Generalised 3+2 day Erg training plan that is less specific than most but it able to be tweaked based on your circumstances. Basic principle is the same as most cardio training I’ve come across. There are 3 main types of training session

  1. Speed - Working at a high rate that is uncomfortable and unsustainable for long periods but is repeatable. Characterised by sets of effort then rest.
  2. Speed Endurance - Lower rate at a predetermined heart rate that is close to or just in the ‘red zone’ where you can sustain th eeffort but not for long periods
  3. Long Slow Distance - Long and slow. The longer and slower then better. A session that you can carry on for a very long time without getting overly tired.

There are some useful bits on where you should be with heart rate but there are also some overly specific training plans. What works for you might not work for someone else for all sorts of reasons. Maybe amount of time available or a long day for example. Skipping a session is not a crime, be flexible.

Heart rate reserve

A simple calculation that gets factors added in and subtracted depending on which formula floats your boat. Basic idea is you need to know 2 things Max HR and Resting HR. Its dead simple

HRR = MaxHR - RestingHR

Exercise ranges are then based on a percentage of that so:

Speed = 60-90% Speed Endurance = 40-50% Long Slow Distance = 30-40%

These might seem a bit low but go with it and assess after a few weeks training in these ranges.

Basic plan

So this isn’t the law. Tweak it to suit but if its winter where I live the water sessions are a bit hit and miss. Substitue other activities like running, cycling or gym work as you see fit. Just maintain the core 3 types of session i.e. don’t just do speed. Also give yourself time to rest and let the activitiy ‘sink in’.

Day Session Session detail Notes
1 Speed Endurance 5 minute warm up then 30 minutes at target 2k pace + 18-20 seconds 22-24 spm. Should be hard but not too hard
2 Rest Don’t do much other than some core work or stretching
3 Speed 6 minute reps x5 of target 2k pace + 5-8 seconds. 5 minutes rest between reps 28spm. Should be really hard, use the pace boat to help
4 Rest Light work only
5 Water On water session
6 Long, Slow, Distance 20 minute reps x2 of target 2k pace + 20-24 seconds. 2 minutes rest between reps Should be easy to complete
7 Water On water session

Assessing progress

Every 4-6 do a 2k test. See if the plan is working for you and if there is any progress. Use the tests to think about how the training and performance went. Don’t be too overly critical because no 2 days are the same and conditions may have affected a performance and skewed the result. General progression over a number of tests will be the marker, not indiviudal result.

Then tweak the plan to suit. Too easy? then adjust the 2k target time and keep the sessions. Too many sessions? substitute but keep an eye on the type of session you’re after.

Most training plans are variations on these themes, some are backed up with loads of science and a focus on olympic athletes. If you’re one of those then I doubt you’ll be looking at this. If you want a guide then give it a go and be flexible. You can go a bit futher and look at the MAF method but its a bit weird sceince fo rme

Just don’t skimp on the water stuff or you could end up losing out on stuff you should be doing on water, like not splashing and steering well (as Steve and I demonstrate in this rather grainy photo)

Steve Lawson loses his bowside oar after hitting a bouy at tees regatta