An ergometer is a device that measures work output and is also a common term associated with indoor rowing. The Concept 2 is the ergometer of choice for recreational and competitive rowers alike. Some rowers choose to specialize in indoor rowing and are commonly known as “ergonauts,” a play on the word astronaut. The ergometer, or "erg" as it is sometimes known, is a versatile piece of exercise equipment that can be used to develop a variety of fitness components. Before attempting any of these workouts, make sure you spend a few minutes warming up with some light rowing and stretching and finish each session with some easy rowing to cool off.
Descending Pyramid Workout
This workout will develop high-end aerobic fitness and requires that you increase your level of effort as you begin to tire. This is one of the pre-programmed workouts on the Concept 2 performance monitor but, if you are using a non-Concept 2 Ergo, you will need use a stop watch.
Row 2,000 meters at a steady pace (effort rating 6/7 out of 10) Rest 3 minutes Row 1,500 meters at a faster pace (effort rating 7/8 out of 10) Rest 3 minutes Row 1,000 meters at a faster pace (effort rating 8/9 out of 10) Rest 3 minutes Row 500 meters as fast as possible (effort rating 10 out of 10)
Indoor rowing events consist of a number of standard race distances with the most common being 2,000 and 5,000 meters. When you perform a time trial, you should aim to row your selected distance as fast as possible but avoid “blowing up” by going too fast too early. Time trials will develop your high-end aerobic fitness as well as mental toughness. Because time trials are very challenging, you should only do them every couple of weeks to avoid becoming exhausted. You should keep a record of your time trial performances so that you can compare workouts over time.
Repeated 500 meter sprints will overload the lactic acid energy system and, with consistent workouts, develop your anaerobic fitness and lactic acid tolerance. Your anaerobic fitness and ability to deal with lactic acid is very important in rowing, especially in the shorter distances.
Row 500 meters as fast as possible (effort rating 10 out of 10) Rest 60 to 90 seconds Repeat for 5 to 10 reps, depending on your individual fitness level.
Long Steady Rowing
Longer, easier workouts develop baseline aerobic fitness. For this workout you should row at a moderate level of intensity-effort rating 6 out of 10-or at around 60% of your maximum heart rate. You can either row for a set time, for example 30 minutes, or a pre-determined distance such as 10,000 meters. Whichever option you choose, you should be able to maintain a conversation during your workout which indicates that you are working aerobically as you still have the energy to talk.
This very short workout is tough but effective and will improve your anaerobic power and conditioning. Designed by a Japanese sports scientist, Tabata intervals were originally performed on an exercise bike by Olympic speed skaters but the workout is just as effective on a rowing ergometer. Because of the intensity of this workout, you should warm up thoroughly before attempting it. You will need to programme the performance monitor on your rower if you want to perform this workout or, alternatively, be able to a clock with a clearly visible second hand.
20 seconds flat out sprinting (Rating 10 out of 10) 10 seconds rest Repeat for a total of 8 sets.
- Concept 2 Rowing Ergometers
- "ERG Complete Indoor Rowing Guide"; Susan Saint Sing; 2000
Patrick Dale is an experienced writer who has written for a plethora of international publications. A lecturer and trainer of trainers, he is a contributor to "Ultra-FIT" magazine and has been involved in fitness for more than 22 years. He authored the books "Military Fitness", "Live Long, Live Strong" and "No Gym? No Problem!" and served in the Royal Marines for five years.