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Thanks for this guide. Do you have any advice as to drag factors for the various erg pieces?

"Do you have any advice as to drag factors for the various erg pieces?"

Drag factor should be around 100 for the 90 minute pieces, maybe a little more for the sprint stuff.

Alex - this is a great record of your achievements. Some questions:
1 - which year did you do this?
2 - what is your current personal best 2k?
3 - are you still rowing?
4 - have you ever tried using Rowperfect or Dynamic Concept 2 instead?

I work for and we publish e-books about rowing and training. Would you be interested in having us offer your work on the site?

Rebecca Caroe


This was done in summer and fall 2006. I don't have a current best 2k, as I'm not currently rowing for the reasons explained in this thread:

I actually haven't ever tried either the Rowperfect of Dynamic Concept 2. I probably would if I ever wanted to do this again. I'm generally sold on the idea, but all my university had available at the time was the Concept 2 Model 2. (With optional sliders, which I used for some of the sprint pieces during team practices, but which I found to be too much of a pain to use for the 90 minute pieces.)

If a heavyweight wanted to adapt this programme what would you change? Would the workouts stay the same and the targets change? If so what sort of targets would someone aiming for a 6:10 be looking at.. Thanks!

How tall should one be to expect reasonable success from this program, and what was your starting weight at the beginning of your training?


5'9 - 6'2 is best. I was around 172 when I started the program, and ultimately weighed in at 155.

Have you done any workouts such as 4x1k 12 minute intervals, 4x2k 7min rest or 8x500m with 2:30 rest? What's your 1k PR?

I have been training for the past two years harder than ever and havent made much improvement. My personal best is a 6:49.

Some of splits ares 8x500 1:38.5
4x1k 1:41.5
4x2k 146.8

1k PR 139.3 still with all of this im never prepared for a 2k on test day and always do awful.


"Would the workouts stay the same and the targets change? If so what sort of targets would someone aiming for a 6:10 be looking at.. Thanks!"

The workouts would stay the same, but the targets would change. However, I don't know exactly what the targets would be offhand. You would have to talk to a bunch of people who pull sub 6:10 and then get their benchmarks on each of these metrics.

My wild-ass guess would be:

steady stating at sub 1:50 for 90 minutes at a 155 heart rate
385 lbs for squats
32 pullups

But again these are really just guesses. It also depends somewhat on each individual person depending on their physiology. That's why recording your workouts is so important, because it lets you not only change the workouts as necessary, but also refine your targets as necessary.


"Have you done any workouts such as 4x1k 12 minute intervals, 4x2k 7min rest or 8x500m with 2:30 rest? What's your 1k PR?"

I haven't done any of these workouts to the best of my knowledge. The sprint work I chose to include is somewhat arbitrary. What's important is that you're doing roughly the volume I recommend, and that when you do it you're pulling your flat-out hardest. So you could substitute my recommendations for your workouts if you like. (Unlike the 90 minute cardio sessions and the weights where I would recommend doing them as is, at least until you have enough data to make intelligent data-driven decisions for yourself.)

For what it's worth, there is some additional discussion of this post here:

When working your way to being able to do the steady state would you suggest doing steady state at a 155 heart rate and just work on getting the split down at that heart rate or should I start out at a 1:55 split time and just keep doing it because as I get used to it my heartrate will go down.


You need to erg at 75% of your max hr, which is usually around 150 - 155 for most people. It's fine even if you have to keep it at 2:30 (or even worse) for the first couple weeks, you'll quickly improve. However, if you just row at 1:55 regardless of your HR then you won't actually improve because your body won't be using the right sources of energy. (You need to train your aerobic system, which doesn't happen if your HR is too high.) The concept 2 training guide I link to explains the actual physiology, as I think does the Lactate Threshold Training book or probably most other books on the science of endurance training.

I really like what you are doing here, and I think I am going to try to jump on this program. One question, what is the reason for keeping the drag factor at 100? I would have assumed to keep it around a 130ish?


Great! Good luck with the program.

As for the drag factor, I usually just set the damper halfway between 3 and 4, which is around 100 on my home erg and around 113 on the one I use at the gym. I think the biggest argument for keeping it a little bit lower is that erging puts some stress on your lower back at the catch, especially when going at a slow stroke rate where the flywheel has time to slow down significantly between each stroke.

The benefit of the lower stroke rate though is that I think it's a little easier on other parts of your body, in terms of avoiding things like carpal tunnel and other overuse type injuries. So that's why I advocate the low stroke rate, but with also a fairly low drag factor.

A discussion about this training guide on Reddit, specifically about the logic behind the weight training recommendations:

Hi Alex,

Thank you for the guide. I have a few questions that I hope you can answer. The first has to do with rowing strength/pulling hard. I rowed for three years before stopping four months ago. My squat was relatively never that high (220max @165lbs) and my pull-ups were always around 25 max. On the water and the erg I could pull very hard for a short distance (20-40 strokes) compared to guys who were squatting close to 360lbs max at 185lbs. On the erg I could pull a 1:14 for one stroke and now I can pull 1:34 @20spm (I didn't measure this at the time I was rowing). In a single I could keep up with senior national team scullers for ~2 min with a rate cap of 20 and keep with our eights for 3 open rate 1' on 1' off pieces. However, the stronger I got in the weight room/erg/water, my erg 2k didn't come down. My best was 6:55. When I rowed the single, I noticed that when I put the power on I could really move the boat but that I couldn't sustain that pressure for 2k.

So my first question is, is strength (320-360lbs squat, 35 pull-ups) always a limiting factor to a sub 6:20 2k? If not, then how do I know when is enough and should I then focus my training time on cardio?

Secondly, I always thought of myself more as a sprinter than a long distance runner. I've learned from reading a lot of rowing literature including "Lactate Threshold Training", that to be the fastest rower I need to be more of a long distance runner type. So then my question then is, do I need to adjust the program based on my individual need of more aerobic (75%HR SS) and less anerobic (Lifting)?

Thirdly, what do you think about training based on watts at lactate as opposed to watts at HR? Theoretically, they should correlate to the same watt but, from what I've read, HR is not as reliable a source of optimum training intensity as is lactate. Assuming that lactate testing is available, do you recommended to do the steady state work at a watt that correlates to 1.8-2.0 millimoles per liter and retest every week to check progress?


- Is strength (320-360lbs squat, 35 pull-ups) always a limiting factor to a sub 6:20 2k?

Nope. There are definitely people who are able to break 6:20 without meeting all (or even any) of those goals. Basically, if you're able to meet all of those goals it means that you should be able to break 6:20 without an excessive amount of difficulty. But just because you can't meet them doesn't mean it's not possible, it's just usually not a safe bet that you will.

- do I need to adjust the program based on my individual need of more aerobic (75%HR SS) and less anerobic (Lifting)?

I wouldn't. I tend to find that more than ~144k per week average on the erg is unsustainable for more than a few weeks. So you're essentially already doing all of the erging-specific cardio that you can do. Of course you can also row (in the boat) or sit on the bike/elliptical on top of this, which is generally good, but even then I don't think there is any reason to be doing more than 2.5 hours per day of cardio unless you're actually training for the Olympics. (In which case this probably wouldn't be the best workout program, since it's really designed to take you from sub 7 to sub 6:20, not from 8:30 to 7 minutes or from 6:20 to 6:05.)

In any event I would still try to improve your ability at squats at least, if you're only able to squat 220 then breaking 6:20 is definitely a long shot. Even the least strong people I knew who were able to break 6:20 were still probably squatting 280 or so.

- what do you think about training based on watts at lactate as opposed to watts at HR?

It's been too long since I've been up to date on lactate training so I can't really give advice. The thing I like about heart rate is that it varies wildly depending on what other work you've done that day/week, how hydrated you are, the temperature, etc. Which means that some workouts were done at a much faster pace than others. I had very good results this way, varying the speed of the piece depending on my heart rate at any given moment. Whether this is a good thing or a bad thing is difficult to say, but it certainly worked very well for me.

Thank you, Alex, for the answers! I am keeping track of my training so that when I finish in 6 months and pull sub 6:20, I will share my data like you have. I'm on week 2 right now and have already gained 5 watts on my steady state from last week and 2 pull-ups on my max! Something I've added to my erging is breathing technique. Sounds funny right, but apparently I've been breathing backwards my entire rowing career. Xeno has written that the ideal breathing rhythm is an exhalation at the catch with an inhalation at the finish. At first i couldn't do this backwards one breath cycle for more than a couple strokes without gasping and raising my heart rate. Today was the first day that I was able to get into a good rhythm and the result was my heart rate leveling at 138 and my watts increasing by 10. I was only able to maintain this rhythm for 5 mins but I would say that is great progress. Anyway, thank you again for sharing your info!

Best regards,


Hello, I don't want to make a super long comment although i have something that I think you might find interesting. You guys have been debating the strength training and what works best, subsequently I have something to add. I had a tough first year in rowing at grade 9, my performance on the water has improved but my 2k not so much. Then again, I have not put much time and effort into improving it. I will be doing that though next year through following the Pete plan followed by your wonderful guide here. Anyway, I'll stop getting off topic.

I am 5' 11" and weigh 145 pounds, I have decided that lightweight is my best go at things. The most watts that I could pull at the end of the season was around 500, about a 1:29 split. In a month of weight training I have maintained my weight at 145 pounds (as I was not looking for size), yet I increased my strength and power significantly. Let me tell you what I mean by significant.

I just finished two 10 second tests, without any technique I pulled 619 watts, 611 with it. Anyone with a basic comprehension of math can see that what 500 to over 600 means, an increase in maximum watts of over 20%, that is a lot! I realize that results like that will not be linear and that I am fairly new to rowing, yet I think that is a vast improvement. Just to let you know what I was doing, I followed the men's health power program for a month. I did the strength section that is designed for strength without size. Lower reps naturally.

I recommend that you check out the book; maybe it would inspire new ideas for your plan, probably not although it couldn't hurt to give it a look. I would love to hear your insight.




Sounds like a good plan to me. I checked out the Pete Plan, and it seems reasonably good for a beginner, although I'd recommend doing at least 20 - 30 min of base cardio before each of those workouts, in addition to the circuits.

Remember your goal for where you are shouldn't be to improve your 2k as fast as possible, but rather to get enough base strength / cardio / power for you to able to successfully complete something like what I'm advising in the future. To this extent I think it's fine to do a workout program like this even though it has a little bit more sprint work than would normally be justified. The reason for this is that the sprint work is a key component to helping you learn how to pull hard, which is probably the single most important 'skill' you need to learn as a rower.

The men's health program looks fine, although I'd recommend adding in squats, leg curl, leg extension, bench press, pullups, and dips. It's fine if you're not doing a ton of weight on these, but you want to start on them early in order to master the motions. For some people it can take literally years of doing these with very little weight until they have enough flexibility to do it properly, not to mention that as a beginner it takes an enormous amount of time just to make the first little bits of progress on them. Weight lifting is kind of weird in that way: it takes a really long time just to make a tiny amount of progress, then you start getting good really fast, and then you level off again. Anyway that's why it's good to start actually lifting weights right away though, because ultimately this is probably even more important than cardio for when you're a relative beginner.


Thank you for the comments.

I am just curious as to what you mean by circuits, do you mean the interval work?

I am hoping that by following the Pete Plan I will get the base fitness (a faster 2k will quite likely be a result) for your program. Your program looks great and like something I could use and enjoy. I almost can't wait for it!

The program does have squats and other free weight exercises. It does not use machines such as the leg curl and extension, this is because it can create muscle imbalances through isolation training. For some reason I didn't personally have many troubles with lifting technique. To ensure a consistent rate of strength increase, I added weight every time I repeated an exercise. There was usually about a week between repeating. I only added weight though if I felt confident, that being said I did push myself.

One thing I would like to add and throw at you is Olympic lifting.It can be difficult to get the technique at first, although it greatly improved my power. I would suggest safety precautions before attempting it though; I received instruction.

Thank you again,


"I am just curious as to what you mean by circuits"

Circuits are a way of doing weightlifting where you go from one exercise to the next in rapid succession, usually doing relatively light amounts of weight or even body weight exercises. (Like the one's in the Men's Health power program you mentioned.)

"The program does have squats and other free weight exercises."

Ahh ok, didn't see that. It's probably fine then.

"a faster 2k will quite likely be a result"

Yeah, it mostly depends what your current 2k is. With programs like that they are good for getting your 2k down to between 6:45 - 7:15, but after that it would be difficult to get down further without much more base cardio than what you'd be doing.

Thank you for your insight. I hope that using the Pete Plan will help me get to the lower part of the range you have said it could give someone, then I'll be able to start your program. I will let you know about my progress after my next 2k test, that should be in February during monster erg. Until then.

Thank you once more,


Would it work to do the 2x 45min erg pieces instead on the water in a single? Also would it work to follow this program in the morning and practice with my team in the afternoon?

"Would it work to do the 2x 45min erg pieces instead on the water in a single?"

It would certainly work to do at least some of them in the single. I would still recommend doing at least four per week on the erg though.

"Also would it work to follow this program in the morning and practice with my team in the afternoon?"

Yes, that's basically how it's meant to be done. The only exception is if your team is going to be doing more than an hour of steady state on the erg then it might be best to do less in the morning, but otherwise it's fine if you're doing an hour of cardio on the water plus some pieces or an erg test or whatever. And obviously you shouldn't do squats in the morning and then do them again in the afternoon or the next day, so the weights component is the one area where you really do need to do one or the other unfortunately.

Hey alex, I am currently using your programme.

Into my second week of it here and it's going pretty well, was just wondering though what would you advise to do to extend this programme over a period of 10 months as apposed to 6?



I don't currently have good access to gym weights. Is it possible to gain the strength required without doing weights? i.e. body weight or erg pieces? I heard the Danish national lwt team doesnt use weights at all and they have the fastest 2K erg scores.


Unfortunately weights are required. You can do strength stuff without weights if you're already at your strength goals and only need to maintain your strength and improve your muscle quality, which I suspect is what the Danish lwt team is doing. But in order to actually get strong in the first place (at least in a reasonable period of time) then there isn't really any way around using weights.

Hello Alex,

I really like the program you made. I am just about to start it, but I have few questions before I get started. First, what are your thoughts on substituting the dead lift for the back extensions? A member on my team recommended that I do this with the reasoning that the dead lifts will help to gain mass faster, and they still work the back, but also work the hamstrings, which would prevent them from getting too weak in relation to the quads.

Second, would you recommend doing 3 sets instead of 6, but with a larger amount of weight per set? Or is 6 sets better for getting boat speed higher?

My last question is that the first part of the plan is for months 1-3. Does this mean to the end of month three, or to the beginning of month 3? If so, then the second phase of the plan would be from the start of month 4 to month 5.5, and phase 3 would be from month 5.5 to the end of 6, would it not?



>I really like the program you made. I am just about to start it

Thanks, and good luck!

>A member on my team recommended that I do this with the reasoning that the dead lifts will help to gain mass faster, and they still work the back, but also work the hamstrings, which would prevent them from getting too weak in relation to the quads.

Personally I've tended to avoid deadlifts because they seem to have a high chance of causing back injuries, but that actually makes a lot of sense. I'd say go for it if you're already a junior in HS or above, but just be careful. I'd still recommend doing back extensions during the off season though. It's hard to do above a certain amount of weight with back extension because you have to either hold it with your arms or else try to use a bar on your back, both of which are difficult, but it's good to have a certain amount of base strength there.

>Would you recommend doing 3 sets instead of 6, but with a larger amount of weight per set? Or is 6 sets better for getting boat speed higher?

I'd recommend six because I think the chances of injuring your back are lower, and I think it's more effective for anything longer than a few weeks. If you wanted to switch to sets of 3 in the last 3-4 weeks before your main event of the year then I think that might make sense, I just wouldn't do that all year round. Beyond just the risk of injury, I don't think you'd see any extra benefits in terms of boat speed from doing sets of 3 for more than a few weeks. That's the kind of thing where it can work to squeeze out the last percent or two of speed, but after that you're probably not going to keep seeing any further improvements.

>My last question is that the first part of the plan is for months 1-3. Does this mean to the end of month three, or to the beginning of month 3?

Part one goes until the end of the third month, so a full 12 weeks.

Thanks for the answers! I think it's really impressive that you still reply to comments even though the guide itself is several years old. If (big if here) I make it the entire way through, I'll definitely post my data.

Hey Alex, I'm 18 years old and I've been rowing for 4 years. I'm 5'8" and I have read through your program and it looks awesome. I will definitely pick it up this summer. In terms of flexibility, i have alot. i am the most flexible guy on my team. Is there a way to gauge flexibility, i can put my hands and wrists on the ground when i forward fold. How flexible should i become? Yoga, like bikram (heat yoga). Love to hear from you, thanks.
Also, what was the reason you started rowing? how long, and what made you stick with it for the time being.

Hi, do you still reply to questions about this program, Alex Krupp?

We (4 lwt rowers in the Netherlands) would love to pick this up, but have some questions we would like to have answered...

Kind regards,



Sure, what questions do you have?


Hi Alex,

thanks for the quick response!

1) Do you use any kind of protein supplements after the pullups/squat sessions?

2) Our current PR's are between 6:35 and 6:50; do you have any examples of people who did this program and reached the target of sub 6:20? Basically, we feel that sub 6:20 is very far away... (In Holland there are very few lwt rowers who reach this)

3) As far as food; how many kcal did you eat per day? Doing 2x45' burns alot, and I guess you'd need to eat loads to maintain the training program..

4) We need to perform at the Euro Open 2015 in Amsterdam (January 17), do you think starting at the end of august is a good time schedule? Our season ends next week, and after that most of us will keep cycling/rowing but on a lower intensity.

Thanks in advance!



Sorry your comment got stuck in my spam folder. Anyway:

1) I wasn't, but it probably wouldn't hurt in moderation.

2) I don't actually have any examples. This program has gotten a lot of attention recently, but relatively few people have actually done it... Given the prerequisites, it's basically only well suited for a relatively small subset of rowers, and as with probably any plan I get the impression that most of the people who start it don't necessarily get that far. Not sure this is necessarily a bad, but certainly it means that the plan has yet to be 'proven' or whatever. But that being said, as someone pointed out on Reddit recently, none of the stuff in here is especially novel. What's new is the way that it's packaged, as well as combining some American ideas with some European ones. I think for where you are breaking 6:20 definitely isn't unrealistic, and if you don't get there then in all likelihood you'll still get closer than you would with any other program.

3) Yeah you definitely do need to eat a lot, but I don't remember offhand how much I was eating. I think it was at least 3,500 calories per day though.

4) Starting in August would be fine.

Hello Alex,

I found this place through Reddit, read all of it and i'm currently in a preparatory phase.

I started rowing a bit less than a year ago with a background of general strength training, so i'm really not too far away from meeting those goals. (olympic squat and pull ups)

I actually only started doing real steady state training this month by buying an old C2 model B. Doing 60' erg @ 155hr, 5 times a week, and currently at a 2:14 av split. I'm planning on sustaining this until October where i'll be switching to 2x45', my strength goals will be met by then.

1) Does this mean i can do a strength maintaining routine that will be less taxing? How did you go about this in the last month or two?

2) My 2K PR is 6:56. To be 100% sure i make the 8+ it should preferably be around 6:35. Is this program for me? Or do i have to put in the same consistency and effort, just over a shorter period of time?

Stats: 6' @ 174lbs

Kind regards


1) I'd recommend doing the same strength routine to start, and then once you reach the strength goals doing only two or three sets with the same number of reps you'd otherwise be doing, instead of doing the full six sets.

2) You should be easily under 6:35. Again I would do the program as is, but expect that you will break that in 3 - 4 months rather than six. Once you break 6:35 you can either continue the program (but in maintenance mode for squats and pullups), or else continue at a reduced workload.

Thanks a ton! Really gives me a boost!

Hi Alex,

We've been doing this for about 3-4 weeks now, but we have some discussion about HR for the SS.
For me 75% of max HR would mean about 140-145 (max test said my max is about 190 bpm), but you say that you did it at about 155? Could you elaborate on this?

One of our teammates claimed you might mean 'effective HR'-> defining the HR to SS on as follows:


which for me would be about 160...

Looking forward to your reply,



I meant 75% of max -- my max HR when I did this was 206/207. If your max is really 190 then I'd keep it under 145. The idea is that you want to train just under your anaerobic threshold.

Hey Alex,

Really cool program, I've been showing it to all the varsity guys on my team, showing them what a lightweight can do (and what those 200lbs guys should be accomplishing)

I'm a novice rower, only 5ft 9in and 137lbs. Just started this fall, and I'm working towards a sub 7min 2k before my first year is over. I know this plan isn't exactly for me, but being in a position to implement this plan is a goal of mine.

That being said, do you have advice/links for someone in my situation? Trying to go from solidly sub 8min to solidly under 7min seems like a big jump but I believe it can be done. Hoping someone with your experience would have some idea of how to jumpstart a small guy's rowing career.

If this helps: My last 20min test was completed at a 2:04.

Thought I would let you know how my progress is going!

- I've been lazy on my squat, right now 285lbs 1RM.

- 2x45': i'm happy with the progress so far, 2:03-2:05 @ 150-155hr.

- My best 2K last season was 6:56 (absolutely all out, completely shattered after that), two weeks ago i tried my very first 2K of this season and hit 6:52, no racing preparation

- I've gained more flexibility through the stretch routine, noticed better performance on the water due to this.

- Up until 1 week ago i had been building up to the training volume of 2x45' 6 times a week, 1 month longer than i had planned.

- Motivation is on point as well. I trust this program and am confident that it will get me fit enough for the 8+.

- The mentality aspect of this program is starting to change me as an individual: prioritizing college, family, sports, girlfriend etc. is something I've never been good at, but i'm starting to notice that as you get older this requires more attention!

Hi Alex, I am around 10 weeks in and I am starting to think about the hard pieces. Are they flat out or is there a target intensity/HR?


The 3x10' is as fast as you can go without completely dying on the third one, the others are all flat out. If you are doing comparable sprint work with your team though then that can substitute for these pieces, even if it's on the water. (Whereas with cardio it's generally hard to get enough cardio in the right HR zone.)

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