Concept2 Rower Workouts

Concept2 Rower Workouts

Your Guide to Rowing Form, Workouts, Pacing, and Fitness Testing on the Concept2 Rower

The Concept2 rower is a fundamental piece of gym equipment found in health clubs, micro gyms, boot camps, university campuses, and all other gym models around the world. According to Concept2 it is the best selling indoor rower in the world (not to mention a staple in most functional fitness gyms) and is recognized by competitive rowers as the standard for indoor training. 

But the rower is only a piece of equipment. To achieve results with it you must understand the best workouts for the Concept2 rower, how to pace when rowing, proper form, and how to test your fitness on the rower. 

This blog is divided up into four sections to help you do just that: 

How to Row on The Concept2 Rower, Common Mistakes, and Fixes

To get the most out of your rowing workout you need to make sure that you have the proper form. There are three positions that happen during the row. 

The first position is the catch. This is at the bottom of the row. In this position, you need to make sure that you have a tall spine and straight arms. 

The second position is the midpoint. This position is not held as it’s the position of going from catch to full extension and is dynamic. During this keep your arms straight and use your legs to start the movement.

The third position is the full-extension. This is the end of the row. At this position make sure that you are sitting tall, spine straight, abs tight, pulling the handle to your chest.

Once you understand the proper form of rowing the only thing left to do is practice. Here is a list of rowing workouts to help you perfect your form and get the most from the Concept2 rower. 

Concept2 Rower Workouts

Concept2 Rower Workouts

A great way to change up your rowing workouts is to try to train different energy systems. In the workouts below we highlight sample workouts for your aerobic system (long and slow workouts) and the lactic system.

(Coach’s Tip: Learn more about the lactic system here.) 

Workouts for the Concept2 Rower

A Rowing Workout for the Aerobic System
  • Week 1: 5 x 1000m @ 1:50/500m (2 minutes between)
  • Week 2: 5 x 1200m @ 1:50 (2 minutes between)
  • Week 3: 4 x 1500m @ 1:50 (2 minutes between)
  • Week 4: 3 x 2000m @ 1:50 (3 minutes between)
  • Week 5: Retest 2000m row
  • *1:50 split based off someone with a 6:40 2000m Time
A Rowing Fitness Test (We will elaborate more on this one later)
  • Row 30/30 Test 
  • Row 30 seconds All Out – emphasize all out
  • Rest 30 seconds – feet stay in the rower
  • Row 30 seconds All Out
  • Rest 30 seconds – feet stay in the rower
  • Row 30 seconds All Out
  • Rest 30 seconds – feet stay in the rower
  • Row 30 seconds All Out
  • Rest 30 seconds – feet stay in the rower
A Long Aerobic Workout
  • 60 Minute Row Test
  • Row 60 minutes for max meters
A 500m Repeat Workout
  • Row 500 / Rest 90 x 2 Test
  • Row 500m for time
  • Rest 90 sec – feet stay in the rower
  • Row 500m for time
A Mixed Lactic Test With The Rower (Advanced)
  • For Time
  • Row 250m
  • 15 Kettlebell Swings 70#/53#
  • 25 burpees
  • 15 Kettlebell Swings 70#/53#
  • 250m
  • Rest 15 minutes
  • X 3 
A 500m Row Aerobic Interval Workout
  • Row 500m in a time that you can repeat for numerous sets consistently (not suffering)
  • Rest the same amount of time it took you on the row
  • Row 500m at the same pace as row #1
  • Rest the same amount of time
  • X 2, 4, 6, 8, 10, 12, 14, 16, 18, 20 sets – all consistently aerobic
  • Goal is to add volume over time then increase the pace without suffering
A Lactic Cyclical Workout on the Rower (Advanced)
  • Row 1000m hard – at a pace that you would not be able to sustain for much longer than 1000m
  • Rest 10 minutes (or as needed)
  • Row 1000m 
  • Rest 10 minutes (or as needed)
  • Row 1000m
A Lactic Endurance Workout Progression (Advanced)
  • 3×60 seconds Row for meters, 5 minute rest @hard effort but sustained m per interval
  • 4×60 seconds Row for meters, 5 minute rest @hard effort but sustained m per interval
  • 5×60 seconds Row for meters, 5 minute rest @hard effort but sustained m per interval
  • 4×90 seconds Row for meters, 9 minute rest @hard effort but sustained m per interval
  • 5×90 seconds Row for meters, 9 minute rest @hard effort but sustained m per interval
  • 4×2 minutes Row for meters, 12 minute rest @hard effort but sustained m per interval
  • 5×2 minutes Row for meters, 10 minute rest @hard effort but sustained m per interval
An Aerobic Workout Progression
  • 4x1250m Row, 5 minute rest @5k /500m pace
  • 4x1250m Row, 4 minute rest @5k /500m pace
  • 4x1250m Row, 3 minute rest @5k /500m pace
  • 4x1250m Row, 2.5 minute rest @5k /500m pace
  • 4x1250m Row, 2 minute rest @5k /500m pace
  • 4x1250m Row, 3 minute rest @5k /500m pace -3 seconds/500m
  • 4x1250m Row, 2:30 minute rest @5k /500m pace -3 seconds/500m
  • 4x1250m Row, 2 minute rest @5k /500m pace -3 seconds/500m

How To Breathe And Pace On The Concept2 Rower

Pacing on the Concept2 rower is something that users typically struggle with. Pacing is the act of consciously moving at a continuous speed. On the rower, proper pacing means that you are maintaining a constant stroke rate throughout the workout.

Tips for Better Pacing

A common mistake during rowing workouts is breathing too fast. Most rowers will try to breathe twice per stroke, however, this is not sustainable and will elevate your heart rate rapidly. Ideally, you want to breathe only once per stroke. James FitzGerald recommends 500m repeats to practice this. If you are more advanced you can add-in other opposing gymnastic movements to the repeats.  

Workouts for Better Pacing on the Rower

Beginner Workout:

Row @ 1:50 Pace for 500m rest 1:50 then repeat 10 times. 

Intermediate Workout + Gymnastic:

  • Row @ 200m 
  • 8 burpees over the rower
  • Repeat 8 times 
  • *Ensure the pace on the rower is the same for every round.
Advanced Fatigued Workout:
  • 350m Row
  • 10 Deadlifts at 30-40% of 1 Rep Maximum
  • 10 Burpees over the bar
  • Repeat 5 times
  • *Increase pace every round.

How to Test Fitness on the Concept2 Rower

James FitzGerald Explaining How to Use the Row 4 x 30:30 to Test Fitness on the Concept2 Rower 

The Row 4 x 30:30

The Concept2 rower is also a great tool for testing either you or your client’s level of fitness. Our go-to workout is the row 4 x 30:30. This test measures the balance between the anaerobic and aerobic systems and includes four intervals of work in which the first 30 seconds are done at 100% effort and then the following 30 seconds is recovery. 

How to Use the Row 4 x 30:30 Fitness Test

Firstly, keep in mind that in order to do a row 4 x 30:30 test one must possess a base level of strength and good rowing mechanics. 

Secondly, approach this test as if you are a scientist. You want to control all of the variables you can to get the most accurate results, so make sure you are well-rested and document the circumstances in which the test first took place in order to replicate for retesting. To conduct the test you want to go all out for 30 seconds rest for 30 seconds and repeat 4 times. You can set this up easily using the interval setting on the rower. 

How to Interpret the Scores of the Test

Once the test has been completed you will want to look at the meters rowed for each interval. When looking at the results use the first score as 100%, then compare the following four scores (of meters rowed) as a percentage to the first. A perfect score will be along the lines of 100% – 95% – 92% – 90%. If your score stays the same you need to work on developing more power. If the scores drop off drastically after the first score you need to work on building aerobic capacity.

How to Program Workouts for the Concept2 Rower

If you’re like us, you always want to give your best. Would it surprise you if I said that most people are not getting the full potential from their rowing workouts? Well, it’s true. While most people think that the rower can only be used to train the aerobic system it actually can be used to train the body’s three main energy systems. Get an introduction to our principles of Energy System Training and take your training or coaching to a new level and sign up for The Free 7-Day OPEX Coaching Course. 

LEARN MORE
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