PEAK PERFORMANCE IS NOW...

Month-by-month rowing training

Here’s the start of a month-by-month rowing programme which led to two world records

In the August issue of PP we featured the remarkable story of Noel Frost, who starting from scratch at the age of 56 won a gold medal at the UK 2000m indoor rowing championships in November 1995. At the time he mentioned a new programme he had devised for 1996 which he hoped would lead him to three world records in his sector – 55-59 male (heavy) – for the 2000m, 30- and 60-minute distances. In the event he just missed out on the 2000m record, following an injury, but he got world bests in both the 30- and the 60-minute distances. We were so intrigued by the prowess of this ‘self-made’ world champion that we asked if he could spell out the training programme that led to his records. Here begins his personal account for Month 1.*

The idea is to give you the month-by-month details of my programme, what I tried, what worked and what did not. We know that everything is in the mind and that we will succeed if we do enough. In broad terms, top rowers cover in excess of 100 miles per week and lift more than 100 tonnes per week in land training. My target was set at 130 each but the over-riding control was heart rate, resting (RHR) and maximum (MHR). Having had VO2 and lactate tests during 1995, the results were correlated to heart rate and I knew approximately what my body was doing at each HR.

It is well recognised that training too hard and not recovering correctly leads to a rise in RHR, a fall in MHR; 20 beats per minute for each is dangerous on a continual basis, so I set a limit of 15 each. Had I been younger it would have been less, but at my age, 58, most things are solid and do not stretch, so I judged it safe to use this range. This allowed me to complete 12 two-hour sessions per week, most times at target load. My aim was 6-8 a.m. on my ergo and bike and 4-6 p.m. in the gym on weights and machines. My MHR 173, RHR 36 and lowest lactate production was at HR approx 100 (not deflection point but above and below HR 100 my body produced more lactate – this is normal but the importance is ignored by most). The hydraulic principles of the lactate standing wave and the use of interval training to improve lactate movement will be covered in a later month.

We are what we ingest and I use Maxim Original, Electrolite and Ergomax. I have no idea how helpful they are except the Original allows time off from eating for the some 3000 kcs daily of extra energy needed. The Electrolite helps with cramp avoidance and Ergomax helps my eyesight. Other than that I aim for a 70/30 carbo/fat diet and I am still an alcoholic ( I reduced my consumption by 90% from September to November but it didn’t help). I cannot get DHEA for love nor money, Choline Chloride from Boots works – I think – but it gives me a headache and has to be made into a solution to be easily measurable.

Okay – the Month 1 programme!

Monday a.m.
Ergo: 2K Warm Up (WU), HR 100, inc. 2 x 5 strokes Flat Out (FO). 10 minutes stretching (MS). 2K FO (Previous best av. split time, last 10 strokes FO). 8K (HR 120).

Bike: Flapping Handlebar Type (FHT) 10K (HR 105).

Monday p.m.

Bike: FHT 2K (HR 105). 10 MS
Machine weights: 255 x (half squat at 185 kg + seated row at 35 kg) + Pyramid 50 (20 + 15 + 10 + 5 lifts, when 5 up to 10 increase all weights by one) leg extension + hamstring curl + stomach weight + inside leg + toe raise.

Ergo: 3K (HR 100).

Bike: FHT 8K (HR 105). 10 MS.

Tuesday a.m.
Ergo: 2K WU. 10 MS. 2 x (1K FO + 60 Seconds Light (SL). 8K (HR 120).

Bike: FHT 10K (HR 105).

Tuesday p.m.

Bike: FHT 2K (HR 105). 10 MS. Stationary Handlebar Type 10 mins FO.

Machine weights: Pyramid 50 (Lat pull down + reverse curls + peck deck + seated row + swivel chair + chest press + shoulder press + stomach weight).

Ergo: 3K (HR 100).

Bike: FHT 8K (HR 105). 10 MS. 15-minute sauna.

Wednesday a.m.
Ergo: 2K WU. 10 MS. 4 x (500m FO + 60 SL). 8K (HR 120).

Bike: FHT 10K (HR 105).

Wednesday p.m.

Bike: FHT 2K (HR 105). 10 MS.

Treadmill: 10 min run FO.

Free weights: Pyramid 50 (fly + bicep curl + reverse curl + straight arm raise + chest press + shoulder press + overhead raise + stomach crunch).

Ergo: 3K (HR 100).

Bike: FHT 8K (HR 105). 10 MS.

Thursday a.m.
Ergo: 2K WU. 10 MS. 6 x (60 secs FO + 60 SL). 8K (HR 120).

Bike: FHT 10K (HR 105).

Thursday p.m.

Bike: FHT 2K (HR 105). 10 MS.

Machine weights: 255 x (half-squat at 150 kg + seated row at 30 kg) + 50 x (leg extension + hamstring curl + stomach weight + inside leg + toe raise) at Pyramid start rate FO.

Ergo: 3K (HR 100).

Bike: FHT 8K (HR 105). 10 MS. 15-minute sauna.

Friday a.m.
Ergo: 2K WU. 10 MS. 12 x (30 secs FO + 60 SL). 8K (HR 120).

Bike: FHT 10K (HR 105).

Friday p.m.

Bike: FHT 2K (HR 105). 10 MS.

Bike: Stationary Upright Type 10 mins FO.

Machine weights: 50 FO at Pyramid start weight (lat pull down + reverse curl + peck deck + seated row + swivel chair + chest press + shoulder press + stomach weight).

Ergo: 3K (HR 100).

Bike: FHT 8K (HR 105). 10 MS.

Saturday a.m.
Ergo: 2K WU. 10 MS. 18 x (20 secs FO + 60 SL). 8K (HR 120.

Bike: FHT 10K (HR 105).

Saturday p.m.

Bike: FHT 2K (HR 105). 10 MS.

Treadmill: 10 min run FO.

Free weights: 50 FO at Pyramid start weight (flys + bicep curl + reverse curl + straight arm raise + chest press + shoulder press + overhead raise + crunch).

Ergo: 3K (HR 100)
Bike: FHT 8K (HR 105). 10 MS. 15-minute sauna.

Sunday: Off: Off: OFF: YES!
This endurance training programme was demanding and I spent much of my life in pain, which was expected. Most of the time it was through being tired and usually I was able to work myself out of it during the warm-up session. Sometimes it became hard to determine whether it was muscle tiredness, sprain or strain, and this caused under-performance on some days. On several occasions the RHR was more than 20 beats up, indicating that us old buggers do not recover very quick. Later on, when biorhythms were introduced into the programme, many of the problems left. The weights were an aerobic exercise on Mondays and Thursdays, otherwise anaerobic. The ergo stroke rates varied: 22, 32, 36, 38, 40, 48, 54, 64 for 8K, 2K, 1K, 500m, 60s, 30, 20 and 5 stroke burst respectively.

In general terms the training programme used during the year gave a 3% increase in performance. I aimed for 7%, so in that respect I failed, but even so, to get up to world-record pace in less than two years means the programmes worked! With hindsight, as my aim was 2000m speed, I would have been better advised to interval train in 180, 90, 45 and 22 second units and to do 50% more of these (I’ve incorporated them in my 1997 regime!).

My Month 2 programme next issue.

Noel Frost

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