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    Ten Seconds, Two Truths

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    To keep tabs on your progress without having to go into the 2000-meter pain cave, fire off a quick 10-second peak-power test on the erg. If your peak wattage is going up, you are getting better.

    Your watts indicate the current limit of your 2000-meter potential. Take 55 percent of your peak-watts value to estimate the best average you can realistically hold. If your peak power is 500 watts, 55 percent is 275 watts or 1:48.4 per 500 meters. A goal of 1:45 per 500 meters would be overreaching until your peak watts notches up.

    You can also determine your peak-power-to-body- weight ratio. It’s a good efficiency measurement for an athlete. The target ratio is between 7.3 and 9.0 when comparing your watts to body weight in kilograms.

    Improve the ratio by increasing your peak-power watts and keeping the same body weight, keeping the same peak-power watts and decreasing body weight, or improving your peak-power watts and decreasing body weight some amount. Set the drag factor to 200. The high drag factor is necessary to provide adequate resistance so that you can hit a true peak power. Warm up, then from a stop row as hard and as fast as possible for 10 seconds, recording the highest power you see on any stroke.

    You must row full slide without using a racing start. Rest for a couple of minutes and repeat. There is a slight learning curve when you first do this test, so you might want to do it a few times to get a true peak-power score.

    Marlene Royle is the author of Tip of the Blade: Notes on Rowing. She specializes in training masters rowers, and her coaching service, Roylerow Performance Training Programs, provides the support you need to improve your competitive edge. For information, email Marlene at or visit

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