500m time help!

From the CRASH-B's to an online challenge, discuss the competitive side of erging here.
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500m time help!

Post by hjt » September 20th, 2017, 9:30 am


I am from a Crossfit background and looking to improve my 500m row time ahead of my first indoor rowing comp (2 months time).

I am female, around 5ft 3in, 61kg (Lightweight) and 29. Given I have been doing Crossfit for 3 years I am strong and powerful for my size and have a high level of general fitness. I plan to continue my usual Crossfit training before the comp, with a little more rowing added in.

I did my first ever 500m TT 2 weeks ago and clocked 1.43.9, which I was happy with for my first attempt. It was a relatively consistent pace, slowing apx 2-3 sec pace over the last 100m. Damper was set on 7-8.

I have very little technical rowing experience and not sure how to set up the rower to help me get an optimal time. What drag factor should I set it to for a 500m? And what damper setting would be best for me? The rowers in my gym are quite new so I imagine won't be too dusty etc.

Also, what sort of rowing training would be best to improve my 500m time - intervals etc?

Thanks for any help! :-)

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Re: 500m time help!

Post by Cyclist2 » September 20th, 2017, 4:13 pm

That's a very good time for a first attempt. Well done!

Regarding machine setup, I'd suggest you check out a couple of the videos on technique at the Concept2 site. Getting your footplates set so that you don't over reach at the catch is good - shins no more than vertical at the catch. A drag factor of about 125-130 is what is "typical" for most workouts, a little higher for sprints, although I think you have yours set too high (damper at 7-8 on my clean machine is 168-183).

As far as workouts for the next two months, I'd suggest doing a lot more longer rows at lower stroke rates (around 22-24) to improve endurance and technique, tapering to shorter hard rows at higher stroke rates just before the test - you are already pretty strong, need more endurance to carry you through that painful last 100m.

Good luck!
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Re: 500m time help!

Post by hjs » September 21st, 2017, 3:14 am

There are hardly any sprinters here to find.

Take a look at https://www.instagram.com/samloch/?hl=en

He 100% trains for the 500m gives you an idea about sessions. Its with zero long work and only short intervals and weights.
Look back far enough for a good idea.
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Re: 500m time help!

Post by lindsayh » September 21st, 2017, 3:28 am

FWIW this is something that Leo Young wrote about his preparation for his WR effort all those years ago:

To perform optimally over 500 meters, you need the following:

- a good base of strength (developed primarily around lifts like deadlift variations, squat variations and seated rows, or similar movements),
- decent speed, best developed with very short max speed sprints on the erg at very low drag, with 2 to 3 minutes rest between sprints (I had a peak power output of 1412 watts),
- a very good maxVO2 (I had a maxVO2 of 7.6/L min at a HR of 158 and a weight of 90kg, prior to specifically building my strength levels and lactic power in my lead up to my 1:10.5 for 500m),
- but most importantly you need great lactic power as well as lactic acid tolerance.

The more muscle mass you have (I added 12kg of lean muscle to attempt my 500m), the greater your lactic power potential, which you then need to develop with max effort intervals on the erg in the 20 to 30 second range, with 5 to 10 minutes active recovery between intervals. Lactic acid tolerance (LATol), on the other hand, is then best trained with slightly longer intervals (e.g. 30 to 45 seconds) with shorter rest intervals (30 to 45 seconds), as well as also being effectively trained doing maxVO2/HR efforts.

20 to 40 minute low intensity aerobic workouts (1.5 to 2 mmol lactate) on the days in between the high intensity strength, lactic and maxVO2 workouts will aid recovery and actually indirectly help improve your lactic acid tolerance potential. However, avoid doing too many long slow distance workouts, which will have too much of a detrimental effect on your critical fast twitch fibres. I did most of my aerobic recovery workouts on the lowest drag possible, so even though you’re going easy, the speed of movement in the drive phase is still high.

Include training at drag factors both well below and well above what you intend to race at. I developed speed by doing max speed sprints with the vent fully closed and with a towel blocking off as much air as possible, whilst allowing the monitor to sill work properly (the PM2 won’t work below a drag of 25). I also did both sprints and longer steady state work on the highest drag possible, which you can achieve on the model C/D/E by taking the cage off.

It's critical to do no more than 2 to 3 high intensity workouts a week, which includes any strength training, maxVO2, anaerobic threshold, lactic power, or lactic tolerance training. So clever programing is critical.

Do maxVO2 training by doing intervals at max HR pace (either 3 to 5 minute intervals with 3 to 5 minutes active recovery, or alternatively over 3 to 5 minutes build HR and pace to up around your anaerobic threshold or max lactate steady state pace and then sit at max HR pace for 1.5 to 3 minutes, depending on fitness level), as well as doing some training sessions where you spend 15 to 30 minutes at your anaerobic threshold (AnT) or max lactate steady state pace (MLSS). A good combo AnT/maxVO2/LATol session is after a 15 minute warm-up, do a 20 minute effort where you build to AnT over the first 3 minutes or so, then spend 15 minutes at AnT/MLSS pace and then go to maxVO2 (max HR) pace for the final 1.5 to 3 minutes.
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Re: 500m time help!

Post by TomR » September 21st, 2017, 8:39 pm

Couple of thoughts for things that work for 500:

high stroke rate. Lotta guys rate higher than 40 strokes per minute for 500. You're short, so see if you can get comfortable at 40+ strokes. Short intervals--say 30 seconds on, 30 secs to 1 min recovery--will help you acclimate to a high rate.

high drag. HW males often use max drag for 500 meters (much higher than for 2k). As a lw woman, max drag could be a bit much. drag at 7-8 could be optimal. you could fiddle with different drag factors to see what you think is best.

3 high-intensity interval sessions/week may be the most you can do effectively. I'd be inclined to do your lifting on those days. Do some easy--truly easy--distance sessions in between. A good way to screw up your preparation is to make the easy days too hard. Reread the previous sentence.

As for vo2 max, if you've been doing x-fit for a couple years, chances are you're not going to improve vo2 max much. We've all got a genetic limit, and what I've read says vo2 max improvement tends to peak after about 8 weeks. You've been at it for much longer than that.

Given you level of fitness, my guess is the most important thing you can do in the coming weeks is improve your technique and make your stroke more efficient.
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Re: 500m time help!

Post by JMac » September 22nd, 2017, 5:04 am

Lifting on the same day as a hard interval session would be impossible for me.

Don't have the time for double daily sessions and would be way too tired to do both in the same session :cry:

I'm going try alternating between weights (3 day split for 4-6 weeks) and intervals with 1 day off per week
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Re: 500m time help!

Post by TomR » September 22nd, 2017, 10:10 am

I'd make the erg the priority. Lifting would be for maintenance. A 6-day-week routine that alternates hard intervals with heavy strength days could grind a body to dust.

Tell us how it works.
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