A Descending Distance Interval Workout on the Rowing Machine

Motion

As refreshing as the current “natural movement”, “body weight domination” and gymnastics evolution is, don’t give up on the machines.  

Don’t give up on the machines!

Cardio machines are valuable tools to help build fitness.  

Adding to that, some cardio machines are clearly better than others.  I lump rowing machines into the “must have” category of cardio machines.  

Several years ago, my increasing interest rowing drove me to purchase a Concept2 Model D Rower off of Amazon.  I fell in love with it almost immediately.  Living in Wisconsin, brutal Winters keep us inside for many months of the year.  Going outside to exercise is the last thing a person wants to do.  

Rowing was a completely foreign activity during the first few sessions.  

I sucked.  I was inefficient and sloppy with my technique which left me exhausted in short time.  The funny part about this is I’ll never burn as many calories rowing as I did in those first few sessions.  

Inefficient exercise sucks up a lot of energy. 

I quickly found the rowing machine to be a perfect compliment to my airbike conditioning.  I began a regular rotation between the two cardio machines, organizing row training on less grip/back/pulling intensive resistance training days to avoid overuse injuries and maximize performance.

Still today, I am a self-taught rower and proud of it.  A couple of YouTube videos from elite rowers and coaches, several articles and my technique improved tremendously.  If you’re a “see then do” type learner, you can easily do the same.

Accumulating longer distances (more meters)

Over the course of the last year or so, I’ve begun playing around with the training effect of increasing meters rowed per week.  2-3 days per week, my goal was to row accumulate 4000m.  

2 days per week would give me 8000m and 3 days would give me 12,000 meters.  

How I would go about achieving these 4000m had no rules, as long as 4000m was achieved.  Longer distance rowing has always been my Achilles heel, and quite honestly, I get bored on the rower easily.  Call it lack of discipline or whatever, but I lose focus quickly.  

One strategy which helped improve my attitude towards longer distance rowing was descending distance workouts.

Descending distance workouts is interval based, beginning by rowing the longest distance first when you are freshest.  Every distance thereafter is shorter than the previous and is separated by a rest period to catch your breath, towel off and grab some water.  

Descending the distances during the training sessions allowed me to accumulate more meters while giving a guy who avoided longer distances something to look forward to as the workout progressed.  

As you’ll see, the final three distances of this workout are on the shorter side: 500m, 250m, and 125m.  

If you’re looking for a tough conditioning workout that will help you accumulate more meters on the rower, give this exact workout a shot.  

Accumulation Rowing Workout

2000m – 1000m – 500m – 250m – 125m

Complete 1 round of the following:

Row/Rest #1:  2000m/3 min

Row/Rest #2:  1000m/2:30 min

Row/Rest #3:  500m/2 min

Row/Rest #4:  250m/1 min

Row/Rest #5:  125m/done

Total:  3875 meters

Let’s be clear… piling up 3875 meters in a single workout is fantastic!

I’ve personally experienced profound changes in my cardio conditioning by rowing roughly 4000m per workout several days per week, hitting 3875m ballparking a similar distance.

A descending workout like this is EXTREMELY FLEXIBLE.  

You can shift the pieces around any way you want.

Keeping the suggested rest periods, here are a couple of variations of this workout worth trying…

Eliminate the 2000m interval if you’ve never gone for that distance, or you prefer to change the focus to shorter sprint distances.  Add in a couple more 1000m intervals.  

This new workout structure would be: 1000m – 1000m – 1000m – 500m – 250m – 125m 

What about eliminating the 1000m but adding in a couple more 500m intervals instead?  

The workout would look like this:  2000m – 500m – 500m – 500m – 250m – 125m

All of these options still add up to the same accumulated meters, 3875m.  

 

You’ll find the rest periods necessary if you’re giving a solid effort.  Don’t mis-judge how you feel after the first long interval.  The fatigue is going to snowball as the workout goes on.    

Settle into a challenging pace, stroke and breathing rhythm that you can maintain for the duration.  To help your breathing, be mindful of unnecessary jaw clenching, tense neck and what your tongue is doing inside your mouth.  A lot of times, if the tongue is at ease, so is the jaw and neck.  The result is an unrestricted pathway for exhalation and inhalation.

A lot of times, if the tongue is at ease, so is the jaw and neck.  The result is an unrestricted pathway for exhalation and inhalation.

Laugh now, thank me later.  

 

 

Cheers to descending interval training…

Kyle 

 

 

 

 

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