measure training intensity.
I am a blood donor and I want to continue to donate blood at the recommended frequency - once every three months or so. Does this present any risk to my health or to my performance? Does a temporary loss in red cells reduce my capacity to get oxygen to and carbon dioxide/lactate from my muscles? When moving into more intense training phases, should blood donation be avoided?
For a normal healthy person donating blood is not a problem and your normal blood volume would be restored certainly by the next day; red cell volume, however, could be down for around ten days. Avoid doing any flat out tests until your red cell count is back to normal. The only other thing you need to watch is to make sure that the actual point where they take the blood from has healed as if you start rowing, even at a low intensity you could cause the exit point to start bleeding again.
What contribution does a 10,000m session make towards maximising performance over 2,000m?
The longer session improves muscular efficiency by increasing the number of capillaries around the muscle fibre and the density of mitochondria (the site of energy production) in the cells. This has the effect of increasing the contact time for oxygen to pass from the blood to the muscle. As a result there is an increase in the maximum oxygen uptake, which is a vital parameter for an endurance athlete.
The higher intensity sessions identified by the elevated heart rate have a greater effect on the oxygen delivery system, heart/lung function and stroke volume. However, they will also increase capilliarisation and at a faster rate than at low intensity. The problem is that high intensity training causes high lactate accumulation and glycogen depletion which need time between sessions to recover. The number of sessions a week you train will determine how many of them should lead to a lactate build up. Five to six sessions a week should allow enough recovery to train at high intensity. However, you will need to factor in the energy costs of your job and whether it is heavy manual or stressful.
In 2,000m racing what are the pros and cons of level-pacing as opposed to rowing the first and last 500m segments faster than the middle two?
Level pacing is covering the distance at the highest sustainable pace. There are two other alternatives; going off as hard as possible or going off steady and building up to a big finish. If you go off too hard then you have to cope with high lactate levels caused by oxygen debt. This will result in a slowing down in the latter stages of the race that will cost twice as much as early gains. If you go off steady and build to the finish you may not get it right and finish with energy to spare.
Even with level pacing the first 500 metres are normally the fastest. To start with you have instantly available energy in the muscles that will last for about ten seconds. Replacing this fuel takes time and therefore work cannot continue at the same intensity but you can still blast off for the first ten to 15 seconds and it is this that reduces the overall time of the first 500 metres.
The last 500 metres is normally the second fastest because you empty your tanks on this one to finish exhausted.
I've been rowing 30,000m pieces in preparation for a marathon attempt. The only problem is I seem to hit acute hunger pains after about 25,000m, pains which take about three days to go away. The first time I did 30,000m was with no lunch or evening meal and with no drink throughout. The next time I tried using Isostar throughout the row. It was better but I still got the hunger pains. Next time I will have a decent lunch. Any ideas?
When you are rowing for two and a half hours it is quite normal to get hungry. The way to combat this is to load up on carbohydrates before these long sessions. The problem is that the body can only store a limited amount of carbohydrates so you need to ensure that your stores are full. This can be done by eating a high carbohydrate diet for the days leading up to a marathon or long training piece. The type of meals that you would expect to eat would be high in complex carbohydrate (potatoes, rice and pasta) in the days leading up to the event then, on the day, supplement this with simple carbohydrates (sugars, sweets, energy drinks). The way that the body responds to this is individual and you should test different combinations of food to see which is the most effective for you.
With the fluids, there is an arrangement that triathletes use by which they can take fluid constantly without stopping. The liquid is carried in a pouch on the back with a feeder tube to the mouth. If you make a weak carbohydrate drink (5%) this will also help. If the solution is higher than 5%, which you would get in energy drinks, you could become dehydrated.
I am planning to take part in a marathon and have been trying to follow the training programme published on the Concept 2 website but am finding that when I row for more than one hour I get a seriously painful backside. Do you have any suggestions?
This is a fairly common problem and there is a range of possible solutions. Firstly, ensure that you are sitting towards the back of the seat on the ergonomically designed section. If that does not help then there are a range of seat pads available, two (standard and deluxe) from Concept 2. An alternative is to use bubble wrap, the type with the small bubbles is best, to create your own padding. The final recommendation is to have a custom designed seat pad made. For more information see the website http://www.eelpie-rowing.co.uk