5 Indoor Rowing Sprints Every Rower Trains For

Some of the best times I have ever had when I was training for intense sprints was when I was competing against my teammates to see who could get the fastest time on an erg or who could go the furthest distance in a time challenge.

I’ll never forget competing in an indoor rowing competition and missing out on first place by .1 of a second only to beat it the next week by .2 of a second. I walked into my morning training session and my coach told me that we were going to be training our 2k times. We had to do 3 x 2k’s at maximum effort to see how far we could push ourselves. All of us hated the idea but did it anyway.

We sat down on the ergs, headphones in and braced ourselves for what was going to be a killer session. I did my first 2k – 6:36.8, gutted at no improvement I got off the machine, kept myself warm and prepared for the next one. Time for the second 2k – 6:36 on the dot. I was amazed. One part of me was angry at myself for not pushing myself harder at the competition and the other part of me was delighted that I had a new personal best. The third 2k we don’t talk about… I was very sick after that one.

I realised quickly that it was exactly this kind of training that I absolutely loved doing because you could graph your progress very easily by doing this.

Today, I want to go over 5 indoor sprints that you can do at your club, at home, or at the gym – that every rower actively trains for.

Tips for Rowing: The Rowing Sprint Start

2000m Sprints

If you’ve rowed for any length of time you’ll be familiar with this one. Every rower loves to hate it and hates that they love it. Try getting yourself in the right mindset to do these and you’ll be laughing. As I said my personal best was 6:36.0. At the age of 18 that’s not bad and I was very proud of that in the moment.

The world record for a 2000m sprint is just over an entire minute faster at 5:35.8, and the world record for someone of that age in the same weight category as I was is 5:45.5 at the time of writing this. When you put that into perspective my time was terrible, but it’s still a great accomplishment in my eyes. Keep pushing for greatness each day and you’ll start to see the improvements.

See our article on how to train for a 2000m ergo for more information.

5000m Sprints

Another favourite indoor rowing exercise is the 5000m Sprint. I don’t really remember what my best time was for anything other than a 2000m sprint but I wasn’t very good at it. I just know that I enjoyed them. The key to this one is pacing yourself. You’re never going to reach the end by going flat out from the very start.

Make sure that by the end of the race you’ve got enough energy in you to sprint that last 500m. For all you know it could mean the difference between coming first or second. Even if you think you’ve got nothing left in the tank there’s always that last little bit that you’ll regret not using for that last small amount of time.

Check out our article on how to train for a 5000m sprint for more information

10,000m sprints

The most brutal of sprints! This one will really kick you into gear if you don’t train properly for it. Whilst this is a sprint it’s just as much an endurance challenge, it’s really important that you pace yourself! As of writing this the world record for the 10,000m sprint is 31:05.2. That’s incredible! Whilst this is a gruelling challenge it’s so rewarding to see your time at the end of one of these.

The distance alone is just under a quarter of a marathon and if you don’t train for one of those you’re in big trouble. Make sure you do plenty of stretching before and after you attempt one,

Check out our article on how to train for a 10,000m sprint for more information.

30 minute ergo

Ah, the 30 minute ergo. The bane of many rowers existence. You’ll find yourself in one of two categories for this one. You either love them, or you hate them. I personally love them. They’re a great way of training endurance and once you’ve made it past the first 15-20 minutes it honestly gets so so much easier. There’s something in your head that will switch and say “oh, I’ve only got 10 minutes left… That’s nothing”.

It’s important to know that these are highly endurance based and very much measured on the distance that you travel. You ideally want to reserve enough energy that you can sprint the last 1-2 minutes of the row at maximum effort, don’t leave anything on the machine

1 minute ergo

This is a fun and easy one. Well, I say easy, you want to push yourself as hard as possible for 1 minute… 60 seconds! That’s nothing! Why not give it your all for the entire thing, I used to love doing these. Much like the 30 minute sprint you’re measuring based on distance and not time so keep the splits low and give it everything you’ve got.

A common training session of these at an elite level is to do 10 – 1 minute sprints with a 30 second – 1 minute break in between. What better way to show how hard and fast you can row than to just go for it as best you can? These are a fantastic way to measure your performance over time. If you can consistently pull off low splits and reduce the amount of time you have in between sprints it will greatly help your 2000m time.

How often should I clean and maintain my rowing machine?

It is recommended to clean the rail and seat of the rowing machine after each use to prevent the buildup of dirt and sweat. Additionally, check the chain for any debris and lubricate it as needed to ensure smooth operation.

What is the proper technique for using an indoor rowing machine to prevent injury and maximize effectiveness?

The proper technique involves sitting tall with a straight back, engaging the core, and driving through the legs while pulling the handle toward the chest. It’s important to maintain a smooth, controlled motion and avoid hunching over or using excessive force.

How can I track my progress and set realistic goals for indoor rowing workouts?

Many indoor rowing machines come with built-in monitors that track metrics such as time, distance, strokes per minute, and calories burned. Use these metrics to set achievable goals and track your progress over time. Additionally, consider incorporating interval training and varying resistance levels to keep workouts challenging and effective.