Friday, August 1, 2008

Spracklens Notes - Part 2 - Workouts

Creating Training Programs – Spracklen’s Notes – Part 2 – Workouts
By Mike Spracklen
October 1987

This section implements all of the preceding sections. For the most part each workout is outlined in terms of training effect, training load, and technical aim; these will be bolded for ease of understanding.

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

When the above Pyramids are rowed continuously -each set piece with a five-minute period of light paddling between sets - training effect is improvement of aerobic capacity.

When these Pyramids are rowed intermittently -one minute light paddling between each rate change and a five minute rest period of light paddling between sets -training effect is improvement of aerobic capacity and acclimatization of lactate in the body

All the above work is Normal training load, but can be increased or reduced by 25%. Alterations should be made to times, making sure that the Pyramid principle is retained, but normally a different type of work would be done if it is necessary to amend the load for the best training effect.

Technical aim is to establish good technique at the lowest rate and to hold this quality as the rate increases. This method is a useful part of the system because longer pieces are rowed at the lower rates and the quality at the higher rates has to be held for a shorter space of time. It is equally important to hold quality when rates drop during the second half of a Pyramid.

When no suffix is shown, one only set is required.

A Half Pyramid refers to first half.


This work is continuous. If turns are necessary, they should be made within 30 seconds with work resuming as quickly as possible. Training effect is improvement of aerobic capacity.

This work is intermittent with five minutes of light paddling between sets. Training effect is development of anaerobic capacity.

Training loads 'N' = Normal training load of approximately 80%
'H' = High training load of 100%, an increase of 25%
‘L’ = Low training load of 60% a decrease of 25%

Technical aim is to establish good quality at the higher rate making sure that the quality improves when more time is available at the lower rate.

Where the stretch of water does not permit more than eight minutes of continuous work the changes are reduced to 1½ minutes. Below five minutes the changes are reduced to intervals of one minute. The total time for the method remains.


The rates change every one-minute as follows:

22,24,26,24,26, 28,26,28,26,28, 26,24,26,24,22.
Continuous work for 15 minutes x two sets =total work 30 minutes.

The rate of striking (stroke rate) increases by two strokes at the end of each minute. At the end of the third minute the rate returns to the rate of the previous minute and starts the same process again until the maximum rate of 28 is reached. The method then follows a pattern of the same format returning to the original rate of 22.

'N' Normal training load is three sets x 15 min - total 45 minutes.
'H' High training load is four sets x 15 min - total 60 minutes.

The rates change every one minute as follows:

24, 26, 28, 26, 28, 30, 28, 30, 28, 30, 28, 26, 28, 26, 24
Continuous work for 15 minutes x two sets = total work 30 minutes. The format is exactly as for PYR/CAS 28 above.

'H' High training load is three sets x 15 minutes - total 45 minutes.
'L' Low training load is one set of 15 minutes.

Technical aim. This method is a valuable part of the System. If the oarsmen are unable to hold quality when rates increase the reduction of rate gives sufficient time for the quality to be re-established.

If the stretch of water allows thirty minutes of continuous work the changes should be increased to two minutes. When no suffix is shown, one only set is required.


All work is rowed continuously for each set with light paddling between sets.

The training effect of staircases below rate 32 are basically for improvement of aerobic endurance and above 32 the work is anaerobic.

Training load. When no suffix is shown on the schedule this indicates that only one set piece is required. If more than one Staircase is required, the Method Code will be preceded by the number e.g. 2 x 5/C 40. Staircases are seldom used for an entire workload; they are used to supplement others to make a useful session of complex work.

Technical aim is to establish quality at the lowest rates and to hold good form throughout the session. Technically this is one of the toughest exercises in the scheme.

Row 20 strokes at each rate with 10 light strokes between each change. Rates increase by 2 strokes per minute.

Row 20 strokes at each of the above rates with 10 light strokes between. Light paddling for five minutes between each set.

Pulse rates should drop between 100 and 120 per minute during light paddle after each set before the next set is started. The recovery times are a guide and should be adapted to meet the required rest period for each crew.

The rate should be built up before the tenth stroke and the target rate held for the last ten strokes.
When no suffix is shown, one only set is required. When more than one set is required the Method code will be proceeded by the quantity.

The sets shown indicate the total work required for a Normal training load. It is not suggested that a LAD 26 N be done in its entirety for one session. LADDER work is a useful training method; it adds variety to a session and flexibility to the training loads.

30:32:34:36:38:40 600 strokes.

Row for twenty strokes at each of the above rates with 10 light strokes between.


Training effect of the above work is improvement of aerobic endurance.

Training effect of this work is improvement of anaerobic endurance.

All above work is at Normal training load of approximately 80%. Times should be increased or decreased by 25% for amendments.

Technical aim is to Consolidate equality at a specific rate. Good quality must be established early in the session and held throughout the period of tiredness, which gradually develops until it reaches its peak of exhaustion at the end of the work.


Build the rate up over 10 strokes and hold the target rate for the remaining ten strokes.
For 'H' high training load the rest period between strokes is reduced to 5 strokes light.
For 'L' low training load the rest period between strokes is increased to 20 strokes light.

Other types of work can be included in the system.

Examples would be:
Timed rows:
6 x 500m
4 x 1OOOm
3 x 15OOm
2 x 2OOOm
Racing starts and the change from high rate into race pace.
Fartlek - 600 strokes at free rates involving large increases and sudden changes.
Any work at natural rate of striking.
Practice courses e.g. Head races.


Exercises are a useful means of putting across a technical point to an oarsperson. There are many exercises that are used by coaches to emphasize a particular point or movement depending on the style the coach is teaching his/her oarsperson. The best exercises are an exaggeration of a particular movement the most useful of which are shown below.

In performing an exercise it is only of great use if it is carried out for long periods. At least 20 minutes of continuous work at one exercise is needed to achieve beneficial effect. Rowing Just 20 strokes is of little value.

Sometimes a complete outing or a work program should be with square blades or from the ‘strong point’ position (defined in the following section) for most benefit from the exercise.

The benefit to be gained from this exercise is that:

I. The blades enter the water at a fast point in the stroke and have to move very quickly to achieve grip on the water. Because the stroke is short, the quickness has to be emphasized otherwise there is not a sufficient amount of the stroke to be effective. The sooner the blade grips the water the longer the stroke will be and the more it will achieve.
II. The shorter slide puts the legs in a stronger position for lively work. Muscles are stronger when they work through their middle range of movement of the limb. The oarsperson is able to spring his legs very quickly from a short slide position.

The object of the exercise is to achieve quick catches with the leg drive.

The exercise can be performed in various slide lengths. The most common phrases are ¼ slide, ½ slide, and ¾ slide.

The most valuable form of short slide rowing is called 'strong point' rowing. The rower sets himself/herself ready for the next stroke in a position which he/she feels is his/her strongest for a hard drive into the stroke. Normally this position is between 3/4 and full slide. As the rower learns to relax during his/her float forward and as he/she becomes more flexible, his/her length forward will gradually increase and he/she will become stronger in his/her
forward position.

Rowing for 10 strokes in the 'strong point' position followed by 10 full length strokes is a very good exercise. It encourages a powerful stroke to which full length is then added, making the ultimate stroke - "long and powerful".

Rowers are generally inclined to carry their blades forward too close to the water, particularly from extraction to the halfway point forward. They will be inclined to cut some corners when the rates climb and probably the first will be to reduce the circular movement at the extraction of the blade. If the oarsperson already has a small circular movement his next step may be to cut short the finish of his stroke. It is important that during the winter 'grooving in' period exact movements are carried out. Square blade paddling teaches an oarsperson the correct hand movement.

Rowing with a squared blade forces the oarsman to make full use of the small amount of room available over his thighs until his hands have cleared his knees. It also encourages a lively draw so that pressure is maintained on his blade. It is the pressure on the blade that helps a clean extraction.

Other benefits from Square Blade Paddling are that good balance is essential and the rower grows confident in his ability to balance the boat in adverse conditions, such as rough water and strong winds.

PERIOD 2: 14 to 29 November.

Development of aerobic capacity with some strength improvement

To make full use of body weight at the finish, make sure that the body swings back while the blade is driving through the stroke, and do not let the body curl forward at the finish.



A means of measuring the stroke rate and the timed pieces is essential. A stroke meter is the ideal instrument, but a normal stopwatch can be used successfully. Counting the number of strokes rowed for each minute or part of a minute can identify ratings. The easiest way is to count the strokes completed in 15 seconds, 30 seconds and then the full minute, for greater accuracy. For example:

8 strokes in 15 seconds = rate 32 (8 strokes x 4)
16 strokes in 30 seconds = rate 32 (16 strokes x 2)
When counting the strokes it is easier to count the number of ‘catches’ rowed. A stroke begins and finishes at the same place and nine catches are equal to eight strokes. Seventeen catches are equal to sixteen strokes, and thirty three catches are equal to thirty two strokes per minute.

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