We know what you're all thinking... One thing this depressing, meagre, cold world does not need is another set of ergo work-outs. Well, we hear ya' – ergos usually represent the bane of any rower's existence. Without them though, the hard miles and psychological fortitude that wins you pots in the summer is pretty hard to come by.
Never fear though – we've tried to come up with some "exciting" pieces and rhythms that should refine differing parts of your physiology. These have all been stress-tested by those we asked, and their feedback was positive – for both short-term pain and long-term gain.
Half Hour of Power
Let's start in familiar territory. Although the coach might not say it, everyone knows that when this little number appears on the program it's a testing situation. The consequences of such a test don't usually play as heavily on selection decisions as, perhaps, a 2000m piece but the 30-minute stint is a great indicator of your ability to press through the miles and stay resilient. It's a mainstay of the winter rowing program and is often undertaken at lower rates to build anaerobic threshold and perfect the 'paddling' rhythm that filters into your on-water training. An unflinching, uncompromising classic.
2x19 Minute Pyramids With 90 Seconds Rest
This is a workout that could be applied at the beginning of the season, as you're trying desperately to recapture some sense of fitness, or as you begin the slow transition into spring and summer racing (aka right now). The climb up and down the stroke rate gives you a baseline to chase as you descend from the mid-point of the piece and a good indicator of whether you've got the fitness to outdo yourself in the second half. Of course, when you throw two identical pieces together, it does bare out a broader comparison point but beware of the dangers of going out too hard and burning up midway through the second pyramid.
6x1500m Alternating at Rate 24 and Rate 26, 1 Minute Rest Between Sets
A barnstormer in every sense of the word. This one represents a great opportunity to get up the stroke ladder and begin building that broader repertoire of rate resilience. After spending all winter below rate 20, this may be a breath of fresh air – or the kiss of death to those of us who like to inhabit the paddling rhythms of the rowing world. The alternating rates help keep this session fresh and prevent it from dragging its heels plus the 1500m distance shaves off 25% of the dreaded 2k mark. It might not seem a great deal, but we can bet you'll be relieved to see the monitor tick over to rest that little bit earlier.
One Hour UT2
What does UT2 even mean? Most people aren't sure but what we can ascertain is that it is a couple of levels below full intensity and designed to give your body a break after a more stressful session the day before. UT2 (typically designated at between 60 and 75% of your maximum heart rate) is a great way to pack mileage into the legs without overstretching ahead of a big race or after a significant test. An hour seems like a long time, but get the tunes flowing and the chat going – one coach once said to us that you should be able to hold a conversation whilst smashing out a UT2 piece. Here's your chance to test that theory.
3x6km With 90 Seconds Rest Between Sets
A stone-cold classic, although variation lies in how many six-kilometre sets you do (some like two, many prefer three, the hard-as-nails sometimes opt for four). As with all longer-distance workouts, you can adjust each piece as you see fit – with rate/intensity changes to broaden out the stroke and stave off the boredom. Personally, we always preferred rowing distances instead of against the clock – there is something quite empowering about knowing the harder you pull, the quicker this whole thing will be over. Although, as mentioned, you can program variation into this workout, many prefer to just pound out the 18km mileage (which typically takes upwards of an hour to complete) at a low rate, settling into the rhythm of continuous, uninterrupted motion.