Saturday, June 28, 2008

The Importance of Training Volume

Training – The Importance of Training Volume for Elite Rowing Performance
From Filipe Salbany

Nothing will have a bigger impact on an individual’s chances of achieving an elite level of rowing performance than following a well-designed training program. Only through appropriate training can aspiring rowers develop the outstanding levels of conditioning and technique necessary for success at an elite level. However, it is a major challenge to understand the specific and often complex effects of a particular type of training on the body. Consequently, many “potential” elite rowers fail to make the transition from a national to an international standard because they adhered to a generalized training program that was not appropriately tailored to meet their individual needs. Coaches can avoid this situation by carefully examining the training practices of successful elite rowers and developing an understanding of how the body responds to different forms of training. In doing so, coaches should be able to create appropriate and individualized programs for their own athletes. Since the first challenge in preparing a training program is to decide the amount of actual rowing required each week, this article examines the relationship between weekly volume of rowing and the anticipated changes in physiology and performance.

Current training practice
Typically, elite rowers will cover in excess of 4300 miles of rowing per year (an average of 90+ miles/week) in addition to land based training [13]. The months of September and October are traditionally the starting points of the training year in the northern hemisphere. During this first part of the season, the primary aim is to increase the endurance capacity of the body. Training consists of specific (boat work) and non-specific activities (rowing ergometer, resistance work, flexibility, running, cycling etc…). Accordingly, the total amount of rowing during the first month(s) may be somewhat low to moderate (30-70 miles/week) in order to accommodate non-specific activities and allow the body a chance to re-adjust to the demands of training. Each week, total rowing distance can be progressively increased until the desired volume is achieved (see Figure). Predictably, the average exercise intensity of pre-season training should be low to moderate (mostly UT2 and UT1), which reduces the injury risk from overstress of muscles and connective tissue and give athletes a chance to concentrate on technique. More importantly, low intensity training enables athletes to complete a much higher volume of work than would otherwise be possible with higher intensity exercise [16]. Even several months into the season, the average intensity of training is still low, although some higher intensity work in the form of long intervals and head-races is often included. It should be recognized that while relative training intensity (i.e. % of max heart rate or blood lactate levels) remains low, the absolute intensity (i.e. boat speed) naturally increases with improvements in fitness and technical ability.
Classical training theory for rowing suggests that the volume of training should be greatest in the period preceding the main competitive season (December to May, see Figure) [1]. This strategy minimizes the potential for excessive volume to interfere with the quality of high intensity training later in the season. While the classical pattern of volume change is apparent in the seasonal training program of many elite rowers [1, 17], other factors such as climate, hours of daylight and participation in training camps often result in maximum training volumes occurring later in the season [3, 13]. Training intensity will be highest during the competitive season (June-September) although inevitably, the total volume of training, regardless of intensity, must be reduced towards the end of the season to allow athletes a period of full recovery before final competition.

Effects of high volume training on aerobic capacity and endurance capacity
All too often, the terms aerobic capacity and endurance capacity are used synonymously. However, aerobic capacity indicates the maximum rate at which energy is made available to the muscles using oxygen, whereas, endurance capacity indicates the ability to maintain a particular rate of energy use. Hence, aerobic capacity is a measure of how fast a person can go, whereas endurance capacity indicates how far they can go[1]. Different types of training sessions can improve aerobic capacity without altering endurance capacity and vice versa. So, which is more important for rowing performance?

Changes in the physiology of elite rowers before, during and after a season or more of training have been extensively detailed in several excellent scientific reports [5, 6, 16]. From these studies, it is clear that the ability to develop a high aerobic capacity through appropriate training is critical to achieving success as an elite rower. Indeed, a high aerobic capacity appears to be the single most outstanding physiological feature of top rowers [4].

Rowers with high aerobic capacities are able to generate greater amounts of energy before experiencing the fatigue-inducing side effects associated with anaerobic energy use. All else being equal, rowers with high aerobic capacities outperform those with lesser abilities to use oxygen. Although genetic endowment sets the upper limit to improvement, individuals cannot reach their true aerobic capacities without first completing several years of well-structured training. This raises the question as to the appropriateness of high volume training for maximizing improvements in aerobic capacity.

Results from studies of elite rowers in Eastern Europe suggest that aerobic capacity does not appear to improve once annual training volume reaches ~3500 miles/year (~70 miles week). It should be noted that the vast majority of their training was performed at low relative intensities (UT2 and UT1). As mentioned earlier, increases in training volume necessarily reduce the overall exercise intensity. However, there is substantial scientific evidence to show that exercise intensity rather than volume is the primary factor that controls improvements in aerobic capacity [4, 6, 8, 10, 18]. The experience of elite Eastern European rowers also suggests that there is a limit to the benefit of increasing training volume for improving aerobic capacity. Collectively, it is reasonable to conclude that maximum aerobic fitness can only be achieved through the appropriate use of strenuous high-intensity interval sessions. Why then might the high volumes of low intensity training currently performed by elite rowers provide benefits in terms of the physiological requirements for success over 2000-m?

The primary effect of high volume training on the body is to increase the endurance capacity of the muscles. Large quantities of distance training alter the function and structure of the muscles recruited during the rowing stroke in a variety of ways, too numerous to list, but all linked by a common theme: High volume training improves the ability of muscles to store and use energy efficiently.

Most coaches and rowers now recognize the importance of the body’s carbohydrate levels on endurance capacity. Although the exercising muscles can use both fat and carbohydrate as a fuel source, only carbohydrate can supply energy fast enough to allow rowers to work at anything above low intensity rowing. In the absence of dehydration and/or high ambient temperatures, the failure to continue moderate intensity exercise is most frequently due to an exhaustion of available carbohydrate stores. Additionally, the ability to perform high intensity interval training is severely reduced if carbohydrate stores are low [14]. Fortunately, muscles respond to high volume training by:
Increasing the capacity to store carbohydrate
Preferentially increasing the relative contribution of fat as a fuel source during exercise.

While the adaptations that occur with high volume training are responsible for significant improvements in endurance capacity, they do little to directly improve aerobic capacity. Nevertheless, the changes described above will enable rowers to train harder, longer and more frequently. Since exercise intensity is the critical stimulus for maximizing improvements in aerobic capacity, an improved endurance capacity will increase the ability of rowers to sustain high intensity exercise during strenuous interval sessions, thus ensuring that the body receives the maximum possible stimulus for adaptation. Therefore, the gains that can be made in aerobic capacity later in the season will largely depend upon the extent to which muscular endurance capacity was developed in the early months of training. This same line of reasoning can be extended to include other physiological components necessary for success such as anaerobic capacity.

How much volume is necessary?

Presently, the available scientific evidence does not indicate the precise range in average weekly volume that should be performed at each training phase. Additionally, it is difficult to obtain a clear picture of the benefits of elite training patterns since many successful coaches prefer to remain secretive about the specific details of their training schedules. However, German scientists have reported that, as a general rule, their rowers no longer perform the extremely high volumes of specific rowing training that were common in the past (>120 miles/week) [15]. Instead, more time is now dedicated to non-specific training activities. More recent reports on the training practices of elite Norwegian and Italian rowers reveal a more reasonable average of ~100 miles/week, with a range of between 60 and 130 miles in any given week. A similar trend toward lower overall training volumes in recent years has been reported for elite cyclists and distance runners [9, 12].

In contrast to rowing, there is a substantial amount of information available on the training practices of the world’s best distance runners. While many elite distance runners are able to compete successfully on comparatively low training volumes (approximately 40-60 miles/week) [11], several expert coaches and scientists believe that the ultimate level of competitive performance achieved with such training will be restricted [7]. Measurable improvements in the physiology of distance runners using available scientific techniques (e.g., aerobic capacity and lactate threshold tests, muscle biopsies etc.,) appear to plateau at a weekly volume of around 80-90 miles [2]. Higher volumes of running than these are often justified through subtle but important enhancements in running economy/efficiency that are potentially too small for scientific tests to detect.

Based on the limited data available for rowers, it appears reasonable to suggest that the “apparent” maximum and direct physiological benefits of rowing training occur at a volume of between 70 and 100 miles/week. Nevertheless, the experience of today’s top rowers suggests that it is possible to perform even greater volumes of training without any obvious deterioration in long term rowing performance. As discussed above, this may be due to the importance of developing a superior endurance capacity for performing high intensity training later in the season. On the other hand, the true benefit of high volume training may have more to do with technical, rather than physiological changes.

One of the major differences between rowing and other endurance sports such as cycling and running is the importance of higher levels of technical skill in rowing to ensure optimal transfer of energy into boat movement. Potentially, high volume training enhances the efficiency of the rowing stroke. Certainly, improvements in efficiency during simulated rowing exercise have been shown to occur in response to additional years of training in American oarsmen [5]. While improvements in stroke efficiency of an individual are probably due to better posture, blade work and coordination between muscle groups, there is also evidence emerging to show that the manner in which the brain activates individual fibers responds favorably to extensive endurance training. Additional research is needed before high volume training can be justified based on improvements in stroke technique and efficiency.
There are various other possible reasons why high volume training is important for rowing performance. It may be that this type of training particularly helps increase focus and determination in athletes. Additionally, lightweight rowers will benefit from the increased energy expenditure that will help control body fat levels. However, unaccustomed and rapid increases in training volume will inevitably result in illness, injury and reduced performance. Coaches must weigh up the potential benefits of high volume training with an athlete’s training history, ability and goals. Additionally, coaches need to resist the temptation to continually prescribe higher and higher annual training volumes. There is an obvious upper limit to the advantages of increasing total volume. Eventually, sustained high volumes will lead to stagnation of performance and overtraining. In order to provide athletes with the greatest possible chance of success, coaches must first develop a comprehensive understanding of the effects of training and decide on the most appropriate course of action for each individual.

Hypothetical variation in training volume of an elite rower during a season

1. Bompa, T.O., Periodization: Theory and methodology of training. 1994, Leeds: Human Kinetics. 1-413.
2. Costill, D.L., Inside Running. 1986, Human Kinetics: Champaign, IL.
3. Cracknell, J., Revenge mission, in The Daily Telegraph. 2002: London. p. S5.
4. Dudley, G.A., W.H. Abraham, and R.L. Terjung, Influence of exercise intensity and duration on biochemical adaptations in skeletal muscle. Journal of Applied Physiology, 1982. 53(4): p. 844-850.
5. Hagerman, F.C., Physiology and nutrition for rowing, in Perspectives in Exercise Science and Sports Medicine, D.R. Lamb and H.G. Knuttgen, Editors. 1994, Cooper: Carmel, IN. p. 221-302.
6. Hagerman, F.C. and R.S. Staron, Seasonal variables among physiological variables in elite oarsmen. Can J Appl Sport Sci, 1983. 8(3): p. 143-8.
7. Hawley, J. and L. Burke, Peak performance: training and nutritional strategies for sport. 1998, Sydney: Allen & Unwin. 1-446.
8. Hickson, R.C., H.A. Bomze, and J.O. Holloszy, Linear increase in aerobic power induced by a strenuous program of endurance exercise. Journal of Applied Physiology, 1977. 42(3): p. 372-376.
9. Jeukendrup, A.E., High Performance Cycling. 2002, Leeds: Human Kinetics.
10. Mahler, D.A., H.W. Parker, and D.C. Andresen, Physiologic changes in rowing performance associated with training in collegiate women rowers. International Journal of Sports Medicine, 1985. 6(4): p. 229-33.
11. Martin, D.E. and P.N. Coe, Training distance runners. 1991, Leeds: Human Kinetics.
12. Maughan, R.J., Physiology and nutrition for middle distance and long distance running, in Perspectives in Exercise Science and Sports Medicine, D.R. Lamb and H.G. Knuttgen, Editors. 1994, Cooper: Carmel, IN. p. 329-371.
13. Secher, N.H., Physiological and biomechanical aspects of rowing. Implications for training. Sports Med, 1993. 15(1): p. 24-42.
14. Simonsen, J.C., et al., Dietary carbohydrate, muscle glycogen, and power output during rowing training. Journal of Applied Physiology, 1991. 70(4): p. 1500-5.
15. Steinacker, J.M., Physiological aspects of training in rowing. FISA Coach, 1994. 5(3): p. 1-6.
16. Steinacker, J.M., et al., Training of rowers before world championships. Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise, 1998. 30(7): p. 1158-63.
17. Vermulst, L.J., et al., Analysis of seasonal training volume and working capacity in elite female rowers. International Journal of Sports Medicine, 1991. 12(6): p. 567-72.
18. Wenger, H.A. and G.J. Bell, The interactions of intensity, frequency and duration of exercise training in altering cardiorespiratory fitness. Sports Medicine, 1986. 3: p. 346-356.
[1] Assuming anaerobic capacity, technique and energy stores are equal etc…

Spracklen’s Notes – Part 1 – Program Outline

Creating Training Programs – Spracklen’s Notes – Part 1 – Program Outline
By Mike Spracklen
October 1987


This training System has been designed to provide a variety of methods that are compatible with the process of learning good rowing technique. The methods are not dissimilar to those used by coaches throughout the rowing world, but they have been adapted to encourage the improvement of technique in such a way that technical progress is an important part of the System.

The System originated from the concept that technique should play a bigger part in the preparation of oarsmen for racing. One benefit to be gained from the principle of this System of training is that the drudgeries of winter training become purposeful. The oarsmen become distracted from the hard work they are doing without realizing it!

Mike Spracklen.
October 1987

An efficient technique is essential for the greatest utilization of athletic endeavor. The sport of rowing is a highly skilled activity and even small deficiencies can detract from a rower’s performance.

There is more than one way to move a boat fast through the water and gold medals have been won using a variety of different techniques. There is one common factor present in all fast crews, which is that the rowers in those boats apply their power together. As in the old adage, 'a load shared is a load halved'.

In order to achieve efficiency of effort, the oarsperson must be taught to row with identical movements. This is referred to as 'style'. It is for the benefit of all rowing that rowers be taught a uniform style. It is to the benefit of our international squads if a common style is adopted by all.

Technique has played a minor role in Britain during the past decade. In an environment where success is easier to achieve from physical training than by the slower methods of teaching technique, successes at higher levels have been elusive. Improvements in technique would help to improve the performances of our International crews in the world.

When trying to adapt to a different technique, whether it is a completely new movement or a change, a rower has more difficulty in controlling his actions in certain identifiable circumstances and the learning process slows down.

These problem areas are identified as follows:
at high rates of striking
at maximum intensity of work
in a state of physical tiredness
when large increases and sudden changes are demanded
when too many changes are to be made at one time

This system avoids the extremes of these adverse conditions. Increases are made in easy stages and only when a rower has shown that he/she is able to cope with the change are further increases demanded of him/her. Training periods of long duration at low rates form the foundation of the System. At low rates the oarsperson is able to control their movements and make corrections as they go when deterioration occurs. The gradual onset of fatigue when training over long distances permits control to be attained. When explosive work is introduced the rower will have built a sound foundation to cope with high demands without loss of form.

The more hours spent on the water practicing a particular movement the sooner that movement will become natural to the rower. This 'grooving in' process is accelerated when the rowers are able to hold good form through long periods of tiredness, but care must be taken to ensure that quality is not lost and that bad faults are not being ingrained. The ultimate test for an rower's technical ability is whether or not he/she can hold good quality when he is under extreme pressure from physical exertion, like the last 250 meters of that one important race!

An outline of the techniques practiced by the men’s' heavyweight squad are illustrated in this pamphlet. To explain the training methods which will help to achieve good technique is the purpose of this publication.

Whilst importance is placed on the improvement of technique in this System, the training methods have been devised to provide the best preparation for oarsmen at all levels of competition. Training for the improvement of endurance levels is a high priority. Long outings with variations of low rates are essential for the development of strength coordination and aerobic endurance as well as for 'grooving in' new techniques. This System provides guidelines for achieving a sound physical and physiological foundation for 2000-meter racing.

Training loads have been prepared so that one method can be compared with another even though the work content may be different. The loads have been derived from a mixture of simple mathematics and the experience of crew training up to the highest levels of competition.

The methods are based on a normal training load representing 80% of a rower’s maximum effort. The suffix 'N’ after the method code signifies Normal Training Load.
Maximum loads are suffixed with 'H’ signifying High Loads. High loads are equal to 100% effort and are calculated by increasing a normal load by 25%.
Reduced loads are suffixed with the letter 'L' signifying low loads and these are generally 25% below the normal load.

The work methods have been prepared on a time basis rather than on distances. This allows a rower to work at his own pace regardless of the type of boat in which he is training e.g. pair, four or single. The intensity of work is programmed to suit the ability of the oarsmen individually or the squad as a whole.

When no suffix is shown against a Method Code, only one set is required. A numeral before the code will indicate the number of sets to be completed.

An example of a training load for an International oarsman who is training twice a day for six days a week would be, five sessions at 'N', normal load, one or two at 'H', high load, 3 or 4 at 'L’, low load with one or two light outings.

The recovery periods between sets should be sufficient to allow the pulse rate of an oarsperson, after work, to drop below 120 beats per minute. These rest periods are shown as 5 minutes light paddling, but should be reduced as the rower’s physical condition improves with training.

All strokes, unless otherwise stated, are rowed as hard as can be maintained for the session. An important part of the system is that pressure is maintained as the rates rise so that an oarsperson is able to apply maximum output to 200 strokes when he needs to!

All work methods below the rate of 30 are continuous for the improvement of aerobic capacity. Where the stretch of water does not permit continuous work, turns should be made quickly and the work set back by 30 seconds. Work above rate 32 contains a high anaerobic content. This type of work is done intermittently with controlled rests between each set piece.

Stretching exercises should be made routine, before and after each session. Thirty minutes of warming up paddling should be done before scheduled work commences. A more specific warm up should be adopted before intensive training so that the body is in a fully prepared condition.

Fifteen minutes of paddling after exercise to wind down is important. Gentle muscular contraction helps the body to clear waste products, which have accumulated in the blood stream during heavy exercise

Rates of striking (stroke rate) are changed by only two strokes per minute at any one time. These gradual changes help the rower to retain technical control during and after the change has been made.

Increases in rates are carried out by generally quickening movements (lively recovery and faster catches etc.) and reductions, by sliding slower forward between strokes.

Rhythm is affected by the speed of the boat. Two or three slightly shorter and quicker strokes will increase boat speed and help the rower to achieve a higher rate whilst maintaining a good rhythm.

It is not easy for a crew to make a rate change and to hold the rate consistently for any length of time. Rates should be checked frequently and adjusted when necessary. It should not be expected that a crew will achieve the rates on every occasion, often the crew will have difficulty in making the change successfully without loss of quality. It is the determination to improve which is of greater value than the actual rate which is scheduled.

A particular point of technique is selected in a rower or crew. This may be emphasis on part of the stroke or a correction to an existing movement. Examples would be:

Individual fault corrections
Rhythm and slide control.
Hands, body, and slide movements in the recover.
Greater acceleration of the blade through the stroke and stronger finishes
Bladework control.
A longer reach forward

A target rate is selected and a period of time for improvement allocated in the training program. At the beginning of a winter period the target rate would be 26 or 28 and the time period about 14 days depending on the difficulty of the change.

The first outing would be a long piece of work at a low rate. The coach would ensure that the correct interpretation and application of the change during this outing, was accomplished.

Various methods involving rate changes below the target rate are introduced to add flexibility and variety to the program. The rowers have to concentrate on control of movements as rates change up and down. Gradually confidence grows and the change is 'grooved in' at the lower rates.

The rates slowly increase throughout the period. Care is taken by the coach to ensure that when deterioration occurs the rate is reduced until good form is reestablished.

At the end of the period the target rate is consolidated with a long row.

If the desired success has not been achieved, the coach decides from which point the schedule should be repeated or whether a new approach should be adopted. If the crew has been successful the coach will select another point of technique for improvement and a similar process is completed. Even at the highest levels there is always room for improvement. No rower is perfect.

The coach uses his/her skills to decide which point of technique are important. He/she will usually work on the weakest link in the chain throughout the training period, gradually improving one fault after another until his crew has achieved good technique at race rate at the end of the winter.

The rate of improvement will of course depend on the ability of the rowers, their motivation, and degree of difficulty of the change and of course the skill of the coach. Perfection is never achieved and the coach decides which points of technique are worth pursuing and those that are not.

The meanings of some words used are as follows:

PROGRAM The complete training program in its entirety
PERIOD A specified period of time within the program
SESSION One complete training session from stretching exercises to winding down.
METHOD The type of work and its content
SET OR SET PIECE A piece of continuous work normally part of a Method.
QUALITY Refers to technique
CONTINUOUS Work done without change of pressure.
INTERMITTENT Work done with light paddling between each set piece

“minute” is symbolized by ‘ … therefore the following: “change rates at 3' 2' 1' 2' 3' 4' - 11' total” -reads as “change rates at 3 minutes, 2 minutes, 1 minutes, 2 minutes, 3 minutes, 4 minutes – 11 minutes total.”


Change rates at 3' 2' 1' 2' 3' 4' - 11' total.
Rates increase then decrease by 2 at each change.

Change rates up and down by 2 alternately every 2 minutes.

Change rates by 2 at end of each minute as follows: 22,24,26,24,26,28,26,26,26,28,26,24,26,24,22. -15' total.

Increase rate by 2 at each stage.

Row 20 strokes at each rate with 10 light strokes between each
change. Rates increase by 2 strokes per minute.
E.g. 24 to 34, 26 to 36 etc

Continuous work for the time and rate given.

5 (5 x 20 strokes. 10 light between) rate 36.
Rate 36 - 500 strokes
Rate 36 - 400 strokes
Rate 40 - 300 strokes

The Safety of Free Weights

The Safety of Free Weights
By Dr Fred Hatfied
In "Free Weights vs. Machines: A Look at Pros and Cons of Each", Elizabeth Quinn makes a case for machines being "safer" then free weights. Says she,
"The most important component in any strength training program is safety. If you are new to strength training or if you are working out alone, variable resistance machines are the best bet. While machines can be a viable option for serious weight training, they are best for novice, senior and recreational athletes."

Later, Ms. Quinn noted,
"However, free weights require the help of a spotter, and result in more injuries than machines. Careful instruction and training is necessary to master the art of free weight lifting. "

Ms. Quinn isn't the only one stating this. It seems to be conventional wisdom that machines are safer. While the debate "free weights vs. machines" has been around for some time (with very few new ideas brought to the table), I'm still forced to ask if machines really are "safer" than free weights.

Explanations of why machines may be safer then free weights fall under 3 patterns of reasoning: 1. Proper form is needed for the use of free weights, 2. Machines are better in isolating certain muscles, and 3. Many free weight exercises require a spotter. Let's look at these explanations and point out the faults in each argument:

Proper Form Is Needed For The Use Of Free Weights. As noted above, Ms. Quinn states, "Careful instruction and training is necessary to master the art of free weight lifting." While I do believe this to be true, it is also true for the use of machines. Many machines are overwhelmingly misused in health clubs. Lat pull down, seated cable rowing and multi-hip machines being the most commonly abused.

Furthermore, many machines often force the user into improper form by virtue of inherent design flaws. It is very difficult to design a machine that will provide proper biomechanics for all individuals. This is a disadvantage that free weights do not have. Furthermore, the fact that machines are far more complex than a dumbbell results in increased opportunity for accidents.

Consider the case of professional wrestler Sean Morley (aka "The Big Valbowski"). WWE writer, Phil Speer (, recently documented a training accident in which Sean Morley was doing seated cable when the machine tipped over on the wrestler, causing him to miss several weeks of work as a result. This may seem like a "freak accident", but chances are if anyone used that particular machine in the same fashion and with the same weight, it will happen again regardless of "proper form".

Machines Are Better In Isolating Certain Muscles. While this is often listed as a positive attribute of free weights, there are some arguments suggesting this makes machines somehow safer to use. The belief is that fewer muscle groups are used and you don't have to balance the weight. This may make the exercise easier - and yes, simple tasks can be safer then complex tasks - but if the overall goal is a stronger, more fit body it is detrimental. If you are using a leg press machine to protect your lower back (even if it is properly designed to do so) the lack of development of the lower back will become your weak link.
Free Weight Exercises Require A Spotter. First, the vast majority of free weight exercises do not require a spotter. Those that do, such as the bench press or squat, do indeed require one. Not having a spotter is potentially dangerous; however it does not make the exercise in itself dangerous. Furthermore, there are equipment companies like SportStrength that manufacture racks and benches with built in spotters.
Is there anything else that makes free weight exercises more dangerous then machines? Elaine Zablocki quoted Chester S. Jones, PhD in WebMD Medical News ( regarding injury rates amongst weight trainers:
"In a review of data from U.S. emergency rooms, he found injuries from weight-training activities and equipment have increased 35% over a 20-year period. The hand was injured most often, followed by the upper trunk, head, lower trunk, and foot."

Note that this includes both free weights and equipment. The point that should be focused on is that the hand, head and foot are among the leading injuries. Perhaps it is possible to strain or tear a muscle or tendon in your hand and foot, but the majority of these injuries were most likely caused by carelessness. Smashing your fingers while putting away free weights or dropping them on your head or foot can happen. However, don't blame the iron dumbbell! Blame the "dumbbell" who lost their concentration! Besides, far more injuries from carelessness occur on machines than free weights.

So, the decision to use free weights or machines will always exist, and many will still debate the relative benefits and safety of each. However, the belief that machines are safer should be carefully re-examined.

Frederick Hatfield II, M.S.

Restoration and Regeneration

Restoration and Regeneration as Essential Components within Training ProgramsFrom
By Angie Calder, B.A., M.A. (Hons), B. Appl. Sci. Sp.
Recovery sessions are rarely incorporated into sports specific training programs, except in Eastern Bloc countries. Yet the benefits of structured recovery periods are well documented both in terms of improved performances and decreased injury rates. Coaches and athletes alike need to be more aware of the importance of restoration and regeneration following heavy workloads, and of how to use the modalities available to facilitate recovery.

Feigley, 1984, Yessis 1986, Crampton and Fox, 1988, Kulpers and Kelzer, 1988. Some of the above can be experienced following heavy and intense workloads even though a classic overtrained state has not been reached.

The desire to provide peak physical and psychological performances during competition necessitates rigorous preparation involving intense and stressful training. Adaptations to heavy workloads are dependent upon the athlete’s physical and emotional ability to cope with increased work volumes and intensities. The overload threshold required for optimal improvement without the corresponding problems associated with overtraining is difficult for coaches to gauge. Individual athletes within the same sport can respond differently to the same training loads and preliminary symptoms warning of imminent overtraining are elusive. However, once that state has been reached there are several distinctive physical and psychological markers evident (Table 1).

Unfortunately the effects of overtraining can negate months of hard work and detract from the athletes’ full potential. In many situations overtraining leads to ‘staleness", then ‘burnout’ or injury, or both. These require lengthy and often expensive rehabilitatory process for athletes, team and coach. To overcome this problem many Eastern Bloc countries sustain maximal workloads and intensities with minimal detrimental effects by structuring recovery sessions within training regimens (Kopysov et al. 1982; Matusezewski, 1985). The range and scheduling of recovery modalities is extensive and tailored to suit the requirements of individual athletes and their respective sports (Zalesky, 1982). The systematic inclusion of recovery sessions reduces overtraining problems and injuries and also appears to significantly increase performance by enabling the athlete to cope with greater workloads (Talyshev, 1980; Birukov and Pogosyan, 1983; Zhang et al, 1987).


Recovery is a generic term used specifically with reference to the restoration of parameters in either or both physiological and psychological states that have been excessively stressed or altered during a particular activity. These states contain variables or markers which can be measured objectively (Yessis, 1982:38).

Restoration refers to returning physiological markers to normal levels whereas regeneration refers to the recovery of psychological traits particularly associated with mood states. Rehabilitation refers to recovery from injury or illnesses which are often the result of overtraining. Physiological and psychological recovery are both equally important and excessively stressed athletes may exhibit symptoms or signs indicative of overtraining, in both states (Table 1). Some of the signs and symptoms shown in Table 1 can be experienced following heavy and intense workloads even though a classic overtrained state has not been reached.


Recovery methods fall into four major categories:
(1) Work/rest ratios, including light active recovery
(2) Nutrition
(3) Physical Therapy
(4) Psycho-Regulatory Training (PRT)

Restoration and regenerative programs followed by Eastern Bloc countries employ all of these procedures in varying proportions depending on training workloads, the demands of the sport, and the individual needs of the athlete (Sports (eds) 1986: Fox, 1986:9). Zalessky, also notes that the type and amount of restoration employed depends on the extent of the athlete’s state of fatigue (1984:53).


Work/rest ratios vary both within and between work sessions. Successful schedules for specific sports are well documented from the West as well as the Soviet Bloc. The body requires recuperative time to allow for adaptive processes to occur and promote anabolic activity such as strength gains. Consequently rest periods need to be programmed into training schedules, but these vary depending on the requirements of the sport and intensity of the workload.
For example, prescribed rest days for jumpers and throwers differ despite the fact that both are explosive anaerobic sports (Bakarinov and Zalessky, 1982).

Although most track and field athletes have one passive rest day per week, workloads vary both within daily sessions and between training phases. For example, the training volumes and intensity between the preparatory phase and the competitive phase differ. A high compensatory effect is achieved in the preparatory period via three consecutive weeks of increasing workloads, followed by a fourth week with significantly lighter training.

During the competitive period the lighter training loads extend over two weeks. Alternating training loads between sessions and incorporating active rest periods is designed to produce an undulating ‘wave like’ growth curve. Peaks and troughs correspond to workloads (volume and intensity) and rest.

Daily programs for track and field athletes usually begin with lighter morning sessions which have a preparatory role before the heavier main sessions during the middle of the day. Evening workouts are lighter and designed to restore the functional capabilities of the athlete.

Cross training activities can be used as a form of active rest, especially during the competitive phase. This can help switch the psychological direction of the athlete to rest better from the specialized event and help to restore the functional capabilities of the central nervous system.

Similarly nutrition and the dietary requirements for sporting events require careful programming. The body requires food not only for energy but also for anabolic and reparative processes. The link between overtraining and a depressed immune state is also an area of recovery being addressed through nutrition (Telford, 1990). A poor or inadequate diet can lead to fatigue, irritability, and sometimes to eating disorders such as anorexia.

Training and competitive diets will vary according to the type of activity being undertaken. Adequate intakes of complex carbohydrates are essential for all athletes, but especially crucial for events lasting over one hour. Carbohydrate loading or ‘super-compensation’ practices are designed to maximize the storage of glycogen and prevent the early onset of fatigue. Rehydration can also prevent fatigue and assist athletes to sustain the intensity of a training session.

All athletes require a well balanced diet containing the essential macronutrients of meat, fish, dairy products, fruit and vegetables, cereals and bread. Protein is especially important for muscle regeneration and the prevention of exercise-related anemia. In particular, athletes involved in anaerobic activities require additional dietary protein to facilitate training adaptation and recovery.

The interplay between the immune system, white cell production, the production of free radicals and those athletes involved in continual heavy oxidative metabolic activities, is complex. Antioxidants such as vitamins E, A and C provide protection against the action of free radicals, and dietary supplementation of these vitamins may assist athletes in maintaining heavy training loads.

Similarly, minerals are important for muscle regeneration. Muscle cell damage can result from strenuous training or alter the balance of sodium, potassium and magnesium within cells leading to chronic fatigue and tiredness. Extra intake of minerals and trace elements may be necessary to assist recovery, but synthetic supplementation may not be as effective as increased dietary sources, due to the reactivity of some elements and metals with other foodstuffs in the gut.
Special attention is required for food intake pre and post training, and during competition, to maximize energy stores, minimize fatigue and to assist with tissue regeneration.

The most commonly used modalities relate to a wide range of physical therapies available. Water therapies include a variety of spa, float tanks, baths, (contrasting temperatures, ionizing, and aromatic), hydromassage, whirlpools, Sharko showers and floating stream showers. Sauna (dry baths) are frequently used with specific regimens developed for different sports and workloads, and decompression chambers (baromassage) are used in the Soviet Union for extremely fatigued muscles. Eastern European countries also use a wide variety of electrotherapeutic procedures for restoration whereas many of these are largely restricted to rehabilitatory roles in the West. Ultra high frequency modalities, magnetic field generators, interferential and ultra sound are some of those most frequently employed.


The most common and frequently used restorative modality for both East and West alike is massage. This is relatively inexpensive and can provide for both restorative and regenerative recovery, plus give the individual athlete specific feedback about the physical state of specific body parts.

There are five basic terms describing different massage maneuvers, vibration (shaking), tapotement (percussion), petrisage (kneading), effleurage (stroking) and friction (small range intensive stroking). (Yessis, 1986; Kresge, 1988.)

Sports massage uses different combinations of these techniques and, relative to training times, is regarded by many authors as the most effective means of recovery. Apart from massage sessions for rehabilitative reasons, treatments are administered during three phases:
(a) Within the training phases where massage is given during the work sessions to help accommodate for high training loads and to increase the athlete’s training potential. (Zhang et al. 1987).
(b) Preparatory massage given as part of a warm-up phase, some 15-20 minutes before competition. This can either relax an overstimulated athlete or arouse an apathetic one.
(c) Restorative massage is given in the post-training or post-competitive phase. This procedure is regarded as being at least two or three times more effective for recovery than passive rest. (Birukov and Pogosyan, 1983). These treatments facilitate recovery from the effects of fatigue, the reduction of muscle tension and a lowering of stress levels.

The timing and frequency of restorative treatments is dependent on the type of activity, intensity and individual athlete (Kopysov et al, 1982). When heavy workloads are undertaken most authorities recommend restorative massage 2-6 hours following the completion of training (Yessis, 1982). Frequency of treatments varies from 1-2 per week to three times per day. This variability relates to the sport undertaken, intensity of the recovery program and the availability of a masseur.

The duration of each treatment also varies according to the amount of body surface to be massaged. Whole body or general massage requires more time than a localized treatment concentrating on a specific area or body part. Some authors also adjust treatment times according to the athlete’s weight (Matusezewski, 1985). Whole body massage lasts from 40-90 minutes while localized procedures range from 10-30 minutes. The general restorative effects of massage have been summarized by Ylinen and Cash (1988).

Although a few studies have considered the psychological effects of massage, the physiological benefits have been examined in more detail (Wakim 1981). The mechanical effects of massage have often been considered in relation to physiological responses.

The squeezing, stroking, compressive and pushing components of manual manipulation facilitate drainage of venous blood and lymph. Venous and lymph back-flow is inhibited by valves, consequently altered vascular pressure due to massage facilitates blood flow. Lymph vessels are affected in the same way.

Mobilization of tissues occurs as they are moved on one another. Manipulations cause slight stretch thus maintaining elasticity and regaining mobility where tissues have adhered within themselves or to adjacent tissues. This mobilizing effect is enhanced by improved blood supply which causes increased warmth of the body part.

Massage as part of a warm-up regimen facilitates preparation for the sporting event but is not as effective alone as a combined active warm-up with stretching and some massage. Massage is also an effective adjunct for assisting flexibility, but it should not replace stretching schedules programmed for warming up or recovery.

In the Eastern Bloc and Asian nations, accupressure and acupuncture complement massage as a recovery modality. Accupressure and acupuncture are concerned with balancing energy fields via specific points located on 14 meridians which pass through the body. Acupuncture points have a lower cutaneous electrical resistance than adjacent areas and these can be measured and evaluated. Stimulation of specific points are claimed to influence oxygen uptake, respiration, the immune system and biochemical activities including the uptake of glucose, phosphocreatine, cholinesterase, hydroxytryptamine and acetylcholine (Wong 1983).


(PRT)Psycho-Regulatory Training refers to a number of processes generally used to aid an athlete’s emotional and psychological state following stress. Relaxation techniques, autogenic training, breathing exercises, musical and light influences, psycho-regulatory training, relaxation massage and flotation are the most frequently used modalities.

Although passive rest is an important component of recovery, the time spent during passive rest can be used to incorporate one of several PRT procedures. Meditation trains the athlete to develop the amplitude and regularity of alpha brain waves in order to produce relaxation. In turn this generates an integrated reflex mediated by the CNS which works in opposition to the flight or fight response. Meditation results in a hypometabolic state, with lowered BP, HR and decreased blood flow, indicating a calming of the sympathetic NS. This can be used to counter the stress of training or competition which can cause over arousal of the sympathetic NS (Wallace and Benson 1972).

Progressive muscle relaxation (PMR) and positive cognitive intervention are both components of psycho-regulatory training. PMR is a somatic relaxation treatment which uses both active and passive components of attention. The consequent reduction in muscle tension improves the athlete’s reaction profile and when used in the daily training program can lead to significant improvement in training and competitive abilities (Litschka-Schimpf et al. 1988).
Relaxation massages and flotation assists with muscle relaxation and result in lower HR, BP and improved mood states. These modalities are often used once or twice a week each (Yessis 1986). Modalities such as PMR, PRT, meditation and the use of music can be used daily in conjunction with training sessions.


The four major recovery areas offer a great deal of scope for designing a recovery regimen specific to the physiological and psychological needs of each athlete. Not withstanding this fact, these recovery sessions should be regarded as additional to the proper normal training procedures involved within each session. An appropriate warm-up and cool-down regimen should include locomotor activity and stretching routines suited to the preparatory or recovery section of the session.

All athletes should be encouraged to stretch in a warm environment wherever possible. Spas, saunas and showers are ideal places to stretch and self massage can be used by athletes. A regular sleeping pattern and sound diet are also essential components of a well balanced training program. For an athlete to maintain demanding workloads without either a loss of performance or increasing the risk of injury, a structured recovery program within the training regimen is essential.

Bahrinov Yu. and Zalessky M. (1982) ‘Restoration in thrower, Soviet Sports Review, Vol.17, pp. 162-164. (translated from Legkaya Atletika, Vol 6, pp. 12-13, 1981). /

Birukov A.A, and Pogosyan M.M. (1983) ‘Special means of restoration of work capacity of wrestlers in the periods between competitive bouts, (Condensed), Teorlya I Praktika Fizicheskoi Kultury, Vol. 8, pp 21-24. /

Bompa, T. (1987) "Periodisation as a key element of training, Sports Coach, April-June, 20-23. /
Crampton J. and Fox J. (1987) ‘Regeneration vs burnout. Prevention is better than cure, Sports Coach, Vol. 1 0, No. 4, pp. 7-1 0. /

Feigley D.A. (1984) ‘Psychological burnout in high-level athletes, The Physician and Sportsmedicine, Vol. 12, No. 10, pp. 109-119. /

Fleck S.J. (1988) ‘Signs and symptoms of overtraining in the anaerobic sport of Judo, in Overtraining and Recovery, Australian Coaching Council Conference Papers, Canberra, pp. 2.18-2.31. /

Fox J. (1986) ‘The effect of the intentional usage of various forms of regenerative procedures on mood state in Australian athletes, A graduating paper presented to the F.I.T. Research Committee in fulfillment for Graduating, Footscray Institute of Technology, Victoria. /

Kipysov V.S., Poletayev P.A. and Prilepin A.S. (1982) ‘The distribution of training loads and means of restoration in the preparation of weightlifters, Soviet Sports Review, Vol 17, pp. 49-52. (Translated from Tyazhelaya Atletika, Vol. 10, pp. 20-23, 1981). /

Kresge C.A. (1988) ‘Massage and sport, in sports medicine: fitness, training, injuries’, 0. Appenzeller (ed.), 3rd edition, Urbane and Schwarzenberg, Baltimore, pp. 419-431.
Kuipers H. and Keizer H.A. (1988) ‘Overtraining in elite athletes, Sports Medicine, Vol. 6, pp. 79-92 /

Litske-Schimpf G.G., Manz A., Schimpf M., Weib H., Eberspacher and Weicker H. (1988) ‘Influence of different experimental recreational treatments on sympathoadvenergic and metabolic regulation mechanisms in repeated exercises’, lnt. J. Sports.Med. 9:14 6-150. /

Sports (eds) (1986) ‘Regeneration alternatives in high performance spot, Sports Science Periodical on Research and Technology in Sport, Physical Training W-1. (Adapted from Das, "Betreuungs system in Modern Hockleitungssport’ from Deutscher Sportbund: Bundesausschuss Leistungussport). /

Talyshev F. (1980) ‘Recovery’, Soviet Sports Review, Vol.15, No. 3. (Translated from Legkaya Atleitika, Vol 6, pp. 25, 1977.) /

Telford R.D. (1990) ‘Regeneration - a nutritional perspective’, Excel, Vol. 6, No. 2, pp. 25. /

Wakim K.G. (1981) ‘Physiologic effects of massage, in Manipulation, Traction and Massage, J.V. Basmajian (ed), 3rd edition, Williams and Wilkins, Baltimore, pp. 256-269. /

Wallace R, and Benson H. (1972) ‘The physiology of meditation, Scientific American Feb 1 2 5 -1 31. /

Wong B. (1983) Meridan Research Abroad, People Health Publishers, China: 374-408. /

Yessis M. (1982) ‘Restoration: or increasing the ability to do more voluminous and higher intensity workouts, Nat. Strength and Conditioning Journal, June-July, pp. 38-41. /
Yessis M. (1986) ‘Recovery Part One, Sports Science Periodical on Research and Technology in Sport, July 1986, General W-1. /

Ylinen, Jarl and Cash, Mel (1988) ‘Sports massage, Stanley Paul, London. /

Zalessky M. (1982) ‘Restoration for jumpers’, Soviet Sports Review. Vol. 17, pp. 1-6. (Translated from Legkaya Atletika, Vol. 11, 20-23, 1980). / Zalessky M. (1984) ‘Restoration in the sprint and hurdles, Soviet Sports Review, Vol. 17, pp. 105-107. (Translated from Legkaya Atietika, Vol. 4, pp. 6-7, 1981). /

Zhang Z.B., Carter R.M., Minikin B.R. and Telford R.D. (1987) ‘The influence of repeated massage on leg strength, paper held at the Australian Institute of Sport, Canberra.

Heat Acclimatization

Heat Acclimatization
By Lawrence E. Armstrong, Ph.D.
From Armstrong, L.E. (1998). Heat acclimatization. In: Encyclopedia of Sports Medicine and
Science, T.D.Fahey (Editor). Internet Society for Sport Science: 10 March

Subsequent to repeated bouts of exercise in a hot environment, there is a marked improvement in the physiologic responses of healthy humans. This improved tolerance to exercise in heat is known as heat acclimatization. When accomplished in an artificially controlled environmental chamber, this process is known as heat acclimation. The primary benefit of heat acclimatization is improved tolerance of exercise in the heat, evident as a reduction of the incidence or severity of symptoms of heat illness, and increased work output concurrent with reduced cardiovascular, thermal, and metabolic strain.

Physiological Responses
Heat acclimatization is specific to the stress imposed on the human body. For example, passive exposure to heat induces some responses, notably an improved ability to dissipate heat. In contrast, physical training in a cool-dry environment results in metabolic, biochemical, hematologic, and cardiovascular adaptations. Heat acclimatization via strenuous exercise induces responses attributed to both passive heat exposure and training in cool environments. Table 1 illustrates these relationships.

Complete heat acclimatization requires up to 14 days, but the systems of the body adapt to heat exposure at varying rates. The early adaptations (initial 1-5 days) involve an improved control of cardiovascular function, including expanded plasma volume, reduced heart rate, and autonomic nervous system habituation which redirects cardiac output to skin capillary beds and active muscle. Plasma volume expansion resulting from increased plasma proteins and increased sodium chloride
retention, ranges from +3 to +27%, and is accompanied by a 15-25% decrease in heart rate. This reduction of cardiovascular strain reduces rating of perceived exertion, which is proportional to central cardiorespiratory stress, also decreases during the first five days of exercise-heat exposure. Plasma volume expansion is a temporary phenomenon, which decays during the 8th to 14th days of heat acclimatization (as do fluid-regulatory hormone responses, see below), and then is replaced by a longer lasting reduction in skin blood flow that serves to increase central blood volume.

The regulation of body temperature during exercise in the heat is critical, because of the great potential for lethal hyperthermia. Thermoregulatory adaptations (i.e., increased sweat rate, earlier onset of sweat production), coupled with cardiovascular adjustments, result in a decreased central body temperature. This response is maximized after 5 to 8 days of heat acclimatization. However, the adaptations of eccrine sweat glands are different during humid and dry heat exposures. Heat acclimatization performed in a hot-humid condition stimulates a greater sweat rate than heat acclimatization in a hot-dry environment. Also, the absolute rate of sweating influences thermoregulation. If hourly sweat rate is small (<400-600>45 yr) were shown to have higher heart rates, higher rectal temperatures, and lower sweat rates than young men, during exercise in the heat, both before and during exercise in the heat, both before and after heat acclimatization. Similarly, studies conducted in the late 1960s suggested that women were less tolerant of exercise in a hot environment than men.

However, recent research has qualified and/or reversed these viewpoints. It is now recognized that few gender-related differences exist, when female and male subjects are matched for pertinent physical and morphological characteristics. It is also recognized that differences between older and younger subjects are not necessarily due to aging per se, but may be due to other factors such as decreased training volume and lower maximal aerobic power (VO2max)

Most experts agree that intense physical training in a cool environment improves physiologic responses and speeds the process of heat acclimatization. During training in cool conditions, optimal physiologic adaptations may be achieved if strenuous interval training or continuous exercise, at an intensity above 50% of VO2max, is performed for 8-12 weeks. Maintenance of an elevated core body temperature appears to be the most important physiologic stimulus.

Irrespective of physical training, VO2max generally influences physiologic responses during the development of heat acclimatization. Individuals with a high VO2max (>60 exhibit superior heart rate and rectal temperature responses, and usually reach a stable heat acclimatization state faster, when compared to those with a low VO2max (<40>

Armstrong, L E and C M Maresh. The induction and decay of heat acclimatization in trained athletes. Sports Med. 12: 302-312, 1991.

Armstrong, L E and K B Pandolf. Physical training, cardiorespiratory physical fitness, and exercise - heat tolerance. In: Human Performance Physiology and Environmental Medicine at Terrestrial Extremes, K.B. Pandolf, M.N. Sawka, and R.R. Gonzalez (Eds.). Indianapolis: Benchmark Press, 1988, pp. 199-226

Francesconi, R P, L E Armstrong, N M Leva, R J Moore, P C Szlyk, W T Matthew, W C Curtis, R W Hubbard, and E W Askew. Endocrinological responses to dietary salt restriction during heat acclimation. In: Nutritional Needs in Hot Environments, B.M. Marriott (Ed.). Washington, D.C.: National Academy Press, 1993, pp. 259-276.

Greenleaf, J E and C J Greenleaf. Human acclimation and acclimatization to heat: A compendium of Research. Moffett Field, CA: Ames Research Center, Technical Memorandum no. TM X-62008, 1970, pp. 1-188.

Hubbard, R W and L E Armstrong. The heat illnesses: biochemical, ultrastructural, and fluidelectrolyte considerations. In: Human Performance Physiology and Environmental Medicine at Terrestrial Extremes, K.B. Pandolf, M.N. Sawka, and R.R. Gonzalez (Eds.). Indianapolis: Benchmark Press, 1988, pp. 305-359.

Pandolf, K B, B S Cadarette, M N Sawka, A J Young, R P Francesconi, and R R Gonzalez. Thermoregulatory responses of matched middle-aged and young men during dry-heat acclimation. J. Appl. Physiol. 65: 65-71, 1988.

Sawka, M N, C B Wenger, A J Young, and K B Pandolf. Physiological responses to exercise in the heat. In: Nutritional Needs in Hot Environments, B.M. Marriott (Ed.). Washington, D.C.: National Academy Press, 1993, pp. 55-74.

Sciaraffa, D, S C Fox, R Stockmann, and J E Greenleaf. Human acclimation and acclimatization to heat: a compendium of research, 1968-1978. Moffett Field, CA: Ames Research Center, National Aeronautics and Space Administration Technical Memorandum no. 81181, 1981, pp. 1-102..

Wenger, C B Human heat acclimatization. In: Human Performance Physiology and Environmental Medicine at Terrestrial Extremes, K.B. Pandolf, M.N. Sawka, and R.R. Gonzalez (Eds.). Indianapolis Benchmark Press, 1988, pp. 153-198.

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Rene Mijnders - FISA Coach in the Spotlight

Coach in the Spotlight
Rene Mijnders
NED Head Coach
FISA Coaches Conference, Budapest, Hungary 7- 11 November 2007

Good morning, it’s an honour to be in the spotlight here, and whether I like it or not I am here. I always find it interesting to hear other coach’s talk about their views and their experiences so I hope this goes for you too. I'm sure that there are many coaches in his room that deserve to be in the spotlight more than I, but still we can’t change that now.

So what will I talk about? First I will tell you something about my personal development, so how did I become the coach that I am today. Of course I will highlight the experiences of coaching Dutch crews and also the Swiss of course so Ill mention that. Then I'll talk a little bit, my view of the development over the years of Dutch rowing. And finally Ill give you my view of where the future of international rowing will take us.

So let me start and tell you how I got involved in rowing. I'm involved for about 35 years now; I started as a rower in 1972. And that’s a long time, it makes you wonder is it worth it? And is it still worth it? How important is rowing anyway? Could it have been something else? Maybe something in business or maybe something in music or in science? Yes it could have been, but its not and maybe it not the rowing that’s important but the excitement that comes with it, the challenge you face, the joy of joy of working with highly motivated people, people who want to get the most out of themselves, who want to achieve something special, something outstanding. For whatever reason I still like it a lot.

I got involved in rowing after high school when I went to study physics in Utrecht and at the start of the first semester the sport clubs they organise all sorts of activities to attract new members. And one of the sports was rowing. So I went, and kind of liked the atmosphere and who ever pitched up could enter the single, you could take a single and try to row it. So I thought why not, went in and got pushed off and flipped over of course. So went in again, flipped over again, and again, and again and again. So this was more difficult than I thought. So I came out of the water all wet and then this other guy approached, and there was clearly something wrong with this guy. He was walking with the two sticks and it was very difficult and he could barely walk. It appeared that he had muscular dystrophy and so he needed help to get into the boat and then he was pushed off then off he went, in a straight line, perfectly balanced and I thought “um I want to learn this too”. So I become a member and after about six weeks at the club there was this championship for freshman and I entered the single. I must tell you that I practiced quite a lot and I was pretty confident and indeed it went quite well. I reached the final, it was this one vs. one knockout system and in the final I took an early lead and I managed to keep it maybe half a length or so and then with about ten strokes to go I flipped over. One month later at the first national championship, first national regatta I lost my seat. Rowing was definitely my sport.

Before I knew it I was training eight times per week or more and forgot I was a student as well. I rowed for the next 12 years. I went twice to the world championships in the coxed four. That was in 82 and 83 in Lucerne and Duisburg and our crew was hiding somewhere in final B. Untapped potential. So after that highlight I started coaching at my club back in 84. By that time I had become a physiotherapist and knew a little bit about the human body and how it moved. Apart from that I was very interested in the physiology of rowing and the biomechanics of it. I read a lot of books and articles on the subject and I visited this conference, the FISA Coaching Conference for the first time in Cologne and at that conference Volker Nolte presented the principle of the hydrodynamic lift. He had taken a video from a bridge, from above of a crew and he clearly showed that right after the entry the blade would still be travelling in the direction of the boat, and not in the opposite direction as you might suspect by pushing against the water. And he also showed that in the initial stage the boat already got accelerated, or better the system of rower or boat. So you could accelerate the boat with the boat moving in the same direction as the boat itself. You see, I knew it! Long arcs are effective. I finally understood why.

I wrote some articles about this and some other ideas I had about rowing in the rowing magazine and before I knew it I was chief of Dutch rowing. My job was to coach the coaches and structure the national team. The federation at the time didn’t have any structure at all and there where no professional coaches either. Coaches were all volunteers and nobody cooperated with nobody. Success was a coincidence. So it was an easy start, it was not difficult to make things better. But I was rather young and inexperienced as a coach. I had to learn a lot, I still do. I guess with most of us if we look back we find that we are a better coach today than we are five years ago or ten years ago.

I was inexperienced but did have some strong ideas about how to row. Let’s say I had a concept, I had a model. Not a perfect one but at least I had one. And to spread my ideas I organised central training at the Bosbaan, our national centre. A lot of rowers and coaches from clubs were invited and we took videos of all the rowers and I did the analysis. So all the people in one room and one by one video after video. Of course I wanted them to row my way, I wanted to push them into my model. The only truth. I wasn’t too political those days. Some people are still mad at me. I would look at the video for a few seconds and then stop it and then say “It’s obvious what’s wrong here” and then I would give a few comments to show that this rower was really crap and then I would switch to the next video. Some rowers left the room crying which I didn’t notice of course because I was already burning the next guy down. In those days Thor Nielson was already a legend. He was head coach of Italy at the time and in 1984 in my first year of coaching I went with the four to Pediluco to training camp. So it was my first year. At Pediluco we took video and Thor did the analysis. The first thing he said was ‘it’s not bad, I see a lot of good things here but…” and then he gave the whole shit. So at least we didn’t leave the room crying. If I look back I was quite rigid at the time and my social skills needed some attention. But we learn, we change, we improve, and sometimes we forget.

I remember at the training camp in 1996 we were with the Dutch eight, the Holland Acht, who won the Olympics afterwards and to our standard we trained very hard, high volume and also some intensity. One of the training sessions we did we did ten minute pieces at stroke rate 28 competitive in pairs. Now Niko Rinks, strokeman of the eight, he always was looking for competition. He liked it but he also had these little tricks to beat the other guys. So he would start a little bit ahead or rate a little bit higher, and again this time as soon as I said go he took off at 34, leaving everyone far behind off course. So I got mad and told him after the piece that he should stick to the program and keep the rate down just like the others. Now he blew his top and shouted at me that I never gave him any approval for the fact that he was working so hard or all the effort he was making. I was surprised, I was stunned. Here was the big Nico Rinks, stroke of the eight and former Olympic Champion, later on winner of the Tommie Keller award and he needed my approval. It made me realise again how sensitive people really are.

Not long after that I met Timothy Galway. He is the writer of The Inner Game…the Inner Game of Golf, Tennis, Work, Music and quite successful with it. And Timothy he gave a clinic and taught us how he used to teach tennis. So like me he had a concept of how you should play the game, so what a good top spin forehand should look like and what a good backhand should look like. So he had this model in his head and he would give instructions to get the player into this model. Not like this…like that. He didn’t have too much success with it, and then one day he realised that people don’t fit into the model. That opened my eyes. Did the rowers fit my model and if not how could I help them to get better. So after that insight of Galway he developed a new method of coaching and the TV documentary, I think it was NBC, there was a documentary made about his methods. And so what they did, they picked a really fat woman from the street, and it was very obvious that she didn’t move too much all her life, and Timothy Galway he had to teach her tennis in just half an hour. So they started each at one side of the net and all he did was play the ball to her forehand. He said nothing about how to hold the racquet or how to move the feet. All she had to do wads to play the ball back and to say “bounce” when it hit the ground and say “hit” when she hit it. He asked her to focus on the rhythm; tennis was like music, bounce-hit, bounce-hit. It was amazing how fats her play improved. After about five minutes of playing the ball to her forehand and he kept playing the balls he said ‘let’s try the other side”. And he played it to her backhand and she hit it perfectly. Watching that video changed quite a lot of my coaching. Of course I still had my model but I tried to figure out more why the rowers move the way they do and how I really can help them to get better. So let’s say I became more open-minded.

So in those days I began to look at other countries in the world and tried to figure out what was good about it. It was clearly different but what were the good things. A good way to learn is to bring people from outside into your system. And in 1994 the Dutch federation hired Kris Korzeniowski. Kris had some pretty strong ideas about rowing, and some were clearly different than ours. He used much more competitive outings and a lot of power training in the boat. We on the other hand were looking for more the efficiency of rowing, fluent motions, the run of the boat, relaxed motions, and so this didn’t match very well with power strokes. So Kris and I had very long discussions. We sat down for hours and hours, but we both learned and we adapted. We didn’t copy, we adapted. I learned and put it into practice for the next three years with the Dutch eight and I think they did well.

Over the years I also learned to trust my intuition more. It’s my intuition that tells me when training has been enough or when to push them a little bit harder, when to listen to our physiologists or not, or how much time we spend on innovation, or focus on the basic training process. Intuition is the combining of your experience and knowledge in life. It develops. In the beginning you can’t rely on it because you haven’t got it, but as you grow older it becomes a pretty strong instrument. And if I forget to listen to my intuition there is still the experience of the athletes. Sometimes they know better than you.

In 1996 with the same men’s eight we were in a training camp in Seville and training quite hard ad of course they got tired. And they were fed up every now and then. On the one occasion the guys were already on the water and I had some problems getting the motorboat started. It took me about ten minutes. So finally I got the engine running and I was driving full seed to catch up with the guys. I went over the whole course which from the club to the end is about 8 kilometres in Seville, but I couldn’t find them. I didn’t know where they were I just couldn’t find them. And so I drove back to the boathouse and shortly before I got back I heard a little whistle and there they were sitting on the terrace having cappuccinos and eating ice cream and waving at me. They were tired and they were fed up. I gave them the rest of the day off. So I guess we all go through such experiences don’t we.

So we can learn from bringing people from outside into your system, like we did with Kris Korzionowski, but another way to learn is to get out of the system yourself. Coach in a different environment. I had a few opportunities to coach abroad. In 2005 and 2006 I was head coach of Switzerland. So let me focus a little bit on that. After the Olympics in Athens I was offered this job of becoming the head coach and the offer was very tempting of course, you don’t get them every day. The training centre is located in Sarnen which has a beautiful lake, which can be a little bit cold in winter. At the time I got the offer I just got married, took me almost 50 years, and we had bought a nice house near Utrecht, half an hour from Amsterdam. So I explained my situation to the Swiss and said that the only way to do the job was to commute between Holland and Switzerland. And they agreed. So of course I asked a little bit of what to expect. And the one thing there didn’t seem to be too many rowers, but no one could tell me exactly how many rowers we did have. Also the federation couldn’t tell me. Well it can’t be that bad I though but when I started to look around I didn’t see much indeed. So to find out how many rowers there were we did a little research. It wasn’t too difficult because if you want to participate at races at any level in Switzerland you need a licence, so you just count the number of licences. And this is the result.

For Women:

And we see the same figure for Men:

In red you see the number of new licences that year. So what you see is that after junior age, after 17, so there is a peak of 15, 16 and 17 year olds and afterwards it already goes down. And red is gone so after the junior age no new licences, no new members in Switzerland. So at senior level there is almost no one. So there is no structure, there is nothing there for seniors. The clubs aren’t interested and there is hardly competition at national level. So to repair this of course you have to take a lot of measures, but I won’t worry you with that. But what I did of course was to look around and start to find athletes. The first year wasn’t very promising. I was at the Rotsee in 2005 and Bent Jensen the coach of Denmark at the time came to me and asked me how I liked it in Switzerland. I told him I enjoyed it a lot only I didn’t see too much talent. He said “I know what you mean; you can’t make a race horse out of a pig”. Then he thought a little bit and said, “You can make it a fast pig”.

In Gifu we had a men’s double, a men’s straight four, and two lightweight scullers, lightweight women and lightweight men. The singles did ok but the double and the four were disappointing. At the U23’sin Amsterdam that year we did a little bit better and we had four crews in the final. So that gave a little bit of hope. But we needed to attract more rowers. So after Gifu the idea of the eight came out. I think it was Alexander (??) who came up with the idea first. We wanted to use the eight as a vehicle to get things started. The eight can be a vehicle to build things up. Some rowers think that “well if he can make it to the eight then I can”. But with whom to start, we didn’t have eight rowers. So I asked Alexander and he said “well maybe I can ask this guy, I know another guy, he quit but maybe he will start again, and we can ask him”. And so that is how the eight got started. And of course there was a lot of scepticism, from the clubs mainly. And of course this all disappeared when the eight came fourth at the World Cup regatta in Lucerne that year. In Munich this year they came a little bit short to qualify directly for Beijing but I still think that they have a very good chance next year. Anyway it would be a he stimulus for Swiss rowing.

So what else did I notice in Switzerland. I already mentioned that there are very few senior rowers. Four languages and many tunnels. I said this because there are also 26 regions and they are very independent. And I mentioned the tunnels because in Switzerland if you drive through a tunnel, it’s like driving to a different country. So as a result there is not too much cooperation. And you have to work very hard to get everybody to work together. The Swiss are good at organising, and they like it, everything is organised. I'll give you an example, at the training centre in Sarnen, they introduced when I left, and they introduced a new system for the collection of garbage. The principle is that the more waste you have or produce the more you pay. The system is very sophisticated. Each individual is offered several options, you can pay by volume for instance, or you can pay by weight. You want to pay by volume, you buy special bags, and these are the only ones you can put on the street. If you want to pay by weight you collect your garbage in a container, and the container is put on the scale. To save money people started to throw their garbage in the container of their neighbours. No really, that’s what happened. So now you will find every container in Sarnen securely locked. So if you have some waste there is nowhere you can throw it anymore. So now if you still want to save money you have to dump your garbage in the river or the forest. Well at least it’s organised. But on the other hand it doesn’t make them too flexible. So if you want to use the Rotsee for your trials you better start making requests one year ahead and it will take you a huge effort.

So what des it look like for the athletes in Switzerland. There is very little support from the Olympic Committee. I think that Holland is a little bit average but when you come to a country like Switzerland you realise that it can be a lot worse. And if you want to train in Sarnen you will have to bring your own boat. But the individuals are prepared to train. And I must say more than the Dutch. The Dutch they train rather smart than hard. But the Swiss they don’t complain, they just do the work. So I had a good time in Switzerland and I enjoyed working with the athletes and the coaches. And I still would have been there if I didn’t get a lovely daughter almost one year ago.

When I came back to Holland quite a few things had changed. What used to be the grandstand at the Bosbaan was now a well equipped training centre. It has offices, restroom for the athletes and an excellent weight room. Weight training, and this is the subject later on, is now in the hands of an expert. You can invite him next time I think. Training is very sophisticated so when I came back I looked at the program, and I studied it but I didn’t understand it. I couldn’t read it. Exercises are very complicated. So I slowly found out this was a different program. It was more a neuromuscular stimulus, more to do with the recruitment of the fibres, coordination and stability. And so it’s not so much a metabolic program, it’s not so much a build up program for the muscle itself. But I think the athletes benefit from it, and it’s a step forward. But the training is different and it has implications for the rest of the training, for what you do in the boat or for what else you do on land. And it took some time for me to figure it out and understand it fully. So slowly, slowly we improve. And you have to because international rowing develops. And remember if you develop with the same speed as the rest of the world, in ten years time you will be just as far behind as you are now. So you had better speed up.

So how did Dutch rowing develop over the years? Let me start in the 60’s. At that time the competitive rowing structure in Holland would look like this: a pyramid.

A broad base and a top that is not too high. If you want a higher top, you need a broader base. And at the base in the 60’s we find student clubs. So the crews at the top the crews that made it to the Olympics were club crews coached by amateurs, and they would bring home medals. Since the 60’s student rowing hasn’t changed much. In fact it has moved backwards I think, because you have to finish your studies in less time nowadays than in the 60’s. So students are more under pressure. In the 80’s and 90’s there are still hardly professionals found at club level, but the level of the national team increased, and this is mainly the result if centralisation. A training centre was established, we have professional coaches now, medical and physiological support improved and the financial support for the athletes and the federation from the Olympic Committee got a lot better. So the structure of national rowing in the 90’s would look like this: the Eiffel Tower.

The better people from the clubs would come to the centre, and we would put together crews from them and coach them. No more club crews. So a smaller base and a higher top. Definitely an improvement. But will it be enough for the future. I think the future will look like this: the Rockefeller Center.

What you see here is a small base yet a very solid and very high structure. To build such a structure we will have to improve our system even further. We have to improve our knowledge and facilities for the athletes, we have to monitor the training better and we have to individualise it more. Let me give an example on that. To monitor training and see how people respond to training in most countries they use lactate. And the lactate curve looks like this:

If the curve shifts to the right we say that the aerobic capacity improves. So the VO2 max works on a pulley on the curve. But the anaerobic capacity works as a pulley on the curve as well.

It works in the opposite direction. So if the anaerobic capacity goes down the curve shifts to the right as well. Obviously the aerobic and anaerobic capacities have an influence on the curve, and in practice about 40% of the interpretations are wrong. The worst case is this, so on the right side you see the two circles, the above one you see both an improvement of the aerobic and the anaerobic but the aerobic capacity improved more than the anaerobic capacity. So the curve shifts to the right. And we say good, excellent, keep going like this and maybe even push a little bit harder, and we see how the athlete responds. And if you look at the red circle down, you see that everything went down, both the aerobic capacity and the anaerobic capacity but the anaerobic capacity went down more than the aerobic capacity, its not totally right in the picture, but if the anaerobic capacity goes down more then the aerobic capacity the curve also shifts to the right. And again we would say excellent, keep going like this or push even harder. But the rower is about to collapse, he is already on the edge. So for a good judgement you need to estimate both capacities, not just one.

We also know that the athletes respond on a different way to training, they have different profiles, yet in practice most rowers follow the same program. From this time of year row 200km a week or more do three weight sessions and a stability program. So is it a good program? For whom? Does it make sense that one rower who is very strong with a low anaerobic capacity and another rower with the opposite profile have the same training program? Different profiles, different programs. I think we still have a long way to go here.

So let me summarise. So if you look over the years from the perspective of the federation, we see an improvement in structure, facilities, number of professionals, medical and physiological support, and also financial means. From the perspective of the athletes, we see an improvement in facilities, and available time, financial support, so the system has improved. But the number of talents in the system didn’t increase since the 60’s. Today the number of real talents is still very low. And this is in Holland, this is in Switzerland and I think in most countries of the world this is the case. So you cannot build such a high structure with average talents. I think only with outstanding athletes you can reach for the sky. So what is talent in rowing? What characteristics does a talent have? Well let’s take one, for instance length. We want good leverage. So here is what the length of the population will look like.

We have a nice shape bell curve. We find most people of average length and both very short and very tall people are rare. But let’s say we want women over 180cm and men over 190cm. That would be anyone on the right side of the red line. (Redrawn from video to be clearer)

But we don’t just want them to be tall; we also want them to have a high oxygen uptake. So we concentrate on the small people on the right side, and see of these people who has a high VO2 max. We will find another bell curve.

So the ones that are both tall and have a high VO2 max are the ones to the right of the red line in the little bell. Now we don’t want them just to be very tall and aerobically very good, we also want them to be strong. Another bell curve.

And they also need the ambition and the right mentality to become champions. Another bell curve, and so on and so on. So what I'm saying is that real talent is extremely rare. So every now and then we such a huge talent in rowing, and its like he or she is from another planet. They are not form another planet they are just extremely rare and hard to find. So who are we coaching? Let me give an example. The Dutch are the tallest nation in the world. If we look at the future we look at the juniors. They are the future right? So last year we sent a Dutch junior woman’s eight to Beijing. They were the smallest team in the competition and finished far behind. So we are the tallest nation in the world but managed to select very small girls into the eight. As if we did it on purpose. How many of them will be in the senior eight in four years time? How many have the talent to become an Olympic Champion? Not one I suppose. Yet we spend our effort or time or money on them to make sure that they truly reach their potential. We coach whoever is there. We coach whoever comes into our system.

So why don’t we find the talent, identify and select new talents? Most countries don’t, some countries do. I think the Brits they started a few years ago with a big effort in this area and they are already very successful with it. But to be honest so far the need wasn’t too high. In rowing we are lucky. There is not just one man and one woman winning a gold medal at the Olympics there are many. In rowing at the Olympics we have 27 gold medals for men and 19 for women. That’s all the medals at the Olympics, Gold, Silver, Bronze 138. At the World Championships, 48 gold medals for men, I didn’t count the coxes by the way, and 28 for women if I'm not mistaken. So that 228 Gold, Silver and Bronze medals. So we can still get away with it by focusing on one or two boat types. This is the picture taken of the Dutch men’s eight in 1994 in Indianapolis when they won a silver medal.

Were they talents? Well some where not talented enough because in 1996 it looked like this.

So were they talents? Well they definitely were the best and I still think they would be competitive today. They definitely were talented rowers. But on the other hand how many could have become Olympic Champion in the single scull? Not too many I suppose. So in 20 years from now will the eight consist of more or better talent? Definitely. So finding, recruiting and developing big talents is were I think the future is. And you don’t need so many, a rather small base will do. But haven’t we seen this before in the 70’s and 80’s in Eastern Europe maybe? Does this mean back to the DDR? In a way yes, the system worked. It did produce results. Maybe it was a little bit too rigid. The system has to be attractive for people who are in it.

If you want to throw a stone into a basket you can control this. If you know the distance to the basket all you have to do is give it the right speed and send it in the right direction at the right angle. And the stone definitely for sure will end up in the basket. But if you try to d the same thing with a living creature, let’s say a bird, so again, you know the distance to the basket, and you give it exactly the right speed and angle and oops it flies away. So if you want the bird in the basket, you can either kill the bird and throw it in the basket, or you use some attractors. You could for instance put some bread in the basket. If the bread is tasty ad the bird is hungry you might find the bird in the basket. Rowers are like the bird. And therefore I think that rowing has to be a nice thing to do. It has to be fun. And this goes for coaches as well, and by that I mean you. So if you are bored right now you can relax I will finish my presentation here.

I shared with you some of my experiences and thoughts and gave you my view of were I think the future will take us. And if you didn’t fall asleep thank you for your attention.

Question: You said I think it was Bent Jensen that you followed up his story about “you can’t turn a race horse into a pig, but you can make it a fast pig” and the later in your presentation you said “you can’t achieve success without talent”. I’d like to challenge you on that and see if you can think of some rowing athletes who didn’t fit all your bell curves and weren’t talented and achieved success. Are there some that you can think of and how can you explain that there are some exceptions to your rule.

Rene: Yes that’s true and sometime I’ve worked a little bit in company as well and of course I mentioned these examples of people who don’t fit in and nobody thinks that this person, that he or she can make it but they end up with a gold medal. So if we find talents we talk about characteristics but there are also assumptions and if we want length and leverage it doesn’t mean that people that are a little bit shorter can’t win a medal. So this is about numbers, in average we find that the taller people have a better chance in rowing. So it always works with estimations and averages for the identification of talents but it doesn’t always go for the individual. And I don’t think if Allen Campbell (GBR 1x) if he would fit in all the characteristics of the British talent program. Of course it’s wonderful that the people who don’t really fit in and win a gold medal. But if you want to build a system and you structure it then you think otherwise and you look generally where we find good talents.

I think right now in our straight four, the stroke, he is a very little guy for instance. In the Dutch eight there is Michael Bartman (??), not too tall and he got selected in the boat but previously he was in a club level and they made an eight and he didn’t manage to get in the boat because he was too small, not strong enough, technically not very good and at that time I probably would not have selected him either. But he had this drive and he managed to make it and in the end he was one of the best rowers in the boat and in 2004 he was stroking the eight.

Question: Rene in your presentation you said the emphasis is changing from physiology over too neuromuscular stimulation. What would that involve inside the boat and outside the boat?

Rene: I was talking here just about the weight training and what we used to do was work more in the area 6-10 reps, quite heavy loads, and this of course is a metabolic stress so you have to see this as a metabolically very stressful training. So that means around it in the boat you relax a little bit or focus a bit more on basic endurance training. But now on the other hand if you have this different type of training people get fatigue but it’s a different sort of fatigue but around it you definitely can use a little bit more intensity in the boat because you don’t do it on land. That’s what I meant.

Question: In your presentation, you said that the Dutch are the tallest nation in the world and also spoke a lot about height. Do you think that there is an optimum height and if so what is it, and can you be too tall to row?

Rene: Can you be too tall? Yeah I'm not an expert in this because our talent identification process is hardly established and we are working a little bit in this area right now. I don’t know if you can be too tall for the boat, to fit in the boat and how the boats are made and how it is adjusted I think yes and if you are a lot taller than all the other guys in the boat then maybe you can be too tall. Still we don’t find too many people over two metres in rowing. I don’t know if this is because we don’t know how to put them in the boat right now or that they are maybe too tall, I don’t know.

Question: Rene, you talked about having fun. How do you make fun when you’ve got crews that are training in a four year cycle, competing at a major regatta or event only three times in a year and the rest of the time is just really boring training. How do you make fun in rowing? Are we doing the right thing with our sport?

Rene: I don’t know if it is boring. Maybe if you do twenty kilometres at stroke rate 18 twice a day, day after day. Ok there is some boring stuff in it, but I think rowing is more than that, and it is definitely more than that. In the end the goal is not the goal (gold?) and what I mean by that is you work very hard to try to win a medal at the Olympics but how many people succeed. Ok there are still a few gold medals to be won at the Olympics but most people they don’t make it. So does this mean it was all for nothing and that all this effort was for nothing? They are losers, that they regret that they have started rowing? I think not. I think the true value is somewhere else. And I think it is the process of working very hard together and working on the way and finding out what a real team is, and finding out how you can trust other people and work with other people. So there is a lot of joy in that and I agree that sometimes the training can be a little bit boring and I think in the 60’s it was more romantic. You had just four guys at the club and they came together and “hey lets go for it” and they trained for one or two years and they came home with a medal. But we can’t change that sport still develops. But it has this side that you thin Ok it becomes more and more and more and you can’t combine it with other things in life. Is it still worth it but I still think that it can be very rewarding even in the end if you don’t make it.

Question: The first question was “how do you throw your rubbish away in Sarnen, because I think that’s a question for later. You talked about your coaching style being quite rigid at the start and how you adapted but how would you describe it now and what is the really important thing that you try to get across in your coaching.

Rene: So how I deal with the rowers or how I approach them? For me I think that it is very important that they are involved. They are not just instruments in the hands of the coach. I believe that you get better results when people are really involved, when they are really committed and responsible and so that’s a little bit how I coach. And so there is a difference that you have some above the training program and the coach is not there and some don’t show up, or they are responsible. In ’96 we had Niko Rinks who just started a company and it was impossible for him to train twice at the Bosbaan, so what he did, he did the first training session early in the morning, at 6”o clock even, at home he would sit on the erg and then shower and went off to work and in the afternoon he would train together with the rest of the team. So what I think is important and if you do this right with this approach, there is not a single doubt, nor by me, nor by the rest of the team that Niko Rinks did really sit on the erg at 6 o’clock in the morning. So for me this is very important. There is more to say on this subject but we still have tomorrow.

Question: Two questions form the Russian speaking community. The first question is about lightweight rowers because these days the performance of lightweight rowers is very close to the performance of heavyweight rowers. What about heavyweights having some reserve of performance in training and physiology. And the second question is about lifestyle. What do you think is the optimal lifestyle for high performance rowers? When they training, the best time to do training, in the morning or afternoon. These sorts of things.

Rene: Um that’s quite a lot. So the first part of the question is about the fact that lightweights are almost just as fast as heavies so does this mean that there is some reserve in the speed of the heavies so that they can be faster in the future? Definitely they can be faster in the future and maybe it’s the same thing, if we look at for instance in the eight how many real talents do we find in an eight? And so everything in the lightweights is focused on the lightweight four and the lightweight double. And so there are a lot of lightweights in the world with only a few types of boats and I think that this can be a reason that the level relatively is higher. You just had more choice if you are a heavyweight and therefore the spread is higher. This is what I meant by how many people in the eight have the ability to become the Olympic Champion in the single scull.

And the other half question was about lifestyle. Again I’m not an expert in this but I still think that of course you have to really look into it. It’s not just training but also you need the rest for the adaptation of the training, you need the good nutrition so you have to take care of yourself and so there’s not too much place for other stressful things in life and work and studying and all that. Or partying or what ever that is. On the other hand it is still so that you have to enjoy the situation that you are in. Otherwise you can put people under stress but after one or to years they will quit. It’s always a balance these things so yes it is important to structure your life. On the other hand you have to be a little bit loose and a little bit flexible as well.

Question: I would have two questions about recruiting. The fist question is which age group do you focus on in your freshly established recruiting system to find the talents. And the second one is, is it important to have any other sports backgrounds for these guys which you are recruiting?

Rene: Again we don’t have a very sophisticated recruiting system in Holland. But for in stance I think in the DDR they would really work with school kids in the very early age they would try to take the already. The disadvantage is that a lot of these people they are fed up with rowing by the time they become seniors and I think there was a big fall out as a result of it. And so if I'm not mistaken right now in England they focus on people who are a little bit older so I would say maybe 18 years, 19 years that range. You wouldn’t select people from 30 years probably but in rowing it is still a sport that most people who are a little bit coordinated we can teach them a decent technique in a few years. And also it is a strength and strength endurance sport and both strength endurance ad endurance capacity are very trainable so if you do the right things I think in a few years time I think these athletes can become really good. So maybe there is not such a need to start with the really small kids of 12-13 years old.

The second half of the question was again…”Do you think it is important to have a rowing background or another specific sport background”…Definitely I think it is a benefit, that it is an advantage when people do have, not necessarily in rowing but they do have a background somewhere in sport. So some of these capacities are already developed and also coordination is developed already.