Head Games: Tips and Tricks for Endurance Workouts

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Updated July 17, 2023

Endurance workouts are great for your fitness, but let’s be honest: They’re not always fun.


Spending an hour or so on your rower, treadmill, bike, etc., especially at a low to moderate intensity, can be more boring than fun.


No worries, though! In this blog post we’re giving you our best tips to make your endurance rowing and endurance workouts in general more enjoyable.


What’s Endurance Training?


The way we’re referring to it here, endurance training means workouts that are done primarily at a lower intensity and for a longer time.


Endurance workouts help you develop your aerobic base of a strong heart and lungs. That’s critical for overall health and fitness, regardless of whether you’re the “workout type” or not.


It’s that endurance base that often makes getting through your day easier. Like carrying groceries up the stairs, picking up a grandchild, or chasing them around the playground.


Examples of endurance activities include rowing, walking, running, biking, swimming, paddling, and the like. Really any cardio or aerobic activity that you can do for an extended time.


Getting Started With Endurance Workouts


If you’re just getting started on an endurance or fitness journey, begin with 5 to 10 minutes rowing, walking, swimming, running, whatever.


We love rowing because it’s total-body and low-impact (so super effective and efficient), but choose whatever is most available AND appealing.


You want to go at a low-to-moderate intensity, the kind where you can talk and easily answer a question.


Once those 5-10 minutes are easy, add a few more until you gradually work your way up to 20-30 minutes or more a time or two a week.


Balance that out with strength training a couple of times a week, a high-intensity workout or two, and plenty of stretching and walking and you’ll be hitting new heights in no time!


[Want longer workouts and a coach to follow while you’re doing them? We have them on UCanRow2 on Demand!]


The Benefits of Endurance Rowing


Why should you choose rowing for your endurance training?


Let us count the ways!


  • Rowing is total-body, low-impact fitness
  • It’s perfect for people of all ages, sizes, and fitness levels
  • It targets 86 percent of your muscles on every single stroke
  • Rowing meets you where you are – It adjusts to the amount of intensity and effort you put into it so it can be used for workouts of ALL distances and intensities
  • It can be meditative, especially on a longer row. So it’s as good for your head as it is for your heart


Given all of that, spending a longer time on the rowing machine is a PERFECT way to get your endurance work in.


It’s also a great cross-training balance with other, higher-impact sports like running.


Motivate Yourself For Your Endurance Workouts


Let’s face it, we all have days where we have to drag ourselves to the gym.


That’s true for fitness professionals as much as it is for everyday athletes!


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.


And as beneficial as endurance workouts are, the prospect of a longer workout isn’t always something to relish.


Fortunately, there are some great ways to make an endurance rowing workout go by quicker:


Here are some of our favorite endurance rowing tips and strategies:


Count strokes to get through the tough parts of the workout


Do every third 500 meters faster to break things up


– 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.  Ready to try it in one go? This post will show you 10 ways you can get it done!


Take your mind off the monitor and focus on your indoor rowing technique for a certain number of strokes or minutes. Think about sitting up tall, swinging from 11:00-1:00, chest up coming into the catch, one count on the drive, two on the recovery, etc.


Up the intensity – Working harder in short bursts 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 Concept2 Performance Monitor to help you hold your split. Set it on the pace you don’t want to go under. Beat that little guy!


– A favorite at the UCanRow2 Bodyshop studio is row-ling 100s, alternating 100 meters hard, 100 meters easy (or whatever variation of that sounds appealing)


– Hit the Units button on your monitor and vary what you’re rowing for – meters, calories, watts


Use the force curve on your Concept2 monitor and work on creating smooth strokes. Want to learn more about that? Check out our force curve video here.


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


Ok maybe we’re a little crazy, but these tricks have gotten us through MANY millions of meters. How do you get yourself through a tough workout? Tell us in the comments, we’ll add the best ones to the list!


Questions? Drop those down below too, we’ll answer!


For Further Reading and Learning

Updated July 17, 2023


  1. Roy on January 6, 2016 at 9:44 pm

    Set up in front of DVDs player and Rv. Put fav movie on

  2. shane on January 12, 2016 at 6:11 pm

    I did a 90 minute row, it help pass the time when I started swearing at myself for every trying that….

    • UCanRow2 on January 12, 2016 at 6:14 pm

      Nice one, Shane! There was a lot of that going on around UCanRow2 HQ the last time we got the bright idea to do a 24-hour row. And then there was the day we thought it would be fun to do a half marathon on the SkiErg… Good thing there weren’t any small children around!

  3. @ocr_dad on February 22, 2016 at 8:48 pm

    Get a good movie.

    • UCanRow2 on February 22, 2016 at 9:11 pm

      Always! 🙂

  4. Jack on April 19, 2016 at 3:50 pm

    I will close my eyes and count strokes, then open them to see if I have stayed on my stroke rate and split. When I have
    a longer row with different stroke rates for, say three minutes, I will count up total strokes for one minute, up and then down the next, and then countdown for the last. The power graph is also a helpful distraction. Raise and sharpen your peak at each stroke, then maintain your optimum output.

    • UCanRow2 on April 19, 2016 at 5:37 pm

      Thanks Jack! That counting up and down trick is a good one. Row on!

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