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  1. Your Training Program
    22 Lessons
  2. Technique
    4 Lessons
  3. Land Training Exercises
    6 Lessons
  4. Peak Performance Tips
    4 Lessons
  5. Rowing Lifestyle - Aging Well
    3 Lessons
  6. Bonus
    3 Lessons
  7. The Faster Five
    5 Lessons
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Performance-based Erg Paces

Please read and print these guidelines for your reference before you start your program.

There are five different training categories within the aerobic system and one anaerobic category. Each classification produces specific adaptations within the cell. Your annual plan includes all of these training intensities utilized progressively during the year; Moving from low to high intensity. Speed, stroke rate and heart rate generally coincide. A full description of the training categories is in the Training Program Guidelines.

The speeds that you train at for each category are determined by a performance test of 20 minutes on the ergometer. A performance-based method of determining your training paces is a very specific way to gauge your training and is used widely internationally. It is more accurate than heart rate in trained individuals and is the next best method of determining paces other than in a physiology lab. By regularly monitoring performance you can adjust training paces accordingly. If your performance improves-your training paces improve. If your fitness falls due to injury or lack of training-you establish an accurate baseline for resuming training.

When testing, the 20:00 piece should be your best effort. You should go into it rested and mentally prepared to do your best. Attempt to maintain an even pace as best you can. Record your total meters, average 500-meter split, average stroke rate.

Your paces are then based on your average 500-meter split +/- a certain number of seconds.

Testing and Setting Your Training Paces

This is an explanation of how you should set your training paces for each training category used in your workouts as determined by the results of your 20:00 time trial.

Each time you do a 20:00 time trial record your total meters rowed and calculate your average pace per 500 meters. Water speeds are slower and  do not correspond with erg speeds, erg paces correspond to erg paces. Use your 500-meter average pace as your reference pace.

Note that there are two levels of Cat. VI. If you cannot maintain the well-trained pace easily, meaning it is “conversational”, use the entry-level paces until you have gained more base aerobic fitness. Take caution to not push this intensity too hard.

If the paces begin to feel easy you should retest your 20:00 trial and adjust your paces accordingly based on the improvement in your performance. If you have been ill or have just recovered from an injury you should retest your 20:00 trial and set your new training paces based on where you are.

Your training pace per 500-meters for Cat VI well trained is +13-18 seconds slower than your 500-meter average; Cat VI entry-level is +18-23 seconds slower than your 500-meter average; Cat V is +8-12 seconds slower than your 500-meter average. Cat IV is +2 seconds slower than your 500-meter average pace; Cat III is -2 seconds faster than your 500-meter average pace. Cat II is 5% faster than your 500-meter average pace (Cat II is equivalent to a 2000-meter race pace).


If your average pace for 20:00 was 2:00 per 500m.

Your Cat VI entry-level pace is 2:18-2:23 per 500m

Your Cat VI well-trained pace is 2:13-2:18

Your Cat V pace is 2:08-2:12 per 500m

Your Cat IV pace is 2:02 per 500m

Your Cat III pace is 1:58 per 500m

Your Cat II pace is 1:54 per 500m

Use the calculations below:

Your 20:00 average split= ___

Cat VI entry-level=___ (This is your 500m split  +18-23 seconds (row no faster))

Cat VI well-trained= ___ (This is your 500m split +13-18 seconds (row no faster))

Cat V= ___ (This is your 500m split + 08-12 seconds (row no faster))

Cat IV= ___ (This is your 500m split +02 seconds (row no faster))

Cat III= ___ (This is your 500m split – 02 seconds (row fast enough))

Cat II= ___ (This is 5% faster than your Cat 500m split (row fast enough)) Note: Cat II is your est. 2k split

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