How Jüri Jaanson Used Ergometers To Maintain His Rowing Sensation Through Cold Estonian Winters


We asked the legendary Estonian rower Jüri Jaanson and his last coach Tatjana Jaanson to explain how Jüri used rowing ergometers when he was still an active athlete and had to cope with harsh Estonian winters.

Jüri Jaanson competed at international championships for 22 years (1987-2009), taking 10 medals (including 2 from six Olympic Games) and became 4 times the overall winner of World Rowing Cup. Today he is a member of Estonian Parliament. Tatjana (yes, she’s Jüri’s wife) is also steeped in rowing – she became the Champion of Soviet Union and won the Goodwill Games in 1990. Today she is a well-known rowing coach in Estonia, sharing her experience in the Pärnu Rowing Club both with elite athletes (Tõnu Endrekson, Andrei Jämsä) and kids who are only pushing their first strokes.

Alternative training during cold winter

Like the rest of rowers in the Nordic region, Jüri Jaanson had to go through his base training cycles in winter conditions, where for 5 months the temperature is below 0C, everything is covered with snow, and all the lakes and rivers are frozen. During that time Jüri usually ran, cross-country skied, trained with resistance and sometimes swam for relaxation. When there were no snow and ice, he also did long cycling trips. Shortly, he could do specialised training only on rowing ergometers.

For Jüri after every alternative training session it’s very important to row a little bit with the right form on the water. He says that although on the ergometer you use the same muscles, the cognitive link between the muscles is wrong. No alternative training can replace rowing and your progress in alternative sports can’t be directly transferred to your rowing.  Jüri says that Rowperfect ergometer feels closer to real rowing than any other alternative and he used it after running, cross-country skiing and other training sessions to maintain the right sensation of rowing. He also used Rowperfect for fartlek training.

Tatjana Jaanson adds that in order to keep testing results comparable they did all testing on Concept2 ergometers, because it is more common in rowing clubs. But she admits that the advantage of Rowperfect is  faster and sharper legwork and the power distribution during the stroke is closer to rowing on the water – similarly to water rowing the load is distributed more on the lower back and the bodyweight doesn’t give such an advantage like on other ergometers.

This is because on the water the boat slides underneath the rower exactly like the Rowperfect construction does. Tatjana says that she doesn’t have any numerical proof, but she guesses that training on Rowperfect may have positively affected Jüri’s legwork to win his medals at the Olympics.

If you would like to compare your results with Jüri Jaanson, then his 2000m personal bests are:

  • Water 6:37.03
  • Rowperfect 6:34
  • Concept2 5:47

Thanks to Tõnis Saag who introduced Rowperfect UK to Jüri and encouraged him to write this article for us.  Tõnis is CEO of Sportlyzer – coaching software and workout log for rowing teams 


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This Post Has 2 Comments

  1. Lewin Hynes

    I have just read these quotes. At least 3 of which if said to my face would start a conversation that would end very, very badly. Those of you who know a little about my rowing history can probably guess which.

  2. Tõnis Saag

    Lewin, could you share your insights?

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