5 Tips for Improving your Row Erg Time

5 Tips for Improving your Row Erg Time

In this short guide, we'll explore key techniques and strategies to help you optimise your performance and achieve those coveted personal bests on the indoor rowing machine. 

The Concept 2 rower is a versatile and effective fitness tool that simulates the feel and resistance of rowing on water. Before diving into performance tips, let's familiarise ourselves with the components of the erg:

  1. Monitor Display:

    • The monitor displays crucial data, including distance, time, strokes per minute (SPM), and watts. Understanding these metrics is vital for tracking and improving your performance.
  2. Damper Setting:

    • Adjusting the damper setting regulates the airflow to the flywheel, influencing the resistance. Contrary to common belief, a higher damper setting doesn't necessarily mean more resistance—it's about finding the setting that suits your technique and strength.

Techniques That Will Improve Your Rowing Time:

  1. Master Your Form:

    • Focus on proper rowing technique to maximize efficiency and prevent injury. Initiate the stroke with your legs, engage your core, and finish with a strong pull, maintaining a fluid and controlled motion.
    • We see a lot of athletes with poor form, arch backs, pulling utilising only the arms and no legs and even not completing a full stroke before retracting. Mastering a solid technique will have the biggest gain on poor rowing form over anything else.
  2. Stroke Rate and Power:

    • Experiment with stroke rates and power outputs to find the sweet spot for your body. A balance of stroke rate and power is crucial for sustainable performance over longer distances.
    • We see people in gyms blasting 40+ strokes per minute but moving less than a 100m. Most people when they get on the rower think its all about how many times they can pull when actually it is all about how much power and distance you can get from each pull. 
  3. Pacing Strategies:

    • Effective pacing is key to maintaining energy throughout your row. Start with a controlled pace and gradually increase intensity. Avoid sprinting out of the gate, as it can lead to early fatigue.
    • Athletes often have their pacing all wrong. Going out too fast can lead to a poor middle and end of the row. If you are doing 500m then maintaining a sprint pace may be possible however if you are doing a 2k row then a pacing strategy needs to be put in place. 
  4. Interval Training:

    • Incorporate interval training into your routine to build both aerobic and anaerobic fitness. Alternating between periods of high-intensity rowing and recovery can significantly improve your overall performance.
    • One of those examples is doing 500m fast by 500m slow pace 10 times and getting used to rowing load. Another workout which is great for building capacity is the 8 x 500m with 1 minute rest between each set. Also add in 500m warm up and a 500m cool down after. 

(8 x 500m split times)

5. Consistent Monitoring:

Regularly review your performance data on the monitor. Analyse your splits, strokes per minute, and technique to identify areas for improvement. Consistent monitoring allows you to track progress and adjust your training accordingly.

Building a Training Plan:

  1. Set Clear Goals:

    • Define specific and achievable rowing goals. Whether it's improving your 500-meter sprint time or conquering a marathon row, having clear objectives provides direction to your training.
  2. Varied Workouts:

    • Keep your training routine dynamic with a mix of short sprints, long-distance rows, and interval sessions. Variety not only keeps things interesting but also targets different aspects of your fitness.
  3. Recovery and Rest:

    • Prioritise recovery to prevent burnout and reduce the risk of injury. Include rest days in your training plan and consider cross-training activities to complement your rowing workouts.


Mastering the rowing erg is a journey that combines technique, strategy, and consistent effort. By focusing on proper form, pacing, and incorporating varied workouts into your routine, you'll not only improve your rowing time but also enhance your overall fitness. Embrace the challenge, set realistic goals, and let the rhythmic hum of the erg be your guide to achieving new milestones. Row on! 🚣‍♂️💨