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Principles of Rowing Training – Part Two

In our previous Indoor Rowing Newsletter, in February, we started to talk about the five principles of rowing training which are applicable irrespective of age, time in the sport or time available.

  1. Maximising training consistency and continuity
  2. Calibration and recalibration
  3. Periodisation
  4. Measurement and testing
  5. Individualisation

Last month we wrote about the first two principles of

  1. maximising training consistency and continuity through having clear plan and intent for every training session, the 90/90 rule, training to targets and how to maximise your training through recovery, belief systems, motivation etc.
  2. calibrate and re-calibrate as it relates to ‘what is hard’.

This can be viewed here.

This month we look at the final three principles.

Periodisation is principle 3 and can be as simple as:

  • Get as much work done without interrupting consistency.
  • Recover
  • Adapt
  • Measure and test
  • Repeat.


    • Train weaknesses and race strengths, so over the off season when you are building your base, focus on minimising weaknesses. As it comes to racing, train and race to your strengths.
    • Periodise training with known life commitments.
    • Understand how periodisation relates to the long term more than one season.
    • Use supplementary training to add/ subtract load where required.
    • Make training efficient.

Theory is twofold:

  • Get your speed through length and power, vary your rate and your heartrate will adapt to that.
  • Fitness increases over 28 days. Fatigue increases over 7 days. Balance between fitness and fatigue where Great Form = Great Fitness + Low Fatigue.

To achieve this, you need to track your training load of both what is planned and what you achieve. Most training plans are written over a 4-week period where there is a step increase in intensity and load for 3 weeks followed by a lighter week of 30 – 50% reduction (depending on training phase of base or performance).

The fourth principle is measure and test. Something that not everyone enjoys however essential for success.

  • Measure often, but test less often.
  • Some results can’t be explained.
  • Track both planned and actual training so you can assess the effectiveness of your plan.
  • Have a benchmark that is achievable and pushes you to improve.

Why measure and test?

  • Understand your response to the planned training.
  • Help reinforce training continuity.
  • An important metric for when performances aren’t on track.
  • Success comes to those who fully understand their responses to training.
  • Your training history only begins the day you start collecting your training data.

What is a good test?

  • Anything that is reliable and repeatable.
  • If you want to measure performance or training adaptation, use an appropriate test for that:
    • Performance tests.
      • 30min Open Rate
      • 2000m or 5000m test
    • Fitness tests
      • 30min Open Rate or 30min Rate 20 (try to maintain length and power)
      • 6×6 (six steps of six minutes)
    • A lot of fitness tests are also good training.

Our fifth principle and just as important as the first is individualisation.

  • Load and recovery. Know how you respond to load and your recovery needs and plan appropriately.
  • Life load.
  • Individualising your training can be achieved through:
  • Understand your individual make up. Train your base to your weaknesses and reinforce your strengths in racing.


Goals are easier to achieve when you write them down, share them with a friend (who will keep you on track) and where you plan how you will achieve them. The ‘how’ comes through having a plan based on science and knowledge of yourself.

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