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10 Week Rowing Interval Programme

Hard but Effective

This 10-week rowing interval programme is a very effective, albeit hard way to make rapid gains in cardiovascular fitness. What's more, it can be adapted to work on a bicycle too.

Because it's aimed at gaining basic fitness, it's not hugely varied the way a rowing-specific programme would be. Instead, it's manipulates volume of training in a very simple manner to get you an improvement in your rowing (and overall CV) fitness in a fairly short period of time. Density and intensity remains the same throughout the intervals.

In simple terms...

  • Volume refers to how much work you're doing, usually measured in time or distance in a CV context.
  • Density refers to how much work you do in a period of time, usually manipulated by increasing or decreasing rest periods
  • Intensity refers to how hard the work is, usually measured using speed or power output.

I like rowing because it's full-body activity whose upper body work is reliant on the back muscles. Lo and behold, it's the back muscles that most people often neglect in their weight training. While rowing won't make up for this, the lower resistance nature of rowing suits positive postural adaptations quite well.

Including a warm-up, even the longest workout in this 10-week rowing interval programme comes in at just over 30 minutes per session.

How to do it...

Do a thorough dynamic mobility warm up, including a rowing progression of a few minutes, for at least 10 minutes.

Week 0

2000m Rowing Time Trial as fast as you can (don't sprint off the start, you won't finish!)

  • Record the time
  • Divide the time by 4 to get your average 500m time (e.g. 8:00/4 = 2:00)
  • Subtract 2s from that number to get your target pace for all intervals (e.g. 2:00 - 0:02 = 1:58). If you're really experienced on a rower, you could subtract as much as 5s.

Every week, do the interval workout twice with up to 5000m (approx 25 minutes) row on another day.

Week 1

10 x 60s Row, 60s Rest

Week 2

7 x 90s Row, 60s Rest

Week 3

8 x 90s Row, 60s Rest

Week 4

9 x 90s Row, 60s Rest

Week 5

10 x 90s Row, 60s Rest

Week 6

5000m Easy Row

Week 7

5 x 2min Row, 60s Rest

Week 8

6 x 2min Row, 60s Rest

Week 9

7 x 2min Row, 60s Rest

Week 10

Only one workout this week: Repeat the week 0 Time Trial.

Take at least 2 weeks in which you only do a bit of easy rowing before re-running the programme should you wish to do so.

After doing the programme through twice, the return on your effort will diminish significantly if you do more and you'd be better looking for a more performance orientated rowing programme.

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Will Newton

In over twenty years of coaching, I have coached everyone from absolute beginners to world champions.
My interest in getting the best results for people who train for health and fitness or the love of sport, rather than as professionals, drives me to find the most effective ways to get results.
My mission is simple: Be in better shape at 70 than most people are at 20, and to help you do the same.

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