Rowing Performance and Intensity


Frequency & Duration of Rowing - How often and for how long must I row?


When starting out, shorter sessions more often is best. Rowing 4x a week for 10 minutes is better than rowing 1x a week for 40 minutes.

On average aim to row at least 4x a week of between 10-20 minutes for the first 6-8 weeks of rowing, after which one or two sessions can be increased to 25 minutes and/or another session can be added to the week (the latter is not always possible).



For the first few weeks of any rowing program you need to focus on form/technique - work on moving through each position and phase of the rowing action. Use drills such as Check Points to help you to learn  the technique. It would be ideal if you could use a mirror or advice from another person to assist you with the correct body positions.




Intensity - What intensity do I need to row at?


Intensity needs to be low, no more than 75% effort (of your maximum heart rate). For the first 4 weeks of rowing, aim to row to get warm - not full sweating and being out of breath. You can also use the 'Ratings of Perceived Exertion' chart. When starting out row at around 11 or 12 on the RPE scale.




Stroke Rate - What must my stroke rate be?


Stroke rate varies according to the individual and type of training session one is doing. Ideally strokes rates need to be around 20-24 strokes per minute for steady state sessions and around 28-32 strokes per minutes for higher intensity sessions.  On water race stroke rates are between 34spm - 40spm.



Most people who are new to the sport of rowing have difficulty achieving low strokes rates while trying to obtain their desired intensity - there are many comments such as "it does not feel hard enough?" or "how can I make it harder?" Rowing is about ratio and rhythm and you need to focus on a long stroke length and a powerful drive phase (push with the legs and pull with the arms). Give yourself time to learn this, it can take a few weeks before you start to feel the intensity at low stroke rates.


Additional information