The performance goal of anyone using the Concept2 rowing machine should be simple: get faster or more efficient in the least time with the least effort. Not more volume, not more workouts, not something you saw someone else doing: more speed or more efficiency.

Based on our work with thousands of athletes across more than a dozen countries, this is one of the fundamental tenets of the “Speed Directive”…a return to basics that drives uncommon results from uncommon training: dropping significant time from any distance row, in 2 months or less.

In this article, we talk split.

What is Split?

Split is represented on the Concept2 monitor as “/500m” or “ave /500m.” The former being real time, the latter being average.

What split means though is how long it would take you to move 500m. In this sense, split is actually showing us speed. As in, if you started rowing right now how long would it take before you crossed a 500m finish line?

So no matter the distance or time you’re rowing, split will be telling you how fast you go. For example, if you’re rowing 5000m and your split is 2:00. Then it’s telling you that every 500m is taking you 2 minutes. So again, split = speed.

Why Does Your Split Matter?

Split is one of the two most important units to know. The Concept2 monitor shows speed and cadence. Cadence is represented by strokes per minute or “S/M” on the monitor. Between these two variables you have the two most fundamental instruments of feedback for how you are performing while you row.

Learn how to control these two numbers, and you’ve learned how to improve your rowing because you’re now in the driver’s seat and can alter the numbers however you need for whatever the workout.

How to Control Your Split

So how do we control speed? What first needs to be learned is that the machine is not an all or nothing effort. If you can learn how to work at 50%, 100% and everything in between you are now successfully in control. These percentages can be easily learned by practicing at percentages of one benchmark workout, such as the 1000m for time.

Second, by learning that cadence and push effort are used in conjunction to create speed. In our experience, we’ve found that learning how to control cadence is easier so we like to start there. Once cadence is under control, then learn to control push effort and you have the magic key to controlling your speed/split.

Use the following workouts to start to learn speed control and become a master of the machine.

Workouts to Train Split

a. Start with a 1000m row for time. At the end, record your average speed from the monitor. If needed, see here for how to program a single distance workout.

This establishes your baseline for how fast you can really move when it comes time to work. Do this, and you now know your 100% effort for 1000m.

b. Then, add this short rowing warm-up to your workouts twice/week.

Row for 4 minutes. For the first two minutes, row at your 1000m average speed plus 15 seconds. For the second two minutes, row at your 1000m average speed plus 10 seconds. This means the second two minutes will be faster than the first two.

A couple weeks in, try these workouts based on pacing:

c. Row 4 Rounds of 4 minutes. The first piece should be at your 1000m average speed plus 10 seconds, the second should be plus 8 seconds, the third should be plus 6 seconds, and the final should be plus 4 seconds.

d. Tabata rowing. 8 x :20 on, :10 off. For the 20 seconds on, row at your 1000m average speed and for the rest periods row at your 1000m average speed plus 16 seconds.

e. Row as long as you can at your 1000m average speed plus 6 seconds

Keep to the basics. There are a lot of variables to understand, knowing split however is one of the first you need to know and master. With it, you can very rapidly drop your times when you understand what your speed is showing you.

Remember, SPLIT = SPEED and it is one of two important factors in how you control the Concept2 rowing machine.

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