Entries in Training Progam (5)

Wednesday
Feb152012

Cycling Your Periodization Plan

By: Michael H. Stone and Meg Stone (East Tennessee State) and William A. Sands.
From:  Olympic Coach Winter 2008.

Updated: Aug 27th 2009 2:20 PM UTC by Matt Fitzgerald


The “principle of the cyclic arrangement of load demands” consists of two concepts working simultaneously: 1) cycling and 2) stages (Harre 1982, p. 78). Cycles of training are organized so that work is punctuated with rest and so that athletes progress through a program that systematically varies the training tasks and load.
 
The overall cycle that each athlete goes through consists of repeating three stages: a) acquisition of athletic form b) stabilization of athletic form c) temporary loss of athletic form (Harre 1982). Practical experience has shown that athletes do not continue to improve in a progressive linear manner. Athletes require work periods that cause fatigue, and then these work periods are followed by rest and adaptation.
  
Training load is cycled by increasing load demands followed by decreasing demands. The second concept, stages, is again based on practical experience. Athletes simply cannot work on all of the demands of training and competition at the same time. The demands are too numerous, and available time is too limited. Taken together, these two concepts are united under the modern training approach called periodization.
 
The concept of periodization has been around at least since the 1920s (Nilsson 1987), and there are at least a dozen models of periodization. Caution should be exercised in their use due to the tendency to infer too much from individual models (Francis and Patterson 1992; Siff 1996a, 1996b; Siff and Verkhoshansky 1993; Verkhoshansky, U. 1981; Verkhoshansky 1977, 1985; Viru 1988, 1990, 1995). Further, most of the models have been tested only cursorily, if at all. Table 1.1 presents a list of several models.
 

 

 

Planning with Periodization

The most common method of developing a periodization plan is to divide a competitive season into three levels of cycles: a) macrocycles - several months in duration up to a year or slightly more: b) mesocycles - from approximately two to approximately eight weeks in duration; and c) microcycles - usually seven to fourteen days in duration.
 
The three levels of training organization permit a “divide and conquer” approach to the assignment of training tasks in a definite pattern for a definite period. Unfortunately, various authors have taken considerable liberty in using terms to describe varying durations, contents, and objectives of training within this context.
 
The three levels of training duration are placed within an overall structure of the training year that consists of a preparatory period, a competitive period, and a transition or rest period.
 
An athlete requires approximately 22 to 25 weeks to reach peak performance (Verkhoshansky 1985) before a type of fatigue or exhaustion occurs that is poorly understood (Poliquin 1991). Experience has shown that performance generally declines within these times constraints, but the mechanisms of the decline are unknown.
 
This idea of a limited time for adaptation leads to the concept of multiple periodization, which simply means that the training year is usually divided into two, rarely more, phases consisting of preparatory, competitive and transition periods (Bompa 1990a, 1990b, 1993; Siff and Verkhoshansky 1993; Verkhoshansky 1985). Perhaps unfortunately, many modern training programs force athletes to attempt to peak too often.

 

Description of the Periods

The preparatory period is usually divided into general and specific phases. The general preparatory phase is used for broad or multilateral training (Bompa, 1990b). The training tasks are aimed at improving the athlete’s overall strength, flexibility, stamina, coordination, and so forth.
 
The specific preparatory phase more closely resembles the sport and sport-specific tasks. Training during the specific preparatory phase are aimed at improving sport-specific tasks and fitness such as jumping, flexibility and strength in extreme ranges of motion and applying any newly acquired fitness to solving specific sport tasks.The preparatory period should be relatively longer for inexperienced athletes in order to allow for sufficient development of basic fitness.
 
However, in elite athletes the preparatory period may be relatively short due to frequent competitions and the necessity of elite athletes to remain close to top condition throughout the training year (Francis and Patterson 1992; Siff 1996b; Siff and Verkhoshansky 1993; Zatsiorsky 1995).
 
The competitive period involves the majority of competitions during the particular season or macrocycle. The fitness of the athlete should be relatively stable during this period, and training focuses on maximizing and stabilizing performance. The preparatory period is linked to the competitive period in that a well-executed preparatory period, with sufficient duration to achieve a high level of fitness at a reasonable pace, allows the athlete to demonstrate more stable performances during the competitive period ( Harre 1982; Siff and Verkhoshansky 1993;Verkhoshansky 1985).
 
The idea of performance stability is particularly important for athletes in resistance training, and may differ somewhat from sport to sport. For example, the tactical approach of a pole vaulter is quite different from that of a diver. The pole vaulter may often face performances that he or she has never equaled. This is seen in personal-best records. The pole vaulter may try previously unachieved heights in many competitions throughout a season. The diver should face this type of scenario only in the protected environment of training. The diver must perform what he or she has performed (i.e. dives) hundreds or thousands of times before, but must perform dives precisely in the decisive moment of competition. No byes or failed attempts are allowed in diving. Therefore, the diver seeks to stabilize performance at a level that is consistent with his or her skills, while the pole vaulter must assault and achieve new levels of performance during a competition and can use more than one attempt.
The transition or rest period involves one to four, rarely more, weeks of reduced training load to facilitate recovery from the rigors of previous training both physically and mentally (Bompa 1990a, 1990b; Harre 1982, 1986; Siff and Verkhoshansky 1993). During the transition period the athlete should attempt to maintain fitness while allowing injuries to heal, develop new goals for the next competitive season, evaluate the previous competitive season and basically ensure that the next competitive season begins with a renewed vigor and commitment.

 

Types of Periods

There are a number of different types of periods of training depending on training goals, time of the season and capabilities of the athlete. Macrocycles are usually described based on common sense understanding of the nature of the competitions within the macrocycle. For example, there may be an Olympic preparation type of macrocycle due to the modification of competition schedules to fit properly with the Olympic Games. There may also be a Pan American, national championship, or other type of macrocycles depending on the most important goal of the macrocycle. The second level, mesocycles can be categorized by the objectives of the mesocycle. Mesocycle-level objectives are relatively similar across macrocycles, which aids in the consistency of their defining characteristics. Mesocycles thus become similar to inter-changeable planning “parts” that can be used and reused in different macrocycles. Table 1.2 shows a list of mesocycle types and corresponding tasks (Harre 1982).
 
 
The mesocycles can be linked to form an annual plan (Bompa 1990b), or a specific macrocycle (Harre 1982, 1990; Matveyev 1977). Microcycles are periods of training lasting from seven to fourteen days. Microcycles are the smallest basic unit of training planning that has strictly applied objectives. The training lesson is a smaller training unit, but the goals of any particular training lesson can be modified based on current circumstances. However, the objectives of the microcycle remain intact so that the subsequent training lessons are adapted to reach the objectives set for the microcycle (Verkhoshansky 1985). Various types of microcycles are shown in Table 1.3 below.

 

 
As described earlier, the cyclic arrangement of load demands refers to periodization, which is composed of two concepts used simultaneously. The first concept is that of cycling the training load by alternating between work and rest. The second concept is that of periods of training with specific, distinct and linked goals. The importance of these periodization concepts lies in the organized and systematic fashion in which training loads can be applied for the improvement of sport performance.
 
Excerpted from Principles and Practice of Resistance Training by Michael H. Stone, Meg Stone and William A. Sands; Human Kinetics Champaign, IL. 2007. Reprinted with permission from Human Kinetics.
Saturday
Aug202011

The Runners-Cycle (With a view to application to rowing periodization)

By: Philip Tam
From: The Runners-Cycle
Site Link: The North Face 100
PDF Link: The Runners-Cycle


High Performance Rowing: Editors Note:

Rowing requires a very similar view to building and periodizing a training program. Philip Tam provides an interesting insite into training in his article: The Runners-Cycle.

The Runners Cycle

“Faster, Higher, Stronger”. The 3 comparatives that make up the Olympic Motto, and which are also commonly associated with the desires of an athlete. As runners, we train so as to increase the ability to sustain the fastest speed for a given distance or amount of time. When not done correctly, we may be putting ourselves at risk of overuse injuries.

The approach towards structuring a running programme safely and optimally is the understanding of the 6 principles of training combined with the knowledge of periodization. The latter, sadly, is often overlooked. Periodization is the alternation of training load with recovery in a running programme. Its greatest purpose is really to minimize long-term physiological and psychological fatigue and hence preventing the onset of overtraining.

What happens when you train?

The above diagram is commonly known among exercise physiologists as the General Adaptation Syndrome (GAS). This model depicts the process that the runner’s body actually goes through when he / she trains. The first phase or the Alarm reaction phase refers to the introduction of a training programme or when you begin to increase your mileage above the usual volume. The body enters a state of “shock” and this is reflected through the soreness, stiffness and tiredness which the individual experiences. It will struggle to return to its original level through the counter-shock state.

With time, the human body begins to adapt and enters the second phase or the Resistance phase. Through a good balance of training and recovery, the runner’s body would be able to perform at a higher level. Should the runner continue to be stressed with a greater training volume without adequate recovery, the body will enter the final or Exhaustion phase. Prolonged dwelling in this phase would put the runner at risk of reaching the state of overtraining.

The 6 principles of training (a brief overview)

1) Individuality: No two runners will react to a training program in the same manner due to our different
genetics. Hence, individualize your training whenever possible.

2) Progressive overloading: To minimize overuse injuries, gradually and slowly increase your running distance. While the rule of thumb is not to increase more than 10% of your weekly mileage, you should maintain or reduce your training volume should you begin to feel fatigue.

3) Recovery: Improvement comes from a combination of stress and recovery. It is important to have off days from running to rest.

4) Variety: Cross-training (e.g. swimming, gym-work etc) is valuable in minimizing injuries and helping you avoid mental staleness.

5) Specificity: Runners run, bikers cycle, swimmers swim, tri-athletes do everything. If you want improvements in your running, you do not cross-train more than you run.

6) Reversibility: Aerobic fitness would be reduced when you stop training. Maintain your fitness by decreasing the frequency and duration of runs yet keeping or even increasing intensity. slightly higher.

Understanding the 3 cycles

The components that make up periodization are training cycles, usually 3 different types in the following
ascending order:
a) Micro-cycles = the smallest training cycles which constitute the Meso-cycle; usually 1 week in duration.
b) Meso-cycles = shorter blocks which make up the macro-cycles; usually 4 – 8 weeks in duration.
c) Macro-cycles = the longest blocks which usually last from 3 months to a whole year.

The Micro-cycle

 

(X-axis = days of a week, Y-axis = training intensity; H is high, M is moderate, L is low, R is rest).

The micro-cycle normally refers to a weekly running programme (Monday to Sunday). When designing a microcycle, the exercise physiologist has to consider the training purpose and current fitness level of the runner. The example above is known as a “low-load” cycle which is commonly used by most recreational runners.

The Meso-Cycle:

The above is a common example of a meso-cycle. Making up of 4 micro-cycles (1 week per cycle), training volume is increased each week until the 4th week where a reduction occurs. This is to allow adequate recovery from any residue fatigue accumulated through the past 3 weeks of training. Such is known as the 3:1 strategy; 3 weeks of gradual mileage loading accompanied by 1 week of unloading.

The Macro-cycle:

(Number = month)

In the management of races of prolonged duration (e.g. marathon, ultra-marathon etc), a macro-cycle tends to consist of at least 6 meso-cycle (1 month each). As seen above, the 3:1 micro-cycle strategy is commonly employed with the last meso-cycle reserved for tapering (for more details, refer to the article “Tapering and peaking for the final victory”).

Summary points for optimal periodization

1) Learn to employ the 6 principles of training in your programme.
2) A good running programme involves periodization, familiarize yourself with the cycles.
3) Have a mixture of loading and unloading micro-cycles, the 3:1 strategy is a good start.
4) Ensure your macro-cycle comprises of more meso-cycles should the event you are undertaking requires highmileage training (marathon to an ultra-marathon).


Thursday
Jul282011

Is Variation In Training Overrated?

By: Matt Fitzgerald.

Updated: Aug 27th 2009 2:20 PM UTC by Matt Fitzgerald

Much is made of the virtue of variation in endurance sports training. Heck, I've made much of it myself. Some coaches and experts go so far as to say that one should never do the same workout twice in a training cycle. But lately I've come to believe that too much is made of the virtue of variation in endurance sports training, and not enough of the complementary virtue of repetition.

There are a lot of great athletes out there who don't buy into the whole variation thing. Among them is Beijing Olympic Women's Marathon gold medalist Constantina Dita-Tomescu, about whose training the following was written in a Running Times article:

    Constantina Tomescu-Dita's marathon training is based on a one-week block of workouts that has remained constant for years, with only slight variations for the season and distance from a goal race. not only are the distances and intensity of each day consistent, but also the location, even the course...

There can be such a thing as too much repetition, of course. But everyone knows this. During an eight-year meathead phase of my early adult life, when I lifted weights five or six hours a week with no goal other than getting girls, I did the same workouts over and over with no variation and, predictably enough, after an initial adaptation period my body stopped making any progress. The same thing would happen in an endurance training program with no variation. But I believe that many endurance athletes could benefit from including more repetition in their training.

The benefit of repeating certain key workouts throughout the training process is that it allows for apples-to-apples comparisons of performance and thus encourages the athlete to compete against himself, trying to best his previous benchmark each time he repeats a given session. You don't necessarily have to become fitter and fitter for this process to work. You just have to try harder and harder. Indeed, as some of the recent science on the brain's regulation of exercise performance suggests, one of the most important outcomes of an effecive training program is the ability to do more with the same resources. Engaging in a training program in which certain bread-and-butter key workouts are frequently repeated is a great way to enhance this underappreciated outcome of training.

Early in a training cycle, when you perform your first session of your bread-and-butter workouts, you shouldn't kill yourself. Just go hard but controlled to establish a benchmark. The next time you perform the same session, don't try to demolish that standard; just shave it down a tick or two by trying a little harder. Continue in this manner until, in the peak period of your training, you really have to turn yourself inside out to improve your key workout times.

It's not all about trying harder, of course. Training should make you fitter too. But the very process I just described will itself make you fitter and give you the resources to progressively improve your key workout performances. Pushing hard but not too hard in your early key sessions will stimulate physiological adaptations that enable you to reach higher the next time.

You should also manipulate the context in which your go-to workouts occur to stimulate fitness gains that you can then exploit in these workouts. As the training cycle unfolds, there should be an overall gradual increase in your training load that is punctuated by short recovery periods. You will make the biggest improvements in your key workout performances when you perform them within recovery periods.

So what exactly are the bread-and-butter key workouts that you might want to consider doing repeatedly in your training? There is no single right answer to this question. However, generally speaking these workouts should collectively test and provide an opportunity to assess the various major components of your overall fitness: strength, speed, aerobic capacity, lactate threshold and endurance. Examples of workouts that might be used to test each of these components in running are as follow:

Strength: 10 x 2-minute hill intervals with 3-minute jog recoveries

Speed: 10 x 300m with 400m jog recoveries

Aerobic capacity: 5 x 1K with 400m jog recoveries

Lactate threshold: 10K relaxed time trial

Endurance: 20-30K relaxed time trial

Each of these sessions could be performed as often as once every other week. The variety would come from other key sessions sprinkled into the mix and from fluctuations in overall training volume.

It is rightly said that you can't improve by doing the same workouts over and over. But when you try progressively harder in each iteration of a key workout and manipulate the context in which these sessions are performed, you're really not doing the same workouts over and over.

Saturday
Jul232011

Periodization: Latest Studies and Practical Applications

By: Christopher C. Frankel and Len Kravitz, Ph.D.
From: UDM Aticles.

Introduction

Periodization is an organized approach to training that involves progressive cycling of various aspects of a training program during a specific period of time. The roots of periodization come from Hans Selye’s model, known as the General Adaptation Syndrome, which has been used by the athletic community since the late 1950s (Fleck, 1999). Selye identified a source of biological stress referred to as eustress, which denotes beneficial muscular strength and growth, and a distress state, which is stress that can lead to tissue damage, disease, and death. Periodization is most widely used in resistance program design to avoid over-training and to systematically alternate high loads of training with decreased loading phases to improve components of muscular fitness (e.g. strength, strength-speed, and strength-endurance). This system of training is typically divided up into three types of cycles: microcycle, mesocycle, and macrocycle. The microcycle is generally up to 7 days. The mesocycle may be anywhere from 2 weeks to a few months and can further be classified into preparation, competition, peaking, and transition phases. The macrocycle refers to the overall training period, usually representing a year. This article will discuss the efficacy of periodization and present some of the current issues from recent research.

Theory and Research

The research has focused primarily on the variation in training volume (total repetitions per workout or total repetitions x mass lifted) and exercise intensity (%1RM). While the underlying mechanisms that explain the differences between periodized and non-periodized programs remains to be fully investigated and explained (Fleck 1999), the effects on neural adaptations and the avoidance of overtraining are suggested as possible factors (Fleck 1999, Stone 1999 a & b).

Most comparative studies have demonstrated the superiority of periodized over non-periodized programs in terms of greater changes in strength, body composition, and motor performance (Fleck 1999).

In these investigations, programs were evaluated based on changes in strength and/or power-related measures such as 1 RM bench, 1 RM squat,vertical jump power and height, and cycling sprint performance. The studies ranged in duration from seven to 24 weeks. When summarized, these studies demonstrate that even over a relatively short period of time (the length of a mesocycle), significantly greater improvements can be realized using systematic variation in training volume and intensity compared to linear programs using constant sets and reps (i.e., 3 sets of 10 repetitions).
In two separate studies, groups using a one-set-to-failure program were compared to other groups using periodized training principals.

Both methods resulted in improvements in strength and power measures over the training period. However, the periodized groups demonstrated significantly greater increases than did subjects in the single set groups (Fleck 1999). An obvious concern in the interpretation of these results is the greater amount of training volume (reps, sets, and total mass lifted) in the periodized programs, which may account for the differences in performance gains between the groups. However, these findings may furnish evidence for the use of periodized, multiple set, programs over single set programs, which continues to be an ongoing debate among fitness professionals.

To address the influence of overall training volume, multiple set linear programs (constant reps and sets) have been compared to periodized programs (decreased volume-increased intensity with time). In the majority of cases, periodization based programs still provided significantly greater improvements in performance measures (Fleck 1999, Stone 1999a, Stone 1999b). Therefore, there is evidence to support the idea that appropriate manipulation of volume and intensity, over and above just increases in total training volume alone, is an important factor in optimizing strength training effects.

Periodization, Variation, Periodization Models

Periodization, as it has been defined, refers to specific methods of manipulating training variables to provide variation in volume and intensity. While variation itself may play an important role in optimizing strength-related improvements, not all programs that include a variation component will provide similar results (Stone 1999a). In other words, random variations in training variables may not produce the desired results, lending credence to the adage "Fail to plan—plan to fail."

Traditional models of periodization describes a progression from high volume and low-intensity work towards decreasing volume and increasing intensity during the different cycles. Other periodization programs have been developed and have potential advantages over non-periodized approaches. A reduction in volume and an increase in intensity in steps during the training cycle is referred to as stepwise periodization. In the overreaching periodization model there is periodic short term (1-2 week) increase in volume or intensity followed by a return to normal training (Stone 1999b). During undulating periodization, training volume and intensity are increased and decreased on a regular basis, but not in the general pattern of always increasing intensity and decreasing volume as the training period progresses (Fleck 1999).

Practical Considerations

Coaches and athletes have long been aware of the benefit of changing the training stimulus at regular, or even irregular intervals. Tapering training volume prior to competition, planned periods of active rest, and interspersing power and strength workouts to challenge different energy systems are all attempts to exploit the General Adaptation Syndrome. In the "black box" model of performance are qualitative variables such as motivation, adherence, and compliance which not be underestimated as determining factors in the success of any program. For instance, Stone et al. (1999b) describe that the attrition and noncompliance rate of their constant reps group was attributable to the monotony and boredom of this type of training. There may be psychological factors that additionally influence the quality and quantity of work performed during training.While the body of research pertaining to periodization focuses on the effect of varying volume and exercise intensity, it should be clear that these are not the only variables that determine training adaptations.

Other influential components of any program include

  1. choice of exercises
  2. order of exercises
  3. resistance or load
  4. number of sets per exercise
  5. number of exercises per muscle group
  6. repetition range
  7. type of contraction
  8. speed of movement
  9. rest periods between sets
  10. rest periods between training sessions, and
  11. nutritional status.

Further research remains to be conducted and evaluated. However, for more advanced resistance training designs, the evidence appears to strongly suggest utilizing a periodized approach as compared to constant repetition/set type programs.

TRAINING MODELS

NONPERIODIZED MODELS
Linear: Volume (reps x sets) remains constant during training period. Intensity increases with load progression.

Random Variation: Volume and/or intensity change randomly, with no consideration other than to introduce variation into the program.

PERIODIZED MODELS
Traditional: Volume and intensity are systematically manipulated. Training cycle begins with a high-volume, low-intensity profile, then progresses to low volume, high intensity over time.

Step wise: Like the traditional model, intensity increases and volume decreases during the training period. Volume is decreased during the training period. Volume is decreased in a stepwise fashion: Repetitions are reduced from eight to five, five to three, and so forth, at specific time intervals.

Undulating: Training volume and intensity increase and decrease on a regular basis: but they do not follow the traditional pattern of increasing intensity and decreasing volume as the mesocycle progresses (Fleck 1999).

Overreaching: Volume or intensity is increased for a short period of time (one to two weeks), followed by a return to "normal" training. This method is use primarily with advanced strength trained athletes.

Sample Periodization Model by Muscle Fiber Type

Articles Reviewed:

Fleck, S. J. (1999). Periodized strength training: A critical review. Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research, 13, 82-89.

Stone, M. H., O’Bryant, H. S., Schilling, B. K., Johnson, R. L., Pierce, K.C., Haff, G. G., and Stone, M. (1999). Periodization: Effects of manipulating volume and intensity. Part 2. Strength and Conditioning Journal, 21(3), 54-60.

Stone, M. H., O’Bryant, H. S., Schilling, B. K., Johnson, R. L., Pierce, K.C., Haff, G. G., and Stone, M. (1999). Periodization: Effects of manipulating volume and intensity. Part 1. Strength and Conditioning Journal, 21(3), 54-60.

Sunday
Jul172011

Mike Spracklen's Notes, October 1987

By: Mike Spracklen, October 1987
From: Spracklen's Notes
PDF site link: Spracklen's Notes

TRAINING FOR TECHNIQUE

This training System has been designed to provide a variety of methods that are compatible with the process of learning good rowing technique. The methods are not dissimilar to those used by coaches throughout the rowing world, but they have been adapted to encourage the improvement of technique in such a way that technical progress is an important part of the System.

The System originated from the concept that technique should play a bigger part in the preparation of oarsmen for racing. One benefit to be gained from the principle of this System of training is that the drudgeries of winter training become purposeful. The oarsmen become distracted from the hard work

they are doing without realizing it!

Mike Spracklen.
October 1987

TECHNIQUE

An efficient technique is essential for the greatest utilization of athletic endeavor. The sport of rowing is a highly skilled activity and even small deficiencies can detract from a rower’s performance.

There is more than one way to move a boat fast through the water and gold medals have been won using a variety of different techniques. There is one common factor present in all fast crews, which is that the rowers in those boats apply their power together. As in the old adage, 'a load shared is a load halved'.

In order to achieve efficiency of effort, the oarsperson must be taught to row with identical movements. This is referred to as 'style'. It is for the benefit of all rowing that rowers be taught a uniform style. It is to the benefit of our international squads if a common style is adopted by all.

Technique has played a minor role in Britain during the past decade. In an environment where success is easier to achieve from physical training than by the slower methods of teaching technique, successes at higher levels have been elusive. Improvements in technique would help to improve the performances of our International crews in the world.

FACTORS AFFECTING THE PROCESS OF LEARNING A NEW ROWING STYLE

When trying to adapt to a different technique, whether it is a completely new movement or a change, a rower has more difficulty in controlling his actions in certain identifiable circumstances and the learning process slows down. These problem areas are identified as follows:

  1. at high rates of striking
  2. at maximum intensity of work
  3. in a state of physical tiredness
  4. when large increases and sudden changes are demanded
  5. when too many changes are to be made at one time

This system avoids the extremes of these adverse conditions. Increases are made in easy stages and only when a rower has shown that he/she is able to cope with the change are further increases demanded of him/her. Training periods of long duration at low rates form the foundation of the System. At low rates the oarsperson is able to control their movements and make corrections as they go when deterioration occurs. The gradual onset of fatigue when training over long distances permits control to be attained. When explosive work is introduced the rower will have built a sound foundation to cope with high demands without loss of form.

The more hours spent on the water practicing a particular movement the sooner that movement will become natural to the rower. This 'grooving in' process is accelerated when the rowers are able to hold good form through long periods of tiredness, but care must be taken to ensure that quality is not lost and that bad faults are not being ingrained. The ultimate test for an rower's technical ability is whether or not he/she can hold good quality when he is under extreme pressure from physical exertion, like the last 250 meters of that one important race!

An outline of the techniques practiced by the men’s' heavyweight squad are illustrated in this pamphlet. To explain the training methods which will help to achieve good technique is the purpose of this publication.

TRAINING

Whilst importance is placed on the improvement of technique in this System, the training methods have been devised to provide the best preparation for oarsmen at all levels of competition. Training for the improvement of endurance levels is a high priority. Long outings with variations of low rates are essential for the development of strength coordination and aerobic endurance as well as for 'grooving in' new techniques. This System provides guidelines for achieving a sound physical and physiological foundation for 2000-meter racing.

TRAINING LOADS

Training loads have been prepared so that one method can be compared with another even though the work content may be different. The loads have been derived from a mixture of simple mathematics and the experience of crew training up to the highest levels of competition.

  • The methods are based on a normal training load representing 80% of a rower’s maximum effort. The suffix 'N after the method code signifies Normal Training Load.
  • Maximum loads are suffixed with 'H’ signifying High Loads. High loads are equal to 100% effort and are calculated by increasing a normal load by 25%.
  • Reduced loads are suffixed with the letter 'L' signifying low loads and these are generally 25% below the normal load.

The work methods have been prepared on a time basis rather than on distances. This allows a rower to work at his own pace regardless of the type of boat in which he is training e.g. pair, four or single. The intensity of work is programmed to suit the ability of the oarsmen individually or the squad as a whole.

When no suffix is shown against a Method Code, only one set is required. A numeral before the code will indicate the number of sets to be completed.

An example of a training load for an International oarsman who is training twice a day for six days a week would be, five sessions at 'N', normal load, one or two at 'H', high load, 3 or 4 at 'L, low load with one or two light outings.

REST PERIODS

The recovery periods between sets should be sufficient to allow the pulse rate of an oarsperson, after work, to drop below 120 beats per minute. These rest periods are shown as 5 minutes light paddling, but should be reduced as the rower’s physical condition improves with training. 

INTENSITY OF WORK

All strokes, unless otherwise stated, are rowed as hard as can be maintained for the session. An important part of the system is that pressure is maintained as the rates rise so that an oarsperson is able to apply maximum output to 200 strokes when he needs to!

AEROBIC/ANAEROBIC CONTENT

All work methods below the rate of 30 are continuous for the improvement of aerobic capacity. Where the stretch of water does not permit continuous work, turns should be made quickly and the work set back by 30 seconds. Work above rate 32 contains a high anaerobic content. This type of work is done intermittently with controlled rests between each set piece. 

WARMING UP AND WINDING DOWN

Stretching exercises should be made routine, before and after each session. Thirty minutes of warming up paddling should be done before scheduled work commences. A more specific warm up should be adopted before intensive training so that the body is in a fully prepared condition.

Fifteen minutes of paddling after exercise to wind down is important. Gentle muscular contraction helps the body to clear waste products, which have accumulated in the blood stream during heavy exercise.

RATE CHANGES

Rates of striking (stroke rate) are changed by only two strokes per minute at any one time. These gradual changes help the rower to retain technical control during and after the change has been made.

Increases in rates are carried out by generally quickening movements (lively recovery and faster catches etc.) and reductions, by sliding slower forward between strokes.

Rhythm is affected by the speed of the boat. Two or three slightly shorter and quicker strokes will increase boat speed and help the rower to achieve a higher rate whilst maintaining a good rhythm.

It is not easy for a crew to make a rate change and to hold the rate consistently for any length of time. Rates should be checked frequently and adjusted when necessary. It should not be expected that a crew will achieve the rates on every occasion, often the crew will have difficulty in making the change successfully without loss of quality. It is the determination to improve which is of greater value than the actual rate which is scheduled.

HOW THE SYSTEM OPERATES

A particular point of technique is selected in a rower or crew. This may be emphasis on part of the stroke or a correction to an existing movement. Examples would be:

  1. Individual fault corrections
  2. Greater acceleration of the blade through the stroke and stronger finishes
  3. A longer reach forward

A target rate is selected and a period of time for improvement allocated in the training program. At the beginning of a winter period the target rate would be 26 or 28 and the time period about 14 days depending on the difficulty of the change

The first outing would be a long piece of work at a low rate. The coach would ensure that the correct interpretation and application of the change during this outing, was accomplished.

Various methods involving rate changes below the target rate are introduced to add flexibility and variety to the program. The rowers have to concentrate on control of movements as rates change up and down. Gradually confidence grows and the change is 'grooved in' at the lower rates.

The rates slowly increase throughout the period. Care is taken by the coach to ensure that when deterioration occurs the rate is reduced until good form is reestablished.

At the end of the period the target rate is consolidated with a long row.

If the desired success has not been achieved, the coach decides from which point the schedule should be repeated or whether a new approach should be adopted. If the crew has been successful the coach will select another point of technique for improvement and a similar process is completed. Even at the highest levels there is always room for improvement. No rower is perfect.

The coach uses his/her skills to decide which point of technique are important. He/she will usually work on the weakest link in the chain throughout the training period, gradually improving one fault after another until his crew has achieved good technique at race rate at the end of the winter.

The rate of improvement will of course depend on the ability of the rowers, their motivation, and degree of difficulty of the change and of course the skill of the coach. Perfection is never achieved and the coach decides which points of technique are worth pursuing and those that are not.

 

METHODS

The meanings of some words used are as follows:

PROGRAM

The complete training program in its entirety

PERIOD 

A specified period of time within the program

SESSION

One complete training session from stretching exercises to winding down.

METHOD  

The type of work and its content

SET OR SET PIECE

A piece of continuous work normally part of a Method.

QUALITY

Refers to technique

CONTINUOUS

Work done without change of pressure.

INTERMITTENT

Work done with light paddling between each set piece

Note:  

“minute” is symbolized by ‘ … therefore the following: “change rates at 3' 2' 1' 2' 3' 4' - 11' total” -reads as “change rates at 3 minutes, 2 minutes, 1 minutes, 2 minutes, 3 minutes, 4 minutes – 11 minutes total.”

DESCRIPTION OF “METHODS”

PYRAMID

Change rates at 3' 2' 1' 2' 3' 4' - 11' total.

Rates increase then decrease by 2 at each change.  

CASTLE

 

Change rates up and down by 2 alternately every 2 minutes.  

PYRAMID  CASTLE  

Change rates by 2 at end of each minute as follows: 22,24,26,24,26,28,26,26,26,28,26,24,26,24,22. -15' total.   

STAIRCASE

Increase rate by 2 at each stage.  

LADDER

Row 20 strokes at each rate with 10 light strokes between each change. Rates increase by 2 strokes per minute.

 

E.g.       24 to 34, 26 to 36 etc

 

 

CONSOLIDATION

Continuous work for the time and rate given.  

SPEED WORK

 

 

5 (5 x 20 strokes. 10 light between) rate 36. Rate 36 - 500 strokes

Rate 36 - 400 strokes Rate 40 - 300 strokes

 

 

WORKOUTS

This section implements all of the preceding sections. For the most part each workout is outlined in terms of training effect, training load, and technical aim; these will be bolded for ease of understanding.

PYRAMID

 

Change rates at 3' 2' 1' 2' 3' 4' - 11' total.   

Rates increase then decrease by 2 at each change.

 

 

 

 

Minutes

 

Total

 

 

3’

2’

1’

2'

3’ 

11’

PYR 24 

5 sets at rates

20

22

24 

22 

20 

55’ 

PYR 26

5 sets at rates 

22

24 

26 

24 

22 

55’

PYR 28

4 sets at rates

24

26

28

26

24

44’

PYR 30

3 sets at rates

26

28 

30 

28 

26 

33’

PYR 32

3 sets at rates

28

30 

32 

30 

28 

33’

PYR 34

2 sets at rates

30

32 

34 

32 

30 

33’ 

When the above Pyramids are rowed continuously -each set piece with a five-minute period of light paddling between sets - training effect is improvement of aerobic capacity.  

When these Pyramids are rowed intermittently -one minute light paddling between each rate change and a five minute rest period of light paddling between sets -training effect is improvement of aerobic capacity and acclimatization of lactate in the body

All the above work is Normal training load, but can be increased or reduced by 25%. Alterations should be made to times, making sure that the Pyramid principle is retained, but normally a different type of work would be done if it is necessary to amend the load for the best training effect.

Technical aim is to establish good technique at the lowest rate and to hold this quality as the rate increases. This method is a useful part of the system because longer pieces are rowed at the lower rates and the quality at the higher rates has to be held for a shorter space of time. It is equally important to hold quality when rates drop during the second half of a Pyramid.

When no suffix is shown, one only set is required.
A Half Pyramid refers to first half.

CASTLE

 

 

 

 

Minutes

Method 

Rates

Changes

Total

CAS 24 N

22 & 24

2’

66’

CAS 26 N

24 & 26

2’

44’

CAS 28 N

26 & 28

2’

36’

CAS 30 N

28 & 30

2’

26’

 

This work is continuous. If turns are necessary, they should be made within 30 seconds with work resuming as quickly as possible. Training effect is improvement of aerobic capacity. 

 

 

 

Minutes

 

Method

Rates

Changes

Total 

Execution 

CAS 32 N

30

+ 32

2'

24'

3 x  8'

CAS 34 N

32

+ 34

18'

3 x 6'

CAS 36 N

34

+ 36

1¼’

15'

3 x  5'

CAS 38 N

36

+ 38

1'

12'

3 x  4'

 

This work is intermittent with five minutes of light paddling between sets. Training effect is development of anaerobic capacity.   

Training loads            'N' = Normal training load of approximately 80%

 

'H' = High training load of 100%, an increase of 25%

‘L’  = Low training load of 60% a decrease of 25%

Technical aim is to establish good quality at the higher rate making sure that the quality improves when more time is available at the lower rate.

Where the stretch of water does not permit more than eight minutes of continuous work the changes are reduced to 1½ minutes. Below five minutes the changes are reduced to intervals of one minute. The total time for the method remains.

PYRAMID CASTLE

 

1.    PYR/CAS  28  L

The rates change every one-minute as follows:

22,24,26,24,26, 28,26,28,26,28, 26,24,26,24,22.

Continuous work for 15 minutes x two sets   =total work 30 minutes.

The rate of striking (stroke rate) increases by two strokes at the end of each minute. At the end of the third minute the rate returns to the rate of the previous minute and starts the same process again until the maximum rate of 28 is reached. The method then follows a pattern of the same format returning to the original rate of 22.

'N' Normal training load is three sets x 15 min - total 45 minutes. 'H' High training load is four sets x 15 min - total 60 minutes.

2.   PYR/CAS  30  N

The rates change every one minute as follows:

24, 26, 28, 26, 28, 30, 28, 30, 28, 30, 28, 26, 28, 26, 24

Continuous work for 15 minutes x two sets = total work 30 minutes. The format is exactly as for PYR/CAS 28 above.

'H' High training load is three sets x 15 minutes - total 45 minutes. 'L' Low training load is one set of 15 minutes.

Technical aim. This method is a valuable part of the System. If the oarsmen are unable to hold quality when rates increase the reduction of rate gives sufficient time for the quality to be re-established.

If the stretch of water allows thirty minutes of continuous work the changes should be increased to two minutes. When no suffix is shown, one only set is required.

STAIRCASE

Method

Sets

Rates 

Changes 

Set 

Total 

Light 

SIC 26 N

x 20:22:24:26: 

4'

16'

45' 

3’

S/C 28 N

3

x 20:22:24:26:28:

3’

15'

45'

3’

S/C 30 N

3

x 20:22:24:26:28:30:

2’

12'

36'

2’

S/C 32 N

3

x

22:24:26:28:30:32:

1½’

9'

27'

1½’

S/C 34 N

4

x

24:26:28:30:32:34:

1'

6' 

24'

1’

 

 

 

 

 

Strokes 

 

S/C 36 N 

8

x 26:28:30:32:34:36: 

10

60

480 

2’

S/C 38 N

7

x 28:30:32:34:36:38:

10

60

420

2'

S/C 40 N

6

x 30:32:34:36:38:40:

10

60

360

2'

S/C 42 N

x 32:34:36:38:40:42:

10 

60

300

2' 

All work is rowed continuously for each set with light paddling between sets.  

The training effect of staircases below rate 32 are basically for improvement of aerobic endurance and above 32 the work is anaerobic.

Training load. When no suffix is shown on the schedule this indicates that only one set piece is required. If more than one Staircase is required, the Method Code will be preceded by the number e.g. 2 x 5/C 40. Staircases are seldom used for an entire workload; they are used to supplement others to make a useful session of complex work.

Technical aim is to establish quality at the lowest rates and to hold good form throughout the session. Technically this is one of the toughest exercises in the scheme.

LADDER

Row 20 strokes at each rate with 10 light strokes between each change. Rates increase by 2 strokes per minute.

Method

Rates

Strokes

Set

Total 

Light 

LAD 26 N

20: 22: 24: 26

80

24

1920

1’

LAD 28 N

20:22:24:26:28

100

16

1600

1’

LAD  30 N

20: 22: 24: 26: 28: 30

120

12

1440

1’

LAD  32 N

22: 24: 26: 28: 30: 32

120

9

1080

2’

LAD  34 N

24: 26: 28: 30: 32: 34

120

8

96O

2’

LAD  36 N

26: 28: 30: 32: 34: 36

120

7

840

2’

LAD  38 N

28: 30: 32: 34: 36:38

120

6

720

3’

LAD  40 N

30: 32: 34: 36: 38: 40

120

5

600

3

LAD 42 N

32: 34: 36: 38: 40: 42

120

4

480

3 

 

Row 20 strokes at each of the above rates with 10 light strokes between. Light paddling for five minutes between each set.

Pulse rates should drop between 100 and 120 per minute during light paddle after each set before the next set is started. The recovery times are a guide and should be adapted to meet the required rest period for each crew.

 

The rate should be built up before the tenth stroke and the target rate held for the last ten strokes.

When no suffix is shown, one only set is required. When more than one set is required the Method code will be proceeded by the quantity.

The sets shown indicate the total work required for a Normal training load. It is not suggested that a LAD 26 N be done in its entirety for one session. LADDER work is a useful training method; it adds variety to a session and flexibility to the training loads.

Example: LADDER PROGRAM

LAD/PROG 40 N

22:24:26:28:30:32
24:26:28:30:32:34
26:28:30:32:34:36
28:30:32:34:36:38
30:32:34:36:38:40
600 strokes.

Row for twenty strokes at each of the above rates with 10 light strokes between.

CONSOLIDATION

Method

Rate

Minutes 

CON 20N

20

120'

CON 22 N

22

80'

CON 24 N

24

60'

CON 26 N

26

40'

CON 28 N

28

30'

CON 30 N

30

24'

 

Training effect of the above work is improvement of aerobic endurance. 

CON 32 

N

32

20'

4 x 5” with 5’ light between.

CON 34

N

34

15'

5 x 3’ with 3’ light between.

CON 36

N

36

12'

6 x 2’ with 2’ light between.

CON 38

N

38

9'

6 x 1½’ with 1½’ light between.

CON 40

40

8' 

8 x 1’ with 1’ light between.

Training effect of this work is improvement of anaerobic endurance.  

All above work is at Normal training load of approximately 80%. Times should be increased or decreased by 25% for amendments.

Technical aim is to Consolidate equality at a specific rate. Good quality must be established early in the session and held throughout the period of tiredness, which gradually develops until it reaches its peak of exhaustion at the end of the work

 

SPEED WORK

Method

Rates 

 

 

SPE 36 N

36

5 (5 x 20 strokes 10 light) 

500 strokes

SPE 38 N

38

4 (5 x 20 strokes 10 light)

400 strokes

SPE 40 N

40 

3 (5 x 20 strokes 10 light)

300 strokes

Build the rate up over 10 strokes and hold the target rate for the remaining ten strokes.  

For 'H' high training load the rest period between strokes is reduced to 5 strokes light.

For 'L' low training load the rest period between strokes is increased to 20 strokes light.

Example: SPEED PROGRAM  

SPEED/PROG N above race rate.

5 x

20 

strokes 

10

light 

5' rest

5 x

20

strokes

5

light

5' rest

5 x

20 

strokes

5

light

5' rest

5 x

20

strokes

10

light

5' rest

5 x

20

strokes

15

light

5' rest

5 x

20 

strokes

20 

light

600 strokes. 

   

SPECIFIC WORK

Other types of work can be included in the system.

Examples would be:

I.

Timed rows:

6 x

500m

 

 

4 x

1OOOm

 

 

 

3 x

15OOm

 

 

 

2 x

2OOOm

All above work is at Normal training load of approximately 80%. Times should be increased or decreased by 25% for amendments. 

Technical aim is to Consolidate equality at a specific rate. Good quality must be established early in the session and held throughout the period of tiredness, which gradually develops until it reaches its peak of exhaustion at the end of the work.

SUMMARY OF WORKOUTS

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Methods

 

 

 

 

Loads

 

 

 

 

 

PYR

26

N

76

mins

4 sets

x 19

mins

 

 

 

 

28

N

57

mins

3 sets

x 19

mins

 

 

 

 

30

N

38

mins

2 sets

x 19

mins

 

 

 

 

32

N

30

mins

2 sets

x 15

mins

 

 

 

 

34

N

22

mins

2 sets

x 11

mins

 

 

 

 

36

N

19

mins

1 set

x 19

mins

 

 

 

 

38

N

15

mins

1 set

x 15

mins

 

 

 

CAS

24

N

66

mins

2 mm.

changes

 

 

 

 

26

N

44

mins

2 mm.

changes

 

 

 

 

28

N

36

mins

2 mm.

changes

 

 

 

 

30

N

26

mins

2 mm.

changes

 

 

 

 

32

N

24

mins

3 sets

x 8 mins

 

 

 

 

34

N

18

mins

3 sets

x 6 mins

 

 

 

 

36

N

15

mins

3 sets

x 5 mins

 

 

 

 

38

N

12

mins

3 sets

x 4 mins

 

 

 

PYR/CAS

28

L

30

mins

2 sets

x 15 mins

 

 

 

 

30

N

30

mins

2 sets

x 15 mins

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Changes.

 

S/C

26

N

48

mins

3 sets

x 16

mins

4

mins

 

 

28

N

45

mins

3 sets

x 15

mins

3

mins

 

 

30

N

36

mins

3 sets

x 12

mins

2

mins

 

 

32

N

27

mins

3 sets

x 9

mins

mins

 

 

34

N

24

mins

4 sets

x 6

mins

1

mins

 

 

36

N

480

str

8 sets

x 60

str

10

str

 

 

38

N

420

str

7 sets

x 60

str

10

str

 

 

40

N

360

str

6 sets

x 60

str

10

str

 

 

42

N

300

str

5 sets

x 60

str

10

str

 

LAD

26

N 1920

str

24

sets

x 80

str.

4

x 20:10

light.

 

28

N 1600

str

16

sets

x1OO

str.

5

x 20:10

light.

 

30

N 1440

str

12

sets

x120

str.

6

x 20:10

light.

 

32

N 1080

str

9

sets

x120

str.

6

x 20:10

light.

 

34

N

960

str

8

sets

x120

str.

6

x 20:10

light.

 

36

N

840

str

7

sets

x120

str.

6

x 20:10

light.

 

38

N

720

str

6

sets

x120

str.

6

x 20:10

light.

 

40

N

600

str

5

sets

x12O

str.

6

x 20:10

light.

 

42

N

480

str

4

sets

x120

str.

6

x 20:10

light.

CON

20

N

120

mins.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

22

N

80

mins

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

24

N

60

mins

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

26

N

40

mins

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

28

N

30

mins

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

30

N

24

mins

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

32

N

20

mins

4 sets

x 5

mins

 

 

 

 

34

N

15

mins

5 sets

x 3

mins

 

 

 

 

36

N

12

mins

6 sets

x 2

mins

 

 

 

 

38

N

9

mins

6 sets

x 1½ mins

 

 

 

 

40

N

8

mins

8 sets

x 1

mins

 

 

 

SPE

36

N

500

str

 

5 sets

x   100 str (5 x 20:10 light)

 

 

36

N

400

str

 

5 sets

x   100 str

 

 

 

 

40

N

300

str

 

5 sets

x 100 str

 

 

 

 

SAMPLE PROGRAM

PERIOD 2:                           14 to 29 November.

TRAINING AIM:

Development of aerobic capacity with some strength improvement.

TECHNICAL AIM:

To make full use of body weight at the finish, make sure that the body swings back while the blade is driving through the stroke, and do not let the body curl forward at the finish.

DAY

1

a.m.

 

CON 22  L

 

 

p.m.

 

CAS 24  N

 

2

a.m.

6

LAD 26

 

 

p.m.

 

PYR 26 N

 

3

a.m.

 

CON 24 L

 

 

p.m.

 

CAS 26 H

 

4

a.m.

4

LAD 28

 

 

p .m.

 

PYR 28 N

 

5

a.m.

 

S/C 26 L

 

 

p.m.

 

PYR 30 N

 

6

a.m.

 

S/C 30 L

 

 

p.m.

 

LAD 30 N

 

7

a.m.

 

Rest

 

 

p.m.

 

Rest

 

8

a.m.

 

CON 26 L

 

 

p.m.

 

PYR/CAS 28 L

 

9

a.m.

 

PYR 30 N

 

 

p.m.

 

CAS 28 N

 

10

a.m.

6

LAD 28

 

 

p.m.

 

PYR 30 H

 

11

a.m.

 

S/C 28

 

 

p.m.

 

PYR/CAS 28 L

 

12

a.m.

 

CAS 26 N

 

 

p.m.

 

PYR 30 L

 

13

a.m.

 

CON 28 N

 

 

p.m.

2

S/C 30

 

14

a.m.

 

Rest

 

 

p.m.

 

Rest

TARGET RATE:  28

 

 

 

TIME KEEPING AND RATINGS CONTROL

 

 

 

A means of measuring the stroke rate and the timed pieces is essential. A stroke meter is the ideal instrument, but a normal stopwatch can be used successfully. Counting the number of strokes rowed for each minute or part of a minute can identify ratings. The easiest way is to count the strokes completed in 15 seconds, 30 seconds and then the full minute, for greater accuracy. For example:

8 strokes in 15 seconds = rate 32 (8 strokes x 4) 16 strokes in 30 seconds = rate 32 (16 strokes x 2)

When counting the strokes it is easier to count the number of ‘catches’ rowed. A stroke begins and finishes at the same place and nine catches are equal to eight strokes. Seventeen catches are equal to sixteen strokes, and thirty three catches are equal to thirty two strokes per minute.

ROWING  TECHNIQUE

STING AND FLOAT

Good rowing technique is a combination of POWER (muscular coordination) and BLADE control. A boat will only travel as fast as the blades drive it! 

In a 2000 meter race an Oarsperson rows between 200 and 250 strokes in his bid for a medal. This is a small number compared with the many thousands rowed in a training period. Concentration of effort per stroke is obvious and it is one of the hardest things to achieve in the sport.

A stroke can be divided into two phases:

1. The Power phase.

2. The Recovery phase.

This System sets out to train rowers to apply full power to each stroke and to take a good rest between strokes, which will enable them to apply a high load for a long time.

The phrase 'Sting and Float' identifies the Power as the 'sting' and the recovery as the 'float'.

Good technique is based on the coordinated strength of the oarsperson, which provides the power, and control of the blade to transmit that power into efficient propulsion of the boat.

The correct path for a blade, the sequence of movements, which coordinate muscular strength into power and the recovery phase, which helps the body to maintain full power for 200 strokes, is illustrated on the following pages.

BLADEWORK

The most efficient path for the blade is described as follows:

The blade should:

  • Enter the water quickly in the most acute angle to achieve full use of the reach forward.
  • Move quickly into the horizontal plane once it is covered.
  • Accelerate from entry, through the middle of the stroke to the finish where it reaches maximum thrust.
  • Remain at the same even depth throughout the stroke, well covered but with the shaft clear of the water.
  • Leave the water quickly and cleanly at the end of the stroke and turn onto the feather only when it is clear of the surface.
  • Travel forwards well clear of the water after extraction, at an even height until it comes down to the surface squared and ready for the next stroke.

It is important to avoid the following common TECHNICAL ERRORS for the reasons given:

1. BLADE MISSING THE FIRST PART OF THE STROKE.

The angle and speed of entry is critical. Length of stroke is lost and valuable leg drive is used inefficiently until the blade is covered.

2. BLADE TRAVELS TOO DEEP IN THE MIDDLE OF THE STROKE.

The direction in which the blade travels through the stroke is important. It must relate to the direction of the boat. A blade moving in an angle, which takes it deep into the water at the midway point, is inefficient: the blade achieves less grip, some of the propulsive force is misdirected, and resistance to the oarsperson is caused by the shaft breaking through the water. These are the main areas of inefficiency, but other problems created by a deep blade are height of draw, balance, rhythm and inconsistency.

3. RAGGED EXTRACTION

The blade must be extracted cleanly at the finish of the stroke at the moment full power is released. A blade that drags out of the water impedes the smooth flow of a fast moving boat.

4. BLADES NOT CLEARING THE SURFACE DURING THE RECOVERY.

The blade must be carried forward well clear of the water to avoid contact with the surface, a wave or another puddle. If the blade is carried too close it is necessary to lift the blade higher when it is to be squared for the next stroke. This movement Just before blade entry inhibits the preparation for a good catch. It also leads to the blade missing the first part of the stroke as described before. A blade carried too close to the water restricts the free flow of the boat and the crew finds difficulty in keeping the boat on a level keel.

Correction of these errors is part of learning good technique. Understand what good blade work is, make sure the rowers are quite relaxed, and encourage them to look at their own blade work during technical sessions and inform them that practice makes perfect and mileage makes champions.

POWER

In the same way that oarsmen must apply their power together, the oarsmen must work their muscles in support of each other. The correct movements of the body to achieve this coordination of strength are described as follows:

  1. The hands guide the blade into the water.
  2. The legs provide the speed which gives the blade early grip on the water.
  3. The muscles of the back, shoulders and arms hold firm and provide strong connection between legs and blade.
  4. The legs provide the main source of the power and maintain firm pressure throughout the stroke. Soon after blade entry, the trunk begins to swing back and the shoulders send the seat forward, drawing the oar so that through the middle of the stroke all muscle groups are working together.
  5. The trunk continues to swing back till the time the arms are pulling so that pressure is maintained on the blade whilst the boat is increasing its speed.
  6. The oarsperson sits tall as his/her hands draw high into his/her chest at about the height of his second rib. He/she makes sure that his/her hands do not hit his/her body at the finish of the stroke.
  7. His/her hands move quickly and smoothly down and away from his/her body following the line of his thighs. The inside hand turns the blade onto the feather immediately after it is clear of the water.
  8. When the arms are relaxed and straight and hands clear the knees the trunk swings forward before the slide leaves backstops. The body angle is held all the way forward to the front stops in readiness for the next stroke.
  9. The seat leaves backstops slowly and unhurriedly, but without wasting any time. The sliding forwards is in sympathy with the motion of the boat and it is during this phase that the rower rests and prepares himself/herself for the next stroke.
  10. His/her legs begin to rise as the seat approaches front stops. He/she remains sitting tall in the boat and floats up over his/her knees ready for a long reach forward. He/she is quite relaxed, letting the speed of the boat running beneath him/her draw his/her seat forward to front stops.

The style is based on a powerful drive from the legs with other muscle groups working in support. Every available muscle is used to drive the blade. Immediately the blade is released from the water the rower relaxes. This allows his/her body to achieve some recovery. It is this recovery which enables the rower to apply full power to 250 strokes or the number of strokes it takes to row 2000 meters.

It is Important that the following common POWER ERRORS are avoided for the reasons given:

SITTING TOO LONG AT BACK STOPS POSITION.

The sooner the sliding seat leaves backstops the slower it needs to travel. At the rate of thirty, the time available for sliding forward with a good rhythm would be under 1+ seconds. Clearly, time spent sitting too long at backstops has to be made up to avoid the rate dropping, and the rower ends up sliding faster forward.

The momentum generated from the power of the stroke should be channeled into a smooth and lively recovery of the hands leading the body forward and the seat from back stops without wasting time.

SLIDING TOO FAST FORWARD

The speed of the sliding forward should not exceed the speed during the stroke. Sliding too fast forward does not allow the rower to rest fully. There are other disadvantages in that it does not permit smooth running of the boat, the rower loses feel for the boat and he/she is hurried into the forward position from which he/she is unable to time his/her next stroke. Falling or pitching over the knees at front stops stems from sliding too fast forward.

STRETCHING FOR MORE LENGTH FROM FRONT STOPS POSITION.

The length of stroke, determined by the angle of the body in the forward position, originates from the swing forward of the trunk from backstops. Attempting to reach for more length once the slide has left backstops often has the opposite affect. Diving forward for more length can cause the body to fall onto the thighs and actually prevent good length forward.

Stretching for more length, putting strain on the arms and back, at a time when the body should be set ready to spring onto the stroke, not only prevents a good beginning but it puts strain on the back which sometimes cannot hold firm. This leads to slide shooting which is a common fault!

Another common fault, which is linked to stretching for length, is the hands dropping which lifts the blade too high off the water. This inevitably means that the first part of the stroke is missed.

SHOOTING THE SLIDE.

When the legs drive at a faster pace than the hands move, it is evident that the back muscles have not held firm and some of the leg power is wasted. There is also the risk of injury to the back muscles. Stretching for more length forward is a common cause of slide shooting. It is important that the trunk holds firm as the legs drive the blade into the water.

OPENING THE TRUNK AT THE BEGINNING OF THE STROKE.

Young people and sometimes newcomers to the sport are often weak in the lower back and have difficulty in holding the trunk firm against the power of their legs. In these circumstances it is advisable to teach the technique of opening the body before driving the legs. This places the back in a stronger position and more able to hold firm. As development of the back muscles takes effect, gradual change in the technique should be introduced. It is very difficult to achieve a good catch in a fast moving boat without full use of the legs.

BODY CURLING FORWARDS AT THE FINISH OF THE STROKE.

This fault occurs when pressure is reduced on the blade during the last part of the stroke. With no support, the body curls forwards. This reduced blade pressure is caused by either of the following faults:

I. Using the arms at the beginning leaves the rower less arm strength with which to draw the finish. This also eliminates the powerful latissimus dorsi and reduces the effect of the deltoids (shoulders), gluteals and erector spinae muscles.

II. When the back does not hold firm against the leg drive, the legs reach backstops ahead of the stroke in the water. The arms are unable to cope with this amount of work left to do and pressure on the blade is reduced.

III. Opening the body at the beginning of the stroke which delays the leg drive and reduces the effect of the legs so that co-ordination of the muscle groups is less efficient. The weakness shows at the most vulnerable part of the stroke, i.e. the finish.

The oarsperson sits tall in the boat as he/she swings back at the finish, applying full body weight to the blade. This swing back supports the draw with the arms, and pressure is maintained on the blade of an accelerating boat. It is with this pressure that the body recovers itself for the next stroke.

UNCONTROLLED SLIDE FORWARD AND POOR PREPARATION OF THE BODY.

The hands extract the blade from the water in the lively flowing movement leading the body into an inclined forward position and the seat into motion, sliding to front stops. The rower relaxes during this recovery phase to help the body achieve some rest and to prepare for the next stroke. 

It is a common fault to move the seat off backstops with the arms still bent and the body not fully inclined forward. The effect of this is:

I. The hands are carried too high so that they can clear the knees as they rise. The blade is carried too close to the water, which also impedes the balance of the boat.

II. The body swinging forwards as the slide approaches front stops will fall onto the thighs and prevent a good forward reach.

III. The last minute reach forward prevents the rower from preparing well for the next stroke.

IV. The oarsperson is less able to relax and have sufficient rest. Tension will be likely in his hands and shoulders.

V. The stern of the boat will drop rapidly just before the catch as the oarsperson pitches forward from front stops.

VI. The body will be in a weaker position for the next stroke.

CORRECTION OF FAULTS

Understand what a fault is and accept that it exists.
Identify the cause of the fault.
Understand what good technique is and practice it.
Practice makes perfect.

SCULLING TECHNIQUE

Three factors determine the speed of the boat. They are:

1. Power - how fast the boat travels each stroke.
2. Length - how far the boat travels each stroke
3. Rate - how many strokes are rowed.

If a crew rowed at maximum capacity in all three of these components at the same time, it is doubtful that crew could row 10 strokes before technique withered and boat speed faded. The number of strokes required to complete 2000 meters is about 250 and clearly, an equilibrium of power, length and rate must be achieved. Rowing is basically a power endurance sport, but it requires a high level of skill. Choosing the "right" technique and then teaching it is a coaching skill and there are many differing opinions about which method is the best. Whatever the method, power, length and rate are the basic ingredients.

RATE

Rate is the easiest to achieve. Keeping it at its optimum in a race is not the main problem. Length and power are the first to deteriorate when the pressure of the race reaches its peak.

LENGTH

The most efficient part of the stroke is when the blade is passing at 90 degrees to the boat. Only when it is at this angle is its force propelling the boat wholly in the correct direction. In theory, an efficient length of stroke is from 45 degrees at the catch to 135 degrees at the finish. In practice, the body prevents the arms from reaching more than 125 degrees. To achieve 45 degrees at the catch, the reach must extend beyond this angle. A longer finish can be drawn in a sculling boat but it is inefficient to draw more than 130 degrees.

POWER

Maximal power is achieved by appropriate sequencing of the contributing muscles from strongest to weakest.

  • Legs first. The quadriceps and gluteals.
  • Then the Back. The lower back.
  • Then the Shoulders and Arms. The latissimus dorsi, trapezius, rhomboids and biceps.

THE STROKE

The boat goes only as fast as the blades drive it. The power transferred through the blade to the boat is only as much as the legs supply. A good technique is based on the work of the legs to create most of the total power.

THE CATCH

The faster the blade enters the water the more positive will be the grip, the longer will be the stroke and the faster the boat will travel. The important points are:

  1. Hands guide the blade into the water.
  2. Legs apply the power
  3. Trunk and arms link legs to blade

MIDDLE OF THE STROKE

All the muscles are working through their middle range and the blade is at its most efficient point in the stroke. Make full use of this advantage by beginning the draw with the arms before midway. The arms must start to draw well before the legs reach the backstops.

THE FINISH

Retain pressure on the blade through to the finish by pressing toes on the footboard, by using the leverage of the trunk, and by keeping the arms working with the body. Although legs reach backstops before the arms and trunk have finished working, the toes should continue pressing hard to give support with the back until the blade is extracted. The trunk should be moving towards the bow until the moment before the hands reach the body (if the arm draw starts too late, this timing will be delayed).

RHYTHM

The rowing stroke comprises fast movements and slow movements. The essence of good rhythm in the boat is the contrast between them. Done well, a good motion looks smooth, continuous, and unhurried but it can be difficult to see that contrast. The fast movements begin with the entry of the blade and continue through the stroke and the movement of the hands away from the body after blade extraction (the finish). The slower movements begin when the hands pass over the knees and continue until the next stroke. The inertia created by the power of the stroke carries the hands down and away from the body when the seat is at the backstops. The body relaxes immediately as the blade leaves the water so there is no interference with this natural free-flowing movement. The seat moves slowly forward in contrast to its speed during the stroke. The rower prepares by gathering, ready to spring from the stretcher onto the next stroke. The movement of the seat must be faster during the stroke than it is during the recovery. The sooner it leaves the backstops after the finish, the more time it has to reach the front stops and the slower it can travel. The hands and then the body move lively away from the finish to allow the seat to start on its way forward.

THE RECOVERY

Hands, Body, Slide...

1.Move the hands down and away over the knees
2.Pivot the body forward onto the feet
3.Move the seat away from the backstops.
4.Move forward, rest the body and let the boat run underneath you.

PREPARE FOR THE STROKE

To achieve optimum position for the application of power and good forward length - note the following points of posture:

  1. Head high encourages good posture for body and spine.
  2. Chest against thighs. Rotation should be centered around the hip joint, not the upper or lower back.
  3. Shins vertical - strong position for the quadriceps.
  4. Relaxed but alert - poised like a cat ready to spring

SCULLING

The oar handles should be held in the fingers, not the palms. The hands should generally be at the tips of the oars to maximize inboard leverage, with the thumbs pressed against the handle nub to generate sufficient outward pressure against the oarlock. As someone said, "The handles should be grasped like one is holding a small bird: firmly enough to hold on, but not so hard as to kill it." The grip of the fingers around the oar will automatically increase sufficiently when contact with the water is made The arms and hands should extend along a horizontal plane out well over the gunwales as the blade angle is increased in preparation for grasping the water. The entry of the blade into the water will be accomplished with a relaxation or slightly positive "flick" of the hands and arms while maintaining the blade angle (not opening the back) to achieve the catch.

RELAXATION

Contract only those muscles needed to perform a specific function. This is achieved by relaxation of the hands, arms and shoulders, the areas where tension will be most prevalent. The muscles of the upper body will be more effective if they begin the catch in a relaxed condition. Muscles will contract instantly when a load is forced upon them.

BLADEWORK

The importance of blade work must be appreciated. Only the blades move the boat, therefore an important part of the technique is the skill with which the blades are controlled.

Good blades have these characteristics:

  1. A long stroke in the water I Minimum loss of reach forward/Quickly grip the water I Covered throughout the stroke.
  2. Utilize power/Grip the water with minimum loss of leg drive/Work in a horizontal plane/Covered throughout the stroke.
  3. Do not interfere with the run of the boat/Clean extraction/Carried forward clear of the water/Balance the boat.

RHYTHM - WHERE TO POISE
 
It is always necessary to compose before any dynamic action (e.g. Lifting a weight, striking a note, hitting a ball, or rowing a stroke). The question is "where is the best place to "poise" prior to the action? There are different ideas in rowing on where the poise should be.

The current method is to poise during the last part of the movement towards the front stops. The inertia created by the draw at the finish is used to carry the hands away from the body, the trunk into the catch angle and the seat from backstops. The rower has time to relax, let the boat run under the seat, and to prepare for the next stroke. The poise just before blade entry is sufficient to achieve a very fast catch.

SCULLING STYLE

Sculling styles differ in where emphasis is p laced. Body positions and movements will be influenced by this emphasis. The method should be based on rhythm. The stroke is divided into two phases:

  1. The Stroke or power phase, and
  2. The Recovery or resting phase.

Scullers are trained to apply full power to each stroke and to rest during recovery, which will help them apply power to 250 strokes or the number required to complete the race.

The ability to apply power is an essential physical requirement. Physical capacity is acquired by training but the coordination of muscular contraction in the rowing stroke is the essence of good technique.

The System of Training Intensity Categories 

 

 

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