Who knows about HIIT for erg rowing?


We got a reader question about high intensity interval training (HIIT) and need help from you to answer it.

HIIT training for the ergo

I want to include HIIT training programme into my squad’s training, lack of Heart monitors

I was going to operate  1 minute 90% sprint with 30 sec recovery 10 times and measure distance as a bench mark for testing success.

What do you think?

Answers in the comments please.


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This Post Has 5 Comments

  1. Chris

    Personally I try to avoid pieces where recovery is less than the work (at higher intensities). Any high intensity piece will build up the lactate in your system, with a longer recovery you’ve got a better chance of utilizing this lactate for energy (something that’s pretty handy!) effectively “clearing it” for the next piece, which you can then attack with the same intensity. With a shorter recovery you’ll inevitably burn the candle at both ends, either you’ll back off to save the pain (weak middle pieces), or burn out (tail off in the last half), or just hold back for every piece. I don’t think any of those are particularly desirable patterns you want to embed into your psyche.

    You’re effectively advocating something similar to a 10x500m with a 30 second rest, ouch! I think you’d be over your 2k pace fairly quickly, and therefore not training the intensity you want to be. I’d try 8 x 500m, with 3′ active recovery, hitting them all with equal fervour!

    Another simple and effective HIIT workout is a 30,20,10 (borrowed from the running world);

    3-4 x (5 x (30′,20’10’))

    1 minute blocks of, 30 seconds light, 20 seconds medium (just sub 5k pace), 10 seconds crank it (should be well sub 2k pace, really going for it). Repeat this 5 times, then take 2 minutes light and then start all over again (up to 4 times).

    You don’t need any HR monitors, you’d take 3-4 times before you settled and knew what you were doing, you could then measure improvement based on distance (though bare in mind the purpose is to really go hard for 10′, so get improvement out of the 10′, don’t go crazy on the 20′, and be reserved on the 30′, it can be easy to go harder on the recovery 30′ and get a decent score, but not really hit the harder piece, which is just cheating yourself!).

  2. vance

    In my amateur experience a routine with 1 minute intervals will be too long to give it MAX effort. 30-40sec intervals is better and you want about 3 times that length of time to recover after each interval. I know that sounds wimpy but the intervals are supposed to be 110% max effort. All out, just about puking kind effort.

    Here’s a 30 minute HIIT row that I have been doing and I think its pretty good.
    2400m warmup
    6 repeats of 200m ALL OUT followed by 400m recovery
    1000m cooldown

    That’s 7k total in about 30 minutes. Try not to stop but sometimes you might have to pause and catch a few deep breaths after an interval if you start to see spots. Safety first.

  3. John the Rower

    It’s a while since this post started but I’ve only just come across it. Using the essential basics of HIIT (themselves rather random), the effort should be nearer to alactate training otherwise one is in danger of duplicating lactate training with its debilitating consequences.
    My own proposal has worked well but has one major prerequisite (as have all HIIT sessions implicit in them) and that is that the athletes are STRONG enough to work HARD enough to achieve the benefit in the short bursts defined by this style of training.
    1. Work on a stabilised erg (or RowPerfect or on sliders)- to prevent going walkabout around the gym!
    2. Choose a steady state split you might use for a long erg – e.g. a 40-60min piece
    3. After a suitable warm-up, follow a 60sec cycle as follows (starting at zero): 8strokes at the target split (20spm), then 10 strokes absolutely maximally (40spm at ludicrously unsustainable splits!), finally use the final 20+secs to do no work at 14spm or lower.
    I have asked my squads to do 30′ of this pattern but not necessarily uninterrupted. Initially, perhaps 6x 5′ with 2-3′ rest between building via 4x 7′ to 3x 10′ 2x 15′ etc as fitness improves.
    I’ve had athletes reporting their ability to do the 30′ straight off. It was quickly ascertained that these people had no idea of what was required in the 10 stroke bursts. A brief demonstration was enough to indicate the necessary changes.
    I’m a modestly fit old guy (2k split probably around 1:45, 60′ under 2:00 on a good day?). I’d expect to be hitting the low 1:20’s in the 10 stroke bursts.

  4. Marc

    I am 62 .Male.
    Strong cyclist.177 pounds.
    My best 2k is 8 min.What types of training should I do to bring it down to 7 minutes?
    Thank you Marc

    1. Rebecca Caroe

      Marc – you need to do two types of training:
      1 – increase your power per stroke by doing long workouts of 20-40 minutes with consistent 500m splits throughout the workout Use Paul’s Law http://www.machars.net/ to calculate a target for a 10km row at rate 20-22. Note you will have to build up to this pace.
      2 – Practice shorter sprints at 500m, 1000m distances with limited recovery time e.g. 3 x 1000m at 6 rate points BELOW your race pace with 6 minutes rest.

      By knowing your target, you can train yourself at lower stroke rate to improve your effective power, then later increase the pace and reduce the distance to improve your 2k score.

      Alternatively, buy yourself a rowing coach to write a training programme for you.

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