My son is hugely discouraged with erging – how can I help him?


I’m looking for some guidance. My son is a junior in high school, and is getting hugely discouraged with erging. He has been extremely focused and has been dedicated each morning for three weeks… trying to get his erg score down. He started out super strong, however he’s having a harder time rowing the same time he did two weeks ago… just gets super winded. He’s in great shape and doesn’t know why he is struggling. We are a brand new start up club, with a very part-time coach (1 day per week)…and the other days it’s just a rower who is really wanting to build a rowing community. My son LOVES the sport and wants to excel, however I simply don’t have the funds to send him to the best camps or an established rowing club. He is pushing hard to keep a great GPA, and plays football (starting varsity)… however he prefers rowing (and I prefer him pursuing rowing). Any help is appreciated more than you know.

Hello and thanks for this question.
Without actually knowing your son and his training regime, it’s hard to make a firm recommendation. BUT I have some suggestions which you can research further.

Programmed Rest

Firstly – 3 weeks isn’t very much time to train much harder. BUT he’s a young man and is probably still growing and any athletic change in training takes time to bed down.

My question to you is this. Does he have a scheduled rest day every week? I.e. a day with NO TRAINING at all?
I think what you describe may be a symptom of insufficient recovery between training sessions.
Now please remember that any athletic training should be counted in your assessment of his workouts – include cycling to school, any other sports in the school day as well.


Secondly, is your son getting enough nutrition? Eating well for sport is not the same as eating healthily. Do you have a good understanding of the different food groups and what to feed a growing child who’s training hard? I would buy a copy of Nancy Clark’s Sports Nutrition Guidebook. From memory she has a chapter about feeding kids and it includes suggestions on snacks to eat between meals (on the school bus, mid-afternoon) to keep sugars and carbohydrates and glycogen stores full between exercise.

Training programme

Thirdly, has your son been figuring out his own training on the extra ergo sessions or are these planned by your club coach? If the former, it’s possible he is not doing the right sort of workout to improve his ergo score.

Does your son keep a training diary? Here’s one we published which you can print and use.

It will enable a coach to appraise his workouts and find out if he is over-training, working out with a suppressed virus (being winded) or low in energy from the wrong foods.

If you can teach him how to take his resting pulse and record his hours of sleep, quality of sleep and whether he wakes naturally or with an alarm clock will tell you if he’s getting enough sleep for the training volume he’s undertaking.

I hope these guides will enable you to find out what’s not right and set your son back on the right path.

Please let us know how you go.


Any readers with other suggestions?


Subscribe to our Newsletter for more information:

Our Rowing Network

Did you like this post? Support this blog and our network by donating

Feel like Rowing again? Visit the Shop at!

Accessories, equipment, boats, clothing

This Post Has 5 Comments

  1. Tom Carter

    Id agree with what Rebecca is saying, without knowing exactly what training the coach is advocating then its difficult to give specific advice, but I would agree that 3 weeks is a very short amount of time to expect to see improvement in your rowing/times on the rowing team.

    Id recommend approaching your coach and discussing this directly with them, it could be that they can recommend and support him if they reaslise he is getting down about how the training is going

  2. Lewin Hynes

    This sounds like under nutrition, too much intense training, and lack of rest. Rebecca has this nailed.

    Also please tell your son as kindly as possible that at the age of 16 his rowing machine score is incredibly dependent on his stage of physical development, more so than training he is doing, and he cannot hope to push past this.

    Rather than simply train more or harder, could be not instead train smarter, using a floating head ergo as opposed to fixed. A rowperfect or putting a concept 2 on slides. This will help make him a better rather than a stronger rower.

  3. Murray McLeod-Jones

    I agree with Rebecca, he has to balance, his trg regime with his nutrition and rest, with out more detail it would be difficult to really comment. But there is another factor that you may wish to have a chat with him about. If he has started off trg with the aim of constantly improving his ergo times, he will try to improve it every time he sits on an ergo. The problem may come of not balancing trg, nutrition and rest and then being deflated when he sees his ergo score going the wrong way. You then get into a negative cycle, its at that point you must stop and reassess things, if you don’t then the negative cycle will keep going. So the key thing is to balance the trg, nutrition and rest but also be really clear about what you want to achieve from a block of trg. So start off making sure you understand what the aim is for a specific period of trg and then balance the various factors to help him achieve it. I am sure if you give us more details we can help give you more advice.

  4. Steffi

    might also be down to frustration? I know from experience that frustration either leads to PBs or utter defeats…

  5. graham cawood

    If he is only using 1 breath per stroke it’s not surprising he is winded.
    Suggest he uses 2 breaths per stroke – out at the catch and the release. Use 1:1 work:recovery ratio, at 25+ spm.
    Rowing, or any new exercise, can take some time to become comfortable. I wouldn’t be surprised if things got better after a few months. Keep at it.
    Get a TV, suitably tempo’d music, or company, as a distraction. The erg can be SUPER boring!!!
    Check yourself out in your mirror afterwards. Smile! and be proud of YOU!
    Have fun.

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Related Posts

Whether it’s sports, nutrition or equipment, you’ll find what you’re looking for in one of these categories


Everything about rowing – browse through our large archive or search for articles of your choice


Search Blog


Rowing Network

Do you like our posts? Support this blog and our network by donating


Get all latest content and news!