If most athletes in the functional fitness world would pay as much attention to their endurance training as they do their powerlifting or weightlifting, we would see the entire community on a different level.

We understand that motivation during any endurance program is lacking due to the slower pace of improvement. Even with the newly introduced 60-second length of Instagram videos, no endurance sport would be as exciting as a 1RM of your snatch or deadlift. So we understand the challenges on the ROI…

The Challenges

There is a lot more suffering involved with endurance sports and there is nowhere to hide. Rowing is exceptionally hard due to your results being monitored every moment. During a typical CrossFit workout you can hide behind technical movements, built in rest, or transitions. In endurance training, you’re stuck with mainly moving your own body or a machine continuously and you’re stuck in your own head with nowhere to hide from repeatedly doing the same thing.

A lot of people think having good cardio means you can go fast, but speed and endurance are on opposite ends of fitness. You need volume to build an engine that can perform long and strong. Neglecting this aerobic system that is responsible for over 50% of your energy output after 1 minute of working out is a huge mistake.

The biggest challenge with endurance training is to not lose strength. That’s why you need a well-structured endurance program that guarantees adaptations to your fitness goals.

Why Hope Will Fail You 100% of the Time

Most athletes believe that in order to achieve results they have to go hard and hope they can bring it home at the end. Instead, pacing, understanding the workout, the level of difficulty, and the time domain, are the real keys to success.

There is no such thing as infinite energy reserves so you need to manage them carefully.  The goal is to increase your work capacity. So besides intensity, you need to focus on how long you can maintain a set effort.

At Dark Horse Rowing we don’t ask anyone to row crazy amounts of volume. We suggest rowing twice a week at different intensities to create adaptation. The highest and best use of the athlete’s time is our focus, so our workouts create gains based on the other training the athlete does. Volume is key here and there are no magic drills that can replace that. 

With any training program, what makes us improve the most is being in the right culture and the right community. Even if it’s an online community, people will still hold you responsible and lift you up when you are down. 

Why Rowing

Rowing is a repeated closed chain exercise. Just like most of the movements in functional fitness, it creates nearly perfect adaptation. During these exercises, your hands or feet are in a fixed position and you are working through multiple joints and muscle groups. On the Erg, performance is front of your eyes every moment. Your actual power output is measured every second so it gives you instant feedback, and it is easy to calculate and monitor effort levels. 

With these in mind, it’s clear that if you want to be good at a higher level you need to practice at an increased level of effort. Rowing will develop rowing, but there is a lot of carry-over due to what’s happening in your engine. At goal pace, you will face goal fatigue. During training on the erg you develop intensity and the feel for different levels of intensity. 

Rowing can be painful and monotonous but it develops mental strength as you push your own limits when it gets hard. Rowing a 2k all out is painful, but if you get used to that level of training, it suddenly becomes easy. It becomes a different feeling.


Progression is key. Focusing on technique drills and a good warm-up is key. Polishing the skill of rowing never stops. It’s not just the volume that really makes you sore, it’s volume combined with bad mechanics. You can’t forget about mobility either.

Maintaining a certain pace or rhythm not only creates great adaptations in other parts of your training, like pull-ups or kettlebell swings, but it also lets you focus on what really matters, which is increasing intensity. 

The Key to Success

In CrossFit, you do combinations of movements that are constantly varied so the only pacing you have is the workout as a whole. By putting effort on aerobic training through rowing you can easily carry over adaptations through those exact feelings you experience at different effort levels. It is crucial to treasure these numbers and most importantly, the feeling of power and output just as much or even more than your lifting maxes. We at Dark Horse Rowing take care of the rest.

We design engaging workouts to improve your overall fitness customized for you. We provide a platform to log your results, warm-ups, technique videos, and clearly defined points of performance. Also, you can share your thoughts, results, pictures or videos in our online community with many fellow athletes.

Share This

Share this post with your friends!