Conditioning Drills

The following workouts types can be used for conditioning, to give rowers an opportunity to practice technical components of a race and to practice rowing at race intensity.

See also, weekly practices

Steady state rowing (a.k.a. aerobic workouts)

Practice the rowing technique and work on aerobic conditioning with low stroke rate, continuous rowing. Row for as long as possible, possibly for the entire practice, without stopping or with short breaks. New teams may use pair rowing with steady state if they are unable to row as a team for long periods of time.


  1. One 45-60 minute piece @ 18 SPM
  2. 4 x 12 minutes @ 18-20 SPM with 90 seconds rest between
Steady state rowing should be the bulk of the weekly workouts.

Medium and long intervals (a.k.a. anaerobic threshold workouts)

Work on conditioning by practicing at slightly higher higher stroke rates for long periods of time (4-20 minutes) with rest between each interval. Do these once per week but only if technique allows. Medium and long intervals are good for simulating and preparing for a race.


  1. 2-4 x 6 minutes @ 24-28 SPM with 2-3 minutes rest between

Short intervals and sprints (a.k.a. anaerobic workouts)

Short intervals and sprints are good for:

  • Improving aerobic capacity
  • Building anaerobic capacity and the ability to perform when tired with high lactic acid
  • Working on race intensity
  • Practicing starts and finish pieces

These intervals are 30 seconds to 4 minutes in duration with rest between and should be performed at a high, or very high, intensity and concentration. They should not be attempted until rowers have a base of fitness and technique – close to race season.


  1. 10 x 1 minute pieces with 1 minute rest between
  2. 5 x 500m with 2 minutes rest between
Rowers MUST maintain adequate technique; stop when they can’t.