Masters training programme for Head of the Charles


A reader asks what preparation we would recommend for the Head of the Charles regatta preparation.

English: Taken by Dudesleeper on October 20, 2002.
English: Taken by Dudesleeper on October 20, 2002. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I can share the summary training programme we used in 2013 which won a Silver medal in W Masters 40+ 2x.

Our basic model was to train together twice a week and to get videoed regularly (every 3-4 weeks).  We went out with a coach for the video sessions and he spent his time getting us rowing together using drills and exercises.  We had to find where we applied maximum power and adjust our technique to match each other.  He also advised yoga and flexibility exercises and stretching to improve our pack-up at the catch to get a long stroke.

In between we did 4-5 sessions a week.

  • 1 long UT2;
  • 1 power strokes of 25 – 40 hard strokes at low rate with a bungee repeated two sets of 6-8.
  • Two UT1 pieces of longer work 8 – 20 mins at rates from 24 – 28 (sometimes pyramids, sometimes castling, some flat rate
  • We did one ergo a week together on C2 or Rowperfect which varied from 30-50 minutes at 22 or 2 x 15 mins pyramids – generally longer UT2/1 work.
  • If you need to ‘select’ the crew run regular ergo tests of 40 minutes at rate 26 where you record your distance.  Do these monthly through the winter…. that builds stamina, fitness and strength as well as good competition round the group.
  • And if you’re being super-keen, weigh every man and try to shift the excess pounds too.

Naturally we also linked Rowperfects together and worked to combine our power curves.

Two weekends before the HOCR we did a full race simulation on Rowperfect (software set on accurate crew weight and boat class) and we rowed 4,800 meters at race pace with Grant Craies our coach calling out the landmarks and pushing us on.

The main thing I’d advocate for anyone is to recruit a coach with a video camera – pay him/her and get them to write your training programme.  Don’t let a crew member coach – it doest work.  And set up a private web page for the group where everyone uploads their scores so there’s an honesty and transparency among you.

And go and read Water Under the Bridge by Simon Murch – it was written for your crew!


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