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The First Three Principles of Training – Indoor Rowing

In Rowing Australia’s regular Indoor Rowing Newsletter (which you can sign up to by emailing [email protected]) we share useful training tips to help you improve your fitness and erg scores along the way.

In our most recent edition, Dr Tony Rice (RA Science Lead – Pathways) has shared the first three principles of training. Read on to find out more.

Out of the five principles, maximising training consistency and continuity could be considered the most important and so, this is our first principle. 

  • Always plan training in advance so every session has a purpose. Make sure that you are training with intent. 
  • The 90/90 rule. 90 days of training (three months or 12 weeks) where you achieve 90% of your training plan. You should aim to have long uninterrupted blocks that are specific to your age, ability and level of skill. 
  • Train on target, use 500 metre splits and/or watts that are relevant to your age and goal. To help get this information, look at historical results to help you get an average. When looking at historical results, make sure to look at your target distance and age/weight group so that when you are training you are aiming for a target that is appropriate for you and your goals.
    To the target for your distance and age categories, take away the fastest time/s and the slowest time/s and look at the middle ground of results, this will then give you a good average result to use as your target. 
    If you want to focus just on yourself, use your best time as your target. 
  • Make sure that you anchor your base training at 80% of your set target time, with a stroke rate of 18-20spm. If you are looking for more of a challenge then anchor  your threshold training at 90% of this target, with a stroke rate of 28-30spm 
  • When using blocks of training at a target pace, this could be considered less effective in driving adaption, when compared to shorter blocks slightly above pace. So make sure that you are varying your speeds above and below your targets, this will assist in making improvements for metabolic and technical efficiencies. 

What help to make sure your training maintains consistency? 

  • Recovery/ sleep – making sure that you get enough rest and recovery is essential for optimal performance, even during training blocks. 
  • Motivation – Make sure you have a goal that you can realistically achieve, and remind yourself of why you want to achieve that goal each and every time you hop on the erg.
  • Training stimulation – changing up your sessions and having a variety will not only make sure that your brain keeps mentally engaged, but it will also keep your body guessing 
  • Belief system – believe in yourself, believe that you can achieve your goal. 
  • Adequate nutrition – make sure that you are refuelling after each session! This will help your muscles grow! 
  • Professionalism/ diligence – be your own best cheerleader, recognise your wins in training, but also look at your losses and learn from them.

The second principle is calibrate and re-calibrateWhile most of us immediately think of the latest gadget to inform us of stroke length, power and efficiency, this principle refers to ‘what is hard’. 

There is a saying that says: ‘make training so hard that racing feels easy and if you are intending to race, set a new personal best or complete a challenge this principle applies. 

We know that confidence in racing, in part, comes from simulating racing efforts in training so: 

  • Don’t avoid maximal efforts because they might be in the wrong phase of training as high intensity efforts are still good training. 
  • Make training specific, so as you get closer to racing make your training more like a replica race. 
  • Don’t avoid calibration efforts for fear of a poor result. Make sure these efforts are within a time you can make a physiological or psychological change. i.e. if you are looking to race over 1000 metres, don’t do a 1000 metre max effort within seven days of the race. This is because you cannot change your physiology or psychology in such a short time as seven days. 

All five principles work with each other and need to be considered when developing or revising your training.

In the next RA Indoor Rowing Newsletter we will discuss the three remaining principles of Periodisation, Measurement and Individualisation.