Training for 8 min races

I would like to work on the 8min maximum effort ( I am training for rowing regattas, four sweep) usually we row for 8 min to cover 2000m course
I am currently in season, racing weekly.
What is the best cycling work out to get me ready and confident for 8min rowing races?
Many tjanks

If you’re only concerned about rowing I’d suggest doing harder workouts on the water (or an erg) as that is much more sport specific and the motor patterns between cycling and rowing are quite different from a cadence and symmetry standpoint.

If you can’t do that than the workouts that most closely resemble what you’re doing is longer low VO2 type intervals (Elephants +/- # type stuff, though with a hard start). Maybe 2x per week? Plus whatever endurance riding you can/want to fit in. It’s still an aerobic sport despite the relatively short length.

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There isn’t much to be done this late in the season. Some VO2max workouts could be appropriate but recovery may be a priority. For the future you may have a look at this video by Cam Nicholls.


Agree. Right now recovery should be your main aim.

In general, rowing training is not so different from cycling. Make sure you do a good amount (>50%) of low intensity work, supplemented by some intervals on the water or the erg. My rowing benefitted massively from a weekly 5h+ z2 group ride. TR intervals on the turbo are excellent for cardio fitness, but on the bike you’re not training your upper body or core and so you might have to do more on the erg. You might want to pick some TR workouts that are repeats of 6 or 8 minutes, to train your fatigue resistance.

Thank you

When you say low intensity is it up to the sweet spot? Or only zone 2?

TR workouts that are repeats of 6 or 8 minutes, would they be the sweet spot sessions? Could you give me some examples please?

Many thanks

Thank you
Very interested video. I will keep re watching it.

I would like to use the bike as supplement to my training, pre season we did erg sessions and 2-3 per week on water.

Which TR program best to choose once season is over?

Many thanks

Thank you
I am doing the a fair amount of time on water even during season.

Thank you for the last sentence, I had thought as it’s is only 8 min it’s more anaerobic/ vo2 max type of effort i need to prepare myself for.
Many thanks

How much do you train right now and what do you do? How old are you? Then I can give you more suggestions. Just so you know, I’m a woman in my 40s and have rowed competitively for the last 16 years, based on structured and periodised training programs. I’m no coach but I know what a balanced program should look like.

Thank you for your email
I am 54,
I have Started rowing only last October, coastal, 4 sweep., but coaches said I am “natural” so they got me into competitions this season, we were traing on water 3-4 times per week even in winter, we did regular 2k or 5k sessions on erg as well we started training end of November.
I cycle as commute and use it as a work distresser, some morning i will do 12-20mile sessions, pre rowing i was doing 100miles per week plus yoga 2-3 times a week, now only about 50miles and rowing sessions.
So next season we want to move upto next category, senior ladies, do I would like to train hard, also I would love to learn and compete in a single scull.
Any tips v welcome
Many thanks Renata

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Ex-rower here. You should be doing all your higher intensity and race-specific training on the water or on the erg, certainly during the race season and pre-season. Maybe do some intensity on the bike in the off season if there aren’t any water sessions and you want a break from the erg. I assume the coaches you mention are already providing the rowing training plan.

Best use of cycling alongside a rowing plan in my view is as supplementary aerobic zone 2 training and for recovery days (low cadence and high muscular load of rowing can make it pretty hard to do good quality recovery/easy sessions on the erg or in the boat). If you do high intensity work on the bike as well as in the boat/erg, then firstly you’ll likely burn yourself out, and secondly you’re no longer following the plan the rowing coaches have laid out. Which I assume is a season long plan designed to build your fitness in blocks and have the crew peaking for your target races next year. If you’re doing extra high intensity training outside the plan then you’ll be carrying fatigue into your key rowing sessions that will impact the quality of that work, and you may also be giving your body conflicting training stimuli.

I would say the best thing if you want to do extra training is to talk to the coaches about how to incorporate that so that it complements and doesn’t conflict with the training plan they are giving you. And if you’re looking to also compete in a single scull then it can take a lot of water time to get your technique good enough to be able to actually apply your fitness (certainly longer than in a sweep boat), so that is also going to leave you with less time/capacity for training on the bike.

Ok great! I did coastal rowing for a couple of years and loved it! Where are you based? So you can use your commute and some of your rowing sessions for your z2 training. It could be a good idea to do one long (90 mins) erg per week at low intensity (we call it ut2), especially throughout the winter. For the rest both shorter higher intensity intervals are good (on bike or erg) and longer ones that are more at threshold. On the water it depends a bit on your needs and abilities. Maybe you’re working on technique or starts. If you have time, it would be good to fit in strength training, especially for coastal rowing where you will need a lot of neuromuscular strength sometimes to get through the waves and wind. Especially masters women need strength training :slightly_smiling_face:

It doesn’t actually sound like they have a training plan from their coach? Or maybe I misunderstood and she wants to add more. In that case I agree about the risks of burning out.

It depends on your goals with cycling I guess. If rowing is your primary focus you could do the majority of your base training either doing the traditional plan or the polarized plans. I’m no fan of the sweet spot base plan because of all the intensity.

You should probably do a fair bit of your base training rowing at z2 to stimulate forming of new capillaries in the rowing specific muscles.

My 2 cents, you have probably gotten better advice from other posters in the thread…

Thank you! So useful
I am based at Poole, Dorset in the UK, the only club in south coast who can row at night
What is ut2?
We do have coach for rowing.
Just wanted to do over and above on the bike, because I am the newest addition in the crew, I want to have good background fitness so I can concentrate on the technique not how much I have to push.
Best wishes Renata

That’s what the effort itself is but you wouldn’t be able to solely do that or similar efforts; or at least it wouldn’t be advisable.

Nearly everything has an aerobic component. VO2 max itself is the maximum amount of oxygen that your body / the working muscles can process. It’s something (well, power at it, anyhow) that can be developed by either training at that intensity or at lower intensities for longer durations. My understanding is that’s known as the VO2 fast and slow components respectively. Though I’ve now reached the edge of my relevant physiology knowledge.

Great! I rowed with Coalporters for two years which is also part of the Hants and Dorset Rowing Association. So if you want to do more than your training plan and you’re not doing it currently then I think strength training could be beneficial. As @cartsman said, you don’t want to burn yourself out.

Here’s an explanation of rowing training zones Free Spirits Rowing - Heart Rate Bands Calculator

Thank you
We’re practically neighbours, very good club coalies, row against them almost every Saturday
Bw Renata

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Thank you

Thank you

Just to clear up the energy systems used during a 2000m rowing race it is about…

  • 80 - 88% Aerobic
  • 12 - 20% Anaerobic

As stated you need lots of UT2 Aerobic work and a bit of Anaerobic Threshold work and VO2max.