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    Last Friday I decided to join the gym due to rubbish fitness (I'm doing a PhD in Maths, so basically sat around all day). I tried the rowing machine for the first time, and am really enjoying it. I'm wondering whether anyone has any tips on how I can improve my 2k time.

    A bit about me: I'm 27, not very fit (couldn't run 1k 2 weeks ago without massively struggling), just over 5' 9", about 75kg.

    I have no knowledge of good technique for the machine apart from what I've gleaned from the internet in the last few days. Any help with this aspect would be great. I am also completing a general gym program, which was set up for me when I joined, which includes various weight machines and some running and cycling.

    My times so far are:

    11.08
    10.30 (tried quite hard)
    9.28 (tried hard and was knackered after - had to sit on the machine for a while before moving off with wobbly legs)
    10.10 (I felt I did this two soon after a big workout and pretty much chickened out after the first 500)
    8.48 (Did this today and felt very tired, but better than the 9.28 - did a half hour weights session after).

    I'm quite competitive with myself and enjoy getting personal bests. My next aim is to try to get my 2k time down to below 8 minutes. Maybe then I'll join a local rowing club.

    Any advice?
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    I'm not hugely into the whole exercise for the sake of it thing, but someone persuaded me to join the college boat club this term. The thing I've found helpful when doing timed ergs for picking crews etc. is to have a friend who tends to get quite similar times sitting next to me. If his 500m split's 1:55 then by God mine's got to be 1:54.

    Have you had any rowing/erging training looking at technique? If not you should look for some youtube videos or similar. It's not as obvious on the machine as it is in a boat, but getting some good technique - relaxing the recovery and setting your rate right can really improve your speed.
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    For me I found improving strength to be the biggest factor for 2k erg times, though that may well be down to having a cycling background so a fairly solid aerobic base. If you are a fittest beginner then, and I am by no means an expert, you are probably best off working on your aerobic base and strength first.

    Aerobic base: some longer rowing sessions, e.g. 30 mins with some hour sessions perhaps. This will build up your engine and also get some neural pathways for the stroke motion going.

    Strength: general weightlifting for power and strength really. As I said before this really helped me, though without knowing your fittest background particularly it may not be the biggest point for you. Having said that though strength training cannot hurt lowering your 2k times.

    This all assumes your technique is good. A problem with that is a lot of gym instructors do not really know what they are on about, so looking on the internet may be the best idea. Or better yet join a rowing club and they will ensure your technique is correct and sort you out fitness wise
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    (Original post by Rob da Mop)
    I'm not hugely into the whole exercise for the sake of it thing, but someone persuaded me to join the college boat club this term. The thing I've found helpful when doing timed ergs for picking crews etc. is to have a friend who tends to get quite similar times sitting next to me. If his 500m split's 1:55 then by God mine's got to be 1:54.

    Have you had any rowing/erging training looking at technique? If not you should look for some youtube videos or similar. It's not as obvious on the machine as it is in a boat, but getting some good technique - relaxing the recovery and setting your rate right can really improve your speed.
    Hey - you're going to my old college. It's hard to believe that I didn't take the opportunity to row even once when I was there.

    No - I've had no training whatsoever, and have as yet failed to convince any of my friends to come to the gym also (this is what happens when you only hang around with mathematicians).

    What do you mena by setting the rate right? I did the last one at about a constant rate of 27/28. Does 'relaxing the recovery' mean literally that?

    Cheers
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    (Original post by Muppet Science)
    For me I found improving strength to be the biggest factor for 2k erg times, though that may well be down to having a cycling background so a fairly solid aerobic base. If you are a fittest beginner then, and I am by no means an expert, you are probably best off working on your aerobic base and strength first.

    Aerobic base: some longer rowing sessions, e.g. 30 mins with some hour sessions perhaps. This will build up your engine and also get some neural pathways for the stroke motion going.

    Strength: general weightlifting for power and strength really. As I said before this really helped me, though without knowing your fittest background particularly it may not be the biggest point for you. Having said that though strength training cannot hurt lowering your 2k times.

    This all assumes your technique is good. A problem with that is a lot of gym instructors do not really know what they are on about, so looking on the internet may be the best idea. Or better yet join a rowing club and they will ensure your technique is correct and sort you out fitness wise
    I have literally no fitness background, and up until I joined the gym I was doing no exercise apart from walking about 30 mins a day. I'm not overweight, and this leads people to think that I must be quite fit, which is not the case.

    My program at the moment includes about 80% weights and 20% aerobic exercises. This is mainly because I don't wish to lose any weight. Would you still suggest upping the aerobic exercise?
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    (Original post by Drederick Tatum)
    I have literally no fitness background, and up until I joined the gym I was doing no exercise apart from walking about 30 mins a day. I'm not overweight, and this leads people to think that I must be quite fit, which is not the case.

    My program at the moment includes about 80% weights and 20% aerobic exercises. This is mainly because I don't wish to lose any weight. Would you still suggest upping the aerobic exercise?
    I would suggest it. Even a relatively short distance like 2k is actually 80% aerobic and 20% anaerobic, which suggests that perhaps things should be the other way round! Upping the aerobic content of your gym sessions doesn't necessarily mean you will lose weight, you can always eat more to compensate!

    I would recommend something like one long (60 min) slow row a week, along with one or two faster rows (something like 3x 2000m or a 5km row), and then perhaps one HIIT (something like 8x 500m fast). This, combined with weights twice a week would see your 2k times plummet.
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    (Original post by Drederick Tatum)
    I have literally no fitness background, and up until I joined the gym I was doing no exercise apart from walking about 30 mins a day. I'm not overweight, and this leads people to think that I must be quite fit, which is not the case.

    My program at the moment includes about 80% weights and 20% aerobic exercises. This is mainly because I don't wish to lose any weight. Would you still suggest upping the aerobic exercise?
    I agree with the above poster in that you should probably up the aerobic work. Rowing is mainly aerobic, even 2k. And if you have no background then I would actually recommend about a month or so of gradually increasing the work rate. So maybe two long sessions a week, then the next week have three sessions and continue the three sessions for the rest of the month. Then introduce some weights and shorter sessions, gradually building it up so your muscles and connective tissues adapt.

    One of the problems when starting is that you really enjoy it and get a little 'trigger happy' but then get over-trained or injured (I am guilty of this ). So I would suggest upping it over time and your 2k times will drop :yep:
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    (Original post by Drederick Tatum)
    Hey - you're going to my old college. It's hard to believe that I didn't take the opportunity to row even once when I was there.

    No - I've had no training whatsoever, and have as yet failed to convince any of my friends to come to the gym also (this is what happens when you only hang around with mathematicians).

    What do you mena by setting the rate right? I did the last one at about a constant rate of 27/28. Does 'relaxing the recovery' mean literally that?

    Cheers
    Haha, I very nearly went through my time without touching a boat... Oh how much better my degree would be looking if I had...

    That rate's probably slightly on the low side for 2k - I'd look to be doing it more at 30-32, but as long as you're comfortable at that rate then it's fine. Relaxing the recovery means that making sure when you're taking the stroke the "fast" bits are when you drive with the legs and when you push the hands away after taking your stroke. This then allows you to take your time on the slide (obviously not completely relaxed, but more so than feels natural). If you can get your breathing in time with this (nice big breath in on the recovery, hard breath out on the drive) it makes it easier to keep going harder for longer. This is much more important in an actual boat as it affects the balance, but it's good technique to make sure you don't kill yourself pulling yourself up to front-stop.

    This advice isn't going to particularly help you get fitter/stronger, those other posters know a lot more about that than me, but it might improve your PB
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    Doing 2ks isn't a good way to train for rowing! 2k is the distance of pain, and after each 2k you should be blacking out or vomiting from the exertion. If you can do them this often, you aren't getting nearly close to your best possible time.

    The thing is that the 2k doesn't train the right things. You train for rowing with weights, sprint intervals on the erg (6x500m, 90s rest between each), longer rows (5k, 2x20minutes, 1 hour) and explosive exercises like body weight squats, low weight high rep things.

    A split of about 2:00 on a 2k is a sign you have very low fitness. It shouldn't be hard to maintain that for 8 minute; it is attainable to row at 1:55 for a 5k quite easily! What resistance do you row on? It should be at about 40%. You should do lots of longer distance work to improve your aerobic fitness and stop attempting 2ks. This alone will get you down to 7:30ish relatively easily. If you try to go further than that, a regime involving sprints and weights will help.


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    Despite what has been said I would actually suggest sticking with 2k rows, maybe 1 sessions per week doing 3 by 2k, with the first being the most vigerous and the last two moderate. Also aim to do 500m interval training and 5k rows on the erg a 2-3 times a week if you can.

    I've been rowing for a good few years now and my 2k was rubbish compared to my 5k, despite all the interval training, 5ks and weightlifting i did. Then I started doing 3x2k twice a week and I lost about 30 seconds off of my 2k in about 2 months - 3 months.

    Also the guy above me said do body squats, and I know a lot of rowers do this aswell, but personally I would say body weight squats is absolutely useless for rowing (or just in general). If you have never squatted before then perhaps your will see a small amount of benefit but this wont last. If you want to get stronger/more powerful you need to do weighted back squats with a barbell. You need to be doing heavy weight low reps (about 3-5 reps) as well as lower/moderate weight high reps (10-15 reps). Again I only learned this after I actually started training with actual weightlifters and powerlifters and stopped listening to the weightlifting advice of other rowers. Also learn good form when squatting, both olympic squats and power squats will be very benificial. For speed power start doing power cleans, these are a fantastic way to increase speed power and is virtually used by all athelets in all types of sprinting sports.

    Also a tip that I use is every few weeks instead of doing sprints and 5k on the erg, try using the a exercise bike instead. This works your legs muscles and heart in a similar way to the erg, but will give your body a bit of a rest, which I find helps.
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    (Original post by 3 Phase Duck)
    Despite what has been said I would actually suggest sticking with 2k rows, maybe 1 sessions per week doing 3 by 2k, with the first being the most vigerous and the last two moderate. Also aim to do 500m interval training and 5k rows on the erg a 2-3 times a week if you can.

    I've been rowing for a good few years now and my 2k was rubbish compared to my 5k, despite all the interval training, 5ks and weightlifting i did. Then I started doing 3x2k twice a week and I lost about 30 seconds off of my 2k in about 2 months - 3 months.

    Also the guy above me said do body squats, and I know a lot of rowers do this aswell, but personally I would say body weight squats is absolutely useless for rowing (or just in general). If you have never squatted before then perhaps your will see a small amount of benefit but this wont last. If you want to get stronger/more powerful you need to do weighted back squats with a barbell. You need to be doing heavy weight low reps (about 3-5 reps) as well as lower/moderate weight high reps (10-15 reps). Again I only learned this after I actually started training with actual weightlifters and powerlifters and stopped listening to the weightlifting advice of other rowers. Also learn good form when squatting, both olympic squats and power squats will be very benificial. For speed power start doing power cleans, these are a fantastic way to increase speed power and is virtually used by all athelets in all types of sprinting sports.

    Also a tip that I use is every few weeks instead of doing sprints and 5k on the erg, try using the a exercise bike instead. This works your legs muscles and heart in a similar way to the erg, but will give your body a bit of a rest, which I find helps.
    3x2k isn't a bad distance, but it is more about conditioning for a race than actually improving fitness.

    You dismiss body weight squats too quickly. The point of body weight exercises is to gain explosive power, which you don't gain from weight training. How often in a boat do you do five strokes and then stop?! Tabata squats in a full bodyweight circuit is a serious workout and requires no tricky form either.

    An exercise bike however is an excellent combination with rowing.


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    (Original post by Hypocrism)
    3x2k isn't a bad distance, but it is more about conditioning for a race than actually improving fitness.

    You dismiss body weight squats too quickly. The point of body weight exercises is to gain explosive power, which you don't gain from weight training. How often in a boat do you do five strokes and then stop?! Tabata squats in a full bodyweight circuit is a serious workout and requires no tricky form either.

    An exercise bike however is an excellent combination with rowing.


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    I could find you a monumental amount of studies that prove weights are not only improve explosive power, they are pretty much the best way. Nothing will improve explosive power more than olympic lifts. If you want to add an endurance element to it, lower the weight and do higher reps.

    Even just google 'best way to gain explosive power' and pretty much all sites will say the same thing that oly lifts are best.

    Body weight exercise will only get you so far, and the way we train them seemingly they are more for endurance that power. Perhaps I shouldn't dismiss them as much, but they at least should be done with oly lifts.
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    (Original post by 3 Phase Duck)
    I could find you a monumental amount of studies that prove weights are not only improve explosive power, they are pretty much the best way. Nothing will improve explosive power more than olympic lifts. If you want to add an endurance element to it, lower the weight and do higher reps.

    Even just google 'best way to gain explosive power' and pretty much all sites will say the same thing that oly lifts are best.

    Body weight exercise will only get you so far, and the way we train them seemingly they are more for endurance that power. Perhaps I shouldn't dismiss them as much, but they at least should be done with oly lifts.
    I don't think olympic lifts are really the thing for somebody who has just started training and can't do below 8 minutes on a 2k. They're a difficult lift. For serious athletes of course you include heavy weights, but for improving your maximum power, not your explosive power.

    The confusion is that doing weights kind of does both; it increases the maximum power a muscle can generate, and so increases the explosive power because at any given time in a muscle contraction, more force will be generated. But explosive exercises (which heavy weights are not;light weights are) increase the rate at which you reach your maximum, and for a lot of beginners this is where the biggest gains can be made.
 
 
 
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