Our favorite indoor rowing training programs

Our favorite indoor rowing training programs


20 minute read

Indoor rowing can seem daunting to those who have never tried it before. Until recently, there was very little information readily available on how to get started on the erg – nothing to advise a beginner or coach a veteran and certainly nothing to drive positive performance or partner a new user with a world-leading coach. At asensei, we’re committed to perfect practice and have now created a comprehensive indoor rowing training regime that covers all abilities and fitness levels. By using the asensei app, you’re entering a world where proper training matters and good form is free speed. The asensei app walks you through each program, coaching you and charting your progression whilst taking care of all the nitty gritty so you don't need to - no more fiddling with spreadsheets, programming the monitor or manually calculating target times.

In the article below, we will guide you through some of our key indoor rowing training programs, explaining the outline, benefits, intended outcome and recommended approach. The three pillars of asensei are structure (programs and coaching), accountability (tracking and feeding back) and progression (pushing you a little harder as you improve) and you’ll find all elements present in each of our programs, created and led by world-class coaches. 

 

(RE)COMMIT 

Eric Murray asensei rowing program

(RE)COMMIT is one of our flagship programs, the first we created, and provides you with the best possible ladder towards improving your baseline ability on an indoor rowing machine. Working alongside double Olympic champion Eric Murray, this six-week structured indoor rowing program enables you to journey from getting comfortable with the rowing stroke to your first 2000m piece (the classic distance rowers are competitively measured over).  

Eric is one of the most decorated athletes of his generation and has accumulated multiple world and Olympic titles. In the Men’s Heavyweight Pair, he won six successive world championships and, alongside his crew mate Hamish Bond, was the recipient of the Thomas Keller Medal in 2018. It is the sport's highest honor and is awarded within five years of the athlete's retirement, acknowledging an exceptional rowing career and exemplary sportsmanship. 

The (RE)COMMIT program is aimed at those who are looking to become fitter, faster and technically better on an indoor rowing machine. If you’re new to the world of ergs or already a seasoned mile-collector, Eric’s workouts will teach you, test you and keep you on the upwards curve of improvement. The program is designed as 3 workouts per week but can be flexible depending on the amount of time you have available and how much time you want to take off your two-kilometre piece.  If you wish to follow this 2000m rowing training program but augment it with additional rowing or off-erg sessions that's also possible with asensei as all of our workouts can be run standalone, manually anytime.

As you progress through the program asensei will test your progress, predict your 2km time, set you personalized targets and keep you accountable at all times.  The indoor rowing machine is an ideal way to lose weight and the (RE)COMMIT program is a great way to start your journey - the workouts are designed to test you but in a progressive manner; asensei will set a personalized pace based upon her assessment of your fitness and then track your progress in burning calories and improving fitness. 

Watch out for the Pyramid workout – rowing veterans love a piece that takes them up then down the mountain at varying intensity and rate. It’s a challenge to stay relaxed and composed on the way up, so you can conserve energy after reaching the peak of the workout.  

Find Out More

(RE)COMMIT comes with a detailed program manual, breaking down the details of every workout, a sample timetable showing the baseline schedule and a planner to allow you to map out a schedule that works for you.  The full version can be located in the app or in our members community, or there's a sample version available here, that gives the program overview but only includes the first 3 workouts available in our free trial (just download the asensei app from the iOS appstore, connect your rowing machine and you are good to go).

To complement the (RE)COMMIT indoor rowing training program in the asensei rowing app we created a series of articles that cover some of the key learnings.  Read the (RE)COMMIT articles in the asensei blog.

Best Training Program For

  • Rowers learning how to train for their first 2000m race 
  • Learning the basics of rowing technique
  • Improving your rowing
  • Following a structured but flexible training schedule with 2-3 sessions per week

(RE)FOCUS 

(RE)FOCUS is one of our more intense programs, designed as the step change for people with an existing level of fitness, such as after successfully completing (RE)COMMIT or another similar program. You’ll be working with Eric Murray, double Olympic champion and asensei ambassador, to undergo a 12-week, 5 workouts per-week schedule, designed to significantly improve the times of those who are aiming for both 5000m and 6000m distances. or even those who are training for a head of the river race, which might be longer than the standard 2000m Olympic distance.

Eric is one of the most decorated athletes of his generation and has accumulated multiple world and Olympic titles (2012 and 2016). In the Men’s Heavyweight Pair, he won six successive world championships and, alongside his crew mate Hamish Bond, was the recipient of the Thomas Keller Medal in 2018. It is the sport's highest honor and is awarded within five years of the athlete's retirement, acknowledging an exceptional rowing career and exemplary sportsmanship. 

Eric is the holder of numerous world indoor rowing records, so is uniquely well placed to coach you in the asensei app and share his unique insights.  Having rowed the 5000m in an Indoor Rowing World Record time of 14:56.4 and the 6000m at 18:16.8, both in 2015, Eric knows what you need to do to train for this type of distance.  While you may not be aiming for a world record you might be aiming to improve your time and the (RE)FOCUS program will help you to improve your 6000m or 5000m row time regardless of experience, gender or age as it sets you targets that are personalized for your rowing ability.

Although two-kilometre tests are undoubtedly the benchmark in the rowing world, the 5000m and 6000m distances are arguably more difficult to master.  They demand more, both physiologically and psychologically, and your indoor rowing training needs to be adapted accordingly. The (RE)FOCUS program is set up to prepare you for a tilt at the 6000m distance and is ideal for asensei users who have already undergone other training plans and are now ready to make the next jump in difficulty and fitness.  

This plan is also ideally suited for people with a reasonable level of fitness and some experience on the indoor rowing machine. The program contains workouts that are named after rivers from around the world, culminating in a 6000m test under the pseudonym ‘Waikato’, the longest river in New Zealand and Eric’s home club.  

We particularly love the ‘Avon’ workout – it’s a 48-minute piece, split it into four 12-minute chunks with escalating rates to build anaerobic threshold. The idea of the workout is to get your body used to operating at higher rates over longer distances – Eric’s mantra is long and strong to build form and fitness but your six-kilometre piece will typically happen between 26 and 30spm.  

(RE)FOCUS comes with a detailed training program manual, breaking down the details of every workout, a sample timetable showing the baseline schedule and a planner to allow you to map out a schedule that works for you.  This manual can be located in the asensei app or in our members community.  If you have any questions then your fellow rowers and Eric himself can be found in the asensei members community to offer advice and support.

Best training program For:

  • Learning how to row a 6000m race and setting the best time you can achieve
  • Intermediate or advanced rowers who want to progress to the next level of fitness and technique
  • Stepping up your fitness level with up to 5 workouts each week for 12 weeks.

MASTER THE BASICS  

British Rowing asensei coaches

This is our one-stop shop for new entrants to the sport of indoor rowing. In affiliation with British Rowing, the national governing body for rowing in the UK, we have created a program that guides you through every aspect of the sport, from technique to training, drive to discipline. It's not just for beginners though; everyone can benefit from the great coaching, technical guidance, tips for how to approach different types of rowing and a better understanding of the rowing machine. 

The workouts are introduced by Clare Holman, British Rowing Indoor Master Trainer and Indoor Rowing Lead for the Invictus Games. They also feature audio and video tips and insights from GB Rowing Team member, Saskia Budgett, and Olympian Tom George, including how they approach a 2km race, how they recover and technical suggestions. Tom won a bronze medal in the men’s eight at the rescheduled 2020 Tokyo Olympic Games whilst Saskia was an U23 world champion in 2017.  

MASTER THE BASICS is ideal for people who want to lose weight and learn how to harness the indoor rowing machine to burn calories efficiently. The erg is one of the most effective tools for shedding weight and when leveraged correctly, it will provide a full-body workout that demands more from you than a typical run or cycle. By using asensei in partnership with this 8-week program, you can quickly get up to speed with the erg and move on to harder programs across the asensei app. Your overall goal will be to build up to a 30-minute continuous row over the duration of the plan. If you think that's too easy, don't worry; asensei will set you a secondary distance challenge to keep you pushing. 

Although the program is stacked with varied workouts, which tend to get progressively more challenging as you move through the weeks, we enjoyed the Power Play – a 27-minute alternation between 20spm (six minutes x 3) and 24spm (three minutes x 3). The transition between steady state and intensity focus makes for a tiring but extremely rewarding workout, focused on retaining technical skill and power at varying rates. 

MASTER THE BASICS comes with a detailed program manual, breaking down the details of every workout, a sample timetable showing the baseline schedule and a planner to allow you to map out a schedule that works for you.  This can be located in the app or in our members community

Best training program for:

  • Beginners who want to master the fundamentals of rowing
  • Building up to row for up to 30 minutes continuously - and go further in that time.
  • Those who want to learn or refresh their rowing technique.
  • People who wish to lose weight by building fitness over an 8-week period.

SWEAT FACTORY 

The clue is in the title with this one. SWEAT FACTORY is a blast of high intensity workouts, aimed at helping you find an extra gear and ideal for those seeking to lose weight and condition the key rowing muscles. Filmed on the roof of asensei HQ in San Francisco, the program is created specially for those short on time but keen to burn as many calories as possible. 

Coach Johan has taught thousands of San Francisco locals in some of the city's hottest rowing and fitness studios. He was invited to train with the US Rowing National Team in the run-up to the 2012 London Olympic Games and is a seasoned athlete with years of international experience. Famous for his signature classes, his high-octane approach has now been upgraded by asensei to keep you pushing to your potential. 

The mid-duration workouts, of which there are six across the SWEAT FACTORY program, focus on building fitness, but can be used in isolation to supplement other asensei programs, particularly if you’re looking to take a step up in intensity during one of our lighter schedules. Johan’s programs are perfectly suited for people who have worked through programs like MASTER THE BASICS or (RE)COMMIT and want to get serious about indoor rowing and improving their scores. 

All of Johan’s workouts are at least medium-level intensity but we think ‘I Got 5 On It’ could be best for those looking to push the limits. It’s 28 minutes long, split up into four sets of 5 minutes with a minute rest between each set and a warm-up/cooldown period at either end. With ever-shifting rates and multiple focus points to challenge your technique and fitness, the asensei app will be perfectly placed to help you make the best of Johan’s demands. 

Check out the SWEAT FACTORY workouts and Johan’s row-throughs here.  

Best training program for:

  • Rowers who like medium or high intensity studio fitness sessions.
  • People that are short on time and keen to burn as many calories as possible.

SWEAT, SMILE, SCULPT 

Johan Quie asensei rowing program

SWEAT, SMILE, SCULPT is a collection of workouts framed to improve your form but condition your muscles and dial up the intensity of your performance. The hallmarks of rowing are endurance, technique and strength and this program, comprised of 11 different workouts, focuses on honing all of those to make you a better rower and a stronger, fitter athlete. 

Coach Johan has taught thousands of San Francisco locals in some of the city's hottest rowing and fitness studios. He was invited to train with the US Rowing National Team in the run-up to the 2012 London Olympic Games and is a seasoned athlete with years of international experience. Famous for his signature classes, his high-octane approach has now been upgraded by asensei to keep you pushing towards your potential. 

Johan’s workouts are often used individually to add a bit of extra spice to other lighter programs (such as (RE)COMMIT) – this can add variety in your schedule and give you the option to step up the intensity when you’re feeling particularly strong. In SWEAT, SMILE, SCULPT, Johan brings the energy and vivacity of his San Francisco-based gym classes and combines it with the real-time tracking technology and instant feedback mechanism of asensei, allowing you to enjoy your workouts but benefit from an experience that instructs and invigorates in equal measure.  

Target Practice is a workout that perfectly represents Johan’s dual focus on endurance and strength. It is a burst-based piece, with six 2-minute sections at 24spm with a minute rest in between. Before you begin, set a distance target that you’d like to hit each time and then be prepared to work harder and harder to make the grade. The asensei app can help track your performance and ensure you’re on target throughout each segment. 

Check out the SWEAT, SMILE, SCULPT workouts and Johan’s row-throughs here.  

Best training program for:

  • Rowers looking for a range of different types of workout - strength, endurance and technique.
  • Augmenting other structured programs when you want to put in the extra effort.
  • Challenging indoor rowing workout sessions some of which include complementary bodyweight exercises.

BE A DARK HORSE 

Dark Horse Rowing asensei rowing program

In sport, the mantra of a ‘dark horse’ is what everyone wants to be known as – an unassuming candidate who without pedigree or hype emerges victorious. In rowing, we recognize the humility of the erg and the quiet miles that go into crowning a champion – and so ‘BE A DARK HORSE’ was born. It is an eight-week indoor rowing training program, featuring five workouts per week with alternating themes. It is also one of the only asensei programs to feature off-machine workouts. 

Your coach, Shane Farmer, is the creator of Dark Horse Rowing. Dark Horse was born out of Shane's passion for fitness and helping others in their quest for personal evolution on and off the rowing machine. Shane is an internationally renowned indoor rowing coach and has successfully led thousands of people to improve their physical and mental approach to the sport. 

BE A DARK HORSE is a perfect program for those who are seeking a full body and mind workout. Shane focuses on mindset throughout the eight weeks and incorporates off-machine drills to improve your overall form and fitness. This is an ideal program for those who want to commit to improving both their physiological and psychological capacity for exercise by leveraging a world-class coach in Shane and a world-class coaching environment in asensei.  

Shane has designed the program so that if you want to dedicate yourself to an intense practice, you can commit to one mindset a week. That’s five workouts a week, with two rest days. You’ll cycle through the program every two months. If life is too busy, feel free to go at your own pace. We particularly love the Strength workouts; PUSH workouts complement the explosiveness of rowing and PULL workouts bring balance to your strength training. It is also worth mentioning that there are two additional variants of this program – DARK HORSE ROWING program for indoor rowing-only sessions and DARK HORSE OFF-ERG program for the non-rowing bodyweight sessions only. 

BE A DARK HORSE comes with a detailed program manual, breaking down the details of every workout, a sample timetable showing the baseline schedule and a planner to allow you to map out a schedule that works for you.  This can be located in the app or in our members community. 

Best training program for:

  • Combining indoor rowing sessions with complementary bodyweight exercise sessions.
  • Weekly focus themes help athletes to develop their mind and body.
  • Structured but flexible plan with a nominal 5 sessions a week - 2 rowing and 3 bodyweight workouts.

(RE)LIVE 

(RE)LIVE is a great program for those who want an interactive experience that leverages the precision of the asensei app and the guidance of coach Eric Murray. It is a collection of workouts, originally filmed as livestreams, but repurposed with added asensei tracking and goal setting via the app. If you’re looking for a workout that is tailored towards your targets and led by one of the sport’s foremost athletes who undergoes each piece on-screen, this could be the program for you.  

Eric is one of the most decorated athletes of his generation and has accumulated multiple world and Olympic titles. In the Men’s Heavyweight Pair, he won six successive world championships and, alongside his crew mate Hamish Bond, was the recipient of the Thomas Keller Medal in 2018. It is the sport's highest honor and is awarded within five years of the athlete's retirement, acknowledging an exceptional rowing career and exemplary sportsmanship. 

Featuring a range of different indoor rowing workouts, covering shorter (15-20 minute) to longer (30-40 minute or even an hour) stints on the indoor rowing machine, (RE)LIVE gives you the chance to take part in some of Eric’s favorite drills and learn how he sets about mastering each element of indoor rowing. Inside the asensei app, this program is a great match if you have already mastered the basics on the erg and are now looking to apply specific conditioning to certain aspects of your practice. Most of the workouts come with a Q&A too, featuring questions asked by asensei athletes like you, so you can deepen your learnings and hear an all-time great Olympian talk in detail about how to maximize performance for all aspects of indoor rowing.  

The (RE)LIVE indoor rowing training workouts vary in difficulty and intensity but if you’re looking for a challenge, we’d recommend pitching for the ‘Endure and Survive’ segment. The drill is comprised of 5 x seven-minute intervals with rate changes across each set. A good chance to improve your cardiovascular fitness and anaerobic threshold.  

Best training program for:

  • Standalone workouts that you can choose to fit in with your schedule
  • Amazing row-along coaching from Olympic Champion Eric Murray.
  • Q&A sessions that feature detailed advice on every aspect of indoor rowing

MORE PROGRAMS!

There are too many asensei programs to do justice to in one article, but if you want to find out more, then here are a few places to start:

  • LEGS, BODY, ARMS - a new indoor rowing training program with coach Johan Quie inspired by his college rowing days.
  • EMBARK: Start Rowing with WaterRower - a program to help you get started on your WaterRower1, learn about the machine and try a variety of rowing workouts to find out what you enjoy!
  • Full program list - available on the asensei support website

Footnote 1, the Embark program works with all asensei-compatible rowing machines.

Summary 

These represent not only our favorite but most popular programs across the asensei app. Our market-leading coaches have curated programs designed with one common goal – to enable perfect practice and allow you to benefit from their collective years of experience in a straightforward and hassle-free way. If you’re already a member of the asensei family, feel free to reach out to us with question, queries and suggestions – we're always open to feedback as we strive to create the ideal indoor rowing partner in asensei. If you’re not already part of the community – what are you waiting for?  

TRY ASENSEI TODAY FOR FREE!

Eric Murray asensei Rowing Coaching

asensei is free to download and with no commitment you can trial the first 3 workouts in the (RE)COMMIT program and also workouts from MASTER THE BASICS, (RE)FOCUS, SWEAT FACTORY and BE A DARK HORSE.

All you need is an iPhone or iPad and access to an asensei Compatible rowing machine from Concept 2, WaterRower or FluidRower with a bluetooth capable monitor.

download asensei from the appstore

 

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