Mixing up your indoor rowing training

With the bad weather cancelling so many events lately and water time limited at most clubs, the time spent on indoor rowing machines is beginning to add up. Rather than just staring at that little screen waiting for it to hit zero, here are a few ideas to mix things up – as a coach, a crew or just by yourself.

1. Team relay
The classic session to get you and your crew geared up for racing. Organise yourselves into well-matched teams and work together to cross the finish line first. Make sure you set a rest period of around 10 seconds so that you have enough time for the changeovers. For an extra challenge, try upping the distance each person has to cover, or giving each person multiple intervals.

2. Indoor triathlon
For this you will need an indoor rowing machine, enough room to do shuttle runs up and down and a turbo trainer or a static bike. Decide on set distances for each station and try to complete it in as short a time as possible. This works even better if you have someone to race head-to-head with or to complete with in a circuit.

3. Group indoor rowing
Write a plan for a 30 minute session. In it should contain intervals of varying lengths at the six stages of the stroke in a random order. Start with 30 seconds of each stage in order and then vary as much as you can while making sure you reserve an equal share of time for each stage of the stroke

For example:
30s  Arms only
30s  Body lean
30s  ¼ slide
30s  ½ slide
30s  ¾ slide
30s  Full slide
15s  Body lean
90s  ¾ slide
45s  ¼ slide
15s  Arms only

The more people you have on the machines the better, as it helps to sync up crew body positions and give coaches, or whoever sits out to make calls, the chance to make adjustments.

4. Race visualisation
If you have the room, set up all the indoor rowing machines in crew order in a line behind each other. Have the stroke set up the race distance on their screen and everyone else set to ‘just row’. Have the cox or coach make race calls and visualise the event as much as possible with overtaking crews, landmarks and builds as you would in the race. Once again, it will help the crew to come together off the water if they can see and follow each other as they would in a boat.

5. The 4,3,2,1
For a real challenge, set the indoor rowing machine to the variable intervals of 4k, 3k, 2k and 1k with a four minute rest in between each. The aim is to up the intensity in each piece, starting with the 4k around your 30mins at r20 pace and finishing with the 1k around your 2k pace. This is a hard one so make sure you use the rest effectively!

Aaron Sims

Always remember to do a risk assessment and a proper warm up and cool down…