3 ways to instantly improve your 2km row time

Written by Harry Howe

“It doesn’t get easier you just get fitter!”

We’ve all heard it before but what if you didn’t need to get fitter to have a faster 2km row time? Like any workout, efficiency is key, and the ergometer is no different. However, getting more efficient in a movement generally requires hours upon hours of work to improve, but not the erg.

Here are 3 techniques to instantly improve your 2km row time.

You wouldn’t deadlift with a rounded back, but we constantly see people rowing stroke after stroke rounded over. This is neither efficient nor safe. By rounding our backs during the stroke, we have broken the kinetic chain and are leaking potential energy. A 2km row is hard enough even before we create power with our legs, just to lose it by merely not engaging our core. I want you to imagine sitting on a rower at arms away with a string connected to the top of your head pulling your head, sternum and rib cage upwards. Doing so opens up our chest, turns on the core and tightens the hamstrings waiting to pull us down the slide. This is the start point for any successful stroke.

Now that we are not leaking energy, where is that energy coming from? Bigger muscles like the glutes and quadriceps create more power than smaller muscles like the biceps, so let’s use them! Starting again at arms away, keep sitting tall and take 4 strokes. First at ¼ slide, then ½, ¾ and finally a full stroke. Each time focusing on slowly coming down the slide, staying upright and keeping the tension in the hamstrings, then explosively pressing ourselves back to the starting position squeezing the glutes to finish the stroke. Now that we know where these points on the slide are, we’ll perform 3 rounds of 10 reps at each point as follows:

3 rounds

¼  slide x 10 reps

½ slide x 10 reps

¾ slide x 10 reps

Full slide x 10 reps

Let’s talk about getting those arms moving quickly. Quick arms allow the machine’s fan to keep spinning and therefore, squeezing out a few extra meters per stroke which is always nice. What hinders most people in achieving this is missing it all together. What I mean, is that the stroke is taken, the handle touches the sternum and before you know it the athlete is heading back down the slide straightening their arms as they go. What we want to focus on is having a definitive distinction between finishing the pull and starting the next stroke. Two drills that I’ve found incredibly helpful for producing quick arms are:

  1.   Double arm pull– From the finish position the athlete pulls a full stroke, releases their arms quickly and takes another stroke with just the arms. This drill forces the athlete to let the arms out before heading down the slide as it makes it impossible to take another stroke with the arms, while traveling down the slide.
  2.   Double quick hands – From finish position the athlete moves their hands twice as fast as normal ‘double quick’. The rest of the recovery is executed at normal speed. This will feel very strange at first pressing the handle away so forcefully, but eventually it will ingrain a quickness in the arms that will transition into a smoother stroke.

Rowing may not be the most impressive looking exercise but, what is impressive is breezing past your peers in any workout that it comes up, and we all know it comes up often. Focusing on these three simple parts of the stroke will have you putting down the power effectively, breathing easier and even getting a few extra free meters as a result. Go jump on that rower and show it who’s boss!

Try these workouts

Workout 1
2 rounds
200m 70% easy until 2 minutes
200m 80% easy until 2 minutes
200m 85% easy until 2 minutes
200m 90% easy until 2 minutes
200m 100% easy until 2 minutes
Rest 3 minutes
Workout 2: 2 rounds
3 mins at moderate pace
90s at easy recovery pace
45s fast pace
rest 2 mins
2 sets of
2 mins at moderate pace
60s at easy recovery pace
30s fast pace

 

Rest 2 mins
2 sets
1 mins at moderate pace
30s at easy recovery pace
15s fast pace
Workout 3
1km row
100m Farmers carry
10 Wall Walks
15 Slamball over shoulder
10 wall walks
100m farmers carry
1km row
Workout 4
2 Rounds 90s rest between
100m arms only
200m pause at arms away
300m 1/2 slide
400m Full slide
Workout 5 :
4 x 2000 metre row
Rest 2 minutes between efforts

1 Comment. Leave new

Thanks for a great article.

What’s a decent 2000m row time for a not-particularly fit 45yr old man?

I’ve rowed this distance every evening in 2019 and typical time is 7:30-7:40 but best so far has been 7:00 dead.

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