T Nation

Rowing Power Training


I am a Division 1 male college rower training during the offseason. Stats are 20 years old, 6'3 210 lbs, and ~11% body fat as of today. I ain't no lightweight rower.

This will be my offseason summer training log of 5/3/1 Boring But Big and my rowing training leading up to the season. I intend to gain strength while improving my rowing technique and overall performance. Hopefully this log will show that a power endurance athlete can get strong and fit at the same time and that those who say otherwise simply aren't trying hard enough.

Currently I am focusing on strength and rowing technique while making improvements in my cardio base. As the season approaches I will cut body fat and increase my rowing volume while not necessarily cutting down on weight training, but re-arranging the schedule so as to better accommodate multiple cardio sessions. IE: twice a week with two lifts per day.

Previous to starting this log I have followed my rowing training regiment and have completed one cycle of 5/3/1 BBB. I am currently on my second cycle on Week 2 (3,3,3+) doing Deadlifts tomorrow.

Diet is healthy and high protein. As the season approaches I plan to switch towards a more Paleo diet with carb sources from sweet potatoes, etc thrown in for additional energy. I structure carb intake around workouts.

Please post comments, suggestions, and any questions you may have about my training or the sport. I'll be happy to answer.


Monday 7/25:

Anaerobic Threshold + Power Work

This was all done on the Concept 2 Rowing Machine (Erg)

10'-8'-6'-4'-2' w/ 2' active rest

Did these at 280 watts so 1:47.7 at rates 22-24. Wasn't that difficult but the first time I've done these since the season. Aim to be doing full 30'tests by the end of the summer. I like to mix different AT work in for this kind of workout ie 10/8/6/4/2, 10ks, 6x5', etc.

Been working my way back up with these kinds of pieces. Straight up 30' seems to be the biggest athletic challenge for me. My PR for 30' is a 1:47, which doesn't match my 2k PR (6:20).

Followed up the AT work with power work on the erg, raised the drag on the machine and did 10, 20, 10 stroke pieces at a 16 for max watts. Cracked 500s on the last one...rate crept up to an 18 though. Pretty good power from deadlifts and squats.

Tuesday will be done in the weight room.


Tuesday 7/26:

Deadlift Day 3/3/3 off 415 (90%)

Started out with 3 warm up sets all unbelted.


Work Sets are all belted. I go 70%, 80%, 90% with rep out, 80%, 70% with rep out.

375x10 (PR)
290x20 (good stuff)

I am doing Boring But Big, so that means 5 sets of 10 @ 60%.

5 sets of 10 @ 250.

Next up was abs since I used a belt.

Hanging leg raises w/ 20lb DB in between feet for 5x15 with the last set being a rep out up to 20 with weight, then 20 without weight so 40 total.

4x15, 1x20 + 20 w/out weight.

Done. Pretty happy with deadlift progress.

Now for some inspiration. Here is a video of Olaf Tufte, the Olympic gold medalist in the Men's Single Sculls training the Deadlift with his own 'unique' form. Suffice it to say, my technique is much more traditional. Who says elite endurance athletes can't be strong?

That's 418 for 8 reps. This guy also probably has one of the highest VO2 Maxes in the world.


Rob Waddell, New Zealand gold medal single sculler (Sydney 2000) who also holds the world record on the rowing machine for 2k (5:36).

Wednesday 7/27:

40 minutes maxed out incline (lvl 15) treadmill at 3.7 mph. Burned 425 cals. HR was around 160/165. Good upper endurance level cardio for me. Not anaerobic threshold though so working purely on endurance.

Followed up with some assistance for lagging body parts, 2x10 DB curls @ 45 lbs and 3x20 hanging leg raises with no weight - really easy now that I've been doing them weighted.

Walked about 2 miles home afterwards.

Pretty busy with exams this week but still getting it in. Tomorrow is bench press day so get ready to see some astoundingly out of proportion numbers compared to my lower body lifts. I'm not afraid to admit my bench lags behind my other lifts, but I'm working on it. The battle against 80 inch 'wing' span continues.


welcome to the forums!

I was a D1 rower.. 10 years ago.. haha. But I'm glad I learned it because with some basic technique I think it's one of the healthiest cardio exercises and a nice complement to 5/3/1.

what's your seat in the boat? what boat? what's your goal for the season? do you know your VOmax?

Your PR for 30min is 1:47/500m ?!! is amazing. I can hold that for.. 500m.
what is the stroke rate/split time for 6:20; 2km? 1:3- something?

I wish I still had my own training formulas. I would like to do a 2km in under 2:00/500m again. this is nothing for you.. Do you have any training plans in excel that you could send me?



Hey thanks for the comments. I agree that rowing is a great but technique important sport.

I feel that strength training is under looked by most but never neglected by the best when it comes to rowing as seen in Olaf Tufte, Waddell, etc. Brad Allen Lewis (who wrote Assault on Lake Casitas, 'the' rowing book) details some of his powerlifting work outs while training for the '84 Olympics in his new book Lido For Time.

As one of the smaller guys on my team at 6'3 (big guys in the middle are up to 6'8) I usually sit two, bow, or three seat depending on rigging/etc. I'm also a starboard. Goals for the season will be to bring 30' PR time down to the 1:42 range if I stay at my current weight but if I drop down to 195/200 I'd shoot for around 1:44/sub 1:45 average.

As far as 2000 meter tests go, if we test I'd want to go in the 6:10-6:15 (1:32.5-1:33.9/500m avg) range. I feel the 6:20 (1:35/500m avg) PR is very soft.

For the real stuff I'd like to make the highest boat I can and win every damn race, because nothing else is acceptable. Competition is always fierce.

For the summer I'd like to finish up this week of exams and next week taper up my on the water volume a bit. Right now I am crosstraining and specifically this week my sessions are down due to exams and studying eg I haven't been out on the water in the mornings.

As far as training plans go - it depends. It depends on how much time you have first of all and then your current conditioning. I'd recommend to keep strength work outs in with good fundamentals like 5/3/1 and add in longer aerobic stuff. People are afraid of longer cardio here, but it really doesn't seem to affect my strength negatively as long as I eat enough calories.

For 2000 meter specifically I'd throw in a session of 8x500 or something similar to that once per week when you are getting closer to doing the 2k. Always have one anaerobic threshold type of workout per week where you push it. The rest I'd fill up with aerobic and strength work outs.


hey, cool, thanks for the tips - so one anaebolic threshold/week, + aerobic/strength. I was doing one or the other, so I will try to the 1x/week balls out 8x500m. Yes, people are a bit afraid of cardio here, but rowing is a different type of cardio, I'd say. It's HELL. I like that I can get totally spent in my workouts. I have a bit of bursitis in my hips from those days, but squatting, particularly glut activation/hip mobility helps that, so Id say the two definitely complement each other.

you should throw some vids up - a 500m and all of your lifts.

are you taking any supplements?


Yeah - one anaerobic threshold workout + 800 by 500, the rest aerobic. Strength like 3 times per week. As far as vids go, I'd like to keep my identity confidential. Supplements are just the basics - protein, multivitamin, creatine, fish oil, and xtend during work outs. I also like some caffeine before hard workouts.


Xeno Muller, gold medalist single sculler 1996 Olympics.

Thursday 7/28/11:

Bench Press Day

3 warm up sets at 40%/50%/60%

Then 3/3/3+,3,3+

3@120, 3@135, 7@160, 3@135, 20@120

Then 5x10 all at 105 close grip.

5x10 Bent over rows with strict form @ 125.

8,6,4,2 with tricep rope extension w/ varying weight

3x12 with tricep straight bar pull down w/ varying weight

3x10 alternating DB curls w/ 45 lbs

2x10 standing EZ bar curl w/ 70 lbs

3x20 Hanging leg raises w/ 30 lbs in between the feet

2 mile walk home.

No cardio today, Day 1 of 2 for exams. Second exam tomorrow. Planning on rowing in the single tomorrow but I may change my mind.


What does D1 means?

Anyway cool log


Nice work so far, keep it up!

How do you do a PR at 90% of Max though on that first log entry of deadlift day?


jasmincar - D1 means Division 1, as in Division 1 college rowing.

EndersDrift2 - I just meant that I'd never deadlifted that much weight for that many reps before.


Friday 7/29:

Sweat Factory.

15' erg warm up. Tried to go out in the single. Boat bay was closed. Frustrating as the water was flat.

Solution: 5 mile run in very hilly terrain (.25 of it on an insane incline, not sure about the exact degrees but you can't see the top from the bottom). 9:12 min/mile pace = ok. Total time 46 mins. Heart rate averaged 165-172. First longish run in a long time so I'm happy with it. Good upper aerobic/endurance building effort.

Pretty tired and glad tomorrow is a rest day because Sunday is Squat Day.


Saturday 7/30:


Today is an off day and I'm pretty happy about it. It's hot as hell out and I really needed some true rest after a long week of exams and training. Really just wish all I had do was train, ha. As I move into August at some point I will increase the cardio volume while switching to the 2x per week 5/3/1 template with Squat/Bench one day and Deadlift/Press the other. I'll be switching to this in order to focus on sport specific advancement. This doesn't mean I still won't throw in assistance movements before/after certain non-5/3/1 sessions. Feeling pretty strong right now and looking forward to 5/3/1 week so I can go for some maximally heavy singles.


Steve Redgrave, 5 time Olympic gold medalist (Great Britain)

Sunday 7/31:

Squat Church

Started out with the usual warm up off 315 (90%). 135x5, 165x5, 190x3.

Then working sets 3x70%, 3x80%, 3x90%, Heavy 'single', 3x90%+, then 5x10.

Worked out like this.

3x225, 3x255, 3x285, 2*x305, 8x285, then 5x10 at 225.

Followed up with 5x10 lying hamstring curls @ 115 (plate loaded).

Alternating DB curls @ 40lbs 3x10.
BB Curls 3x10
Tricep pull downs 6x10.
Hanging leg raises 5x15 w/ 30lb DB in between feet, then 2x15 with 35 lb DB. 15 extra with nothing.

2 mile walk home.

Pretty damn tired but happy with this workout. Know I should have used 315 for the heavy single as I got 2 with 305 and it was easy.

Looking to finally get out in the single on the water tomorrow.


Single Sculls Final Athens Olympics

Monday 8/1:

AM: Went out in the single and rowed 20k meters. Mix of technical and steady state, Heart Rate 145/150.

PM: A little over 5k (3.32 miles) run at Heart Rate 165.

Feeling pretty good today. Tomorrow is Push Press day on 5/3/1 week.


Something to strive for...and not even push presses like me!

Tuesday 8/2:
Push Press Day

I chose to do push presses for 5/3/1 instead of military because I like that it recruits your leg muscles which is important for rowing. I also clean the weight up at the start of each set.

Warm Up

Work Sets
5x155 (this was the 1+ set)
13x120 (this was the 5+ set)

Then 5x10 at 95.

After each set of pressing I do a combo of pull downs and pull ups for with different grips for twice the amount of pressing reps. Total of about 175 pull reps.

Rear Delt Machine 5x10 between 90-110 lbs.
Hanging Leg Raises 5x15 with 35 lbs in between feet with last set all out up to 20 reps.

2 mile walk home.

Feeling pretty tired from this but am way stronger than I used to be.


Wednesday 8/3/11:

15k of steady state and drilling in the single heart rate 150. Nothing too difficult. Tomorrow is Deadlift day, and I'm going for a max.


Thursday 8/4/11:

Deadlift Day

Warm up 5@165, 5@205, 3@250

Work 5@310, 3@350, 1@415 Personal Best here, Felt really easy...then went for 'maxes'.

1x455 attempted. Failed. Kept trying to get it but kept failing a few inches off the floor. Exhausted myself and proceeded to try to get 435 and never got it all the way up. Diagnosis: Poor off the floor. Solution: Platform Deadlifts for my 5x10 sets in the future for speed.

Accessory Work:
3x10 Alternating DB Curls @ 40 lbs
3x12 Tricep Pull Downs @ max weight
5x10 BB curls @ 70 lbs
3x10 Cable curls @ 120 lbs (150 is the max)

2 mile walk home.

Very pissed about missing the deadlift max. Should have went for 425 and tried to work up. Feel I realistically could have gotten 435. You never succeed if you don't push yourself. I'm not afraid to fail so all this means is I have to carry out my plan with the platform deadlifts to fix my pull off the floor and I will be good to go.


Friday 5/5/11: