Head Games: Tips and Tricks to Beat the Long or Hard Indoor Rowing Workout

Let’s face it, we all have days where we have to drag ourselves through a workout.  Training for rowers is no different than training for runners or cyclists or any other sport.  Sometimes you just need to find ways to make the meters tick off faster.

Concept2 has a blog post with rowing tips to help you keep the flywheel spinning.  It’s been going around on Twitter too, so if you’re following us there you’ll see the latest.  Some of our favorites:

– Count strokes to get through the tough periods of the workout (from @thepeteplan on Twitter)

– On a long row, do every third 500 meters faster to break things up (from @jasonhewitt2 on Twitter)

– If the thought of rowing 10k in one shot overwhelms you, break it into smaller pieces and add in off-erg work in between.  Our Workouts page has lots of ways to do that.

– Take your mind off the monitor and focus on your indoor rowing technique – back straight, swinging from 11:00-1:00, chest up coming into the catch, one count on the drive, two on the recovery, etc.  Need a refresher on rowing technique tips?  Try this video from Concept2 UK.

– Up the intensity – Working harder makes the meters tick by faster and can stop you from focusing on them so much

– Have a split range you’re going to keep through the workout and do whatever it takes to hold it (increase or decrease your intensity, stroke rating etc.)

– Use the pace boat on the Performance Monitor to help you hold your split. Set it on the pace you don’t want to go under. Beat that little guy!

– Play a numbers game – work towards “fun” meter numbers like 4444, 5678, 12345, etc.

Ok maybe we’re a little crazy, but it works for us!  How do you get yourself through a tough workout?

Rocking the Row: Music for Indoor Rowing Workouts

Great article from the American Council on Exercise about how to pick music for your fitness class. Good timing, too, since Shape magazine included a rowing playlist in their January 2012 issue. ACE says there are four factors you should consider in putting together the playlist for your class, and they are all important when you’re teaching indoor rowing:

1. Role of the Music: ACE says to begin by looking at how important music is in your class. In rowing classes, as in Spinning or most anything else, it can be a great tool for building intensity.  Keep in mind, though, that it’s important that people not get so lost in the music that they forget their rowing technique – or miss out on the chance to hear the melody the group rowing class creates when all the flywheels are whirring together.

2. Musical Phrasing: ACE points out that beats per minute (BPM) is the primary component of musical phrasing. For most people, rowing workouts work best when they’re paced at no more than 25-26 strokes per minute, which equates to music in the range of 110 to 130 BPM.

3. Music Selection: Music can make or break your rowing class or rowing workout – We all know that cranking the tunes can help you hit that PR or break through a motivational wall.  For indoor rowing classes, familiar songs with great lyrics are fine for the warmup and cooldown, but for the meat of the workout we prefer instrumental music (Spinning music is a great resource) that makes it easier for people to stay focused on the work and their rowing technique.

4. Volume is the last key factor in ACE’s article, not just for the music but for the instructor. In rowing it’s at least as important to get the mic right for you so you’re heard over the flywheels as it is to adjust the volume on the songs.

So are you ready to rock and row?  Here’s a 45-minute playlist to get you started, one of our favorites for learn-to-row classes and general audiences:

Rise                                                 Herb Alpert
Something Got Me Started        Simply Red
Rock Your Body                           Brainbug (remix)
Bom Bom Bom                             Living Things
Bright Lights Bigger City          Cee Lo Green
Spirit in the Sky                           Norman Greenbaum
I Like the Way                             Bodyrockers
That Feeling                                DJ Chus
Got to Give It Up                         Marvin Gaye
Use Me                                          Bill Withers

What’s your favorite song to row to?  Got a playlist you’d like to share?  We’d love to see it!

Concept2 Indoor Rowing Foundations Coming to Florida — and more — in 2012

Flyer for indoor rowing trainings After getting more requests than we can even keep track of, we’re starting 2012 off right, bringing indoor rowing instructor certification back to the Sunshine State!  Our host will be Rowland Rowing Studio in Juno Beach (Palm Beach County).

The master instructor for the full-day training on Feb. 25 will be UCanRow2’s Terry Smythe, a former US national team rower with more than 30 years of indoor rowing experience.  Other workshops on the books include Chicago (at RowFit Chicago) on Jan. 21, Montclair (NJ) High School on Jan. 28 (with Master Instructor Chad Fleschner) on Jan. 28 and Woodbridge, VA (at Gold’s Gym with Master Instructor Angela Hart on March 23.

Check here for our training calendar updates, to learn more about our indoor rowing instructor training opportunities or to register for a workshop near you.

We’re planning on bringing trainings to many other new locations in 2012, so contact us if you’re interested in hosting or would like to see a workshop your area.  Hosting is a great deal for facilities – you get a free registration with every eight paid participants, plus you save on travel costs to send your instructors to other cities.

All we ask in exchange is that you help us get the word out to your local network.  We’ll provide a promotional poster and anything else you need, including cool photos of other trainings that you can use on your website if you like.



Olympic Medalist Sheila Taormina to Offer Clinic for Swimmers, Triathletes

Houghton, MI (Feb. 16, 2011) – Olympic gold medalist Sheila Taormina, the only woman ever to have competed in four consecutive Summer Games in three different sports (swimming, triathlon and pentathlon), is bringing her unique experience and coaching to students, swimmers and triathletes in Houghton in April.

Taormina, who won gold in swimming at the Atlanta Olympic Games, will offer a clinic focused on the vital aspect of the freestyle stroke – the underwater high elbow catch position that is the source of propulsion for a swimmer.  Through a mix of dryland and in-water work, participants in the 2.5-hour session on April 19 will understand first hand what it means to “feel” the water, as well as how to develop the strength and flexibility that is required for fast swimming.

The clinic is an excellent opportunity for swimmers of all levels as well as athletes working on their triathlon swimming for events like the Aspirus Keweenaw Copperman Triathlon 2011, or anyone looking to perfect their swimming stroke and get personalized coaching from one of the best swimmers and triathletes in the world.

The workshop, which is sponsored by UCanRow2 and the Houghton Schools, will be held at Houghton High School from 6-8:30 PM on April 19.  Registration is limited to 20 participants and is being processed through imAthlete.com.

In addition to the clinic, Taormina, who speaks to school, community and business groups the world over, will speak to Houghton Middle School students on April 19 and will have an after school pool session for students.  She will discuss how she became a champion by getting an education, making the most of her available (limited) resources and never giving up.  Her story offers an important message of working hard and staying focused on your goals, as well as physical fitness and obesity prevention.

Houghton Swim Clinic

When: April 19, 6-8:30 p.m.

Where: Houghton High School, 1603 Gundlach Road
Houghton, MI 49931-2699

Cost: $85, register at https://imAthlete.com (includes a copy of Sheila’s book, Call the Suit)

Ask the Coach: Correcting Others’ Bad Rowing

UCanRow2’s Terry Smythe, an indoor and on-water rowing coach with nearly 20 years of experience, answers your questions about rowing technique, rower workouts, teaching rowing and training for rowing.

Q: I row at my gym, and the “erging” technique some people have is driving me batty! I don’t want to offend anyone and I’m no expert, but how do I tactfully correct their form so they don’t get hurt and I don’t have to watch it anymore?

A:  This is the downside of the growth in indoor rowing’s popularity.  People see rowing on TV or featured online, and want to try it themselves.  The basics of rowing technique are pretty simple, but yes there is a trick to it.  People who jump on the rowing machine at the gym often don’t know enough about proper rowing technique to get the most from the machine.  As a total-body exercise, rowing is a fabulous way to make that slimmer, fitter you a reality.  You’ll get there faster with the right technique.

If you see bad rowing happening, approach the facility’s staff and ask if they have certified indoor rowing instructors who can intervene. If they do not, as a facility member you should encourage them to get their group fitness instructors and personal trainers certified to teach rowing. Certified instructors are much better equipped to provide workouts that are safe, fun and effective, and it’s the best way for the facility to make sure it gets the most from its investment in rowing equipment.

There’s more information on our rowing certification here, and our latest listing of trainings is always available on our rowing certification calendar.

Got another sticky question you’d like our coach to tackle? We’re game! Post it below in the comments and we’ll get back to you.

Wow, you look amazing! How did you do it?

Wow you look amazing!  How did you do it?
My journey to 2 million meters

By Sarah Fuhrmann

Logging 2 million meters with Concept2

Logging 2 million meters with Concept2

On October 28, 2010, I watched the monitor on my Concept2 indoor rowing machine as it ticked just past 10,000 meters.  Surrounded by the women who have been my constant cheerleaders and companions throughout this journey I celebrated rowing 2 million lifetime meters.  For those of you who are wondering that’s 1,243 miles and more hours than I’d care to count over the course of a year and a half.

It was a momentous occasion, not because it was the end of something, nor because it was my biggest accomplishment on the machine (that came when I rowed a million meters in just a month and won theConcept 2 World Rowing Challenge in my community).  Instead it was a great symbol of what I learned along the way – that by releasing my inner athlete I could recapture the strong, healthy and happy woman who is my true self.

I’ve lost nearly 50 pounds in the last few years and transformed my body so much it looks like I’ve lost more.  I often don’t recognize my reflection in store windows because I can’t believe that small person could be me.  My friends and family tell me that in addition to my physical transformation my attitude and outlook on life have become equally lighter, brighter and more energetic.  And while this is still a work in progress, I have proven to myself that I am stronger and capable of a whole lot more than I thought I was.

Read more…

Different Strokes for Different Folks: Indoor Rowing at Sweat for a Vet

(Terry Smythe‘s impressions of her participation on behalf of Concept2 at the first annual Sweat for a Vet event)

On November 13th, hundreds of people in fitness centers around the world came together to Sweat for a Vet to celebrate Veteran’s Day and one of the greatest lessons we have to learn from them, their resilience.  I represented Concept2 at the main Sweat for a Vet venue, Tysons Sport & Health, where well over 100 able-bodied and disabled people pedaled Spin bikes, Krankcycled and rowed for three hours to raise funds to buy fitness equipment for disabled vets.

Rowers were represented well by the crew from Capital Rowing Clubs Capital Adaptive program.  They kept the flywheels spinning on five rowing machines throughout the three hours and racked up nearly 145,000 meters in the process.  Big thanks and congratulations to all of them!

Sweat for a Vet was organized by Project VisAbility, which works to get disabled people jobs in the fitness industry and in so doing both help them find new careers and change perceptions of people with disabilities.

Based on what I saw, that formula is a winner.  The biggest thing that struck me was the event’s inclusiveness: wheelchair tires and sneakers mixed in beautiful synchronicity on the floor, able and disabled bodies working together.  Everyone was there for the best reason, creating power strokes of endurance for a good cause, through pedal strokes, bike strokes and rowing strokes.

There were some notable people in attendance, including Spinning and Krankcycle creator Johnny G, but for me the real stars were the incredibly fit Project VisAbility “Inspirations,” fitness instructors who shared their stories of how they were disabled and came back from their injuries, in part through fitness.

In addition to their tales of bravery, you couldn’t help but be inspired by these people’s leadership on the workout floor, sweating as much or more as anyone else.  It was a great reminder that “disabled” doesn’t mean “unable.”  On the contrary, I often find in my work with UCanRow2 that disabled people have a much better work ethic and attitude than their able-bodied counterparts.

No matter our size, age or ability, there is a workout that’s right for us all and we have no excuse not to keep doing as much as we can with our bodies, every workout, every day.

So what’s your workout for today?

Indoor Rowers Ready to Sweat for a Vet

Sweat for a Vet 2010 logoThe flywheels will be spinning nonstop this Saturday, November 13, when a group of adaptive rowers take to the Concept2 rowing machines at Sweat for a Vet, a three-hour indoor cycling, Kranking and rowing event to raise funds to buy fitness equipment for disabled veterans at Walter Reed Army Medical Center and the National Naval Medical Center in Bethesda, MD.

The main Sweat for a Vet event will be on-stage from 10:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m. eastern at Tysons Sport & Health Club in McLean, VA.  Not going to be in the area?  We plan to post updates from the event here and on our Facebook page, and you can watch the whole thing live on Itzinn.com.

Manning the Concept2 rowers at Sweat for a Vet will be members of the adaptive rowing program at Washington DC’s Capital Rowing Club, which is working closely with its partners – the U.S. Military Paralympic Program, the Naval Medical Center, Walter Reed, the Department of Veterans Affairs, and the National Rehabilitation Hospital – to bring rowing to disabled military veterans and civilians in the DC area.

On hand to support the athletes will be Concept 2 master instructor Terry Smythe.

Capital Adaptive’s mission is to introduce community-based rowing to people, including disabled veterans, with challenges such as spinal cord injuries, amputations, and visual and cognitive impairments.

Sweat for a Vet is the brainchild of Project VisAbility, which works to “help people with physical challenges not only earn a living, but motivate and lead others.”

It’s not too late to support our veterans and their fitness.  Contribute now to Sweat for a Vet!

Indoor Rowing Hits Miami

Rowing machines and rowing shells at Miami Beach Rowing ClubRowing machines and rowing shells converged this past weekend when UCanRow2 led the first indoor rowing instructor certification at Miami Beach Rowing Club.

Participants representing crews from the University of Miami and Barry University, joined with home users and an aspiring elite competitive rower for a day with UCanRow2’s Terry Smythe learning the ins and outs of indoor rowing.

The session included individualized critiques of rowing technique, discussion of the best ways to teach on the Concept 2 rowing machine, critical tips for erg maintenance and pointers for teaching to special populations.  The participants also got to try several rowing workouts first hand, including interval, steady state and pyramid formats.

As indoor rowing grows in popularity and people look in increasing numbers for fitness facilities offering the sport, certifications such as the one in Miami will become an important distinguishing factor.  Those locations whose instructors are certified will stand out as offering classes and personal training sessions that are safe, fun and effective.

More trainings are planned around Florida and elsewhere in 2011, for more information on those or other locations visit the UCanRow2 instructors page.

Wondering about certification?  Leave a comment and we’ll answer your questions here.  Are you a certified Concept2 rowing instructor?  Did you find it valuable?  Let us know!

When the Weather Fails You: Using the Rowing Machine to Train for On-Water Racing

Using the Concept 2 rowing machine helped Terry Smythe (right) win medals at the 2010 FISA World Masters rowing competition

Gail Helfer and Terry Smythe row their double at the FISA World Masters 2010 rowing competition.  (Photo credit: Chuck Helfer)

Updated June 12, 2018


Summers in Michigan’s scenic Upper Peninsula are nothing if not variable.  So when UCanRow2’s Terry Smythe was training to race at the 2010 FISA World Masters Rowing competition she knew she’d need a backup training plan for inclement days.


As it turned out there were many days that forced her to go to Plan B, the Concept2 rowing machine that she has in her basement.


“Rowing on a Concept2 machine is a critical tool for on-water rowers at every skill level,” Smythe says.   “What I can do on the rowing machine is also what I can put on the oar in the water.”  Indeed, the training worked.  Smythe won three gold medals and finished second in two races at the masters event.


When bad weather hits, you should transfer your on-water workout for the day to the rowing machine, Smythe says.  Just be sure to warm up well before beginning any hard work.


Elite and experienced rowers can duplicate the effort of their on-water workouts, she says, which can make the difference between a good on-water race and a great one.  She is particularly excited about Concept 2’s Dynamic Erg, which she expects will be a huge hit with competitive rowers because it’s more like rowing on the water.


For less experienced rowers the rowing machine is instrumental for building confidence in their ability to perform in race conditions on the water.  “On the erg you get the sensation of what it feels like in a race,” Terry says.  “You can practice your starts and get the sensation of what it feels like when your muscles are screaming and your lungs are burning.”


So don’t let the weather get you down, just turn to the erg!